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. 

Hartford Connecticut: Architecture Photography by jeffrey byrnes

Recently I was in Hartford, CT for a new client meeting. I took a few moments following the meeting to navigate around the city and make some photographs of the buildings. It was the right time of day to capture the shape, contours, and lines of the buildings that make up the skyline. I will be back next week for a different, "new client." Hartford is a pretty snazzy city.

Dance Photography: Candid Portrait by jeffrey byrnes

Every now and again I happen to catch the right moment and capture an awesome candid portrait. It happens whether I am working or not working. I am always looking for the moment in which I can make a photograph. That is a different mindset from when I am working and sometimes have to create that moment. 

Over the last few weeks I have been working on a project with Eclipse Dance Company. During a shoot last night I was fortunate enough to have my camera basically up to my eye balls when I saw one of the dancers posing, but not posing. I pressed the shutter and the result is the following portrait.

Portrait of a Dancer

For me this photograph works so well because it wasn't scripted, planned, posed intentionally, it was, as you see it in the moment. Thats  what makes it a candid image, that what makes it work. Once the project is complete and the performance has occurred, I will share the results of some hard work. Some out of the box thinking and planning. Until then, shoot on/dance on. 

New England: Fall Foliage by jeffrey byrnes

Having spent my life in New England, I have been observing the changing seasons for 31 years. Each year I learn something new, see something new, observe something new. This fall has been hectic, fast paced, fun, rewarding, and challenging. In the years past I was always able to make time to either travel or escape the studio to make some photos. This year there was almost no opportunity to do so. When it wasn't rainy I was outside working on some awesome projects, shoots, locations. When it wasn't rainy and I wasn't working on location, I was editing. This left zero time to explore, see the leaves, or be outside, recreationally.

There were about 3 days in passing I was able to make some photos. 3 short time frames that collectively do not equal an hr in which I was able to stop for me. I am sharing my favorite image from this fall that is both non-commercial, seeing as how no one has purchased it yet, and something I am very happy to share. Below is an low altitude aerial photo I made at a reservoir a few minutes from the studio. I was able to get to the location with enough time to fly over a few times and capture a few stills. I am very happy with the photograph overall. I am even more happy that I am pleased as much as I am, since I wasn't outside much to produce my own photographs.

I often try and reserve a day or two every week or so, to make photographs for myself, test new processes, techniques, or just refine what I am currently working on. It is healthy to take a break and re-focus your attentions onto other things. As brief as that may be, it does allow for a healthy pause from a hectic schedule. This re-focusing will give you the necessary break to breath and get back on task or take the next challenge. Clients need your focus, attention, and you at your best. You are no good to anybody if you are stressed, over-worked, under rested, or not interested. This photograph is dedicated to all the clients that challenge me to be better than myself, work harder, produce better results. Thank you. 

Filmmaking: Future Work by jeffrey byrnes

When DSLR's started coming out with video I freaked out. I was reading, at the time, in all the major publications that clients were requesting still photographers to implement their skills and talents into video work for them. I said to my business partner at the time, "not me." I had no plans to enter the world of video. It was more foreign to me than Poland. (Im 51% polish and have a few awesome polish friends.) I am happy to say that the "not me" is no longer. 

I have been playing with the video feature on my DSLR's for a few years now. I am not a filmmaker, per se. I work with video as an integration into some of he work I do. I am however inspired. My close friend Scott, mentor, filmmaker, editor, award winning dude for his work, has inspired me. Recently he was telling me, mentoring me, providing feedback and cautioning me to be careful on my approach to a particular subject matter that I wanted to produce a small doc around. I took his advice. I am taking his advice, which is, "Go out and produce a small 3-5 minute doc" and have some cred to stand on. I am doing just that. 

