Megan and Michael engagement | Scranton wedding photographers

Last weekend Bob and I did our first outdoor engagement shoot in nice weather in what seems like FOREVER! I can’t even begin to explain how nice it was to be able to feel our fingers and toes while walking around outside, finding places to shoot, exploring the city and hanging out with Megan and Michael. They are a tremendous couple who put up with two guys who were honestly like a couple of children told to go outside and play. And that’s exactly what we did.

Bob and I decided over the winter that it might be a fun idea to make sure we are pushing each other to become better photographers.Yes, you can get into a rut, even in a job like photography. So we were looking for ways to make ourselves better, but it had to have a couple of key criteria. We needed to leave our comfort zone and we had to mimic the pressure of a wedding day where everything moves quickly and the time you have to shoot can be extrmely short.

Welcome to the Two Minute Challenge. You can expect to see this as a regular post. Here’s the concept. At any point during a shoot Bob or I can issue a challenge. As an example, if I were to challenge Bob he has 2 minutes to produce a solid portrait. Shouldn’t be a problem. Except, I get to choose the lens, if he needs to use external lighting and what needs to be incorporated. That’s it. You know there is no way we are going to make this easy on each other. We know each other’s weaknesses and we will do anything to expose them.

Bob’s challenge: Lens: 70-200mm, no external lighting and you must incorporate a dumpster.

The photos are below. I love what Bob did, although the look on his face when I said he needed to use a dumpster was friggin’ great. It’s like I kicked his dog. Go! Bob ran to the dumpster, looked around, told Megan and Michael to run to a nearby post, got them in position, gave them a little direction, ran to the other side of the dumpster, lied on the ground and started to shoot. He used the holes on the sides of the dumpster that accept the forks from the truck to lift the trash to frame Megan and Michael. Pretty good thinking and not a shot we would typically do.

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Chad’s challenge: Lens: 16-35mm, with external lighting and you must incorporate the train loading area at Steamtown National Historic Site. Oh yeah, and it’s dark outside. Yep, Bob went right for my weakness – portraits with a wide angle lens. Thanks, pal. I place them in the center of the frame to let all the lines lead right to them. There was probably an easy way to do this shot by lighting Megan and Michael from the front. It would be a nice shot, but what the hell, this is a challenge! I decided to light them from behind to create a little bit of rim lighting and let some of the light fall onto the Steamtown sign above to give it a sense of place. Place the flash – time’s ticking – shoot. Not quite – move the flash – shoot – time’s up! Phew! Here are the shots.

We’ll do more from Megan and Michael’s shoot but we wanted to get the challenges out there to see what ya’ll think.

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Scranton at night | Scranton wedding and portrait photographers

So what are couple of wedding photographers to do in the off-season? What are we to do when the weather finally breaks? What are we going to do to shake things up?

How about a nighttime stroll through the city with our cameras? Sounds good to me.

So Bob and I headed out the other night to grab some photos of whatever we saw. We only had about a half hour, but we wanted to spark some creativity and get ourselves back in the habit of looking at everything and anything critically to see if we could turn even the mundane into decent photos. One rule – no flash, just crank up the ISO and see what exposures we can get in the dark.  Below is what we got. Some are decent, some maybe not, but the exercise of shooting was important. The idea of just looking around  and noticing and being aware of your environment may be the most important skill a photographer has. And if the winter months dulled that a little, now was a great time to break it and get rolling again.

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Alicia’s bridal shower | Scranton wedding photographer

I already knew Alicia and Bobby were a great couple. I just recently discovered they are surrounded by some equally great people too. I had the pleasure of meeting Alicia’s bridesmaids and a large group of her and Bobby’s close friends and family at her bridal shower. We don’t normally shoot bridal showers, but after Alicia’s beautiful shower at Patsel’s, I’m hoping that changes. Although I may have to bring Alicia’s mom with me to set up all the showers I shoot from now on.

