Tag Archives: christopher sztybel

Goblin Market Wedding

Special thanks to Events by Merida’s very own Merida for crafting this treasure trove of words.

Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is a dark fairytale, replete with small, tempting creatures, erotic phrasing, and a simple message:

Don’t eat strange fruit.

I’d been wanting to create this styled shoot for over a year, but I kept shelving it for various reasons. Finally, I sprung it on Chris of That Werks Photography– an incredibly talented photog out of the Art Factory in Paterson- with a, “this might seem weird…” His response?

“Count me in!”

I gathered some favorite vendors (and improv-ed a little) to bring my vision to life. A favorite MUA of Chris’s, Raen, came in to do the makeup, and she brought along two models from northern NJ, Rebecca and Natasha. A model I’ve been waiting for a long time to have the stars align on was able to come down for the shoot as well.

What never fails to astound me is the talent that these vendors bring to the table. Hair was by Jaimee of William Jean Salon, and she was also kind enough to loan us Maven, her darling mini-me, to be our “goblin”. She used the natural texture of Rebecca’s hair to create a gorgeous boho style, woven with greens. There was the same greenery in Natasha and Angeline’s hair. Fun coincidence: both Maven and Natasha have part of their heads shaved!

For makeup, I asked Raen for deep, rich colors on the lips. After that, I just let her go wild. Metallics came popping out on eyelids in addition to daring lip colors. The blue on Rebecca is probably my favorite, but I’ve always been a fan of dark lipsticks.

As for the “bouquets”, I wanted to do something slightly different. Lanterns have been in style for awhile as both centerpieces and to carry down the aisle (and pretty much everywhere in-between). I think they’re great for bouquets because they’re more natural to hold, and easier on the Person of Honor that has to hold two of them during the ceremony. I even managed to sneak some fruit in there with the candle!

Finally, the tablescape. Chris (the photographer) and I went out about a week before the shoot to take a look at locations in the park. The visitor center there does do receptions, FYI. However, we wanted it outdoors. What complicated things was that up until a few days before, it looked like it was going to rain! Luckily, we ended up having beautiful weather!

We came down a rather steep hill to an area by the Delaware that had a semi-circle of stone pavers. The backdrop was an island in the middle of the river. I initially planned a thick runner of eucalyptus or ferns, but I had so much moss that we covered the table in it. I dotted with the table with vintage (and vintage looking) pieces, and tons of fruit. We broke open a few pomegranates (and thankfully there were geeks abounding that got my Persephone jokes), and threw bundles of odd-looking grapes around to create a lush, but wild, feel.

When it came to create the dynamics of the group, I knew I wanted to have two women. It would have been disingenuous to the author to have it otherwise. Christina Rossetti’s work is complicated and influenced by many themes, but given the vivid imagery of her poetry, many people speculate that she was likely a closeted lesbian- which at the time, was the only way you could be a lesbian and not get into serious trouble. I knew we needed kids in the shoot to be the little folk, and I wanted a bridesmaid to bring together the colors of the shoot.

Dressing them was fun! BHLDN was kind enough to loan us two gorgeous dresses, and the bridesmaid’s dress was a burgundy convertible dress.

As for the cake- we shot this in the depth of wedding season, so all of the bakers are keeping up with their clients! This where some improv came in- and it’s a great DIY option. I found a pretty little buttercream cake at Wegman’s, and we surrounded it with greenery and fruit. I set the table up against a stone pillar overgrown with ivy- it seemed fitting for the theme, and I’m always a fan of using the elements around you. I used a scarlet tablecloth and hung copper twinkle lights behind the table to give it depth.

What was funny was as the girls were doing their cake cutting, a group of fishers came down to the river to join us! Apparently we interrupted their nightly routine. They were extremely kind as we finished up. It seemed like such a quaint ending to the shoot.

At the end of the day, all of the elements came together beautifully. I’m just glad we could do justice to Rossetti’s work.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed making them!

Merida Alexander
+1 215.527.5344
@eventsbymerida
As seen on: 
NBC Philadelphia, The Knot,
WeddingWire, Green Wedding Shoes,
Offbeat Bride, and Philly in Love
Styled Wedding by Events by Merida with photography by That Werks (Christopher John Sztybel)

Brianne for Cleri Models

Here’s a fun shoot I did with Brianne from Cleri Models in the studio. I’ve been digging the Savage backdrops lately. They really are perfect for giving me the pop needed for modeling work. I like a nice crisp directional light, drop shadow and a vibrant backdrop and their seamless paper fits the bill for that aesthetic. We also employed a little bit of haze for the environment.

Location: The Art Factory
Photographer: Christopher John Sztybel
Model: Brianne M. for Cleri Models
Hair & Makeup: Araena Sanchez
Assistant: Katie Aklian

To view more of my work and to book me please visit my photography web site.

Brianne for Cleri Models photographed by That Werks Photography at Art Factory Studios

Getting Downright Experimental with Professional Dancers

The night I photographed Andrea, Emily and Tara was a big ole experiment. There is no creative growth in my book without throwing everything out the window for something new. I shot everything using a lens I would normally never use being so close to the subject. I used off camera flash in a way I never did before. My favorite images taken that evening were shot against a dark background. If I had to describe the look it would be a fluid series of motions captured in one single exposure. This gives the performer something they probably don’t have in their portfolio of images. Something different that stands out and gets a “WOW!”

