Travel Photography by jeffrey byrnes

The engine came to life as I turned the key forward in the ignition. I opened the sunroof and the driver and passenger window, looked in the mirror and put the car in reverse. I backed out of the driveway turning the wheel to pivot the car in direction of my route home. The heavily traveled dirt road conjured images of rally cars speeding up and down the winding curves. The gravel was lose in some spots, undoubtedly from someone taking the corner with enough speed to put their vehicle sideways long enough to crack a smile. The tires gripped the road with a crunching strength. Within moments I would be on the main road and heading up and down steep roads that cut through the quintessential New England landscape.

Prior to leaving I said to my wife, "there is going to be a nice sunset tonight." She looked outside as Zeus cleared his throat and let out a rumble of thunder that echoed through the mountains. Sure, there was pretty fierce thunderstorm outside in the distance, but the funny thing, the predicable thing about storms, they come to an end. Here in New England when a storm comes to an end, for the most part it is beautiful immediately following. I knew this would be true this evening. 

I was leaving her behind to stay with her family on their vacation. I can make a few trips up through out the week, but nothing extended, as my work load is pretty heavy. On the way home I would stop and make photos, this I decided on the way up as I passed a few photogenic landscapes. Once I turned onto the main road I was greeted by a thick blanket of fog that was cuddling the tops of the trees. I was delightfully surprised. As I navigated the back road I occasionally stopped to make photos. 

The house that the family is staying at borders a lake with a dock. I was surprised at the peacefulness that exists. It was so quiet, you could hear the tress growing. The lake is picturesque. I will be flying my drone around when I am back later in the week. The only down fall, the water is overgrown with lilypads and thick vegetation, rendering it impossible for such recreations as swimming, water polo, scuba diving, skinny dipping, jumping off the dock, or floating in a tube. While it was a warm day, I do not think I would have much interest in swimming regardless, so having a family sess of marco polo in the lake will not go missed. 

I anticipate to be testing a new drone during the week, so hopefully I will have that with me up there. The new drone set up will allow a bit more creative flexibility, which will yield some more dynamic images. 

I am very pleased with the above photo, however, if there was a human being posing within it, I would be over-the-moon excited. I will settle knowing it is a photograph I am happy with. Perhaps when I back up there I will remember and make a portrait with someone in the space. Keep an eye out for a future post with some more photos. 

Fashion Photography: Location Scouting by jeffrey byrnes

Years ago with my former blog, well before I had a wicked awesome website filled with some of my best work, I was writing about photography. I would discuss trending topics, what I liked, disliked, and occasionally a few tips, tricks, what to do or not to do. Since I have a fairly awesome website and a blog connected right to it, now I am free to discuss anything and everything, like I always was able to, but now I primarily focus on showcasing my recent work or something connected to the work I am producing. Such is the case with this post. The following post is just a simple guide to make life easier. If you are operating with a big budget, this is something that might be useful to you, but chances are you will have a better process in place. 

I have met a few location scouts. One of them was a big time Hollywood scout who went around the world making photographs of locations that would be used for movie production. I had them in mind when I began searching for a location for an upcoming shoot. This Friday I am going to New Haven to do some business. I also have the opportunity to catch up with a model that I am friends with. Brittany and I have worked together in the past. I first met Brittany when I cast her for a car shoot in Boston. Since then we have worked together for a publication as well as development of our portfolios. Brittany is a diverse model that offers an array of possibilities. Her main focus is fitness, but when put in the right outfit, she can command attention from the camera and offer me something that I strive to capture.

We will have 3 outfit changes. 1 fitness and 2 that are more fashion like. Our goal is to produce the shoot in a small amount of time. For each outfit there will be a light change as well. I will have 1 set up for each style. To make this possible I have been doing remote location scouting. “How is that even possible?” one would ask. It is very possible to do remote location scouting.

The digital era has allowed us to produce a vast amount of images and when you do a broad Google search of an area, you’re bound to be presented with more than enough visual information to build a shoot from the ground up. For example, let’s say that I can not budget time or the expense to get to a specific location in NYC, but I know I have a time frame for a shoot. I could do a Google Maps search of the location I have in mind and see what the location looks like from the ground level. This will allow me to see if there are any logistical challenges that would prevent the shoot from happening. If an area seems appealing, taking a few more moments to do another search may yield some images that could further help you decide if the area is right for the shoot.

Detail of downtown New Haven via Google Maps. Screen Capture: Photo Credit Google Maps.

While a Google Maps view will show you an area, some details, some architectural or natural elements that can be an asset to the shoot, it will not show you the lighting conditions that might be relevant to the time of day or the season in which you are shooting. However, if you look at the above screen capture, you can see that the building across the street provides some incredible reflected light. I would spend a few moments examining the area via the website and try and figure out when I would be able to get similar natural light. This is where you can get a bit geeky. There are a bunch of apps that show you position of the sun/moon on any given date and time. These apps will allow you to forecast the direction of the natural light, which will allow you to build your set ups based on this information. This one time, not at band camp, but for a shoot that I was doing for the owner of an incredibly well built Camero, I was tasked with finding some killer locations in Boston. I know Boston well, well enough to say, yes this will work and go right to the spot and know that a great photograph will be made. However, I needed to find some spots that were unique and new to me. I needed to think outside the box. I turned to Google Maps and began searching the city from above. Within an hour I had a list of places that I knew, based on the visual information that was provided, would make a great backdrop. Days later I was able to drive right to the spots and get what was needed with ease. Working with a car is a bit different than a person.

Cars are larger than people, unless you are shooting one of those "smart cars" that look like a soccer ball, and when you place them in front of things such as buildings, cityscapes, certain architectural elements, there is a bit more wiggle room as opposed to doing so with a model or two. While people are smaller and you can create a smaller environment with them, it isn't always easy to hide certain elements from a background, like if you did so with a car. This is why it is key to doing a very thorough search prior to arriving at your location/s. 

Screen Capture: Photo Credit Google Maps.

Screen Capture: Photo Credit Google Maps

For the shoot on Friday, I spent nearly an hour just researching the one location I have in mind. There are a lot things I am considering, such as easy access to the location, elements in the location, such as bridges, backgrounds, trees, benches, other people. I want to ensure that when I arrive I will be able to set up and be ready to shoot. Brittany will arrive with her hair ready for one look, ready to transition into another look, and finally into the third look. The same will be occur for her makeup. This way we will maximize our time more efficiently. To assist with planning, Brittany was kind enough to create a Pintrest "mood board" and show me a few ideas. You know things are meant to be when you both have the same vision even though you didn't get to a certain point in planning and you are seeing what you want to accomplish.   

I will be posting the photos shortly after the shoot so keep a watchful eye for a post showcasing the photos. 