This evening I will begin working on a film. I will be filming today and tomorrow and cutting over the next few days, week. My hardship with film/video/filmmaking is not the technical, per se, that stuff can easily be figured out. As Scott has told me, the only difference between still and motion is just that motion. Motion is a moving picture. Set your shot, set your focus, plan, execute and you are on your way. During a conversation one night at dinner, he held his hand up making a frame. He said, sometimes it is about waiting for the shot to happen. He had his hand framed up in a way that showed part of a bar, part of a register. A moment after he said, "watch," the bartender walked into the shot and did an action. He pulled his hands away and looked over at me. What he said next is a blur. I was to enthralled with the simple, yet powerful lesson he showed me. From that moment on I have been more critical of everything I see, every action that takes place around me. I see in frames, photographs, and my mind is always on, always composing. 

Since then I have made a few little pieces. I have worked with Scott and another friend Jesse on the set of an award winning film, traveled with Scott for some film work, and have seen how things work on the inside. I am hooked. I have been working with a top real estate agent, producing work for her. Every day I shoot, edit, I am trying new things, expanding my skills with editing and post-production. Just this past week I took my audio recorder off auto mode, played with the levels, and received the best sound I have yet to record. You can see that example below. You can also watch a behind the scenes video of me shooting an editorial back in September. There is also a film I produced for a "Pop-Up Restaurant" back in April 2012.


Thee Inappropriate Photographer by jeffrey byrnes

A few years ago I had a clever title for a blog that would be centered around war stories from photographers. I began asking around for stories. I asked a few photographers if they had any negative of inappropriate stories they could share. To my surprise I found 2 things. Either people weren't honest and really didn't have any to share or they weren't going to be truthful and tell stories that they deemed inappropriate. I disbanded the idea of the blog and let that go. 

I am going to share my story from this past evening. I encountered a very rude, very inappropriate photographer, that caused a public scene and was acting very rudely during a performance I was hired to be at. I will not share the name of this photographer as I feel that it would be beneath me to do so. I will however describe the manner in which he conducted himself that warranted the staff to step in and say something to him. 

At the beginning of the the show, during the reception, I observed an older gentle man setting up his cameras. He had two bodies mounted with a wider lens and one mounted with a 70-200mm f2.8. I assumed he was there for one of two reasons, to photograph a specific piece because he was related to someone or because one of the dance companies asked him to be present. At the start of the first piece I observed him sitting on the ground. While I had one camera set to capture a certain angle, wirelessly, I approached my friend whom was running the event. I asked who he was and what he was there for. I asked expecting to hear "media." Something along the lines of a dance publication, news paper, something. She responded with, "we don't know. He just showed up and said he photographs dance and sat down and began doing so." I found that to be odd as one had to pay a ticket price to get it. I was the primary that was there to capture the event for them. They had no idea who he was. 

During the intermission he re-positioned himself at a different perspective in the venue. He was asked to kindly stop making photos, even more so when it was discovered he was there to do so for a "book" that he was working on. His goal was to not "sell the photos," rather solicit to the dance companies following the show that he was working on a "book" in the hopes they would agree to be a part of it.

Within a minute the older, not very pleasant looking gentle man made his way from the balcony and directed his focus on where I was standing, talking to a group of people. He approached in a very unpleasant manner and with a very unwelcoming tone said he would like to talk to me. I looked at him and said, "me?" His response, "yea, you," as if I was guilty for doing something. He motioned for me to step aside, essentially asking me to abruptly end my conversation with no notice and give him the attention he was demanding. I obliged out of kindness. 

He introduced himself. I shook his hand. Following that he said, "I would like to give you a piece of professional advice." Now I was getting annoyed. Here I was face to face with someone who entered an event with the expectation that they could come and do as they please without asking permission and without knowing who I was, wanted to give me a piece of advice. If it is anything I have learned from watching television shows that rely heavily on drama it is this: If someone wants to "offer advice," they are about to insult you, correct you, or tell you they think they are better than you by explaining something to you that you other wise did not need to know or already knew. I was shocked that someone I didn't know felt the need to approach me, publicly, and express distain when they were in the wrong. 

I responded with, "you want to give me advice?"

"Well yea, if you want."

"Sure, go ahead."

