Category Archives: Portraits

Cliff Mautner’s Lighting & Skillset Bootcamp for Photographers: Reviewed

This post, like pretty much all of the posts on my blog, is a little over-due. But it’s been on my to-do list as one of my “Top 5 Priorities” because I think it’s really necessary. Let me explain…

In October, I had the exceptionally awesome opportunity to travel from Connecticut to New Jersey/Philly, to attend Cliff Mautner’sLighting and Skillset Bootcamp.

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Fellow photographers should recognize the name pretty much instantly. For the rest of you, I’ll make it easy to understand just exactly who Cliff is (taken from his website bio):

“Over the years I’ve been honored by the photography industry receiving recognition from the most prestigious organizations in the world. In addition to being named one of the Top Ten Wedding Photographers in the world by American Photo Magazine, I was named International Photographer of the Year by Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). I’ve also received the International Photographic Council Leadership Award at the United Nations and I’m a Nikon Ambassador (National Spokesperson). I was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from WPPI in 2014.”

So, yeah. He’s a pretty big deal to lots of photographers, in lots of places. He’s best-known for his use of shadow and light, to create texture and convey emotion in his photographs. His is a style that can definitely be picked out of a crowd.

In addition to being an extremely gifted artist, Cliff also happens to be a FANTASTIC (and enthusiastic) teacher. It’s a rare combination to find – a talented artist who THRIVES on sharing what he’s learned over the years, essentially letting his students in on his “secrets to success”.

I’ve been following Cliff since about 2011. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon his work, but once I did, I never forgot it. Then I realized that he was actively involved in teaching, sharing his game-changing photography tips and methods via online videos. I watched everything of his that I could get my hands on. I made pages and pages of notes that I still refer to, to this day. I practiced his techniques and saw an immediate improvement in my own work.

Fast-forward to 2015. I knew that Cliff offered in-person workshops…and I always had it in the back of mind that I’d hopefully be able to attend one of those workshops at some point in my career. One day I came across an online post by an individual who had been lucky enough to attend. He raved and raved and raved. Soon, others began replying to the post, sharing their equally remarkable experiences. Phrases like “life changing” and “best decision EVER” were being thrown around. I decided on the spot that I couldn’t wait any longer. I knew I had to call. As was the case with most of the attendees, I was blown away when Cliff actually answered the phone himself. I thought to myself, “Surely, this is just some kind of ‘I’m a relatable guy’ act. Somebody at his level of success wouldn’t be answering the office phone.” Boy, was I wrong…but more on that later. So wouldn’t you know it – there just happened to be a few spots left in the October workshop. I signed up immediately.

Right from the start, it was clear to me that this wasn’t some hastily thrown together, hey-let’s-meet-up-and-see-what-happens kind of event. Cliff and his (fantastic) office manager, Heather, had a plan – a clear, detailed, precision-executed plan. I was given a concise agenda of workshop events, a list of the gear I should bring, what I should expect to get out of the workshop, even suggestions (and discounts!) for lodging. Of course, this wasn’t my first photography workshop. I’d heard a lot of this stuff before. And, as sad as it is to say, I’ve too often found that the things about those other workshops that sounded too good to be true were, in fact, just that. So, poor Cliff didn’t know it, but I began that first day of the workshop with a good degree of skepticism.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I won’t go over every detail of the 2 ½ days we all spent together. It will suffice to simply list the very important highlights, the things that any photographer looks for when making the decision on how best to spend their hard-earned money in order to further their learning:

  • We stuck to the outlined schedule nearly 90% of the time. If we strayed, it was only because Cliff was so caught up in sharing yet another nugget of wisdom from his years of experience that he simply couldn’t stop until the story was done.
  • Cliff really is a 100% “relatable guy”…it’s no act. He treated every attendee like we were all his equals, truly as friends. He didn’t sugar-coat anything, pretending that the life of a photographer at his level is all rainbows and unicorns. He told us about mistakes he’s made, stupid things he’s done, regrets he has. He was honest and open about those things because he sincerely wanted only the best for all of us. I felt that and I believe that. (Well, with one small exception – in the event that I’m ever in danger of missing a wedding because I’m on the verge of death, Cliff said if I called him and asked him to cover for me, that he’d gladly do it. I tried to get him to admit that he was exaggerating, but he wouldn’t budge. Man, if that ever happens, that will be one LUCKY bride and groom!)
  • Cliff delivered on every promise he made – from the timing and content of our meals each day, to the number of models that we’d have on-hand to practice with (it was a CRAZY number of models – you NEVER see that at workshops. And it really makes a huge difference in how much you’re able to absorb).
  • Every single detail of the 2 ½ days was thoughtfully planned and executed. We traveled via chartered shuttles for our location shoots, so no worrying about who was driving where and possibly getting lost. Breakfast was waiting for us every day. Lunch was organized and ordered early, and delivered right on time. Cliff had an outline of what he planned to teach us and he stuck to it.
  • And most importantly…Cliff was absolutely an open-book. No question was off-limits, every single one answered fully. He was present and engaged, going from student to student, offering guidance and encouragement while we were shooting on location. His feedback was constructive and helpful – not fluffy and cookie-cutter.

