From Engagement to Marriage – A Nine Month Love Story

From Engagement to Marriage – A Nine Month Love Story

A silhouette of Brett and Heather kissing from their walkthrough at the Key Bridge Marriott.

Last year, I had the privilege of photographing Heather and Brett Pocorobba for their engagement and wedding. I am not a traditional wedding photographer, but they wanted a real street vibe to their collection, so it was a good fit.

As we discussed the project, I suggested a series of street engagement shots, one every month. The idea was to show the evolution of their relationship as they moved towards marriage. It was kind of a crazy fun idea, and made it interesting from an artistic perspective. Heather and Brett are big fans of art (Brett is the bassist for DC rock band Skip House) and they really liked the concept.

I think we caught some street style in this, but we also evolved beyond that, too. Looking back at the project, we added a sense of style to the classic engagement shoot that’s not quite street, but definitely beyond the usual soft white engagement picture.

The following photos show the project month by month, each with a little side story. Because people always ask about equipment, these shots were taken with a variety of Nikon cameras, including a D810, D750, and Df. If a unique lens was used, I note that. Otherwise, assume the shot was taken with a Sigma Art 35, Zeiss Planar 50, or a Nikon 85 (1.8 version) lens.

January

Love reflected through time.

Love Transcends the Rain.

I took this outside of St. Elmo’s coffee in Alexandria, right after we agreed to work together. Since it had just rained, and we were executing a street-themed concept, capturing a kiss in a puddle offered a great way to set the tone for the project.

February

Brett and Heather in the Cathedral

A classic engagement moment, ring included.

The National Cathedral added a sense of grounding to the series. First, it was cold out, so yeah, we wanted to shoot indoors. The open, almost universalist spiritual nature of the building made it welcoming. And of course the soft reddish purple light was perfect for Valentine’s Day.

The Journey Together

The Journey Together – If you follow my work, you’ll definitely see some familiar themes, with Heather and Brett framed by symmetry and isolated from crowds that may be present.

This one is really about intentional light and dark contrast with the couple featured in the light. Many spiritual overtones to this photo, one with a grand sense of scale.

March

Rock Star Couple

Rock Star Couple

It was still cold outside so we went to the National Gallery of Art. And boy did we get a sense of avant garde style and power from the couple. These are not your usual engagement shoots. They look chic and cool. These shots may have been the best of the whole series with the tunnel shot as my favorite portrait of Heather and Brett from the project.

Sensual engagement shot

Steamy! More of a sensual shot.

Engagement shoot going down the National Gallery Art stairs.

Love the stairs at NGA, shot with a little fisheye effect compliments of Nikon’s killer 14-24 mm lens.

Hello, Beatles!

Hello, Beatles! An intentional take on the fab four’s penchant for staircases.

April

An Epic Love Story

Classic engagement shoot, again with a sense of grand scale thanks to the Capitol Columns.

We finally got outside in April, and went to the National Arboretum for our next shoot. I even brought in some lights to get some stronger classic engagement pics. While I like this shoot, it lacked the street portrait and scene edge that the other pics in the series have. If this were music, then these are your top 40 pop songs.

Classic spring engagement shot.

Engagement shoot in the azalea garden. What’s unique about it is the bokeh, a signature look from the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100 lens.

His and her engagement rings.

His and her engagement rings.

May

Classic street shot of a couple.

Coffee Shop Days: I really like this one because it shows Brett as I think of him. Classic street.

A rainstorm brings us back to the street. The top shot was taken through a window at le Madeleine’s in Old Town, Alexandria. The rest of the shots were taken underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Most notably, these latter three are within my normal street style, a bit of subject isolation mixed with grand scale.

Engagement shot mimicking Hollywood style.

Ocean’s 2: Hip, cool and slick: Pure Hollywood.

Engagement shot under a bridge.

So this is Love: A good natural moment.

Engaged couple walking away together.

The Walk Off: Love this shot! It is grungy, and stylish, and fun.

