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Jeffrey Byrnes Photographer Fashion + Portraits + Travel

Portraits

As long as I have been a photographer I have had a desire and a passion to photograph people. Being able to get into my studio, create a set, light, pose, compose, and make portraits of people is a feeling similar to being in a darkroom and watching the developer magically (scientifically) bring to life an image rendered, near permanently, on paper. I love meeting new people, photographing people, hearing their stories, and sharing with the world the moment they were in front of my camera. 

Portraits of Rachael. Natural light. Paul C. Buff Einstein with Octabox. Canon 5Ds with Sigma 85mm f 1.4 Art

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New York City: Hell's Kitchen Froze Over

For the first time since July I had more than 1 day off to do nothing. Sure, the holidays just came and went, but when the holidays arrive, you're constantly running around, doing something, spreading cheer and money faster than you can make it. There really isn't to much downtime during the holidays. The weekend away was a welcomed trip. It was a break from the daily grind and the planning I have been doing for the up-coming year. 

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Without a doubt, this past weekend was the coldest weekend I have ever experienced. I survived. My wife survived. We are stronger, still a little cold, but stronger. Saturday morning we made a quick "breakfast" stop at Levian Bakery. We went to the hole in the basement one off of Amsterdam. It was my second time there. We parked about 200' from the door. In the 30 seconds it took to walk from the car to the door, I was consumed with a bone chilling cold that nearly paralyzed me. Even with a sweater, a jacket, a scarf, I still fell victim to the frigid negative number temperatures. Having half a cookie is hardly a breakfast item, but it is still worth it. Their chocolate and peanut butter cookie is amazing. Sue order some bread, butter, jelly something or other. It looked great, but being that I am still heavily into a very strict diet, half a cookie was enough for me. 

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We stayed at the Riu in Times Square. The Riu is a chic, fashionable, and very affordable hotel on Restaurant Row. This is not review of the hotel, so I am not going to embellish beyond the fact that it was a warm, welcoming stay in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the US. To be honest, I am not even sure if Times Square is the heart of NYC, it just seems to feel that way because of the tourism and congestion that fills the area. Being that it was the coldest day in the history of man, there wasn't nearly as many people out as you'd expect there to be. The cold obviously played a factor in that. After we checked into our room we redressed to get outside in the cold. I had with me a few different types of hand warmers. I thought they would be great to have with me to keep my hands and camera warm. I was wrong.

Frozen  hand warmers

Frozen  hand warmers

So what do you do when it feels like it is -35 degrees outside? Well, you walk around, grab an iced coffee from Starbucks, its the New Englander thing to do. I had with me, in my front two pockets of my jacket, some re-usable hand warmers. Within about 15 minutes they were frozen blocks of some kind of solid material. 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Times Square is a fun area to visit. There is a lot happening, a lot of people trying to get you to take bus rides, sell you hot dogs, or get you to a comedy show. We met two people in two different areas of Times Square who have connections to where we are from. This world really is quite small. Times Square is an impressive mecca of shopping, the land of massive billboards, (some day I will see my photos up on them buildings, I promise you that), and an area with a lot of talent and energy. One of the things I got my wife for Christmas, to help with this weekend away, were tickets to a Broadway show. When we were in town last December we almost saw Kinky Boots. This weekend we made a point to see it. We made our way over to the theater, scored some tickets, and got back out into the cold. We walked a few blocks, up over past the Christmas tree that was at Rockefeller Center. When we saw it two weeks ago, you could hardly walk. This weekend, there was hardly anyone there. There were however a bunch of people skating. 

iPhone 7+, Portrait Mode, processed using RNI Films app (highly recommend)

iPhone 7+, Portrait Mode, processed using RNI Films app (highly recommend)

As cold as it was, there were still people out enjoying themselves. Some people were dressed inappropriately, given the temperature. Others were dressed as if it was a snowpocolypse. I wasn't as cold as I thought I would be, walking around with an iced coffee in my hands. My logic was this, yes I am from New England and I am used to the cold, but if I drink something cold, it would help me adjust to the temperature a bit more than if I was to suck down something hot. Sure, I was the only one thinking this while everyone at Starbucks was ordering a venti hot frapahlapa chia tea blonde blend. But it seemed to work for me. Call me an idiot or a brave pioneer, regardless I am a fan of cold coffee so I was just keeping within my routine. Plus, there are far more fun things to drink to stay warm, such as the pitcher of mimosas we had at a late lunch at the Bourbon Street Bar & Grille. I had some chicken wings and 3 mimosas. We started to warm up. 

