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!
As seen on:
NBC Philadelphia, The Knot,
WeddingWire, Green Wedding Shoes,
Offbeat Bride, and Philly in Love
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.
Rachel and Peter’s wedding was held two days after Christmas and The Bernards Inn was still decorated for the holidays. Peter is from Scotland and Rachel moved there with him. He showed me photos on his cell phone and it is as spectacular as you would imagine Scotland being. Below you will find a selection of photos from throughout the day. Look at the details in the bouquet arrangements. They’re made of paper thin wood. Really nice touch.
A very special thanks to my wife for assisting me with lighting setups and a second camera angle.
To see more of my photography work, please visit http://www.thatwerksphotography.com
The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre opened in 1929 and is located across the street from the Journal Square PATH train station. Lauren and Rich are already married, but they got dressed up in their wedding attire and invited a bunch of photographers to join them for a night at the theatre. I took the shots I wanted and everyone took turns since there were a lot of us. You can see my exploration of the theatre below the formals.
From the Landmark’s history page:
“Once upon a time, the great film studios of old Hollywood built theatres the like of which no one had ever seen before. They had marble columns that soared to ceilings covered in gold leaf, bronze railings, rich red tapestries and plush carpets. And they were huge, with thousands of seats.
These buildings seemed more like palaces than theatres. Not surprisingly, they came to be called Movie Palaces.
In spite of their name, Movie Palaces were as much legitimate theatres as cinemas. They were equipped with full stages, orchestra pits and dressing rooms, as well as projectors. Because in that long ago time the still-new movies were presented as part of a double bill with live stage shows of elaborately choreographed dance revues or a mix of song, dance and comedy acts — variety shows once known as Vaudeville.
Most Movie Palaces were also fitted with massive pipe organs. Originally intended to add sound to silent films, these instruments became stars in themselves as organ concerts, as well as audience sing-alongs, became popular parts of the regular programming in many Movie Palaces.
The reason the Hollywood studios built the Movie Palaces was an insight as bold as it was simple: that the theatre building itself should be so spectacular as to become essentially the opening act for the show on the stage or screen, and that together Movie Palace and show would make an uplifting and unforgettable experience.
This insight, in turn, was itself the product of something that can be called “the art of American entertainment” — a combination of artistry and showmanship that melded the performing arts traditions of the diverse peoples who had come to this country into a new democratic idiom that not only entertained us, but expressed our collective hopes and fears and dreams so dynamically that the entertainment arts became the single greatest instrument in enabling Americans to come together, imagine and re-imagine ourselves, and define our American Experience to the world.
So it was that spectacular Movie Palaces were built across the country in the 1920s. And the public flocked to them.
The elaborate designs of the Movie Palaces were often based on the grand opera houses and palaces of Europe. But the Movie Palaces were unabashedly American in spirit, and unlike their Old World antecedents, were not built for a privileged elite, but for everyone. The banker and the shop girl sat side by side in the Palaces and were equally entertained.
The Loew’s Jersey opened its polished brass doors on September 28, 1929. Journal Square, Jersey City was a regional crossroads with a stop on the “Tubes” subway line that ran between New York and Newark; scores of regional bus and trolley lines also converged there. Two other theatres were already doing business in Journal Square, along with some of the area’s finest shops and restaurants.
Built at what was then the impressive sum of $2 million dollars, the Loew’s was accurately called as “the most lavish temple of entertainment in New Jersey”. It was also one of the state’s biggest theatres, with just under 3,100 seats. And the Loew’s was also one of the best equipped theatres of its day. It was fitted with an arbor and metal cable counter-weight rigging system in its 80 foot high rigging loft, the same kind of system still in use in Broadway’s older houses. The stage lighting equipment was state of the art for 1929, having ten pre-sets. The Theatre’s stage was large for its day, measuring an average 35 feet deep by 82 feet wide, with a proscenium opening of an amazingly wide 50 feet. The orchestra pit included a main elevator plus a second one dedicated exclusively to the piano; overall, it was large enough for 40 musicians. The Loew’s backstage area included ten dressing rooms and a large rehearsal space. And of course, there was the projection booth, originally equipped with VitaPhone sound-on-disk projectors — the first commercially successful “talking picture” equipment.”
Steve contacted me and asked if I would hide out on a windy, cold beach in February to photograph his proposal to Jana. I am down for anything so I bundled up and stocked up on handwarmers from 7-11. Visually these photos have a lot of impact. A stark beach with just two people expressing their love for one another. Bright red flowers. Lots of visual cues giving you a true feel for that day.
Steve is a brave man for designing and executing such a plan. Hats off to you both for such a wonderful moment in time. After you’re done perusing the photos, watch the engagement in full motion thanks to a couple GoPro cameras hidden on the beach.
To see more of my photography work, please visit http://www.thatwerksphotography.com
Jana & Steve’s Engagement in Sandy Hook, New Jersey 2/28/2014 from Chris Sztybel on Vimeo.