You see, Alicia’s mom is the Lora of Live with It by Lora Hobbs. Her shop is a mainstay for bridal registries – my wife and I registered there nearly ten years ago and still have a house full of wedding gifts that we try to keep the 2- and 4-year-old from touching.
As you’ll see from the photos, Alicia and Bobby will not be short on beautiful gifts for their home.
Can’t wait for the wedding!

Green Ridge Club reception of Jade & Eric | Scranton Wedding Photographers

We are all jealous of Jade and Eric for getting married in Florida without us. It’s okay. They had an awesome party at the Green Ridge Club for all their friends right here in Scranton. There was no formal sit down dinner here. They just wanted to hang out with wonderful friends and family, good music and great food – the highlight coming in a late night mac and cheese, taco and margarita bar. It was relaxed and fun and perfect for them. The only downside for them was their schedule for the day wasn’t going to allow for photos with their beautiful Weimaraners. No problem – we are going to do an awesome wedding photo shoot with the dogs when the weather decides to actually stay nice.

Oh yeah – it was also great to see our good friends Cheryl and Ted, whose wedding we shot what seems like forever ago, but who continue to make appearances in other weddings. We’re pretty sure Ted is just following us!

Thanks Jade and Eric for having me be a part of your night!

When to twirl | Scranton wedding photographers

As we are about to start a new wedding season, I always like to go back through some old blog posts and remember the friends that we shot last year and the good times, relive some of the parties and check out some of my favorite images. As I was scrolling through I stropped on one from Jeff and Jolene’s wedding from earlier this year. I stopped because Bob captured an image that I think is a great example of a terrific reception photo and a great example of knowing your equipment and what it can do. It’s also a pretty good example of the dangers of overdoing a good thing.

You’ve probably seen it before. It has swirling lights and an ethereal effect but the subject of the photo is sharp. It almost seems counterintuitive. How do you make lights swirl and still stop the action. The technique is actually pretty simple in theory and sometimes harder to execute.

Here’s how to do it. The first thing is to slow your shutter speed down – way down – to like 1/20 of a second or even slower. You may also need to drop your ISO if you shoot receptions with the relatively ISO high, which is what we typically do. Now, it’s pretty simple from here. Focus on your subject and fire the shutter. As the camera is taking the shot rotate your camera to the side pretty quickly. You will get the lights to dance for you.  You might need to adjust the power of your flash a little, so experiment a little and you  will get the shot you want. It takes a little practice, and it’s hard to nail the first time. You might need a few takes but if you’re at a reception there is usually a little time to play around and get it right.  Just don’t do it during the important moments like the first dance! And remember a couple of these shots are cool to deliver to your clients but don’t go overboard. It can get old if every photo is done this way!

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Mothers Day | Scranton portrait photographers

Today is the last day to get those photos into The Scranton Times to be eligible for a color spot in the annual Mothers Day edition! Don’t worry if you’re running behind, you still have until April 11 for the final black and white deadline. We still have a few spots available if you need your photos done by then. In the mean time here are some of my family’s photos along with some outtakes.

 

Annette and Darren maternity photos | Scranton portrait photographers

The more we shoot weddings, the more babies and maternity shoots we do. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming because it seems pretty obvious now. We’ve said before that one of the reasons we love shooting weddings is because in a lot of ways we become part of the family. We’re there for hugely emotional moments – times that are often away from the eyes of a crowd. Photography can be a lot like a backstage pass, and it’s those times where small, family moments happen, and it’s those moments that really bring us close to the friends we photograph.

So looking back a little I don’t know why we never anticipated remaining part of the lives of our clients as they start families. What a bonus!

There’s obviously a reason I was thinking about all of this, and it comes back to Annette and Darren. They are starting a family, so we did some maternity photos for them in the studio, and it’s just such a great experience being able to catch up a little and remember some of the moments from their wedding and engagement shoot. It was just a perfect way to spend some time together. Thank you guys. We’ll get the studio ready for the little guy’s first photo session soon!

