Gloria Rocking It and a quick review of the Sony HVLF45RM by Ryan Brenizer

Now it's time for "As long a review of the Sony HVL-f45rm flash as a wedding photographer time for in October!"

Good: It's freaking magical -- why is it so tiny, so well-balanced with small Sony cameras, with such little meaningful power difference? If I'm rocking a reception with a big flash at 1/8th power, on the tiny 45rm I'm *maybe* at 1/8th + 1/3rd, a negligible difference. Here it's hitting ISO 100 f/11 at well under full power, balancing the bright sun outside and highlighting how bad-ass Denise is. And it's the best TTL I've ever used, so good that … I even use it occasionally.

The bad: Weirdly fragile, in my experience. We are fairly good to our gear these days, and out of the four Sony flashes we own, four have been to the repair shop for hot shoe issues. Now we pack it as gently as we would a newborn kitten.

Newport Vineyard wedding -- Brenizer Method panorama by Ryan Brenizer

One awesome couple, one amazing vineyard after the rain, and a whole lotta frames with an 85mm f/1.4.

I've been playing around with some of the new smartphone tech because I'm still just a photo nerd at heart, and I admit that as artificial depth of field gets better and better through computational photography, I stopped and said "Hm, moving this slider is a lot easier than taking a hundred images and feeding them through a computer." But of course, that's only because of an upshot of the less talked-about side of the smartphone photography revolution: not that most photos are taken on phones, but also that most are viewed on them as well.

I've never truly seen most of the Brenizer Method photos I've delivered. This photo could be printed at 300 dpi at five feet across. I've made those prints and each time I've been surprised: "Oh, *that's* what this photo really looks like!" It's part of the point of also taking the long way around and making things specifically so that they last and go a step beyond what is easy. (Even though I still often use DoF-faking apps for fun and personal creativity. I'd rather play on the lawn than tell the kids to get off it.)

The Secret: Find Joy in Solving Any Problem by Ryan Brenizer

If I had any tips to achieve long-term success and happiness as a wedding photographer, it's to learn to appreciate as many of the tasks and skills required as possible. In the end, this job consists of making thousands of choices and solving innumerable problems each wedding day, and there is a joy to be found in simply doing well, whatever the task. We both entered into wedding photography with a joy and expertise in storytelling and using light and lenses in interesting ways, but now we also find joy not just in things like organizing large bridal parties in flattering ways but also things that are entirely structural and non-creative.

I look back with pride on weddings where we entered into family photos 90 minutes behind schedule and finished on schedule, or when we had 25 table shots to do in 30 minutes and somehow pulled it off without making people feel rushed or harried.

Some of these things may not be the stuff of Pulitzers, but it is all part of the job, and learning to find joy in each part not only helps you as a photographer and avoids burn-out, but you'll inevitably do all of these things better.

(Especially since one of the best hints for any group photo is to be wearing a genuine smile).

Rolling (not) review (yet): Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM by Ryan Brenizer

Pre-orders are up!

I have not seen or touched this lens yet, so this is in no way a review, but I've already placed my own order…

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What’s the point, given that I have no more direct experience so far than you do? Well, just kicking this off, this shows a few important things: 

1) This shows how important I consider this lens if it lives up to its potential — I could have probably finagled a small discount, and definitely didn’t have to pay sales tax if I took the time to fill out the paperwork, but it was more important to me to be able to place my order at 10:01 a.m. Because if waiting for all that paperwork meant the difference between having this lens at a wedding or two or not … and those weddings are such where it would make a real difference in the coverage (hello, pitch-black NYC dance floors!) then the extra cost is worth it.

(Of course, the lens is at least $800 less expensive than I thought it would be, so that helps, too.)

2) This should forever be inoculation against the idea that I am shilling for Sony, or anyone. Full cost, sales tax and all. No one’s even given me a single cocktail shrimp to affect my opinion of this item. All I am doing with my B&H contacts is basically telling them to get one in my hands as soon as possible, but no promises there, either. As always we come from a place of honesty and openness, because why not? 

Lastly we’re doing some site re-organization so that all content will appear here on the “/blog” page including rolling reviews, with separate pages highlighting the different types of posts.

George Peabody Library Baltimore wedding: Jennifer and Michael by Ryan Brenizer

Probably the greatest honor we feel as wedding photographers is doing a wedding for another wedding photographer. After all, these people spend each day looking at this stuff, and know exactly what they like. But it was an even greater pleasure when that photographer is someone like Michael Stravinos, who is not just talented, but has been a friend, a workshop student, and collaborator.

And then you add that the wedding would be at the fantastic George Peabody Library in Baltimore, a place I’ve wanted to shoot in ever since I first saw it? We jumped at the chance. It didn’t matter that we also had to be in New York and Pennsylvania that weekend … we were going to make this happen.

It was amazing start to finish, filled with tears, laughter, Greek dancing, beautiful details, a solemn church ceremony … dripping with meaning and emotion throughout.

For the photographers out there, this was our first wedding with the Sony A9, and apart from the more technical aspects it was incredible to be able to shoot all of the events of the day completely silently, getting angles during prayers and at moments of peak emotion while intruding as little as possible. We always want to capture the real emotions so that you can look back and feel what it was like to be there in the midst of it, and this has been a helpful tool for us.