“The Last Snow”

Yesterday, April Fools Day, greeted us with a surprise snowstorm. My guess is that this will be the last snowfall of any significance before spring finally arrives. I was inspired to shoot this video ever since I saw Reid Carrescia’s “The First Snow”. He did an amazing job capturing a serene snowfall. I had a bit more of a dark outlook on the snowfall we experienced yesterday. To drive home the point that this winter feels everlasting, I chose to use the music of Alice in Chains.

New York State Getaway

New York State Getaway

cold_spring_new_york_IMG_9080_2011_02_26.jpgEvery year Lindsay and I travel up to New York state for a nice relaxing weekend to the Inn at Stony Creek in Warwick, NY. Our usual snowtubing plans got wrecked because of the rain, but we did other things like visit local wineries Brotherhood and Benmarl. The snow was still on the ground, so at least the views were there. Our Friday night dinner in Warwick was at the Landmark Inn. Great restaurant! The Landmark Inn is a 232 year old building. Wide wooden floorboards and a dizzying array of wooden doors mounted to the ceiling. Yes, it’s definitely an interested design choice.

We branched out this year and visited other areas including Cold Spring, New York. Cold Spring is a town that reminded me of a much nicer version of Sleepy Hollow, New York. The Metro-North train runs through Cold Spring and is a nice partition between downtown Cold Spring and the Hudson River. The passage underneath the train tracks is dark and barely lit by orange flood lights. A nice visual separation between street level and the waterfront.  The Hudson River was completely filled with large chunks of ice. It must be impossible to travel on the river during this time of year! cold_spring_new_york_IMG_9092_2011_02_26.jpg

The town itself is full of antique shops and nice owner-operated businesses. A big difference from the usual Jersey strip mall. (NOTE TO NEW JERSEY DEVELOPERS: We’re sick of them) One of the stores greeted us with some friendly gnomes.

The buildings in Cold Spring are very old and charming. Vines are wrapped around brick structures and every store serves in keeping the area quaint and peaceful. general_electric_watthour_meter_IMG_9181_2011_02_26.jpg I’m a big fan of technology that has been put through its paces and still functions. The gas meters on the side of one of the buildings have been rusting for quite some time and the vines are just about forcing them off.

Model Shoot at Studio 212

Model Shoot at Studio 212

Karen Buttacavole applies T'.'s makeup for the shoot

Makeup time!

Last week I got together with three photographers at Studio 212 in Metuchen, NJ. They included Kelly Formus, Eric Gautier and Richard Flores. We also had the opportunity to work with makeup artist Karen Buttacavole and hair stylist Kelly Werrlein.

Many months ago, we met up and discussed our respective photography businesses and threw around some ideas for a workshop. We all have our particular strengths and knew it’d be great to learn from one another. We talked about getting a model and shooting wherever we could. Fast forward to January 2011. Easier said than done in the middle of winter. Karen's makeup kit

Our location really needed to be someplace indoors and local. I have been following a particular fashion photographer’s work, Stephen Eastwood, and learned that he has photographed inside Studio 212. If it’s good enough for him, it would be good enough for us. All of us arrived by 7:15pm and started searching for Studio 212. “Where the hell is this place?!” Well, it’s in the back of a large industrial complex. Next time we shoot there, we’ll save about 15 minutes looking for the joint.

Once we got inside I introduced myself to Greg Price who is both a photographer and owner of Studio 212. I went on a tour of the facility. The place has just about anything you could ever want. The prop department is extensive and even has a footed cast iron bathtub. Insane. After the tour I went back to the room we were setting up. There is a cyc-wall which makes shooting models against a backround much easier. We brought in a lot of different lighting equipment. Canon Speedlites, Einstein strobes, a ring flash, softboxes, gels, Phong diffusers. It was a lot of fun seeing what everyone else used in their setups.

Karen Buttacavole and Kelly Werrlein get T. ready for the camerasT. was the first model ready for the cameras and did a great job posing for the four of us. It got a little crazy at times because it’s not that normal for a model doing her thing for four different cameras all at once. We shot against the Cyc Wall and the red wall for a while. Here’s a great one Richard Flores took  of T. against the red wall with a ring flash. Richard B. Flores photographyBy this time Karen and Kelly W. had finished Lauren’s makeup and hair. Lauren was ready to pose! Kelly Formus brought along a small fan with a surprising amount of wind power. It also helped cool down the studio. Lots of lights popping and lots of moving around was starting to drive up the temperature.

The shoot continued into the night and then we brought T. out with Lauren and they posed together. We used the wind machine, no less than 4 Speedlites and strobed softboxes. It was the first time I used a transmitter that triggered so much light at once. It was blinding! Luckily I packed a lot of batteries because those Speedlites were firing at about 1/1 power.

I tried and move myself around the models so they would be easier to work with later on within Photoshop. At the very least I’d be removing light stands and a slight shift in position can save a lot of time in post. After T. and Lauren finished up, Kelly W. came out for some shots. We grew up on the same block in South Plainfield and it’s great that East Golf Avenue churned out some pretty creative folks. There is still hope for South Plainfield after all!

Last model I shot that night was Karen and the image I had in my head was of her against a black wall with red gels everywhere. I’d say the final images of her turned out great and she even made one of them her profile photo on facebook. Which is pretty much the internet equivalent of winning a Grammy or Oscar. To see more of the shots from that night, visit the Products gallery.

What Have I Done? The photography of Christopher John Sztybel

What Have I Done? The photography of Christopher John Sztybel

What Have I Done? The photography of Christopher John SztybelRecently, I decided to select some of my favorite photographs and put them in a book. This is a book I will keep around the house and show clients. Eventually I will put together a hardcover book available for sale. It was difficult choosing fifty photographs and I shuffled the order numerous times.

Can’t wait for the printed version to arrive by mail. In the meantime, you can take a look at the online version.