June

A sense of naughtiness with this one as Heather and Brett are captured in a city fountain.

June was not a great photo shoot. I was experimenting with the Sigma Art 135 mm lens, and just really did not produce many outstanding shots outside of the above fountain shot. I rented the lens for two weeks and remained mixed with its performance overall (Stay tuned for a review of three 135 lenses next month). The good news is that we did capture this awesome summer couple shot. The photograph has a great street vibe to it, and really fits well within the project’s direction.

July

Engaged couple in a tunnel.

Forever: Again, grand, stylized with strong contrast. Shot in one of my favorite locations, the Wilkes Street Tunnel.

Oh July. So we tried a crazy photoshoot on some railroad track with a smoke grenade. And it bombed (so punny). We then relocated to the Wilkes Street Tunnel in Alexandria to make some lemonade. I got a sense from Heather and Brett that they were starting to feel the wedding tension, but that it was bonding them. They were really together now, married spiritually.

Engagement shot on railroad tracks.

Ready: The couple is bonded together and ready for their wedding.

The lighting and wall texture makes it a nice street portrait.

August

Engagement shot

Brett, Heather, and their dog Sora on long boards.

August was a much more natural shoot, featuring Heather and Brett enjoying one of their favorite activities together, paddle-boarding on the Potomac River. We had a special guest star for this shoot, their dog Sora. I like that there was a great sense of calm with this final series of engagement shots. All photos were taken with Nikon 200-500 mm lens. Next up is the wedding.

Engagement shot while paddle-boarding.

Together in the water.

The Key Bridge in the background adds a grand sense of scale.

September: The Wedding

Bride and groom kiss in the elevator.

Now, that we are alone…

The wedding was super fun, and Dwight Jefferson and I shot it from a journalist perspective. We did have our fair share of standard wedding fare (portraits, the ceremony, etc.). In all, we delivered several hundred photos to Heather and Brett.

Here are some of my favorite shots that I think met the spirit of the overarching project. A new lens is introduced to the mix here, a Tamron 24-70/2.8.

Dancing in the street!

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The bridesmaid and bride gowns and shoes.

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Brett catches a lift with the bridesmaids.

Can You Say Honeymoon?

The Bride and Groom Dance

The Bride and Groom Dance.

The walk off.

A special thank you to Heather and Brett for having fun and experimenting with our shoot!

My Exposed DC Crystal City Isolation Exhibit Takes on Self-Identity

Blue Isolation

This year’s Exposed DC Crystal City Fotowalk Underground Exhibition features 13 local photographers, including me. I contributed a 12 photograph series focusing on isolation and self identity.

Modernism as a movement interested me because of its take on the isolated individual in the industrial world. My favorite modernist was Franz Kafka, with his characters often alienated and trapped alone in a mad ironic world they cannot escape. While 20th century modernism deals with isolation in a time of factories, cars, and new skyscrapers, I feel we are in a new modernist era.

The current sense of alienation finds us alone in a crowd, both in the city and with social media. Our sense of self is exacerbated, a brilliant signal in a vast barren field of noise. For many that noise is defined by the digital noise they experience on their phones, TVs, and computers. It is often malevolent filled with self-indulgent over-spun social media posts, Trumpian vitriol, and fear-mongering tabloid news.

When we are in the world, surrounded by crowds (and that person taking an over-contrived selfie to add to the digital noise) we feel relief, but see ourselves as a unique signal in the noise. The rest of the world doesn’t even see us, just more noise. So last year when shooting street photos, I tried to capture the 21st century sense of self, surrounded by millions, yet alone.

This Friday Exposed DC is hosting a happy hour at the Gallery Underground in Crystal City to unveil the 2018 exhibition. If you live in DC, please join us and come see the exhibition. I will be there on Friday, and the photos are gorgeous, blown up so you can see them in large format.

You can also find smaller virtual copies of the exhibition photos in this gallery, and five of the 12 shots below with the back story behind each image. Cheers!