Photography: Personal Work by jeffrey byrnes

This July 4th we spent the weekend on Cape Cod. We have been doing so for the last 4 years. Last year a hurricane came through and pounded the coast, flooded Provincetown, and delayed the celebration of the birth of America. This year was a much nicer weekend and with it I was able to capture some photos from a unique vantage point. 

While I was out exploring parts of the outer Cape, I pulled out my handy dandy iPhone 6 and made a panorama, not featured here, shot, edited, and posted the image with the quote, "To explore is to learn." I strive to find what is unique about the places I visit, travel to, spend time at. I want people to see what goes unseen. I want to show others how I see what is around them that they otherwise are not viewing. I took a drive to a place I found last year on the 3rd. I stood on the bluffs and watched as the impending hurricane filled the bay side of the outer Cape with threatening clouds and a lighting show. I was eager to get back and see what it would look like with a nicer day. While the path is well walked, I have never seen a single person walking in or around that specific area. Off in the distance, down the beach, people can be seen exploring. 

Everyone loves a great sunset, right? When the sky lights up like the inside of a fireplace, it commands your attention. I find joy in making photographs, I always have. I have also found extreme joy in closing out the day with an incredible sunset. I love warm, natural light that makes a late afternoon glow. While watching the sunset, we were surrounded by what seemed liked hundreds of people, more so than the pervious years. At least half the people that were walking the bay had their cell phones out. I found it quite irritating that people were to busy making photos of each other instead of watching the sunset. Occasionally I would see someone using their phone to capture a few shots of the sunset. Being one of the only people that had a real camera, undoubtedly, I was able to capture what others were either to busy to or unable to do with their phone. 

Have you ever seen a sunset in black and white, see below. 

There are places that we visit that hold special memories that have now evolved into places of new memories. One such place is Rock Harbor. After 4pm  you're allowed to bring your dogs onto the beach at Rock Harbor. We have a new little dingo, hound, shepherd mix that we adopted back in October. This is his first summer at the beach and at the Cape. We are extremely happy that we have a place we can take him to frolic and play. 

If you are familiar with Cape Cod, explore what you have yet to see. If you are new to visiting the Cape, get out and explore. It is easy to get caught up in the tourist traps, the fishing nets of the cliche establishments that everyone thinks are "the best." Find what you like, find what is unique, and find a place to call your own. To simply put, go enjoy Cape Cod. 

 

New Work: Portraits, Fashion, Architecture by jeffrey byrnes

I often discuss upcoming posts that I intend to make. I tend to do this after I travel to some where cool and make some great images that I want to share. However, when I am back, I usually get slammed with work and it takes me twice as long to post. This has been the trend for the last year or more. It is not because I do not want to make regular posts, it is because I have experienced a new kind of busy. In fact, the last 5-6 months have been crazy super busy.

Just how busy? So utterly busy that I haven't been able to get a whole list of things done, mostly personal work. I have had some major life changes happen, such as getting married on May 23rd. That was kind of a big deal and took up a bit of time, but a very happy kind of work interruption. The kind that makes you happy. I traveled to Florida immediately after the wedding. A small honey moon, as we will be in Italy for almost two weeks in August/September. Fun times to come! You would be able to see in a post made a few months ago that, my now wife, was in the hospital for a few weeks. That was a major thing and took some time away from work. Life happens, right? Sure does! But through it all I have been able to make some incredible images, work on some incredible shoots, meet some new clients, and have had fun. 

My drone now has a set of eyes in the sky and I am enjoying that, because that is a thing and within this crazy career of being a photographer, it is not just an occupation, obsession, love, it is my hobby. My drone is a toy as much as it is an economic device. 

Over a year ago I photographed Devin. He is a child actor quickly building a resume that is sure to land him much success in the near future. Devin is a great kid to photograph and when we work together, he gets some great images and I get a great addition to my portfolio. The first shoot I did with Devin was for comp cards to get him noticed. He had already done a few awesome projects, including Sex Tape with Camron Diaz. That shoot was in studio. His mother requested we do something different, so we shot outdoors in a location that we both knew and thought would be a great backdrop. 

I am very happy with the above photograph. It is a mixed variation of natural and artificial light that I used to create this image. I truly enjoy working on location and combining natural and artificial light. 

As a portrait photographer, it is my job to make portraits that capture who a person is. The end result is to get incredible images of my subjects so they can use them as they need. In Devin's case, he needs get images to land him the work that he needs and wants to do. 

My day to day work, at the moment is Architecture. I work with agents, brokers, and developers to photograph a multitude of properties. This is where my drone comes into the mix. I am using it to capture landscapes as well as properties, buildings, high end homes. For me architecture is a fun kind of busy. 


A few years ago Kelly asked me to do a shoot. We knew each other from school and had connected outside of the classroom. She needed some good shots of her as she was asked to model for a company. I obliged and we had a great time in the studio. Since then I have photographed her a few more times. Recently we had a chance to catch up and do a small shoot. 

Alyssa is a super talented model and dancer. I had the pleasure of connecting with her when a photographer I am friends with brought her to a shoot we had. I quickly realized that she was super talented with dancing, but had no idea until the second shoot her and I did. What makes Alyssa so unique is that she can jump into a number of "roles." She can be the face for a portrait shoot, the model for a fashion shoot, the talented dancer for a shoot the encompasses dance and fashion. The super pop art image, her on the ladder in color and black and white is one of my favorite dance images that I have made. It is super fun, edgy, colorful, yet the right amount of dramatic. I have more of those to come!

I am navigating my work and career into the direction I want to be in. It has taken a few years to get where I am, but I can say without a doubt, I am no where near where I want to be. I have a set of goals and ideas for the future and I am taking drastic steps towards them. But for now, while I am in between the hard work and play, I take steps back to just relax and enjoy myself. My job as a photographer is as rewarding as it is fun. 

 

Photography: iPhone, iPhonography, iPhone 6 by jeffrey byrnes

Since the winter I have had an iPhone 6. I am a brand whore but at the same time I rely on Apple to run my businesses. While my iPhone does govern my day to day life through the alarm, calendar, camera, a few business apps, and a few editing apps, I value my phone as a device that can make some pretty incredible photos. I have been longing for one of those little Fuji cameras, the ones with the cropped sensor, possibly the one with the fixed 35mm lens, for shooting day to day things I find interesting, in between work and work. The Fuji cameras are pretty awesome, but they can not take a photo, edit, and share across a multitude of social media platforms. 

Apple has been releasing 30 second commercials on the television that show stills and videos that are shot on the iPhone 6. Some of the clips are in slowmo and look pretty fun. I admire the photographic aspects that are packed into this device because I know they are powerful, both from my use and because it is an upgrade from the 5s. I have seen large ads, very large scale billboards, promoting the iPhone through strong images that were made using the device. I have mentioned using an iPhone in the past. I think right around when I first picked this model up. Regardless I enjoy pulling my phone out and making some photos. 

