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

Pre-orders are up!

October 26:


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…


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.

Day in the Life: Brooklyn by Ryan Brenizer

The reason that we are still passionate about weddings more than 1,000 of them later is we love *celebrating* the shared promise of love between two people. There is an amazing story to tell of the meaningful bonds on display on a wedding day and we hope to continue to tell these stories for decades to come.

We’ve always been interested in how these stories play out - in the full story of the family. We listen closely whenever any long-married couple gives advice, no matter how many times we’ve heard similar bits of wisdom before. We love seeing our couples and the families they make. Even algorithms show us that 90 percent of the Instagram photos we personally pay attention to are photos of our friends, family and our clients with their children and pets celebrating life day-by-day in joyfully mundane ways.

And this is a story we want to tell as well. It’s not a brand, or a business, or an identity, or any SEO buzzword. It’s just a part of us, something we live ourselves each day, especially now that we have our own child.

We want to tell the real stuff of family. Those moments characteristic of the people and time, which can slip from your memory in a changing and too-busy life. What was it like when you lived in that old neighborhood? What was it like to be a new parent? How did it feel?

This is just some of the real story of this family. This is a baby enjoying a characteristic morning, smoothies and cereal and all. This is a baby going to Coney Island not because a photographer was there, but because friends were in town and wanted to go to Coney Island.  This is what it was like to get her ready to sleep for the night.

There is a transcendence in families, what it means to be a parent or a husband or a wife or a son or daughter, and there are waves and waves of particulars, the things that surprise us when we look back and say "wow, *that's* what it was like."

We want to tell that all of this precisely because we realize how valuable it is for ourselves.


September 15, 2008. by Ryan Brenizer

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10 years ago. Jerpoint Abbey, Ireland

It began at a grave. Even then, my photographic life was transitioning into more and more professional work, so when I found myself traipsing about Ireland, just taking photos for the heck of it, I wanted to try to do something different than thousands of other tourists. But the thing about graves is that they don't really do much that's interesting. So … shallow depth of field? My 70-200 could certainly do that at the long end, but the frame was too tight, and uninteresting.

Wait. I had An Idea.

The way invention often works is that the mass of striving, stumbling human minds just waits until the conditions are right, and then related ideas begin popping up. Set the precursors, and you start seeing multiple people work toward inventing calculus or the theory of evolution … or the far less consequential but quite fun idea of slapping together a bunch of panoramic images to make images that are otherwise impossible without extreme labor or digital creation.

And so, with the scene set of panorama creating becoming easy enough to just try things and hope for the best, I was neither the first person to independently come up with this idea … nor the last (sorry Joel Grimes!)

So, while the pictures were fresh and exciting to me, the part I’m more proud of comes after: Young(er) Ryan realized that this was not some idea of staggering irreplaceable genius, but just a really neat idea … so the key was to see exactly what can be done with it, and then sharing ever single bit of that knowledge, quickly and completely.

Looking back at the pictures from 10 years ago, one conclusion is obvious: I am bad at taking vacations. Panoramas dominate the rest of the trip -- and experimentation. Two hours later, before I even know if this works, I am trying to pano an entire two-story building (verdict: it works, technically, but not worth the effort). Two days later I am capturing candid action in panorama … something even now I very rarely do. Lighting with it, trying off-camera flash (tip: keep the power low), poking around the edges to see what worked. And somewhere that week figuring out that the math was (with a perfect planar stitch) the same as a teleconverter in reverse.

And, the important part: sharing all this, right away. Not to sell workshops: I wouldn't for years later, and it would be five years until I made a video I could point people to when they wanted in-depth help. Just because knowledge should be free. To me this is the best impulse of media of all kind, carried into the social media world.

But in ways I've been apologizing for it ever since. "Hey world! You probably know this already but it seemed pretty cool. I probably won't be so good at it since my work is about people and meaningful moments captured in very tight time frames, none of which says 'do this as a panorama,' but here you go!"

Even as I write this I cringe inside because it seems so self-promotional, even when being self-promotional is how someone running a business puts food on their table and self-promotion is the default mode of today's Internet.

Five years ago — September 2013 — that. I let my web site basically die. I shelved a helpful tutorial I had spent thousands on producing just from hearing the voices of not-yet-existent forum trolls yelling "Is he claiming he invented the composite?" (Not at all; I just made it extremely efficient in the pursuit of laziness.) But I also did a great deal of work on the person who I was away from the Internet. I went from the guy who probably scared a few assistants with my intensity (truly sorry for some of those drives though NYC traffic) to someone who has written this entire thing on his phone because he's watching my baby son sleep.

What comes next is, I hope, building on the good and letting people say what they may. We have seen more and more the weird darkness of social media … but watching this one neat idea of had 10 years ago branch out, be taught in colleges I attended, and carry the name of my father and son to many people struggling to pronounce "Brenizer," I remind myself of its possibilities.

Thank you.

Full Review: Lensbaby Sol 45mm f/3.5 "Tilt-Shift" by Ryan Brenizer

Read the tech detail here and check prices here

I don't buy much gear on a whim, but when Lensbaby announced a 45mm "tilt-shift" for $200, I looked at my badly broken and nearly $2,000 Nikon 45mm PC-E and said … "Maaaaybe I'll give this a try."

That was 15 minutes ago.

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Ok, this is glib -- and very precise. There are plenty of ways to make compelling images with this lens. It just depends on your needs. We use selective focus rarely, as it is best in small doses, but have had a lot of fun with the new ways of seeing control over the angle of the focal plane can give you. We use it for details on occasion and need the control for creative use in portraiture or relatively static coverage such as ceremonies or getting ready.

The good news is that you can actually do this to some extent -- focusing on areas closer to you and farther away. The bad news is that it is a liberal definition of "focus." I did not expect critical sharpness but we need a certain level of it to shoot details, and on this lens even basic sharpness -- not necessarily reading words on a page but seeing that there are words to begin with -- can only be achieved in certain areas, such as the center or the closer side of the tilt. This takes away tons and tons of even the basic usage of a real tilt-shift for us.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Astonishingly there are trade-offs when you cut nearly 90 percent off the price of a lens.