I’ll speak for every student at that workshop and say that every single one of us came away from the experience with powerful additions to our ever-evolving, ever-growing arsenal of technical and creative photography tools.

If you’re reading this post because you’re considering signing up for the Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp, I encourage you to do it. NOW. Unless you’re not interested in taking your photography knowledge, skills and creativity up several notches.

If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing that’s unlikely :)

I’ll leave you with a few of my photos from the workshop. We didn’t have the light that Cliff wanted, but I think we still did ok.

 

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Stunning model Sarah from the Cliff Mautner Lighting & Skillset Bootcamp. She was a natural.

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Shooting at Philadelphia City Hall, using the exceptional, directional light.

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

More gorgeous use of shadow and light, to create a timeless portrait.

Dramatic, natural light photograph of wedding model by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Dramatic, natural light photograph of wedding model

Connecticut Wedding Photographer silhouette

Silhouette with Philadelphia in the background.

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer Cliff_Mautner_0010 Cliff_Mautner_0011 Cliff_Mautner_0012

Oh, and one more shout-out before I go…
This is Chloe. She belongs to Cliff and his wife, Susan Stripling (you might want to look her up, too). Chloe was my good friend and I miss her.

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And you can always see more of my work by clicking here or following the links above :)

Also posted in Personal, Photography, Weddings Tagged , , , , , , |

Oxford Connecticut Wedding Photographs| Nicole & Brandon

It’s high time we shared these Oxford Connecticut wedding photographs. We’ve photographed a few weddings in Oxford now, and every time, we’re blown away by how beautiful it is there. Nicole & Brandon’s wedding couldn’t have been against a more picturesque backdrop. The wedding ceremony and reception took place at a private residence that also happens to be a horse farm. From the rolling green meadows to the charming foot bridge over the pond, every aspect of the farm was begging to be photographed. And lucky for everyone, the light was stunning that day which made the bride and groom portraits a breeze.

We knew that we were the perfect wedding photographers for Nicole & Brandon from the moment we learned about Moose, their (at the time) new German Shepherd puppy. It wasn’t difficult to convince the couple to bring Moose along for their engagement session last autumn. To be honest, it was difficult to stay focused on shooting – I just wanted to play with that sweet little puppy! As much as they love him, it’s no surprise that he was also a part of their wedding day.

Surrounded by family and friends (and Moose!), Nicole & Brandon exchanged vows on a little island, overlooking the pond. The ceremony was laid-back and beautiful and reflected the couple’s personalities perfectly. We took some awesome portraits afterwards, capturing the crazy, fun bridesmaids and groomsmen. A huge white tent served as the reception location, where dinner was served, toasts were made and dancing began…and they danced, and danced, and DANCED :)

Nicole & Brandon, it was an honor for us to be a part of your special day. We had a BLAST photographing your engagement session and your wedding. Wishing you many, many, MANY years of happiness together!!

Oxford Connecticut Wedding Details Photograph

Oxford Connecticut Wedding Bride Getting Ready Photograph

More photos of Nicole & Brandon’s Oxford Connecticut Wedding

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Connecticut River Museum Wedding | Kate & David

June 13th was an absolutely perfect day for a Connecticut River Museum wedding, in Essex, Connecticut. The sun filled the sky and the breeze off of the Connecticut River added just enough coolness to keep things comfortable. Kate was simply stunning in her a-line wedding dress and classic up-do. Her groom, looking rather dashing himself, wore an ear-to-ear grin for most of the day. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We started the day at Kate’s parents’ house, where she and her family got ready. Instead of the chaos that often fills the air during the hustle-and-bustle of all the wedding preparations, Kate’s family home was peaceful and serene. As soon as everyone was finished dressing, we headed outside to get some family portraits, along with some solo shots of Kate (did I mention that she looked stunning?). We found the perfect spot, in some open shade in the front yard.