I went for a bike ride last evening and was rained on. I kept my phone in a ziplock bag, zipped up in my backpack. It stayed dry while cold droplets of rain broke the heat I was pedaling through. Even when the sun came back out and I found some charming spots to make photos of, I still managed to keep my phone dry. I am always very careful when it comes to my devices. I am not in the business replacing equipment, I am in the business of making photographs and getting paid. 

I made some photos. You can see below. 


Aerial Photography: My Drone by jeffrey byrnes

Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted. There are some extreme reasons for that, which will be explained in an upcoming post. 

When I have down time I play with my drone and make aerial photographs. Photography is my life, my occupation, my hobby, as I have said in the past. I wanted to share a few recent images before I head out to shoot some architecture. Not having been able to post in a while has been annoying me, so without further ado.

Cambridge Ma/Charles River 

Cambridge Ma/Charles River 

Mt Tom

Mt Tom

Upper Canal, Holyoke

Upper Canal, Holyoke

Downtown Holyoke 

Downtown Holyoke 

Veterans Park 

Veterans Park 

I take my aerial photography very seriously. Operating a UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is a HUGE responsibility, liability, and should not be taken as a joke, lightly, or if you are using a toy. Irresponsibility can cause serious harm and injury. I have seen people laugh and joke that they crashed, with some drones a crash can be worth thousands, that is if it is just the drone that is getting damaged from the crash. Be responsible if and when you fly. 

Professional Photography: The Creative Process by jeffrey byrnes

One of my favorite photographers, Melissa Rodwell, openly discusses details of her life, which impacts her work; both where she resides and where she works. Over the years I have read various things about how her work has been affected by the events in her personal life. Until now, various aspects of my personal life have intersected with my professional practices, allowing me to produce work based on those crossroads. There has never been a time or a crises that interrupted or prevented me from working until this past week.

Being a professional photographer differs drastically from the amateurs that are out there slinging a camera around, filling up memory cards, posting photos, and claiming they are something special. It is a creative position that has a multiplicity of components that require a time, energy, effort, and above all creativity. Being a creative person means that I am always working, always thinking, always ready to produce work. There are times when the process can be daunting, but the end result is usually worth it. 

Over the last week, starting with last Monday night, I have been in the middle of a medical emergency with my fiance. Life was put on hold for a few days as I spent as much time as I could taking care of her, bringing her to the doctors and then the hospital twice, until she was admitted. Since then it has been minimal work and daily trips to her room to visit her. 

I have hit the backspace dozens of times as I am having a hard time expelling exactly how I feel. There has been a lot of emotions, but not enough ways to express them. The hardest part is watching her go from feeling better, seeing that incredible smile to seeing her fade to a painful place that I am locked out of. I feel like I have gone through the 5 stages of grief 10 fold. At times I am numb, the laughter is a mask, the smile is as fake, and my words suppress the sadness. 

Creativity requires a certain amount of strength. Some people find inspiration in the time of crisis, while others are derailed from their processes. I fell into the latter of the two over the past week. Yesterday and today I had two shoots with a client. I was able to turn my the pain off and reduce the stress by focusing on the tasks at hand. Between the shots, between the set ups, my mind wondered to my fears and concerns. Every time my phone vibrated, buzzing my back pocket, I was shocked back to reality as if I was stunned by a taser. 

How a person works through what is placed in their hands determines their character. I am doing what I need for both me and my fiance. The most important things are checking on her and being there to comfort her, checking in with the doctors and providing updates to those who need them, and working how I can, when I can. I have always heard that keeping yourself busy will keep your mind from wondering to places it shouldn't, but that isn't always possible. The only things that I like to do are work and read. I am too exhausted to read, but working is a healthy distraction at times. When it comes to some of my work I rely on a specific set of skills to accomplish the needs of the shoot and things flow quickly and smoothly. Other times I need to think so far outside of the box and create processes and setups that are complex rule based. Creativity can be hindered when a crisis presents itself.

It has been a very long time since I have produced a personal post that discusses personal details. In fact, I can not remember the last time I did so. Most of my posts are about recent work or something a bit more specific. Sooner than later I will have positive news and share some of the awesome work that I have recently done, as well as some of the upcoming projects. 

iPhone 6: Photography by jeffrey byrnes

Earlier this morning my friend sent me a link to Apple's website, specifically a gallery of insanely awesome photos that were made using an iPhone 6. Li am no longer envious of the Apple technology that is changing how people make view photographs. While cameras in phones are nothing new, every phone I've replaced since 2004 has had a camera, but major advancements and improvements have been implemented into these devices that give real cameras a run for their money.

 

Cell phones are what disposable cameras used to be. Remember those plastic little wind up film cameras? Yea cell phones have replaced those. Apps such as Instagram are where people go to view the world, connect with people, network, share their visual thoughts and feelings, and more recently their inner most private fetishes. Yes, fetishes. There are countless IG accounts out there, some private some public, some ambiguous, some flagrantly flaunting ownership, but the common thread is they exist for the vouyer and vouyee. I know that some where there is a team of psychologists and sociologists working hand and hand to both diagnos and write papers in how people are creating relationships through social media and the incessant need people have to share every thing they see, smell, eat, touch. 

There are that many more IG accounts that provide the world with original images. My IG page is the inner workings of a photographer. A bit vouyeristic, when I post behind the scenes photos or share what I am thinking. I'm not being hypocritical, merely a trend follower. IG for me is about connecting with the world. I started out using a crappy Droid phone to post photos to IG. I've since changed platforms to an iOS based device. my computers are Apple and so is my phone. I am a loyal Apple user and here is why. I am not part of s cult, as accused of being a few weeks ago, by a friend of mine, photo below. Apple create a great product. The prices are a bit steep for some, but their machines, both computing and cellular, are easy to use and make my professional life more efficient. Recently I upgraded a few components on my 2011 MacBook Pro. That tiny upgrade has now made my life faster, smoother, and I can pump out edits much quicker. How many PC based users are still running a machine from 2011? Probably a lot less than Apple users. Truth be told Apple's technology is top of the line, at least in my opinion and probably most of the Apple users world wide. 

My iPhone is a business tool as well as an extension of my right arm. I post photos daily, respond to emails for business as well as personal, I make photographs, connect with people on a multitude of social networks, and blog. This post was written on my iPhone. The photos in this post were made shot and edited using my iPhone. I've seen a Bently Commercial filmed in an iPhone, I've read blogs about iPhoneography, I've seen iPhone portraits and even a fashion shoot having been shot on an iPhone. These devices are powerful and can do some pretty amazing things. There is still a need for high end cameras, as phones are not there yet. A device than can multi task with as many options as an iPhone has is still quite limited in all its creative freedom. 