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I’m an Uncle Bob | Scranton newborn photography

In the photography world, the term “Uncle Bob” is used for someone who is a little overzealous when it comes to taking photos on a wedding day. He’s a friend or family member who just got a fancy new camera – so he must be able to take great photos!

Guess what? Now I’m an actual Uncle Bob! But in a good way. 

My sister-in-law just had her first baby and, of course, that means his first Two Sticks shoot! I can’t wait to spoil him rotten and let Eliza and Lincoln teach him how to drive his parents crazy!

Congratulations Ryan and Victoria – you two will be amazing parents!

 

Our new rustic wedding album | Scranton Wedding Photographers

Now, we absolutely love our wedding albums we get from Madera Books. They are beautifully crafted family heirlooms. They are also loved by all of our couples who order them. However, we seem to be doing more rustic, outdoor weddings and wanted to be able to offer another album that fit our couples who wanted something a little less formal. That’s when we discovered a new offering from Woodland Albums. They are designed after an artist’s journal, wrapped in leather and printed on fine art watercolor paper. It looks like we are in love again, and now we have two unique styles of albums to offer our couples. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have Heather and Michael’s gorgeous wedding to work with. Check out the new album below.

My two favorite images of last year | Scranton wedding photographers

There are hundreds of shots that I love from the past year. Hell, there might be thousands. Each one of them is unique and speak directly to the moment when they happened. It’s why I love photography. I love those moments. It could be a bride’s reaction to seeing her dad. It could be the groom cracking up to a bad joke from a groomsmen. It’s the flower girl who can’t take her eyes of the ceremony. Or mom shedding a tear  - or sometimes dad.

There are just so many.

But seldom do you always get the combination of light, timing, atmosphere and everything that can and should go into a great photo. So I was thinking about the past year and some of the weddings we shot and some of my favorite photos. And yes I know I’m a little late to the party on year end photos. There are two that stand out to me that I just love. If it wouldn’t be weird I’d hang them as huge prints in my own home because every time I look at them I find something to love.

The first is from Danielle and Keith’s wedding at the Colonnade. I think the composition is pretty well done and has a real voyeuristic feel to it even though they knew full well I was taking their photo. Just so you know the background, it was taken in a bedroom upstairs at the Colonnade. I was shooting through a bathroom door that had a mirror on it. The mirror was catching the Venetian blinds from a nearby window. It made a really cool effect and I think in shows.

The second is from Ashley and Jeff’s wedding at Ehrhardt’s at Lake Wallenpaupack. Bob took this one, and I thought he did something really smart. He turned off his flash. At most wedding receptions, especially during the first dance you want to make sure you are getting nice, well-lit shots of the couple. Well, Bob decided that he loved the lines of the ceiling and existing lighting so much that he was willing to not have some of the things you would traditionally expect to capture the mood of the first dance. He nailed it. We still captured the “safe” shots as well, but sometimes it pays off to see something differently and take a risk.

Ashley and Jeff wedding at Ehrhardts

 

Cassie and Matt engagement | Scranton wedding photographers

First off, I’d like to start by saying all of the magic you are about to see was not only my idea but I also did all of the work.

Now that we have that complete fabrication out of the way, I’ll explain what the hell I’m talking about.

Our friends Cassie and Matt had a great idea for a Save the Date card and wanted us to shoot the photo to match their vision. No problemo.  One Save the Date photo coming up.

Ummmmm.

“That’s a really big date with really big numbers. Double ummmm.”

In fact the date was so big it wasn’t stable enough for them to hold it the way they wanted. They wanted it to look like balloons were carrying away the date.  LOVE THE IDEA. OK, so we needed a way to make it work. Fortunately we did the photo in their soon-to-be backyard right behind the house they are building. So we walked over and grabbed a 2 by 4 and attached it to the sign. Now it looks like it’s floating away – except I’m in the photo holding the piece of wood to support the sign. That is gonna be an issue.

But fortunately I was smart enough to partner with a Photoshop ninja in Bob. Again, little credit for all of this should go to Bob even though he did every bit of the work – ya know except for holding the sign.