Style is always evolving. Never be completely content in the work you are creating because there’s always another way to push or pull the methods. Using this method of photographing dancers should encourage anyone that performs dance, or knows someone that dances, to look into booking a shoot with me. We will create amazing images together using this technique.

To book use the “Inquire” message box on this site or visit http://www.thatwerksphotography.com

Professional Dancers and Athletes at Art Factory Studios in Paterson, NJ

Kelly and Mike’s Totally Tubular Engagement Session

Each time I do a wedding or engagement for people I like to think of something different. Something that will stand out and make people remember a particular shot. This time around we shot Kelly and Mike using a big ass tube that someone discarded. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. We did whatever the hell we wanted during this shoot and I’m always grateful for clients, family or not, that are up for some horseplay and antics.

Take a look at the shots below and then contact me through my new totally tubular photography site and schedule your very own shoot.

Kelly and Mike's engagement session at The Art Factory in Paterson, New Jersey

L’Oasis Floral Design at The American Museum of Natural History

Documenting A Floral Masterpiece

It’s not every day that I get to visit New York City on the day the Pope Francis and United Nations are both in town. Lew Monty and I packed up and headed in by train. We gave ourselves PLENTY of time to get into Manhattan in order to get around any potential traffic tie-ups. Worst case scenario I wore running shoes if we had to walk 50 blocks.

Alas the subway trains were running smooth as butter and we arrived early. Our job was to document the setup and final look of the venue. It was a pleasure working in an environment with so many things going on at once. That’s the magic of the creative process. The chaos before the ultimate reward of looking at the finished product.

To see more of my photography work, please visit http://www.thatwerksphotography.com

Designer: L’Oasis Floral Design http://www.loasisfloraldesign.com
Assistant: Lew Monty
Venue: The American Museum of Natural History http://www.amnh.org

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

L'Oasis Floral Design at Museum of Natural History

 

 

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga in Princeton, New Jersey

In July 2012 I assisted Rita Rojas-Sullivan in shooting a wedding in Princeton, New Jersey. I started out at the hotel photographing the groomsmen. Fun bunch. Lots of joking and that made things easy. They were good sports about going out in the heat too!

The ceremony itself was at the Princeton Chapel. Gorgeous church. I made sure to get plenty of wide shots to showcase how enormous the building is. Since I was the second photographer, it gave me a chance to experiment with lenses I normally don’t use for more than a few shots. Namely my Rokinon 8mm.

The reception was held at the Prospect House. Fantastic live music all night long and a lovely wedding was enjoyed by all.

For additional photos of this wedding, please visit Rita’s blog.

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

The Wedding of Michelle and Chris Falanga (Christopher John Sztybel)

GIZMODO Shooting Challenge: Steal

Bruce Springsteen "Born in the U.S.A." redux
"Born in the U.S.A." redux by Christopher John Sztybel

GIZMODO  ran a pretty cool “Shooting Challenge” called “Steal”. Recreate a well-known photograph. I love this sorta stuff! When the “Steal” contest was announced, I thought of a few pop culture photographs that have both a commercial value as well as artistic merit.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this entry, results are in for the Shooting Challenge. Very happy with the results. Such cool submissions!)

The original composition I stole from was the “Born in the U.S.A.” album cover (photographed by Annie Leibovitz) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_in_the_U.S.A.

"Born in the U.S.A." original
"Born in the U.S.A." original by Annie Leibovitz

The artwork for “Born in the U.S.A.” has always stuck out in my mind. I am a huge fan of Annie Leibovitz. Especially her more simple compositions. The message behind the album title (and title track) should be noted as a remembrance of the men and women who have served the United States in both popular and unpopular wars. My dad served in the Vietnam War and I thought this would be a great iconic photograph to emulate.

Set design

  • One white t-shirt
  • One pair of blue jeans
  • One red baseball cap (Thanks for letting me borrow the hat, Vin!)
  • One large American flag
  • One male model

The American flag was clamped to a fence (You can get an idea of the setup by taking a look at the photo to the right.) Since my remote for the camera was dead, I had to get creative with focusing the lens. The The setup for my "Born in the U.S.A." photographtrash can in the backyard was placed approximately 2 feet in front of the fence. Then I focused on the trash can. Then I removed the trash can from the scene and replaced it with Ralph’s chew toy. A little rubber doughnut to be specific. The doughnut was my standing marker. After pressing the shutter, a 10 second timer would give me just enough time to get into position.

The project would have been a lot easier with another person helping me. Oh well!

Lighting setup

I did my best to replicate the lighting from Annie’s original photograph. I couldn’t find much detail on her original shoot, so I did my best to emulate her setup.

  • Sunrise
  • Canon 7D onboard flash
  • Canon 430EX
  • Canon 580EX II

Shooting information

  • Model: Canon EOS 7D
  • Exposure: 1/250 @ f5.0
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • ISO Speed Rating: ISO 200
  • Lens: EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Post-processing

I made it a goal to strictly limit the post-processing techniques to those of a photographer back in the mid-1980s. Photoshop did not exist. Although I shot digitally, I used an extensive amount of dodge/burn techniques to emulate the methods of that era.

As always, please check out the rest of my photography