As I told my friend when I shared with him two photos I made recently with my iPhone, it is about light and composition. With good light and composition, incredible photos can be made with an iPhone. In short, knowing the device and a set of rules pulled from analog photography, and just like that you're an iPhoneographer.

 

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These two photos were shot in my studio. They were lit by a bank of windows. I processed them in a new retouching app that I just found. I've completely by passed the computer, the camera, the ideology that photography must exist with just a camera. On most days I do not credit people as photographers who Rome around using just a cell phone, but in all fairness, they are. As I leave behind weddings and move more into the commercial photography I desire to be in, I no longer worry about the threat of not gaining clients due to the silliness that is the iPhoneographer stealing clients.   

Take and run with technology. Half the time I am merely creatively playing but at the same time exploring the possibility of something new. Stop and enjoy what you see but keep you iPhone handy for when you want to make a great photo of what you're experiencing. 

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Zakim Bridge, Boston, Ma  

 

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Landscape Photo  

 Follow this link to view the Apple iPhone gallery. 

http://www.apple.com/iphone/world-gallery/

Police Officer Promotion by jeffrey byrnes

Last year I photographed  the Holyoke Police Department Promotion ceremony for my friend State Rep Aaron Vega. One of his staff was there to delivery Citations to the officers that were being promoted. This year I was asked by Officer Leahy, pictured below, if I could photograph the promotion ceremony. Officer Leahy was being promoted from Patrolman to Sargent. It was an honor to be able to photograph such a special event. 

Officer Leahy, right, being pinned by his brother, a police officer in Las Vega.

4 officers received a promotion and were being honored. The room was filled with friends, family, and other officers there to show their support. In addition, the media was there to cover the promotions. I was fascinated by the speech that the Chief gave. Amongst the admiration he has for his officers, he reinforced the incredibly difficult time that police officers are facing on a national level. He addressed his officers with reminders of the importance of going home to their families and loved ones. 




New England: This is why winter doesn't suck! by jeffrey byrnes

Here is why winter doesn't suck. Snow. If you are the type of person that looks outside after a fresh snow dump and your head spins while you vomit uncontrollably as if you were staring in a particular movie, you might want to rethink you future in 4 seasons demographic, consult with a physician, because you are possessed with the winter blues. No matter what I say or show you, you will continue to hate the snow more than anything else. 

If you love the winter, love the snow, and when you draw the curtains back and see a fresh coating of white stuff and your eyes gleam harder than if you saw a Red Rider bb gun under your tree, you will enjoy the following photos. 

I went out last night for about an hour. It was much colder than I thought it was going to be. I had a pair of jeans on, winter boots, an interior jacket and a shell to keep me dry. I wore a pair of gloves and a winter hat to also fight off the effects of the cold. I went to a place that I frequent. The time of day was different than the last time I was there and I knew I would find something visually appealing. I moved around a bit, making photos. I decided to switch locations when a large plow came and sat behind my truck. I was unsure if he was waiting for back up to come and tow me or if he was there to pop a few beers down the hatch to stay warm and lubed up on his snowy conquest that evening. I didnt want to chance it so I took off. 

Click the left or right arrow buttons. This blog is kind of sophisticated like that. 

I cruised around with 4 wheel drive on for a few minutes and settled on this location. I was just out to take a break from editing a few projects and needed a creative break from being creative. So escaping the desk was a health decision. I am not one to complain about the cold unless I am suffering. By suffering I mean if I found myself naked and buried in a snow bank. I might be a little "whiny" then. For the most part the cold doesn't bother me. The snow, I love the snow. I always have. Growing up in New England you adapt to the changing seasons and welcome the transitions between. However, when I arrived at the second location I figured, I will only be here a few moments, I don't need my gloves. 

I moved around and made a few photos. I was searching for something unique and think I was able to capture that quite well. It felt a bit colder than when I first left the house. I wasn't sure if it was because my hand was stiff and I couldn't bend my fingers or if it was because my fingers were becoming stuck to the buttons on my camera remote. I figured it was time to leave if my skin was starting to morph into the controls. 

 

I would like to take a moment to address the City of Boston: Mother Nature doesn't hate you, I promise. New England doesn't hate you, I promise. You are seeing some unusually high amounts of snow this year, enjoy it. Find ways to enjoy it because winters in New England are shifty. Snow one year, not the next. Blizzard upon blizzard one year, flurries the next. Snow is a wonderful texture to the cold. It makes being cold less cold if you have a reason to be outside. Go line the Boston Common with an army of snowmen. Have random snowball fights. Build unique sculptures out of snow, but whatever you do, avoid the yellow, brown, light brown snow. 

New England: Winter Photographs by jeffrey byrnes

January and February in New England see the most amount of snow fall. As I write this post I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of a "blizzard," scheduled to land in less than 24 hrs. This past Saturday we woke up to a coat of snow the covered the ice that formed throughout the previous week. I am not one for early mornings on weekends. However, I found myself wide awake by 6:30 am, well before any amount of snowy cloud-diffused light could illuminate the accumulating snow. 

It took me all of about 10 minutes to decide to go out and shoot. I checked the light a few times while dressing and prepping my camera bag. I was satisfied with what I was seeing and knew what I would be able to capture. For the last several years one of my longest projects has been photographing the urban landscape in our town. I will not dive into the motivating details at this moment. I left the house with the intent of making it downtown and leaving it to intuition to make photographs. While there are a few places I have visited during snow storms, I wanted to avoid them and focus on some new images. 

I did however visit one specific location that I tend to use as a location for shoots. I made a few photos treking through the snow. Even though I have been visited this location in the snow many times, I aways find something new. I want to preface the following by hopefully giving your imagination and memory a run for its memory. If you are not from New England or did not spend any time in the winters in New England, on the slopes skiing or ridding during the winters, then you will not be able to understand this quite as well as a native will. New Englanders, you know that moment when you play in the snow till everything hurts? You are so cold your body is in pain, you may have a slight headache, but you do not want to go in because you are having so much fun? That is exactly what my morning was like. I was outside, making photos, enjoying the falling snow. My hand, cold, firmly molded to the grip of my camera, was slightly red from the snow falling. I wear gloves while shooting when I know I will be outside for more than a few minutes at a time. Having been navigating around the empty streets via 4x4, I wasn't worried about gloves. 

As I began walking down the snow covered walkway of the park I periodically stopped to make photos. I wanted to make my way to the far end of the park and see the recently cut open view of the river. I managed to find a patch of ice covered with snow. I began to break dance, moving in ways I did not know I could move. I tried 2-3 times to gain my balance. Like an ill attempted back flip, my feet came out from under me and I went backwards. I hit the ground with enough force to knock my hat off. I did not drop the camera from my hands until I realized I was horizontal, catching snow flakes on my tongue that was now hanging out of my mouth and my eyes that were wide open in shock. It took me a few seconds to asses my situation and come to the conclusion that I was not injured. I grabbed my head to make sure I was not bleeding. Once I realized I had not bashed my head on the ice I placed the camera in the snow for a second so I could rotate and get up. 