So how was it done? Well first, you need a shot without the sign and without Cassie and Matt so you have a clean background. Next you bring  us all into the frame and get us in the right spot and fire away. The real trick here is being able to eliminate the unwanted things in post-production – namely me and the 2 by 4. It’s not easy. You really need to know your way around a flux capacitor and some other Photoshop filters and whatnots.

But in the end, we love the finished Save the Dates. we think they met Cassie and Matt’s vision and it’s great to be able to overcome some stuff during a shoot to produce something you can be proud of.

And Bob should be pretty proud of this one.

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CassieSavetheDate

 

Jeff and Jolene wedding | Scranton wedding photographers

We’ve taken plenty of altar shots over the years. You now the ones we mean. Gather all the family at the front of the church after the ceremony and fire away. There’s nothing terribly technical in the shots. From a photographic standpoint, there’s probably not anything that exciting in them either. However, I will also be the first to admit they are some of the most important images we take, and I don’t want to minimize them in any way. They tend to be ones cherished by mom and dad and grandma and grandpa. It’s the entire family gathered to celebrate, and really how often does that happen. In my family, it’s not a lot.

But I also think if you are leaving the church after those photos to head to the reception or some other place to do some photos of the couple you are missing an opportunity. I’ve seen photographer after photographer pass on the opportunity to use the back of the church for some images, and I don’t understand why. Consider this, if you shoot from the back of the church toward the front you can get amazing depth of field, dotted with colors and warm tones. You can also use the geometry of the pews to help frame the photo and add texture. It’s a great place to shoot and really should not be ignored.

Below are a few examples of Jeff and Jolene, some friends we shot a few weeks ago. The photos were taken with one off-camera flash through an umbrella and took no more then 5 or 10 minutes to do, and they look great. So shoot those images at the front of the church, but before you leave take five minutes and use the back of the church. You might be surprised and wondering why you haven’t been doing it for years.

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Jessyca and Sam State College engagement | Scranton wedding photographers

It had been a while since I was in Happy Valley. I’m sure things have changed since then, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. Maybe that’s the magic of the place. It still felt like home. It still felt like the first time I was at Beaver Stadium. It still felt like the first road trip to visit friends and maybe hit one or two frat parties.

And it still looked like Happy Valley in the winter. It was snowing and it was cold.

But we had Jessyca and Sam with us as our tour guides while we grabbed some engagement photos for them. What a perfect day. Ignore the chill in the air –  we got to walk around campus and explore some things and get to know them better. They’re a great couple to hang out with and it turned out to be just a great day. Also, the next time you find yourself there take Jessyca’s recommendation and have a bowl of French onion soup at the The Corner Room!

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The mighty ducks | State College engagement

I really didn’t know I was afraid of ducks. Maybe afraid is overstating a little. I have a healthy respect for ducks.

Of course I didn’t know that until Sunday. I assumed if I was ever confronted by a duck I’d just walk up to it and be like, “Hey duck, whaddup?” Not so much.

Bob and I were in State College with Jessyca and Sam over the weekend to do some engagement photos. Wait, I’m gonna stop here and just say State College is just a cool place to walk around. It’s also been snowing every single time I’ve been there in the winter. It’s like it’s in its own weird polar vortex that produces snow. Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who went to school there. Anyway, back to Jessyca and Sam. We had postponed their engagement photos a bunch of times because it was either raining or brutally cold or whatever. Finally, we decided let’s go for it; weather be damned. Yes it was cold but it was also snowing. And that always makes for great photos!

But this post isn’t about Jessyca and Sam. I promise we will get to their photos soon. This is about ducks – fearless ducks really. I really don’t know if this is unusual, but as we were walking away from Old Main and back toward College Avenue, we ran into some ducks on the sidewalk. Now, my experience with just about every bird I’ve ever encountered is when you get close, they leave. It’s the natural order of things. I’m bigger than you so you get out of the way.  If I see a train coming I get out of the way. It’s just the way it works … except with State College ducks apparently. These little guys weren’t moving – turns out they may have just been frozen to the ground.

