Bat Mitzvah with The Zucker Family

Bat Mitzvahs commonly have formal portraits taken after the actual ceremony. The Zucker family invited me to photograph this important event in their lives. I had a bit of fun taking “movie theatre” type shots.

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Mia Zucker bat mitzvah at B'Nai temple in Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Christine and Joe’s Asbury Park Engagement Session

It’s July 4th weekend, people! As the saying goes, celebrate the independence of our country by blowing up a small part of it. This engagement session is timely for such an occasion because we have Christine and Joe who are recently engaged. Joe serves in the United States Army. Christine had a few shots in mind, but the rest was up to me. We made the most of the sunset in Asbury. The boardwalk is always filled with families, dogs and joggers. It’s rude to grab random dogs and pose with them, so they brough their own…BENNY!

Benny kept everyone entertained by being freaking adorable and eating his snacks between shutter clicks. Christine’s mom came along and took Benny home after he was done being awesome.

The remainder of our time shooting was spent on the beach and boardwalk. We lucked out getting very wide shots of the abandoned casino. For some of the casino shots, I lit up the inside with my ABR800 at 1/1 power. It’s nice to show off the architecture. Thank you Christine and Joe for hustling with me to get these wonderful photographs. Congratulations to both of you on your engagement and please, please use Benny as the ring bearer.

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Asbury Park engagement session

Zipkin Family Fall Photographs at Colonial Park in Franklin Township, New Jersey

‘Twas a wonderful autumn day to photograph the zany Zipkins at Colonial Park in Franklin Township, NJ. We began shooting as the sun started setting, giving us a nice warm feeling for the hijinks throughout our hour together. Some of my personal favorites were taken toward the end of the shoot near a small cottage.

There is still time left to book a fall photo session. Learn more about it!

Family Session with the Zipkins in Colonial Park in Franklin Township, New Jersey

New Brunswick National Night Out Event Photography

I met with Charlie Kratovil (Editor; New Brunswick Today) earlier this week to see how I could use my photography powers for good and not evil. Evil photography is not something I am into. Just so happens that there are tons of things happening in New Brunswick, New Jersey such as New Brunswick National Night Out. This is an event where residents and organizations come together in parks across the city to get the word out about day to day life. This includes making residents aware of topics such as fair wages and basic rights afforded to citizens. Plus, who doesn’t like running around the local park eating Italian ice and cotton candy? Show of hands please! Higher! HIGHER!

Enjoy these photographs from New Brunswick Night Out and let’s keep summer going. Until the first blizzard sometime in early October, right?

View the entire gallery from New Brunswick National Night Out 2013

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

New Brunswick Night Out in Feaster Park (Christopher John Sztybel)

Jon Bon Jovi Not Dead

Jon Bon Jovi lets us all know how awesome RATT isI figured with Jon Bon Jovi being “dead” and all that he wouldn’t mind me poking fun at him. I’m not a fan of the band ever since they started playing/writing country music. Really pissed me off and I am sure I’m not the only one. So I figured a nice parody was in order. David Bergman took a lovely photo of Jon posing with a sign declaring him being alive. I thought it would be a nice opportunity to work some Photoshop magic. Remember when Bon Jovi had a huge mop of hair and a shark tooth earring? Sure you do. That’s back when they wrote amazing music that made us all proud to be from New Jersey.

If you searched my car right now, you would find at least two RATT cds. Amazing band. If I had to name my absolute favorite band from the 1980s, it would have to be RATT. They’ve remained consistent and their most recent album “Infestation” is probably their best album. Anyway, Jon Bon Jovi actually sang background vocals on RATT’s “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” off their “Detonator” album. Interesting fact.

Laser Xpressions photo shoot

laser_xpressions_products_IMG_1262_2011_05_25.jpgA while back I was asked to photograph products for Laser Xpressions in Freehold, NJ. This project was done on site and I got to see behind-the-scenes of how these laser engraved products are created. Very impressive process! There is a large piece of equipment that very carefully beams light into a piece of glass creating a small air bubble. One beam after another. Thousands of them! Put enough of those bubbles next to one another and you have an amazing piece of artwork.

To view more examples of product photography, please visit the gallery.

More information about Laser Xpressions:

“Laser Xpressions is your source for quality personalized gifts utilizing state-of-the-art laser engraving. Perfect for corporate gifts, or any gift-giving occasion, engraved gifts will be treasured and remembered for years to come.

We start you off with a wide selection from the most wanted gift categories and then add your personalized greeting or message using our high tech laser engraving technology.laser_xpressions_products_IMG_1247_2011_05_25.jpg

laser_xpressions_products_IMG_1211_2011_05_25.jpgWhether it’s a crystal figurine, personalized desk accessory, marble or granite photo, or any other of our unique gift items, you’ll find the perfect personalized and corporate gift ideas right here at

For a unique, one-of-a-kind gift that you no one else could possibly give, consider having your favorite photo transferred to crystal, granite or wood and finished off with a personalized laser engraved message.

Looking for more personalized and corporate gift ideas? Browse through our engraved gifts categories or use the search box at the top of the page to find the perfect engraved gifts that are sure to please everyone on your gift list no matter what your budget is.”

Hurricane Irene panorama

hurricane_irene_IMG_3084_2011_08_28_-Edit.jpg Hurricane Irene rocked us like a hurricane this past weekend. I could not stop hearing “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by Scorpions throughout the event.

I was driving home from Lindsay’s house tonight and saw a ton of people watching the sunset on the Goodkind Bridge that connects Edison to New Brunswick in New Jersey. I knew this was my chance to photograph a great aftermath shot from Hurricane Irene. (It was far too dangerous to venture out during the actual hurricane.)

Thankfully, I wasn’t blown off the bridge taking this photo. That would have been a bummer. I give myself credit for disregarding my own personal safety in the name of art. My mom will not be happy to read this.

Paradise Bikini @ Heavenly Touch Cosmetics “SPRING FLING” 2011

Jennifer ChlebowskiOn Friday, May 13, 2011 I photographed “SPRING FLING” 2011 hosted by Heavenly Touch Cosmetics at Park East in Hazlet, New Jersey. Digital and printed photos are available and, more importantly, affordable. The night was action packed with many different models walking the stage! It’s amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes to put on a show like this.

On this particular night I put my new Flash Zebra 8 AA Cell Battery Pack through the paces. The pace of the fashion show was not going to allow for a Canon 580EXII to keep up without assistance. I’m happy to report it worked like a champ. Not one missed shot due to recharge lag!

Links to companies in attendance:

Park East
Heavenly Touch Cosmetics

Paradise Bikini

Posch Boutique


Chips Salon

8 AA Cell Battery Pack

“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.

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)

"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


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