That was the hardest part. Trying to get up was a bit of a challenge. I had fallen with such force that I could already feel a sharp pain in my shoulders, neck, upper back. With a low groan I moved to my side. The soft snow was comforting, but the pain was increasing and I wanted to get up and regain my partially murdered consciousness. My upper body was stiff, my camera wet, my ego shattered. I had a similar fall in 2009 when I was in Boston studying at the Art Institute of Boston. I was walking through the Boston Common when I went to walk onto the ice of one of the ponds. I stepped over a short chain fence, at least I tried to. Some how as I was placing my leading leg over, the snow gave way from the opposite foot and I slipped forward. My legs became a tangled mess in the chains. I fell with force face down into the snow. The film body I was shooting with went down with even greater force right into the snow. The camera was fine, my legs cut up, my ego scarred. I stood up and bowed to Boston for hitting me hard. I had a mile walk back to the school to catch the shuttle back to my dorm. I was cold, wet, limping, and mentally writing the story down for a later point and time. 

Back to our snowy Saturday, 3 hours later I was on location in the snow to make some family photos of one of my clients. Loaded up with two bags and my Profoto light mounted to a stand, I went to step around the corner of the gate to enter the reservoir. I was lucky enough to find another hidden patch of ice. I slipped, once again losing my balance. This time I wasn't trying out for "Dancing With The Stars," I just fell fast and hard. I was also fortunate enough to cut my hand on a phantom object. It was the light, stand, or the bag, but it was a nice little scratch. They say chicks dig scars, not sure if the fiance digs them, but it was just another wound for some sympathy, as if I needed any more. By the time night fell I was in a bit of agony. I have had my share of bad ass shitters. I have a displaced knee cap from snowboarding. I've had 4 staples in the back of my head. I have bad ankles from skateboarding. I have had numerous falls from bikes. Numerous scars from the pedals of my bmx bike, as well as a few other injuries. But this icy, break dance themed fall was hard. What saved me from smacking my head like I was trying to head butt some jerk was that I twisted my body during the fall. I tend to do that when I fall.

In 2012 the fiance and I were ridding our bikes on the rail trail at the cape when she nearly fell off her bike. To avoid hitting her I swerved. I laid the bike down on its side and slid some 20', grinding a nice patch of skin of my right side, arm, back fat, and leg. She enjoyed my fall with a bout of laughter and fear. She noticed that I instinctively turned my head away from the pavement to avoid any concusing bashes. I have always had great balance. I was surprised that I had actually fallen as hard as I did on the ice. By Sunday morning, waking up was rough. I was in pain with spasms. As I write I am comfortably numb on the couch. Out of it all I got some great photos of the early morning coating of snow. Was it worth it to bust my ass so hard? But of course. The small price to pay for a photograph. The moral of the story, be careful, tred carefully, and always watch your footing when you're in compromising places. While I was on solid ground, I didn't evaluate the landscape or expect fresh smooth ice to want to cuddle. Enjoy the photographs below. 


Aerial Photography and My Newsletter by jeffrey byrnes

This year is going to be epic. I am working on some new things, planning some new work, planning some travel. Some of the anticipated work will lead to traveling, hopefully on a regular basis. However, a small change is the newsletter that I will be doing. Basically this is a way of letting you know what is new, where I have gone, what exciting things I have done or am in the process of doing. Use the button below and sign up to be a part of it. 

I look forward to sharing with you in 2015!

Yesterday I photographed a house for one of my best clients, an agent that I work with on a regular basis. Between leaving the house and swinging by the studio to drop off a few things I stopped to take a flight. The snow looked nice so I figured, "why not?" I buzzed around for a few minutes surveying the landscape. 

Winter in New England: Photography by jeffrey byrnes

Winter is usually a time when I can sit down and plan the year out, get taxes done, work on some lingering projects, and spend some time outside. I have a tendency to get in the car when the snow comes and drive off into the foggy wall of falling snow. As much as I love the summer, the sun, the beach, winter brings with it a different light, different colors, and a unique set of contrasts that can only be found in snowy conditions. A few weeks ago we had the first snow fall of the winter season. Not the first snow fall of the year, (2014), but for the 2014-2015 winter season. I happened to be in a rural area heading out to visit a friend when I happened to see some elements in the landscape that I couldn't pass up. I just had to stop and make a few photos. Below is one such photo. 

Recently someone approached me and said there was no way for them to follow my blog or get automatic updates. I have established a news letter/subscribe channel for you to be able to stay current with my work, my blogging, my general photography shenanigans. Simply enter your information below and we will keep you in the loop! Comments, questions, all that jazz still possible below.  


Drones: Know the NOs by jeffrey byrnes

Recently I was interviewed by the local news about my drone, usage, legality, and a few other topics related to the use of drones and the FAA. I begin this post with one idea in mind. One simple thought, which is, I never would have thought technology like this would be so easy to access and that I would be able to fly a camera around. With that being said, here is another thought that came to mind almost instantaneously, never would I thought that making images/video could be so criminal.

The reality is that it is not a crime to operate a drone so long common sense is applied. At least, not at the moment. Here are some no fly examples. Flying a drone around a major airport, that's a big NO NO! Flying a drone around an air force base, an even bigger NO NO! More like a HELL NO NO! Spying on your neighbors wife in the backyard, unless she is a super model and you're a Hollywood Director, yea nope, still a no fly zone. Flying at certain altitudes over municipal buildings without clearance is a no no. Flying over a residential neighborhood under 400' is considered trespassing, a no fly zone.

It really is a common sense practice amongst being a huge responsibility. When interviewed by the news, I was told time and time again that their idea of a story was based on the record number of sales of them over the holidays. Fearing that little Timmy down the street has ones, parents should understand that these are not toys. The technology that is in them is powerful, as powerful as the device itself. Depending on which drone you have, you can have any where from 4-8 spinning blades. That is 4-8 times the ability to hurt someone or something.  

When I say it is a common sense practice, it is really more than that. There are things you have to pay close attention to, such as, where and when to fly, how close to properties you should be, observing privacy, observing a safe line of sight, and safe flying practices. The Dji Phantom that I have has a very high range of altitude. The higher something gets, the further it gets away, harder it becomes to see. If you need a really high up, shot, something from above 1000' charter an airplane, helicopter, hot air ballon. I watched a Youtube  back in 2014 in which the guy sent his Phantom up beyond its limits. When the controller and the drone stopped speaking, he effectively lost the drone. It wasn't until days later after a neighborhood canvas did he get it back by someone who found it. 