His tone changed drastically as he began to point his finger at me. "Next time you are at an event and you have a problem with another photographer you go to them with it and say something. You'd be surprised how easily things would go." I turned red with anger. Not only did he have the audacity to come to me and say this, but to assume that I had an issue. To assume is to make an 'ass" out of 'u' and 'me.'  a s s u me...

I responded with, "before you piss me off, please walk away." 

"That will only embarrass you," he said.

"You have approached me and accosted me in a public setting and I do not appreciate that. Please kindly walk away." Were the last words that I said to him. His behavior was ill timed, inappropriate, and confrontational. I do not like being put on the spot in such a tone, especially when I was rightfully there, doing my job. 

He thought he was a bigger person by approaching me. What he was not aware of, what he did not know, was that the chair of the organization did not want to hear a single camera during the show. My inquiry as to who he was, was to merely ask if he was media, why he was sitting there, and to state my intent that if he was there shooting in that spot then I wanted to be situated in a more ideal location as well. I did not care to be next to him or near him, but to have a better location to capture the show more clearly. I was after all there to capture the performance for the organization.

Having realized that he was not going to get his way, win this round, he attempted to take his frustrations out of me. I was insulted. I was more insulted that he felt the need to act so unprofessionally and accuse me of being the one to have his right to make photos taken away. As one of the other staff members stated, "he didn't even ask if it was ok. He showed up and just started shooting." The moral of the story, the point that I want to convey is this: There is a place and time, a manner in which one can and should say something. There are professional manners that can be displayed. Picking and choosing the correct time exhibits your level of professionalism. Do not show up unannounced with the expectation that you have the right to do anything. Be courteous, respectful, polite, and you will see that things can be granted to you when you act in a more professional manner. 

Re-locating: Lifestyle upgrade by jeffrey byrnes

It has been one week since we have been in our new house. Our move was not substantial, but the benefits are. The whole point of buying a house, in my opinion is to have a better quality of live, an improvement in living conditions and situations. Needless to say, we are happy. I have some plans, such as a nicely put together home office, a small personal studio (personal projects), and a place where I can do some other creative work. 

One feature that makes me the most happiest, the kitchen. We have more space then my fiance's condo and it looks incredible. The most lavish benefit, the professional range, the stove, the food maker, the holy grail of kitchen appliances. So far I have cooked two meals. Dinner for myself last night and a lunch this morning that incorporate a few left overs from last night. I am by no means a chef, but would love to possess the knowledge of a contemporary chef. So, chef's out there reading this, I will pay you in photos if you train me for contemporary cuisine...

Starting with the left was last nights salad. Field greens, green apple, red pear, topped with raspberry vinaigrette dressing with cheese sprinkled on top. Middle, is a red potato and red pear combination seasoned with spices and garlic olive oil sautéed in bacon grease. Bacon of course was within the medley of potatoes and pears. Right is today's lunch. Eggs, yesterday's potato and pear mash up with bacon and chives. All in all, it was good. I was very happy to gets out the range. I look forward to making new dishes, testing new things out, burning some food, perfecting some dishes, and enjoying the lifestyle improvements.

Thats all for now. itk

Aerial Photography and Videography by jeffrey byrnes

Last year I had a thrill. I flew in a helicopter. I am sure that I discussed that at least once on my blog before converting it over to my new platform. I did an aerial shoot last year via helicopter. Due to a project change, I needed to do so again later in the year. I was addicted and only wanted to fly in a helicopter to get from place to place. While some people have that luxury, I currently do not. 

I do however now have a drone, a DJI Phantom 2 for my Gopro Cameras.  and cane place a camera very high in the sky or make it do things while it is moving. I have been able to make some awesome photographs and videos since I first purchased it back at the very end of August. This past weekend I put together a little piece that I shot in my town while an event happened. You can watch below. 

I am hoping sooner than later I can allocate some funds and replace one of my Hero 3+ for the new Gopro Hero 4. From what I have seen it is an upgrade and worth the purchase. I am quite happy with my 3+, but you know how it is, a new piece of technology comes out and that is enough to change the quality of your work. 