Next, it was on to the river for the ceremony and reception. The Connecticut River made for a beautiful backdrop – sparkling water that reflected the blueness of the sky, all manner of boats passing slowly by. The venue staff had every little detail planned and executed to perfection. Family and friends alike gathered to witness the joyous event. Many faces were familiar to us, as we’d also had the honor of covering Kate’s cousin’s wedding in the fall of 2013.

After a touching and heart-felt ceremony, it was time for the festivities to really get under way. The whole party moved under a huge white tent, where dinner was served (delightful, by the way) and dancing inevitably broke out. It was difficult to resist the dance floor, once The Rubber Band starting rocking through their set. Before the partying got into full swing, I kidnapped the happy couple and brought them down to the dock, for some beautiful silhouette portraits against the fading light of sunset.

Kate and David, we can’t thank you enough for including us in your special day. We are especially grateful and flattered that you made a point of remembering us after that first encounter in 2013. We wish you all the best in your new lives together…may your days be filled with love, laughter and happiness.

Connecticut River Museum Wedding

More photos of Kate & David

Also posted in Photography, Weddings Tagged , , , , , , |

Window Light Portrait

Admittedly, I don’t have as many chances to get behind my camera in the winter months. But every now and then, I’m able to coerce my daughter into modeling for me. On this day, I decided we’d try for a window light portrait. I even flat-ironed and curled Jill’s naturally (very) curly hair for the session. She cooperated for a good 10 minutes (a LIFETIME for her) and I got a few nice shots. Being the daughter of a photographer is never easy :)

After yet another snow storm today, I’m hoping spring is just around the corner, to get me back outside and behind this fantastic new camera of mine. And away from my poor, camera-weary daughter.

Jill by window light

Also posted in Personal, Photography

Derby Connecticut Wedding | Victoria & Randy

It’s time to start sharing all the weddings I’ve been a part of this past season. Victoria and Randy were married in Derby, Connecticut this past October. I could tell right from our first contact that photography was very important to Victoria. She imagined beautiful outdoor couple portraits, against the backdrop of the farm that she and Randy share. She wanted fun and frolicking pictures with their wedding party – nothing posed or forced – just friends and family having fun. So she was careful to plan a good, long stretch of portrait time, between the ceremony and the reception. But, as much as we’d all hoped for a beautifully perfect day, Mother Nature had other plans. That day in October turned out to be one of the rainiest days we’ve seen in quite some time. QUITE. SOME. TIME.

It didn’t matter, though. Victoria and Randy just took it all in stride. Extra care had to be taken with Victoria’s beautiful gown, umbrellas were always close-at-hand, and puddles had to be avoided. But nobody seemed bothered or stressed out by the damp, dreary day – the focus remained on making the day as magical as possible for this sweet couple. Victoria was more than happy to incorporate the umbrella into their portraits…”It rained on our wedding day; that’s what our pictures should show”, was roughly the quote by Victoria. This is probably a good time to mention that Victoria is one of my favorite. brides. EVER :)

The ceremony was beautiful, held at St. Mary’s church in the afternoon. Then it was on to the farm, for portraits. We just moved the portraits into the barn and it turned out just fine. The rain even let up for about five minutes, allowing us to capture some great photos of the couple next to the spectacular Bentley they hired for the day. By the time we headed over to Cobb’s Mill Inn for the reception, the rain had stopped entirely.

I won’t have to try and convince you about what a blast the reception was…the proof is in the images. The venue is simply lovely, with the rustic wood decor and twinkle lights all around. It was the perfect place to celebrate the ending to an already magical, love-filled day. Victoria and Randy, I wish you all the best now and in the many, many, MANY years you have to look forward to together. It was truly a pleasure and an honor to capture your special day for you.

Derby CT Wedding by New England Photographer

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More photos of Victoria & Randy

Also posted in Photography, Weddings

Engagement Portraits|Nicole & Brandon

I knew we would hit it off as soon as they mentioned their new German Shepherd puppy, Moose. Nicole and Brandon brought him to our first meeting, to discuss having us photograph their September 2015 wedding. It was difficult to focus on the business of wedding photography with such an adorable puppy right at my feet…but we managed!