Modern Isolation

A dark sky and gritty take on an idyllic Laguna Beach scene makes this walk beautiful, yet fraught with trouble. It’s an image that typifies what I believe represents the isolated self in the 21st century. The beach was actually quite crowded, but there was a five second pause in pedestrian traffic around her on both sides. I actually sat in this spot for 30 minutes waiting for the shot.

Highway to Hell

Highway to Hell

Taken during a foggy morning in DC, this photo features a man walking alone on the Pennsylvania bike path towards the U.S. Capitol building. The last vestiges of the fog are burning off in the distance, and his silhouetted hoodie add a sinister element to the image. To me this is how many of us feel alone and powerless when we consider the modern political environment.

Run for Joy

Run for Joy

I was sitting in the pillar of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, waiting for people to walk out the entrance for the perfect shot. Suddenly, this little girl ran into my frame and went tearing down the passage oblivious to the world. The image typifies an innocent beautiful sense of isolation that children have as they enjoy their surroundings. It also illustrates hope, the belief of what could be in this crazy world.

Isolation in Love

Together at the End of the World

When you are in love, one often feels a sense of positive isolation. No one else exists almost, it’s just the two of you enjoying life and facing the world together. This silhouetted shot typifies that sense of love, in my mind.

Trapped

Stuck on the Train

This poor fellow pushed his luck and found himself trapped in the metro. The doors eventually opened, and let him enter the train. What a great visual for modern isolation. It screams awkwardness, isolation, and humiliation for an individual alone in a large crowd.

National Parks Project,
A New Photo Gallery

Acadia National Park

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, one of the photos in my new National Parks Project

Please check out a new photography gallery representing my National Parks Project.

Over the past few years I visited several national parks. Along the way, I have taken some amazing photographs, and this gallery represents the best of the best (in my opinion).

It should be noted that during this time I started volunteering as a photographer for the National Park Foundation (a fine nonprofit to support), which included a special volunteer trip documenting the Find Your Park Expedition to Yosemite last year. The National Parks Foundation also hired me to do a smaller job, too.

See Geoff Livingston's photo gallery!

This project will continue over the years as an ongoing effort. Nothing captivates my heart more than being out in the wide open in one our country’s protected amazing spaces. And there are so many to see.

What the Parks Mean to Me

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

There so many interesting National Park Service properties to see. In addition to the big parks, historical sites and recreation areas like the Golden Gate National Recreation Area remind me of where we have come from, and our many accomplishments.

Then there are the nature vistas. A sense of great calm overwhelms me when I visit our magnificent parks incredibly well known sites, as well as less well known scenes. Nature demonstrates its sheer power, humbling the soul, making me realize that I am but a tiny part of this incredible history that continues to expand over millions of years.

Half Dome

The sadness of a nation seen at Yosemite.

Though I am photographing people more often these days, I wish I could transport all of my subjects to mythical places that I have never seen like the Great Sand Dunes National Park or Denali. And then there is the Grand Canyon, which I have visited, but am desperate to revisit now that my photography skills improved. Wherever you are, the sense of self invoked by a great natural scene powerful overpowers the soul.

More to Add to the National Parks Project

Yes, I have already seen some amazing places like Yosemite on the 2016 FYPx Expedition and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. There are so many more to see.

One of the most incredible parks I visited was Acadia on a family vacation with my wife and daughter. They both loved it so much we are returning this coming summer, in what will hopefully be a family tradition.

In the end photographs are either memories or promises. They remind of us of where we have been and with with whom we experienced those times. And for those scenes that have not experienced, they offer a promise of what could be, the elusive hope of good meaningful moments.

But whether you are a photographer or not, I encourage you to visit one of our national parks. You will leave inspired.

And do visit my new National Parks Project Gallery for a taste of what could be. ;)

The Photographer’s Choice: Favorite and Unpublished #FYPx Shots

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FYPx Influencers from Left to Right Mario Villaneuva, Victoria Ramos, Victoria Gonzales, Edgar Woo, Juan Flores, Jacob Fu, Faith Eve Bee, and Erin McGrady.