Following a short trip down about 5 blocks to look for something that was closed, not open, "due to the weather," we hiked back up towards are area. We didn't want to venture to far away as we did have an 8pm show to get to and needed to be back to the hotel to get ready prior to the doors opening. After some yelping, an unsuccessful attempt at once place, we ended up at The Rum House. The dim lit, off the hotel entrance bar was the perfect spot to unwind, warm with some small bites, and cheers to a good day and the upcoming show. When I finally did decide on what to drink I had to include a pretzel. Breaking the rules of my lifestyle, the whole no carb thing, I just had to. It looked to good to pass up. We needed something to absorb the drinks we were about to have. After another warm, delicious pretzel and a drink or two more it was time to make our way back to the room to get ready for Kinky Boots. 

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

Sushi Roll

Sushi Roll

Squid

Squid

For someone who has photographed dancers for the last several years, its kind of sad to admit that I have never been to a Broadway play, musical, or anything. I like dramas. I love movies and films that tell a great story. I am not so much a fan of musicals. However, Kinky Boots was fun and did tell a great story. I am not going to try and be a critic and review the play, but it was good, worth seeing! Following the show it was time for dinner. The 2 hours and 20 minutes, with intermission, went by quickly. We had spent a few minutes on Yelp prior to the show so we had a place in mind. It was 2 blocks up from the Kinky Boots theater so it was going to be a fast and easy walk in the brutal cold. An'Nam is a Japanese fusion restaurant. I am a lover of Asian food. On the menu I had spotted some fried squid. It is so so so damn hard to find any kind of Octopus, calamari, or "squid" that isn't breaded. To many "chefs" are so quick to ruin the dish by breading the shit out of it. But, this squid dish was spicy, bathed in a sauce that sobered one up from an intoxicating and paralyzing frost. After some sushi, I know I know, more carbs, shhhh, sushi is healthy so no judgement...and a few other little bites of small dishes, we closed the restaurant out. Sufficiently full and ready to call it a night we jumped back into the arctic and made our way back to the Riu. 

Sunday's plan was to wake up, get the car from valet, and head up to The Met. As an artist, someone who went to school for art, this is very pathetic to admit, I have never been to The Met. I know shame on me. What a disgraceful artist and art student (when I was in school). We didn't spend as much time in the museum as I'd have liked. There were a few works that I didn't get to see that over the weekend, but we will see them in the spring..

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We really like the West Village. After grabbing a quick bite at Chirping Chicken we made our way to the West Village. If you want a quick bite of chicken with a semi southern flare, grab lunch at one of their locations. There three places in the US that I want to reside in. It goes in this order, West Village, would settle on Brooklyn, on the island of Manhattan, L.A. region of Cali, and Charleston. Obviously New York City and LA are incomparable, but both offer something unique. I am going to be writing about LA next week and make a compare and contrast to NYC as I thread my images into the article. But Cali, well thats obvious why I would want to live there for work. Charleston, well, the work I want to do, the work I like to do, doesn't really exist in their market. Charleston would be the ideal place to own a portrait studio for families, weddings, and seniors. I am not opposed to owning a studio of that nature, as I have in the past, but at this juncture in my career, shooting that type of work is not on the horizon. That goes without saying that I might not form a business in that area to do so, as that has been on a my "wishlist" for some time. Charleston is a beautiful area with a lot of cultural diversity. Of the three aforementioned places, the West Village comes in first place above LA. 

One of the best ways to get used to an area, walk around. Just get lost, just go and explore the area and see what there is. It was cold as hell, but it was still a beautiful walk around the West Village. We did not end up having dinner in the West Village like I had hoped. With the fading sunlight and the fact that the restaurant I had chosen closed at 3:30 and didn't open again till 5:30, we decided it was time to head home.

Below are some scenes from our walks in the cold, the hotel, and The Met. I have my Fuji X-Pro II set to black and white. While Lightroom and Photoshop do not read the color profiles, it is still fun to shoot in black and white. One of these days, soon, I am going to start using Capture 1. Almost all of my shoots are tethered, so it would make sense to use the best software for doing so. Capture 1 allows for Fuji profiles to be imported. So, all of those amazing profiles that mimic Fuji Film can be shot and imported using their software. SOON! Comment, share, follow, and check me out on Instagram @jeffreybphotography

"In a New York Minute"

"I think one of the most iconic songs about New York City, I'm sure this could be debated, is Billy Joel's 1976, "New York State of Mind."

