On the Open Sea for Family Photos

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Welcome to Keyport, New Jersey. Another new challenge came my way. How do you do family photos on a moving boat? First thing you do is make sure all your gear is safely tucked in place and only carry what you will be using.

Strobes were used for the portraits taken with the family sitting on the edge of the boat. Since I was not going to have an assistant, I brought along my Manfrotto light stands since they have an extremely wide footprint and wouldn’t tip off a rocking boat.

Once we got back to land, the remainder of the session was shot using natural light. I am particularly fond of the black and white shot of father, son and grandson next to the water. A simple summary of the three generations of Zushma photographed.

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New Manfrotto Tri-Backpack Article On Manfrottobags.com

This year has brought me a lot of good luck and lot of things earned through good old-fashioned hard work. I suppose my Manfrotto relationship is a mix of both. One day I was on my way to Hoboken to do a maternity shoot. I posted my pile-o-stuff at the train station to my Instagram account. One way or another Manfrotto got wind of my pile-o-stuff and wanted to share their product with me. It has made my traveling a whole lot easier.

This isn't even packed to capacity. My average shoot leaves room to spare for items like trail mix.
This isn’t even packed to capacity. My average shoot leaves room to spare for items like trail mix.

Product placement always kind of bothers me, but when I say I am using a particular product, you better believe it’s because I actually like using the product. Special thanks to The New Royalty and Salt Studios for being available to shoot this bad mamma jamma.

Let’s get down to it! My latest article featuring a photo shoot with New Jersey-based The New Royalty is now up on manfrottobags.com


Manfrotto Advanced Bags Review for the Tri Backpack

(This is an article I wrote for Manfrotto Advanced Bags originally published on the Manfrotto Bags web site.)

Shooting both photo and cinema requires me to always have quite a few pieces of gear on hand and the room to cram in more on the fly. In a matter of days I had a maternity shoot, a family shoot and a project for Rutgers Newark. The variety of gear that I need to carry with me needs to be in one place so I can set up quickly and have my inventory available to me at all times.

What I like about the bag is it fits everything I need for a shoot including two Canon 6Ds, all three of my lenses, two flashes, transceivers, memory cards, gaffer tape, BeFree tripod and extra batteries. The pack feels sturdy on my back and the straps distribute the weight evenly. No painful digging into my shoulders. I remember when I first started out and thought bags were nonsense. But a great bag is crucial to staying organized and saving your back from unwanted stress.

The Simko Family joined me at Duke Island Park (Hillsborough, New Jersey) for a family session focusing on their children. It was a very cold day, so it was crucial to work quickly and nail their personalities before the cold took its toll on cheeks and noses. I usually keep my setup light and easy to carry for outdoor sessions like this. One bag and a lightstand for a bit of off camera flash when needed.

Manfrotto bag in Hillsborough, NJ
One lightstand, BeFree tripod and Tri Backpack
Kids being kids. I love the calm to one side and the action on the other.
Kids being kids. I love the calm to one side and the action on the other.

Rima’s maternity shoot (Lawrenceville, New Jersey) was done in the comfort of her home. The living room had plenty of natural light, but I wanted to warm up the inside a bit, so I setup an umbrella and flash with a light orange gel. Just enough to kiss the room with a slight warmth. I don’t normally like blowing out backgrounds, but I liked having the room hug her in glowing light. This is a very happy time, but it’s also important to convey that feeling by making the person feel totally comfortable. I practice the advice I’ve learned when it comes to more intimate portrait settings. Talk to the person and make them feel like it’s no big deal to be in front of a camera. Everything kind of writes itself once you’ve established that.

Rima's maternity session
Rima’s maternity session

Rutgers University has hired me recently to document events hosted at the school campuses. This particular event (Newark, New Jersey) dealt more with video and put my Tri Backpack to the test. There’s quite a bit more involved with video compared to photo. Lavalier microphone, external audio recorder, LED light, extra batteries, headphones, etc. All of these items are a standard and I’m ecstatic that I can fit this array of equipment into a single bag.

Mayor Baraka speaks at GradNation
Mayor Baraka (Newark, NJ) speaks at GradNation
Manfrotto in Newark, NJ
Newark always has some sort of crazy construction going on. I intentionally framed this to look like the crane is coming out of the bag.

Of course when a friend is just minutes from boarding a bus (New York, New York) to the airport it’s a perfect time to do a headshot. Because I’m a swell guy! Sara teaches at the University of South Dakota and needed a new headshot for her school page. No problem, Sara, and safe travels.

Portrait of Sara Lampert
Sara Lampert, Assistant Professor, History, College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Dakota

Then I headed to Times Square for some long exposure shots of the tourists. I could have sat there all day watching people enjoying their time in New York City.

Times Square, NYC. 50mm @ f/16. 20 second exposure.
Times Square, NYC. 50mm @ f/16. 20 second exposure.
Manfrotto in New York City, New York
All I need for a day trip into Manhattan.


Two Peas In A Manfrotto Monopod

Manfrotto monopodUsually I shoot video using a tripod instead of a monopod, but lately I’ve been working in close quarters, and the tripod legs were getting in the way. Manfrotto produces a very high quality monopod and I already love using it. Quick to extend and a very solid piece of equipment. It’s also great if you’re a pirate and termites got to your wooden leg. Pop this baby into place. Try gnawing through aluminum ya scurvy bugs!