Last September, I had the great pleasure of serving the National Park Foundation as a volunteer photographer for its Find Your Park Expedition (#FYPx) 2016. The trip featured eight super Instagram influencers, and fantastic National Parks and Historic Sites, including Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Alcatraz Island, Rosie the Riveter WII Home Front National Historic Park, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, and John Muir National Historic Site. It was an incredible way to be of service, especially during the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary!

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F Market Castro

My friend Joe Newman interviewed me about the assignment and what I thought of it. It was incredible to work with these influencers, and as I told Joe, “‘The National Park Service can tell you how awesome their parks are, and it sounds interesting. But when you witness this through a friend or a trusted contact’s online media, well now you are a believer.”

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Mandatory Ranger Pointing Pic

I have published some pics that would be most popular online, but not necessarily my favorite ones. So I thought I would add to the narrative by choosing my favorite pictures, particularly ones I have yet to publish. There are a few familiar ones, but generally these are brand new or have been seen in only one of my networks rather than across all of my properties.

So with that, let’s go! And if you want Yosemite shots, just scroll to the end.

Golden Gate Recreation Area (Including REI Bike Tour)

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Golden Gate at Sunset (probably my best shot of the trip)

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Hang Time

walking-a-thin-line
Walking a Thin Line

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The Underbelly

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Super Tanker

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Hiding in the Shade

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Palace of Fine Arts

 

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Scale

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Admiring the Architecture

Alcatraz

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Boat to Alcatraz

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Tunnel Under Alcatraz

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Sadness

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Cell Block

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Prison Factory

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Ranger Walking

San Francisco Maritime

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Tugboat

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To the Deck

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Crates

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Engine

Rosie the Riveter

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Rosie

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A Surviving Rosie

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Rosie the Silhouette

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Rosie, the Facility

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94-year old ranger Betty Reid Soskin

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The View from Richmond

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Photobombing

Yosemite

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El Capitan

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Half Dome

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Inspired

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Vernal Falls

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Four Mile Trail

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A Place to Breath

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Yosemite Valley

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Channeling Ansel

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The Majestic Lodge

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Walking Amongst Giants

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The Mist Trail

 

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Playing Amongst the Stars.

Street Pics for the ADWKDC 2016 Trespass Campaign

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The Georgetowner

I had the great fortune of serving AAF-DC as photographer for their ADWKDC 2016 campaign, themed Trespass. Above and below are my favorite shots from each frame that I submitted. I affectionately call the set “the Georgetowners” as the photos were all shot in Georgetown, where I went to graduate school.

If you haven’t registered for ADWKDC 2016 yet, definitely consider doing so. It’s a fantastic celebration of Washington’s advertising community. There are dozens of events, culminating with a two day conference filled with speakers sharing their best practices. If you want to learn more visit the site, or check out this five reasons to attend blog post.

Special thanks to Julia Sarver, Creative Director at Merritt Group and Josh Belhumeur, partner at BRINK for selecting me to work on this campaign.

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Glamour Walk

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Chatting on the Bridge

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Early Runner

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Selfie City

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Man’s Best Friend

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The New Commute

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Happy Hour

What’s In Your Camera Bag?

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I visited Cuba, Ocean City, NJ, and Denver, CO over the summer. The three trips presented the opportunity to revisit what equipment I carry in my camera bag.

The real challenge for me — just like every other photographer — is to figure out which lenses to pack and which ones to leave behind, as well as what accessories do I really need. There will always be a photographic opportunity that the limitations of a travel bag will prevent you from meeting. It won’t allow you to bring all of your equipment. This is when the photographer must prepare well for the journey.

Think Scale

Walk This Way 1200

First of all, I use a sizable journalist camera bag, the Oberwerth Heidelberg. It’s an ideal bag that allows me to carry two Nikon full frame DSLR bodies, three lenses, a speedlight, and a variety of other equipment. The pockets give me plenty of room for smaller devices like triggers, flashlight, chargers, raincoat for the camera, extra camera and AA batteries, and a cleaning kit. Finally, I carry a collapsible tripod in my carry-on bag.