Naturally, my city living partner Bob stayed a good distance away. He seemed suspicious of the ducks. That, of course, didn’t stop him from saying “Chad get your camera and get a few shots of the ducks.”

Me: Um, OK.

Bob: You’re not close enough

Me: Shut up, I’m trying to get a good shot.

Bob: Get your macro lens. (For those who don’t know, a macro allows you to get incredible close ups and detailed photos. The trick is you need to be close enough to know that ducks have bad breath)

Me: I don’t like the look of that duck

Bob: Stop being a baby and get up in his grill

Me: Ugh. Fine.

So there I am practically laying on the sidewalk and inching closer – one eye looking through the camera, the other making sure I wasn’t being sucked into some duck ambush. Honestly, it’s a miracle anyone hires us when they see this kind of stuff go on.

Well there was no duck ambush, and the little guy I was shooting didn’t attack but he looked scrappy. So the bravest photographer in the world (that’s me) got my shots and hightailed it outta there. Why push my luck.

I hope you like them. I risked everything  (while Bob watched from behind a tree) to bring you these shots.

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Jolene and Jeff getting ready | Scranton wedding photographers

We started telling you guys about Jolene and Jeff earlier in the week by working backward from the reception. Well, we are getting back on track here again and taking you to the beginning of their day.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with Jolene in the salon the morning of her wedding. Pay attention here brides. These are photos you want. Trust me. Remember, your wedding day is a big effin’ deal. There was a ton of time spent planning all the details and getting ready. Wouldn’t you want just a few shots of you hanging out with the ladies while you are relaxed? We hate to see anyone not have photos from all parts of their day.

So while I was hanging with the girls, Bob was over with Jeff and the guys grabbing a few photos. You’ll notice in the photos of the guys they are all in their tuxes. In the shots of the girls – not so much. That’s the way it goes almost every time. Guys take a few minutes to throw a tux on and away they go. For the girls – in most cases – the preparation is more of an event with a trip to the salon, maybe a little champagne (yeah I’m talking to Jolene and the girls) and putting on the dress. The tradition of it is nice, and I can’t even explain how much I’ve learned hanging out with the girls in the salon. Let’s just say it’s more than I would ever need to know! Maybe that’s for another post. On to the pics.

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Jolene and Jeff wedding | Scranton wedding photographers

OK, crank up the music. It’s party time because that’s the kind of mood I’m in. We shot Jolene and Jeff’s gorgeous wedding over the weekend at the Radisson in Scranton – always a beautiful place for a reception.

Normally, we’d walk you through the wedding with some getting ready shots, and then maybe we’d do a post from the ceremony or some of the portraits. Well, we’ll get to those but these guys had a fun party, and we want to show you. The details were perfect; the cocktail hour was beautiful, the portraits were COLD! We did them outside. Bob even did some shoveling. He doesn’t know it, but I have a picture of that. I promise I’ll show you later.

But this is about the party and saying thank you to Jolene and Jeff for inviting us. Congratulations to you and all the best.

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Mandy and Brian engagement | Scranton wedding photographers

I don’t remember exactly how Bob broke the news to Mandy and Brian that he wanted me to whip snow at them. I really wish I could. I mean I didn’t really mind, but Mandy and Brian, well they’re the ones who have been standing and sitting in the snow for two hours now in single-degree weather. They might mind.

Nope. Not even a little bit. Anything for the cause, I guess. They’re troopers. So there they were holding an adorable Save the Date sign. Bob’s got his camera ready and I’m just out of the frame pulling huge piles of snow around me. You can never have too much you know. On the word “GO,” I started shoveling snow on them as fast as I could and Bob snapped away, and Mandy and Brian tried to not look like they were bothered by the pelting. Good job guys! This is not the standard Two Sticks engagement session. Mandy and Brian paid a premium for this kind of abuse.;)

We love the photos and we love Mandy and Brian and how accommodating they were to our ideas. They put up with the cold, and we hope they think it was all worth it. Here’s are some of the shots.