I am not going to give you the mathematical or physics breakdown of what would happen with having something fall from 900' up. It should be obvious what would happen, damage. The youtuber went on to say that he wouldn't do that again, yadda yadda yadda. I've never reached my max range with my drone. Unless requested to for a project, I won't be sending mine out to max range. If need be, I would do so with safe guidelines and measures to ensure liability. The truth of the matter is, if you are flying a device in that altitude and it comes back down to earth with a crashing thud, chances are someone or something is going to be damaged. I for one know that I do not want to be held liable for damage to any property. While I do have a good insurance policy in place, that doesn't mean I want to use. 

As you might start to read articles and other similar topics related to the use a drones there is another point being hammered, the commercial use of drones. We have all heard that Amazon wants to use them. We are still a few years away from that happening. The sad reality is that the FAA is dragging their feet in clearing film makers and photographers the right to freely prosper economically from this technology. As I said to someone I know who keeps me in the loop on things from time to time, I feel this is a bureaucratic move. Someone in some office, in some state or federal building is telling someone to tell the FAA to not handle this or handle according to how they want it. Another staggering reality is that people are in fear of this technology. The likelihood that someone operating a drone is going to spy on you is ridiculous. The average person operating one, be it a photographer or videographer doesn't care about trivial matters. They are flying with an agenda. 

I read an article back about two years ago, about the time drones were becoming popular for people, before it became a debated topic. The article went on to discuss a photographer had used his drone, observed a crime being committed and acted upon that and alerted the authorities. Once convicted the criminal then sued the photographer for a violation of privacy. Only in America.... 

The rumors are that the FAA wants people to become a fully licensed pilot. Crazy right? Yes. I would happily take on a permit or some other form of certificate that would allow me to legal right to operate my drone commercially. Even more crazy is that the FAA has "awarded" a select few the right to do so commercially. This to me is a red flag with a question. "How were the awarded?" Was a fee paid that allowed them this "award?" Did the apply and receive the right? I can not say. It may not be clear as to how a few companies were given special permission. But again, this goes back to an assumption, someone is calling the shots. If that were not true, the FAA would come out with guidelines, regulations, rules, permitting, laws, etc. They have not. The FAA tells people that they are not allowed to use them commercially, fines will be handed out, and that the policies will not be set for a few years to come. WHY? 

The future of the use of drones is a largely debated topic with an invisible question mark that is hovering over the heads of anyone who would like to operate them economically. There are real world applications and uses for them that are beyond the purposes of creating cool images. Recently I became aware of these applications when I used mine to film the exterior of an 8 story building that had a partial collapse that forced residents to evacuate the neighboring building and the closure of a major artery for traffic in the city I live in. The moment the fire dept saw me flying over the roof of the building they requested to see my footage. Following that, the city, structural engineers, contractors, and other city departments were able to see the footage and make their assessments. At the very least, the fire dept did not have to risk the lives of their fire fighters by lifting a ladder to the top of the building. 

Aside from the commercial application, there are a number of companies that could be affected by the pending restrictions the FAA is stalling on. Anyone that manufactures drones, drone accessories, parts, or the technology that is used in them could suffer. With a record number of sales in recent months, it is obvious that they are desired and that more people are accepting of them. I read an article yesterday that discussed briefly that pilots of real planes, the ones human beings occupy and are transported in, are reporting the sightings of drones more frequently. The article, brief as it was, mentioned 25 reports a month by pilots. The article did not specify the manner in which every report was logged, meaning just how close each drone was, where the pilot was seeing them, how low the plane was when they were spotted. It was geared towards a more objective response to their rise in popularity. I wonder, think with me for a second, are pilots reporting every time they see a bird? Don't think so. So why is it that a drone is worth so much scrutiny? Again, this goes back to people fearing them. 

According to another article that I read, the FAA has won a law suit that effectively re-designated drones as "aircraft." Shenanigans I say. More bureaucratic politics at work. Having them renamed as aircraft now allows the FAA and anyone else for that matter the right to impose further restrictions. The bottom line is that we do not need such stiff restrictions on drones. As I said, I would be all for the legal right to operate commercially. I am by no means arguing against the FAA or saying F the FAA, I am merely trying to defend anyone that wants to use them economically. I wait in wonder as to the future of the economic use of my drone. It is irritating to be reading nonsense on the daily. 

In closing, drones are a lot of responsibility. They are not toys and should be regarded as a machine that requires a proper understanding of how they operate. If anyone tells you they are easy to fly, the are mistaken. It takes quite a bit of practice and even more thought and precise control and care to fly. Each flight should be well considered and all spots should be well scouted before flying. As I said earlier, common sense is a must. If you are common sense deficient or prone to accidents, please avoid operating a drone. 

The above pictured images were made under safe conditions. Flown in an open area, away from a high traffic airport, and a safe distance away of objects, I observed my surroundings carefully and with caution for what could come into the airspace of my drone. I knew the locations well and did a precise scouting prior to taking off. When I purchased mine, I was not given a handbook of procedures to follow, there was no guidebook for common sense in the box. I applied a set of professional skills and relied on my intuition and smarts to make these photographs. I would encourage anyone who is using or planning to, do so with a smart, clear, objective mindset. Don't fly where you shouldn't, don't push the limits unless you can do so safely, and lastly, just don't do anything stupid...

 

 

 

Real Estate Marketing Video: New Work by jeffrey byrnes

During the course of the fall, October and November, I worked on a marketing video for a top selling Realtor, Erin Fontaine Brunelle. I work closely with Erin to capture her properties for her clients. I produce both video and stills of her listings as a part of her marketing. When approached to do the marketing piece I was excited to integrate some aerial work, which can be seen by watching the video below. 

Cheers!


Dance Photography: New Work by jeffrey byrnes

During October and November I worked closely with the owner/choreographer of Eclipse Dance Co to photograph her dancers for a show that opened at the end of November. This project was a bit different than previous dance shoots. Our objective was to shoot for prints that would be exhibited during the show. Each image would feature a specific pose and be suspended within the dance space. The show did not open on a stage, rather a unique event space that exists within a former mill. The title of the show was "Still Moving." It fused the still images within the actual dance. The pieces were site specific, relying on the structural elements of the space to build a stage. The goal was for the audience to navigate around the space while the dancers moved through the space. It was a different take on observing dance. 

I really enjoyed the close relationship the dancers had with the audience. The audience became a part of the show with their interaction. At times the dancers swept their ways through observers. It was different, far more different than most dance performances that I have been too. It was refreshing to be a part of something so creative. 

You might not always have an assistant, so do the next best thing, set the lights using whatever talent is available.

In terms of the portraits of the dancers, they were photographed at the dance studio. Over the course of 4 shoots we were able to capture the ideal images of the dancers, the ideal poses, that would fit within the show. Working from a mood board that the owner of the dance co put together, we were able to use her studio space during their rehearsals to capture the images.

We've photographed dancers on roof tops, parks, other landscapes, but this images is one of my favorites because of the relationships between the two. Compositionally I adore the poses. 