I usually bring one utility lens, a fixed Sigma 35 mm or Zeiss 50 mm that can be used for all situations. Then the other two are specialty lenses that I use for specific situations. One is usually a long lens, either the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100, my Nikon 85mm, or Meyer-Optik Trimagon 95, and the other is my Nikon super 14-24 mm lens that I use for architecture shots like the above staircase.

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This combination of lenses lets me scale down and go out on individual shoots with one body and one lens (utility) or a combination of my long lens, and the utility or the wide angle lens.

Now I have to be honest. I am a big man, and I used to be able to carry my bag everywhere, all day fully loaded with no problems. But with my middle-aged back issues, it’s too heavy for long periods of time fully loaded. So now I think what I can bring in the bag for the whole trip and what can be unpacked at the hotel, and repack based on situations. For long trips I might even pack a second smaller camera bag like a Garmisch for short day trips.

Usually, I leave my back up Nikon body at the hotel or house rental. Then I decide which lenses to leave behind. In addition, I unpack back-up triggers, any extra filters, several AA batteries (leaving two in the bag in case I need to change the ones in my meter or flash), chargers, and extra camera bodies. All of these might be useful in the bag, but they won’t make or break most photographic opportunities (barring a camera fail).

I almost always keep the flash in the bag unless I know I am only capturing landscape/cityscape shots. You never know when you can use the flash for a portrait or to provide fill light, particularly if you have to photograph in the middle of the day. I also keep the camera’s back-up battery, extra SD cards, and the camera rain jacket.

Why One Utility, One Long, One Wide?

Diana 1200

The utility lens has obvious value. I always bring a lens that can address most situations. If the situation is wide, and I only have a 35 mm or a 50 mm, I can always stitch together two or three pictures. On the other hand, if I need a tight photo I can always crop in or move unusually close to the subject.

The long lens is helpful for a variety of situations. Yes, portraits and close-ups like the above shot I took with a Nikon 85 mm are obvious. But even in a landscape situation you need to focus in on specific areas of the subject. The opening sunrise photograph of the Ocean City, NJ beach was taken with a Trioplan 100. Could I have moved closer with a 35 or 50 mm lens? Sure, but the sun would have looked horribly small in comparison.

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The above parent/child elk photo was also taken with a Trimagon 95 mm. While an unconventional use of the portrait lens, it was another situation where a tight focus was needed to capture the animals as a primary focal point.

Finally, the 14-24 mm works well for me as I like capturing all sorts of architecture and corrosion shots. So this is something I use more frequently than most would. It is for my own art. You may have an art lens (like the Trioplan 100) that you prefer.

Don’t Forget the Tripod, Triggers and Flash

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Many people choose to forgo the flash, trigger, and/or tripod on their trip. I think that’s a big mistake. If you are serious about making your vacation or trip a photographic adventure, you will want these items.

Without a tripod and trigger, you lose the opportunity to take great low light photographs (like the sunrise/sunset pic) with long exposures. It also becomes difficult to photograph portraits and people unless you have a flash. Even in broad daylight, you want fill light like the above shot (taken with a 35 mm lens), which was shot at two in the afternoon. The sun can come top down and provide really harsh light and dramatic shadows and hooded eyes. You’ll either need a bounce or flash (used above) to resolve these situations. A flash is less awkward.

I’ve been out on enough photography trips to know that I need a second body (yes, I had one fail in the middle of a trip). I have also needed a rain jacket for my camera when a storm blows in. It’s understandable to see why some choose not to bring these items on their travels. Those are individual choices.

But no matter what, don’t forget to bring your tripod, triggers and flash. Yes, they weigh more. In my opinion, these items provide the difference between good and great photography portfolios for your travel journeys.

What would you add to your travel kit?

You can learn more about Geoff Livingston and see galleries from his Cuba trip on geofflivingston.photoshelter.com.

Originally published on the Meyer Optik blog.