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Happy New Year: 2018, a year of unapologetic success

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018. Often times when I am commuting I drown out the radio and think. There are periods where I even shut the radio off so I can focus my efforts on the tasks at hand, the decisions that are weighing on my mind, and contemplate my next moves. Yesterday after helping my wife I took a quick trip to the grocery store. By the time I had then car in park and was about ready to exit and make my way to the store, a thought popped into my head. It is kind of a mantra I am going to rule 2018 by:

"Take what you want, be who you want, live how you want, create what you want, and most importantly do nothing that requires an apology."  

If you were to ask me what the most successful thing about 2017 was, I could compare two goals that were set during 2017 and were accomplished. 

1. Accomplishing a major financial goal (a very positive thing)

2. Traveling to California, booking some shoots, and experiencing the left coast on my own. 

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These two goals were a testament to my hard work, my desire to do something, my strength to over come fears, and take charge to see something through to the end. Among these two goals I also had some other major successful achievements:

I moved/upgraded my studio, purchased a dream camera (Hasselblad) and made some great images with it, had a busy and productive year, worked on some very cool shoots, had some fun, connected with some new friends, and increased my health through changing my lifestyle. There were some obstacles to over come, such as the blogged about bicycle accident, working hard to achieve the above GOAL number 1. While I did set out to make number 1 a priority, it took a lot of strength to do so. The amount of effort set forth to achieve that goal seems more like a feat of strength, rather than just simple hard work to accomplish a desired task. The last two weeks of December were a trial of patience and tenacity and were fraught with some dilemmas. The patience that were learned are going to assist with some of the decisions that will be made in 2018. 

Portrait in new studio

Portrait in new studio

Portrait in new studio

Portrait in new studio

For me and for my business, 2017 was a year of growth, testing, and gaining an inspired desire to succeed beyond the limits that lay before. This first week of the new year is going to be dedicated to restructuring my business plans, organizing my work spaces for an even faster work flow, laying out plans to build upon the success of 2017. While there were some unforeseeable hardships that arose in 2017, some business and some personal, with enough planning and preparation, certain things can be avoided. The lessons learned are going to smooth out future bumps in the road. In 364 days we will be toasting another great year with more accomplishments and new lessons learned. 

For this year, for 2018, I wish you the most success you can work for, I wish you the best of health, lastly, I wish for you the most amount of happiness you can sustain. Health, wealth, happiness, in that order, really. You can't build wealth if you aren't healthy and capable, you can't be happy if you aren't wealthy. Before that statement is judged, let me explain. Wealth doesn't necessarily mean you're Mark Zuckerburg fuckyou rich, it means your bills are paid, money is coming in, you're saving, your enjoying life, you know what I mean? You can't be happy unless you are sustaining all of this. Money surely doesn't buy happiness, it buys freedom, freedom allows for happiness to grow and thrive. 

And lastly, do nothing that requires you to make an apology. Do not be mean, to not be spiteful, vindictive, or hateful. The world has enough intolerance and injustice, it doesn't need anymore. If you have an ego, 2018 is a great year to let it go so you can grow to a higher being. Just remember, you literally are no better than anyone else. Even if you think you are the best, You are not. There is someone right behind you and in front of you with similar or different skills than can do the job the same as you or in a different capacity than you. Do the best that you can, be the creator and leader people aspire to be, not fear. Fear doesn't command teamwork it deters success. A fearless leader will guide his team with strength and inspire them to do their best. Be the creator that people want, the leader people want to depend on for guidance, and be the person that people admire. 

Cheers to 2018! Below are some of my favorite photos from 2017. Comment, share, and like if you're into that sort of thing.

Snow: Black and white

Black and white photos of snow.

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Hasselblad 500CM: A Legendary Camera

"So I bought a Hasselblad 500CM and I am super excited. I actually bought it back in September and have been using it as often as I can. There are a few reasons as to why I bought such a camera, read on! "

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Photography

Back in September I posted about my Fuji X-Pro 2 and a bike accident that I had. Since then I have not replaced the lens that sustained damage during that fall. I have no plans to replace it, at the moment. I have found that the lens produce some beautiful images even though it is flawed. This afternoon I had my small camera bag with me, which contains the Fuji X-Pro 2 and my new DJI Mavic Pro. Both fit perfectly in my Amazon bought camera bag. 

After I landed from a quick flight I decided to make some photos of the late afternoon light. My personal work is about light, shadows, patterns, and textures. This afternoon I wanted to produce a series of complex images that captured the light as it was setting. I relied on the environment around me to be the subject as I followed the light. 