Soon after sorting out all of the wedding day details (including a private wedding venue that is simply BREATH-TAKING and will no doubt make for some incredible portraits), Nicole and Brandon decided they wanted to schedule an engagement portrait session. I usually do all of my portrait sessions at Northwest Park in Windsor – there’s nothing more spectacular than NWP in the autumn, with the beautiful foliage in the background. So we met up in late October to make these oh-so-sweet portraits. And bonus for me, they brought Moose again! He wasn’t thrilled about holding still for portraits, but he was a good boy, nonetheless.

Nicole is bubbly and friendly and excited about every aspect of their “big day”. Brandon just seemed happy to make sure that his bride was happy :) I can’t wait to spend the day with these two, while photographing their wedding next year.

Just look at the colors of those leaves…it was a perfect day. And love was definitely in the air :)

Engagement portraits in autumn

Engagement portraits in Connecticut

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Also posted in Engagements, Photography

Connecticut Wedding and Portrait Photographer | I’m Still Here!

I’m ashamed to see that I haven’t posted here since February. FEBRUARY! I have so many things that need to be posted. And it’s kind of good, I guess, that I haven’t yet…because that only means I’m busy with the actual shooting :)

With wedding season in full swing, I’m spending lots of time shooting and editing – and I will post those weddings properly. In the meantime, here is a shot that just proves I’m still alive 😉

Jill edit 2014 logo

Also posted in Personal, Photography

Javien | Connecticut Newborn Photography

As mentioned in my last post, it’s time to meet sweet little Javien.

I showed up to the shoot, fully prepared to accept whatever direction the day would take. At first, it looked as though we’d have an easy time of it – Javien was peacefully sleeping and blissfully unaware of my presence. But, as anyone who does newborn photography knows, things don’t always go as planned.

After just a few shots, Javien decided it was time to wake up and check out just exactly what was going on. Well, he must’ve liked what he saw because, once he was awake, that’s how he remained…for about the next two hours 😉 Any other first-time visitor would’ve been THRILLED – because, let’s face it, sleeping babies aren’t nearly as interesting as awake babies. But newborn photographers prefer newborns to be fast asleep…and I mean, OUT COLD. That way, they can be wrapped up in all sorts of fuzzy blankets and maneuvered into cute positions, all the while remaining peacefully angelic. Javien’s mommy and daddy tried all the tricks they could think of, to coax him back to sleep. I even got in on the act. But alas…wasn’t happening. Javien wasn’t going to miss a single moment of the action.

So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. In the meantime, I was able to get what turned out to be my favorite shots of the day…Javien in his daddy’s arms. Such sweet, sweet images.

In the end, the adults outlasted little Javien and back to sleep he went. We weren’t convinced that he was totally out, so we didn’t try to go for too many different set-ups. But I’m pleased with what we were able to get out of the session…I think Mom and Dad were pleased, too 😉

Connecticut Newborn Photography

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Family portrait

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Also posted in Families, Newborns, Photography

Stacey | Connecticut Maternity Photography

Stacey is my hair stylist (well, one of a few wonderful stylists at Hair Gallery at The Mill who style my hair).  She asked me to shoot a maternity session with her, back in October.  We did the shoot at my favorite spot, Northwest Park. The autumn leaves were still on the trees then, which served as the perfect back-drop for Stacey’s striking hair.

Soon after that session, I photographed her beautiful newborn son (that will be the next post here on the blog).  Because Stacey wanted to give the photos as Christmas gifts, she asked me to wait to share both of these sessions publicly.  So, now that the holidays are over, I’m excited to be able to share these photos with all of you.

P.S. If you find you’re constantly asking around for recommendations for stylists, I can put an end to your search right now – forever. I’ve known the owners of Hair Gallery for over 20 years. They, and all of the stylists they work with, are simply the best you will find ANYWHERE.

Enjoy!

Connecticut Maternity Photography

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Also posted in Maternity, Photography

Baby A | Connecticut Portrait Photographer

Isn’t she adorable? I met this little sweetie and her parents on the day of our session, at Northwest Park. I haven’t photographed such a little one in quite some time, so I’d forgotten all the “milestones” of a growing baby. At six months, I couldn’t remember if sitting up unassisted was a reasonable expectation. Baby A did a great job, though she did topple over once or twice 😉 It didn’t bother her at all – like a true professional, she just kept on smiling and having fun! So, enjoy Baby A and her family – you guys look awesome!!

Connecticut Family Portrait Photographer at Northwest Park in Windsor

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Also posted in Families, Photography Tagged , , , , , , , |
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