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Mia and Ryan reception | Scranton wedding photographers

Good weddings are like giant parties on steroids. Do it on New Year’s Eve and it’s like a double dose. Yep, Mia, I’m talking about you and Ryan. What a time we all had at the Radisson. New Year’s Eve weddings are something special. There is the energy that flows from a wedding and then there is the countdown to New Year’s. It’s unbelievable and you and your gang did it absolutely the right way. It was an unbelievable time and a wedding we won’t forget anytime soon. Here are a few shots from the party!

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Mandy and Brian engagement | Scranton wedding photographers

Polar vortex? Whatever.

Frozen fingers? Get over it.

It was about 3 p.m. last weekend and I was at our studio – thawing. A photographer we share some space asked what I was up to. I told him we just finished an engagement shoot at Nay Aug Park. I wish I had a photo of his face at that very moment.

“You what!”

“Yeah, that’s right – and it was awesome!”

What can I say – it was. We did some engagement photos for Mandy and Brian at the park. Yeah, it was cold but whatever. It was also beautiful, with trees blanketed in snow. We also had an amazing couple who were committed to doing the photos, and the weather was not getting in the way. They fell together so easily – maybe to keep warm – but I don’t think so. They are really close, and it shows in the photos. And yes, there was a snow fight at the end. Plus, I basically got to throw a ton of snow at them while Bob grabbed some shots – we’re not revealing those yet! Why anyone would let me do that is beyond me, but I’m so glad they did. Thank you Mandy and Brian for making what could have been a cold trudge through the park a day full of laughs and one I will remember for a very long time!

Here are some of your shots.

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Mia and Ryan’s New Years Eve wedding | Scranton wedding photographers

Mia and Ryan are pretty tough – no doubt about it. They has a spectacular New Year’s Eve wedding. For those who don’t remember, it was damn cold that day. OK, it wasn’t minus-4 cold but it was cold, especially in a wedding dress.  But nothing stands in the way of some good photos. While Bob and I worried and planned about what we were going to do for photos when we were most likely going to spend the entire day inside, Mia and Ryan wanted to head outside. So glad they did! Portraits in the house are fine, but shots outside in a driving snow can be something special.

So out we went, ready to knock out some cool portraits. I was so glad we did, falling snow creates such a cool look for photos. It was something we would not have gotten if they wanted to stay warm inside the house. Who could have blamed them. We even went outside before the reception when the wind was howling and the temperature had dropped even further to grab some shots outside the Radisson. We’ll save those for another post. Here are some of the pre-ceremony shots we were able to get. I absolutely love the look of them, and Mia was unbelievable in her gown in the swirling snow.

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  • January 7, 2014 - 9:59 pm

    barbarann - wow the snow makes them so magical–breathtakingly beautiful!!!!!!ReplyCancel

Mia and Ryan New Year’s wedding | Scranton wedding photogtraphers

What’s that you say? You want to take the entire bridal party into a bar for some photos before the reception. Hmmmm. Why not?

Actually I love the idea. New Year’s Eve, we had the honor of shooting Mia and Ryan’s gorgeous wedding at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel in Scranton. But before we ever got there for the party, we had a little pre-party at Jilly’s. It’s one of their favorite haunts, and they had the idea that they wanted to go there and fill up the bar to grab some photos. (They had a big bridal party!) So we got there just as the bar was opening, and the people there could not have been more welcoming, especially considering about 30 people just dropped by the take over for a little while. We had a blast. We were able to get some really unique wedding photos that we love. This is the kind of stuff that really inspires us – having a couple willing to break from the traditional to do something that holds meaning to them. In this case, it was a local bar with great friends.

Ryan really had a vision for it too. He thought the shots would look great in black and white. So here you go Ryan. Here are some shots of you and your beautiful bride and amazing family and friends knocking back a couple. We hope you love them as much as we do.

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