Blog #183   11/10/16

I love setting up a small studio to make portraits, to capture the phenomenal range of faces that is humanity, without distracting surroundings. I am perpetually, interminably, endlessly and infinitely interested in the faces of our species.

I’ve done this for my book Homeless:

For my project on prisoners:

For “Faces of New York” street portraits:

And for portraits that I make when I teach each Fall at the annual Eddie Adams Workshop:

And a few other projects. This note regards the studio I’ve created and the images I’ve made at five different weddings, each one as a gift for someone very close to me. I am not a “wedding” photographer……..however:

The first “gift:” In 2005, when my sister, Lisa, told me her third and youngest child was planning a wedding, I suggested that I would set up a studio just off the reception area and during the post-wedding celebration, I’d make portraits of all the guests for the gift of a book for her daughter, my niece Kate and her husband to be, Adam. I planned to have each guest who came into the “studio” write a note to the bride and groom at the bottom of the page of the wedding book that I provided where their portrait would appear.

At other weddings (5 in all).

My sister (in the image just above with husband, Marty—i.e. parents of the bride), always full of energy and incredible enthusiasm, instantly responded, “Fabulous! What can I do to help?”  A few weeks prior to the wedding, she and I made a scouting trip to the wedding venue on Long Island, NY, and found the perfect 15’ x 15’ room just off the dining/reception area. I asked the staff for a table and a few chairs so people could write their notes. On the day of the wedding, an hour before the ceremony, my two assistants and I set up the “studio,” a simple grey cloth backdrop, strobe packs, umbrellas, etc. Kate wasn’t quite married, yet, but we were ready.

A groom and his parents

Did they just meet?

This endeavor worked so well that I have offered to do just this for four really close friends and their families and guests. In addition to the wedding book, filled with the loving words of those at the ceremony, I have sent the images (as JPGs, by e-mail) to each bride and groom to share, if they so desired, with the portrait subjects.

The portrait books have become unusual and memorable gifts (the brides and grooms have told me); they are as fulfilling for me as for the newlyweds and their families.

My feeling after each wedding/portrait “shoot” has been:
“Oh god! Was this fun, or what?!”

At each wedding I made photographs of the bride and groom, together.
It was great fun photographing each pair at the five weddings I’ve done.
This image of this bride and groom resonated mightily for me.

Given that I work in my “studio” non-stop for hours, I have had no time to make “art.” But this image, of a mother and her son, is an exception. Both trusted my direction, and “went with it!”

[Note: I did not ask anyone to sign a release and therefore if anyone included in these photographs wishes not to have their photograph in this note, please let me know and I will delete accordingly.]