Dawn on June 4th…..over the East River and into Manhattan, and the NYC Wedding Bureau.
I shot this at 5:32am on Thursday morning of last week. Little did I know that by Friday afternoon, almost exactly 36 hours after this frame was made, I would have photographed about 70 joyous, boisterous, marvelous, glowing couples, some by themselves, and many of them surrounded and supported by their ecstatic friends and families, all in the back of this truck. It was one of the giddiest, most exhausting, exhilarating, emotional assignments I’ve ever done. I was occasionally laughing so hard it was hard to frame the shot with coherence and straight lines. Other times I was glad for autofocus ’cause my eyes were stinging with tears. What’s not to love about making pictures of people in love?
The process was simple, on the face of it. The truck was parked almost directly across the street from the Office of the City Clerk, and all the couple had to do was walk over, show their marriage certificate, sign a photo release and walk up the stairs and into the truck. The “shoot” took, for the most part, all of about five minutes. I was ready to go. Shake hands, say congrats and start clicking. They would then wait about ten minutes, and walk away with a USB stick with toned and tweaked selects. Done. A small piece of their day perhaps, but on that stick, in their pocket, was a bunch of high res memories they could keep forever and use as they would.
Like Forrest Gump’s momma said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” That was the mantra of this job, and I was in a constant state of wondrous anticipation about what the next couple might be like. Some came in gowns, tuxes and stilettos, and some in t-shirts and jeans, sporting elegant sneakers. Some ladies had dresses to die for and wore enough jewelry to open a store. Gents had elegant suits and snazzy shoes. There were headdresses, and other adornments verging on crowns. We provided a makeup tent for a quick, impromptu touch up, but lots of these folks barely needed it. Literally every couple was beautiful. My camera and I stood in service to them, and in awe.
How many ways can I say this was wonderful to shoot? We had clouds, wind, and rain for parts of the days, and temperatures more akin to November than June. But that did not deter the dazzling duos from going to the clerk and the judge, saying “I do,” and coming out for a picture. Many said they had a blast being photographed like this, which was a relief to me, as a 20′ box truck is not the most elegant of photo studios. We used every inch of the truck, dividing it into two studios, each with a distinctly different type of light. The back end was for the couples and their entourages, open and clean, lit with a big Lastolite umbrella box. The way back of the truck had a black background, with a moodier, soft but directional feel to the light that came from three lights on a tri-flash, through a Lastolite 3×3 diffuser. All done with Speedlights! We occasionally had as many as 14 or so people in the truck, quite raucously, and managed to cover them all with good light, while they had a non-stop good time.
Sometimes, as above, the truck was literally bouncing with laughter, while at other times it framed a quiet moment.
Many radiated pure joy and excitement.
Others were giddy and a little goofy. They had a ball in front of the camera.
Many had a tremendous assist in the merriment from family and friends.
There’ll be another blog later this week detailing BTS stuff, the lighting, the gear and the logistics. This blog is simply a thankful one. Thanks to Nikon and the Nikon USA Ambassador program for embracing this mildly nutty idea, and supporting it. Thanks to Lynn DelMastro and Tony Moschini, who collaborated in their wonderfully resourceful ways to produce this event and make it happen in the middle of NYC, the most wonderfully hectic city in the world. And huge thanks to the Captain Castellano of the NYC Supreme Court, who really stepped up and made the whole thing possible.
And the couples. Thank you for some of the most joyous, memorable and hopeful days I have ever spent behind the camera. More tk……