The common thread that ties the following images together is not just the quality of light, but it is the use of shadow and space within the environment. You will also see a relationship of positive and negative space, how I compose the image to tell the story of how the light exists within the space. It is this thinking that allows me to create images of complexity that tell the story of a late afternoon light setting on an urban setting.

It is not everyday that I get a few minutes to myself to make some personal work. So much of my day is spent shooting, editing, or one or the other. Being able to make images like this is both fun and challenging. Challenging in the sense that I want to visually tell a story but I don't always have the time to do so nor is there always a story to tell. Enjoy.

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Model Test: Jessa V

Thank you for following these posts. I have been so excited to share these photo from my test shoot with Jessa. If you have any questions about this shoot, reach out to me. Follow me on Instagram, twitter, or find me on Facebook. 

Jessa was excited to work together. It was great to connect with her. I wish her the most success. I know we will work together in the future and until then, I hope she continues to slay it!

When I think back to this shoot, the light is what really made for such great images. Sure I was using a great camera, sure I had a great model to work with, but at the end of the day, it was the light that really paved the way for us. You can't write a book and tell a story with out words. In the case of this shoot, the light and Jessa are the story. I feel like I told a pretty great story. 

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Model Test: Jessa Part IV

Look at the glow in these images. Impressive. The volume of light was intense and beautiful. The first 3 of the following images are lit from the reflected, glowing, late afternoon light that was bouncing off the airstream. It was directly behind me and lit her beautifully.

The 4th images is amongst my favorite because of the glow and the pose, her gaze, and the closeness to the camera. That image and the following that are posted and the following final post, those are all lit with light reflecting off the airstream, bouncing off the corrugated metal directly across from the airstream, and coming right into the space we are in. Thee entire area was wrapped in light and I adored every moment of it. 

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Model Test: Jessa Part III

If you were to ask me before July, "what do you think of California?" My response would be simple. "I dunno. Ive never been. Ive heard good things." Driving up the coast in a convertible, heading into the sunset up into the hills of Malibu, the sun setting in front of me casting an orange glow on the pavement teasing me, saying "keep driving life will get better every mile you search ahead." To contrast, the north east is nothing like California. Boston is fun. New York City is, well, New York City. You love it or you hate it. I happen to love New York City. When you compare LA to NYC, you have two completely different types of cities, lifestyles, and of course, different looks. NYC has a jungle of concrete, Steele and glass. You can be on a rooftop in Long Island City and the view is nearly the same as something you'd see in lower Manhattan. 

Brooklyn seen from the rooftop of The Boro Hotel in Long Island City, NYC

Brooklyn seen from the rooftop of The Boro Hotel in Long Island City, NYC

 What I have seen in LA seems to be different. Very Different. The light is different, the skyline is different. Turn around and the view changes. Turn around again, the view changes. Hop to another roof top, the view changes, the mood changes, the looks change. The photo of me, below, is from the roof of a building in DTLA. That is from a studio shoot the day before the test shoot with Jessa. That shoot will be discussed following the posts of Jessa. 

Roof top from Apex Studios in the Fashion District of DTLA, July.

Roof top from Apex Studios in the Fashion District of DTLA, July.

View of DTLA from roof top of Apex Studios.

View of DTLA from roof top of Apex Studios.

I bring all of this up, show these images and comparisons for 1 reason, LA is different. Here is why. In the course of 24 hours you can be on the beach, the most quintessential view of Souther California shooting life style fashion, the next day you could be in a studio shooting a look book or some ecommerece. The day after that you could be in the hills shooting an editorial or on a Hollywood set shooting portraits. For me, from my perspective, the vast differences in locations that are seemingly nestled together, LA has a lot more to work with. 

My test shoot with Jessa in Topanga is a stellar example of how flexible the area can be. Turn the corner and there is an area ready to be use for any number of shoots. Turn the corner and drive down the road and there is yet another location ready for a shoot. I found Topanga to be especially inspiring. As quite and private as the area can be, I found it to be a hidden gem of sorts. If I was to be commissioned for an editorial to be shot in California, I would turn to Topanga before others areas. I would do so because I enjoyed the area and would like to use the elements that I saw in a shoot. Granted there are countless others spots I saw and have yet to see in the LA area, and other points north and south, but I know that I would like to shoot again in Topanga.

I said it before and I will say it again, the location was like a film set. I knew when I saw the Airbnb listing I just needed to rent the space. I moved a few pillows and made it a bit more comfortable, but other than that, I shot with the space as it was because it was that well set. As you can see by now, this being the 3rd post with Jessa, there really was a lot to work with.

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