In the 4 shoots that we had there was only one major technical issue that arose. How do we film the dancers from above? There was a request to film one of the pieces from above. The film was to be shown while dancers performed the piece. It was going to be a dramatic and incredible forced perspective on the piece. The first shoot we were unable to mount the camera in the right manner. Working with my 5d, I tried a few set ups of mounting the camera above the dancers. WIth no luck I had to abandon the entire process that I sculpted. There was one idea that I had that would incorporate a raised pole that went up and down for one of the dance classes. If I could lift the horizontal pole high enough, mount a camera looking down, all would be good. The next challenge, how do I mount onto a 6"+ pole? It took some serious out of the box thinking. In the end I used my Gopro Hero 3+ mounted with a U shaped bracket and a magnet. I had to do some serious research to figure out of a magnet would work. Why? Welp, simple. Magnets F*** things up. Magnets and electronics don't always work. Don't believe me, go grab your computer and a strong magnet and see what might happen. Once mounted, lifted, I ran the Gopro via my iPad and worked closely with the owner of the studio to ensure the dancers were in the right position. After several takes we nailed it, the dancers nailed it, the project came to a wrap. 

The following photos were a part of the show.

 

The following gallery are a few highlights from the performance on opening night.


Travel Photography: Stowe Vermont by jeffrey byrnes

Since the beginning of December I have been whining, gripping, moping around saying how much I would like to be in Vermont during the Holidays. Last year Sue and I took a mini vacation from the 28th-2nd. Sue left Vermont on the second to head back to work while I stayed in Vermont an extra 2 and a half days. We rented a nice little cabin/condo from Air BnB at the beginning of December and spent the month looking forward to the trip. I had never been to that region of Vermont and was anxious to see it in its glory. We had snowy days, a load of fun, some great food, and even managed to get published in the news paper on January 1, 2014 for being photographed while tubing down a hill we found. I could spend the next hour diving into what made the trip extraordinary, but I am simply going to just post a few photos. 

My mind is stuck on the desire to travel. I was speaking with a friend a short time ago and she gave me a brief description of her travel plans for 2015. I wept out of jealousy of the places she is traveling to. Places I want to see.. As I said two days ago, travel is the big thing for this year. 

Covered Bridge, Stowe, Vermont

Vermont

Cabot Cheese

Stowe Vermont

There is an entire world of beauty. I don't just mean pretty landscapes, cityscapes, oceans, and sunsets, I mean there are places in this world, things that we have built, elements of nature that are just so breath taking that they have to be seen. In this ever expanding world of digital technology, a lot of the world is captured day in and day out by a multitude of devices. It is impossible for your iPhone to translate the sensation of experiencing something first hand. No photograph will give you a feeling quite like physically being some where and or doing something. Sure, you can rely on an image to evoke a memory, but even then, a photograph will give you a flat, two dimension view of the subject matter. I could show you an image of someone rushing down a sky slope, kicking up powder, but unless you are there, doing that action, the photograph can only share the view, tell the story, compel you to share the experience. In short, there is no substation for traveling and absorbing a culture. 

Sunset Stowe, Vermont

My final thought is this: Don't be a tourist. Travel and see. Travel and observe. Travel to explore. We went to Bermuda in 2012. I decided it would be a much greater experience if we didn't follow a heard of tourists around to each stop the bus made. Instead we found a hiking trail and went off and saw things other people might not have. Seeing is learning. Learn what the world has to offer and teach others what you have seen. 

Great eats, Stowe, Vermont

Ham & Cheese, Fresh Vermont Chedar


Happy New Year by jeffrey byrnes

Happy New Year to everyone! Here we are at the start of a new year with new possibilities, new jobs, new ventures in life and work. For me the start of the new year is always a bit stressful. I look back over the previous year, sometimes the year prior as well and compare where I have gone in both work and my personal life. I then think about the upcoming year and where I want to go and do, both in my work and personal life. For me, my work life is my personal life. When I set goals it is based on the work that I am going to do that will affectively enhance my personal life, enriching it with new experiences and new ventures or projects. 

In 2015 I will have some major life changes. Getting married will be one of them. Following that will be the launch of a "to-be-announced" project that I have been working on over the last few months. I will be traveling more this year, no doubt about that. And, the new work I will be doing. I am taking my career down newer and much greater path. 

In 2014 I worked with some great clients. I worked for some new clients as well as clients I have retained over the years. 2014 was a great year. I was able to integrate new technology into my work that has afforded me the possibilities of creating more dynamic work. I am very thankful for the clients that I worked with, both new and old. I met some great people over the last 12 months and look forward to working with them in the upcoming months. 

I plan to feature more shoots on this blog and discuss the work that I will be doing as well as possibly going back to my blogging roots of adding feature content that discusses things I learn, pick up, or implement in my work. On one of my former blogs I used to write tutorials and such and those were always well received. 

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

 

Travel Photography: The Photographers Guide to Getting a Christmas Tree by jeffrey byrnes

In our house, in our families we have Christmas Trees. For the last few years me and my fiance have gone out and purchased the real deal. We aren't into the pre strung LED light plastic wanna-be trees that are sold in box stores for a premium. If that is your thing, cool. We enjoy the search, the tangibility of a real tree, the scent of a real tree, and how going to find the right tree makes for a better experience than pulling out a musty box or a dust covered bag that hides your faux Christmas Tree. I have heard people cry of spilt pine needles. I have heard people wimper at the idea of watering a tree. I have even heard people moan at the idea of a tree smelling like, well, a tree. For us it is simple, a real tree makes for a better Christmas.

This year I am doing something different by writing, "The Photographers Guide to Getting a Christmas Tree. If you are in the Northeast Corner of the U.S. or upper Mid-West, possibly the Western Corner of the U.S. as well, you might find this helpful.  

Things to know about a real tree:

Christmas Trees come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When I say variety, I mean a lot. Just to make sure I didn't get things wrong I did a bit of googling. Well, more like looked at one site. There literally is a website called, " National Christmas Tree Association." I know, crazy, huh! According to their site there are 5 types of trees with another 16 breeds. Or is it tree ethnicities? 

Trees range in color from greens and blues to browns. Stay away from a Christmas Tree that has brown on it. Those are uglyier than Charlie Brown's tree. Just think, 'brown-bad' 'green-good.' 

If you want a great tree for ornaments, you'll want the "White Spruce, The white spruce is excellent for ornaments; its short, stiff needles are ½ to ¾ in. long and have a blunt tip. They are bluish-green - green in color, but have a bad aroma when needles are crushed. They have excellent foliage color and have a good, natural shape. The needle retention is better in a white spruce than it is among other spruces." If you want something with awesome "needle-retention," then consider the "FRASER FIR: The Fraser fir branches turn slightly upward. They have good form and needle-retention. They are dark blue-green in color. They have a pleasant scent, and excellent shipping characteristics as well." If the largest tree with the softest needles is what your heart yearns for, the "WHITE PINE: The largest pine in the U.S., the white pine has soft, flexible needles and is bluish-green in color. Needles are 2½ - 5 inches long. White pines have good needle retention, but have little aroma. They aren't recommended for heavy ornaments," is the tree for you.

Those are just a few of the 16 possibilities you can have. Now on to the fun stuff, the guide!

Step 1. [You must be a photographer] Step 1 is pretty self explanatory. In order for this guide to work you have to be a photographer. If you aren't and you have a camera or a phone with a camera, stop reading and go learn how to be a photographer. Once you have mastered all the cool things and have an made "photographs," then you'll be ready for this guide. If you are a photographer and you're reading this guide, chances are you're looking to score the perfect Christmas Tree. Like a bully making you lick a medal pole during a snow store, I am to make you uncomfortable and sad by saying you're never going to find the perfect Christmas Tree. Perfect doesn't exist. You can come close, but you will never find it. 

Step 2. [Go Far Away] For the last few years I have wanted to have the most photographic Christmas Tree experience imaginable. For this to happen you will have to travel. The parking lot of Walmart isn't going to cut it. Find a place that is remote, down a dirt road soaked in mud and snow. Preferably on top of a hill or mountain some where. That is where you will find something photogenic. We took the advice of someone that suggested a Tree Farm that was featured by Martha Stewart. After selecting our tree I later joked that she must have reviewed it from from prison, as we were disappointed. 

Pardon me while I take a moment between steps. Last year my friend and I purchased our trees at a Polish Farm in Hadley, MA. It was nothing short of epic in the sense that it was thee epitome of the perfect expereince. The snow as falling, the farm was lit by a fire, music was playing, and the fresh smell of cut pine trees filled the air. After taking time to select our trees we found ourselves sharing a glass of blackberry brandy with the farm owner. The intermixed dialects of old polish and new polish was communicated in the small barn out back. It was the kind of scene you'd find in a movie. It was an incredible experience. Before I continue, I will say one more thing, we chose this year not to go there, not because we didn't want to support them, but to find a new adventure. 

Step 3. [What To Bring] You'll want to bring someone really attractive, duh! Oh simmer down, we are all beautiful and this is a politically correct guide. A dog of course because they know how to hunt for the perfect Christmas Tree. If not for the sake of vanity and a great prop for a photo shoot, your significant other and your pup will keep you company as you photograph everything to death. Money is a vital tool to the economic exchange of a Christmas Tree. Have cash.. Rope, twine, chains, bungee cords, duct tape, all things you will need. See step 7. Do I even need to say it, yes, have your camera with you. Another given...

Step 4. [Walk Around] Clark Griswold knew what he was doing when he nearly killed and froze his family to death searching for a Christmas Tree. Walk. When you're tired of looking at green needeled pointy cones, keep walking. The right tree for you is out there. The more you walk, the more photos of your beautiful companion and your dog you can make and the more likely you'll find the right Christmas Tree. Plus it burns calories. Lets face it America, we could all use a good hike in two feet of snow.

Step 5. [Make Photos] Yep, another duh moment. We are all different, have different styles, but the approach is the same. We are there to make photos of every single thing we do, see, and say. Well, some of us anyways. Shoot between the moments. Shoot to capture the moments. Shoot to remember the moments. Shoot because you're bored walking through 2 feet of snow. Shoot because your dog did something cute. Oh, and, of course shoot when you find that tree you've been dying for!

Step 6. [That Tree, No, This Tree] Unless you live in a dorm room, who cares how "fat that tree looks" Seriously. It is better to have some girth than it is to have something too thin. Long and thin, no win. Nice and thick does the trick. You can always prune, chop a small piece of the bottom off, or move some things around the room. Pick a tree that you like. Pick a tree that will suite your needs, fill your hearts, and be the right size for the room. My parents one year had a tree that was about 10' tall. From floor to ceiling, it took up the entire room. I remember that tree as I am writing this guide. Do your kids a favor, give them something to remember.

Step 7. [Leaving] Most places will give you a tree wrapped up in twine. They will take a few moments and shove the tree through this oddly shaped, old as hell machine that shakes the tree and wraps twine around it. From there it is as simple as using the tools you brought with you, step 3, twine, rope, etc. You will want to securely fasten the tree to the roof of your car, truck, suv. If you have a flat bed, a pick up, or some kind of creeper van, and you want to put your tree inside, go for it. On the way home yesterday we saw a car that had a tree with nearly 3/4 of it hanging out of the trunk. What ever you do, make sure it is secure. The last thing you want is to give your kids, dog, significant other the memory of vehicular homicide during the holidays. 

Our Tree: My fiance and I went to Justamere Tree Farm in Worthington, MA at the suggestion of her co-worker. We drove for about 55 minutes to get to the location. The amount of snow fall we had last week, the day before Thanksgiving, was enough to coat the farm in a Norma Rockwell kind of fashion. The drive wasn't long. The location was accessible because I have an suv with a nice set of off road tires and 4x4. We both wanted something adventurous, exiting, new. We saw a lot of trees with holes in them. Some Charlie Browns and a few winners. We ultimately ended up with a really fat tree. I am glad that I had a bungee cord and a strap for my roof rack with me. Had I not had those I would have been forced to use just their "twine." Their form of twine was actually a nylon-like plastic string. It was not very supportive. It made for a slight reinforcement from the tie downs I did with my own tools. 

Having heard the farm was reviewed by Martha Stewart, I had an expectation. With an A list name such as that, there is a certain connotation that conjures a higher than average level of expectancy. I will say this though. We had our tree delivered to our car for us. It was a short trek from the roots to the edge of the creek where we were met by a staff member who had a 4x4 atv that drove it to our truck. We were let down when we realized they didn't shake the tree and wrap it up making it easier to move. The price though, a whopping $35.00 (sarcasm) was beyond fair. Last year's tree was $60.00. Which came in less than some of the other trees they were selling. So the savings was worth it. 

I strive to have moments in life that are worth remembering. Even when I have a camera with me and I have made photographs, it is still nice to have an awesome story to tell someone. For example: Lets say you have a house filled with guests. They ask you, "where did you get such a vivacious Christmas Tree.?" You and your significant other look over at each other and proceed to regale you guests in a tale. If it was a good experience they will be warmed. If it was a heinous and awful moment in your life, they will sympathize with you and make sure they stay clear of a place that will scar them for the rest of their life. 

Whether you take my advice seriously or not, if you celebrate Christmas and love going out and getting a tree, go and search. Go with the inspirations of Clark W. Griswold and find that damn near perfect tree. Search high and low and keep your camera close to you. I hope you have a Safe and Happy Holidays.