I will be coming out with a few new videos/films soon. I have been doing quite a bit of video work recently. I am having fun and exploring film making. 

Travel Photography: Fall Foliage by jeffrey byrnes

You will not be seeing any epic fall foliage photos in this post. While our attempts to visit Vermont and do the whole "leaf peeping" thing was with good intentions, the Weather Channel was a bunch of liars. We were mislead into thinking Southern Vermont was at this peak for foliage, which it is not. We took a late afternoon drive from Mass up into Vermont. We took the high way for a small portion and navigated the back roads up for the remaining portion. We would repeat almost the same route to return. 

The following photographs were made using my Canon 5d mark ii, imported and edited o my iPad. Pardon hurts dust spots and artifacts in some of the photos.  


Along the way I was thinking about this post. I was examining the idea that the best practice would be to literally just get in the car and wander. That is how I spent my formal years with photogrpahy. It was that practice of just getting in hype car and driving that has lead me to realize that I love to travel and that when you try not to, you will see. See things, objects, places, and people that become photographs. A great photographer can compose an image and tell a story in doing so. A great photographer can also create visual relationships. Not just between photographs, but between the elements of a single photograph.


For example, the following photograph is of a lumber yard that we passed by. The road split the yard into two sections. Quite literally the before and after. What was unique about the location is that the landscape landed to the metaphor even more so. Composed in a fashion that creates a story in a single image, you can see, "before and after" by reason the elements I have placed within the lens. The background is the "before" while the foreground is the "after." The distant landscape is a mountainous scene, almost seen in every corner of Vermont. The foreground is fresh cut timber stacked and laid in the yard. Through this photograph I wanted to convey the sense of the before and after by framing up these emergents for the viewer to discern. 



While I did wish we were able to see some epi autum landscape, I am not let down that we didn't. My goal today was not to spend hours in search of the he right image to make, rather to enjoy the day and if I used my camera, great, if not no big deal. We made our way as far as Putney, Vermont. We spent a short time in Brattleboro. Both I looking for a bathroom and just to meander. We close on our first house this week and we were looking for a few things to add. I will report happily that we found some restrooms to use, but nothing for the house. 



People fascinate me to death. We are all in some ways voyeristic, nosy, curious. Photography allows me to explore both culture and social activity. I spend a lot of time watching people through the lens. Not in a stalker, private eye kind of way, but through the events I attend, the places I travel, and images I make. I form connections with people that I have photographed. Every portrait photographer knows what it is like to on next to theirs subjects, but for me it's more than that. I am still working on trying to contextualize my thoughts on the subject. I was motivated to make some portraits today because the light was ideal to do so. A bit harsh, but sometimes harsh can cause some shadows that are favored. 


The following photograph is of a girl that was writing poetry on the spot for anyone who would indulge her. I noticed the scene when I turned and left a retail store front. As I moved my lens around I observed her mannerisms and noticed the light on her. She became more visually interesting as she allowed the sun to bathe her. While I stood watching and moving about no one entertained her offers of words and emotions. In passing I made a comment to Sue about having a spontaneous poem written for us. That didn't go over well. But I was able to document what I saw. 


Brattleboro is an interesting town. I've been there a hand full of times. It is comparable to other small New England towns. There is some art, little bit of culture, and a little bit of tourism. I am not super drawn to visit Brattleboro like I am other Vermont towns an locations. Most of the time I stop it is in passing, such as today. This was the first time I really used a camera to capture any sort of vignette of the town. That's not to say don't visit, but merely I am stating that after having been a few times, redundancy equals boredom. 


If you are like me and have a need to see, then you have a need to make photographs and travel to some extent. Over the next year I aim to travel more. I want to visit areas that I have not seen both near and far. Vermont happens to be next door and there is. Almost no bad time to visit, except mud season. Before we know it the ground will be blanked in white powder. By that time I will share some photos from last years post Christmas trip to Vermont. Hopefully we will duplicate last year up there.. Go visit Vermont. 

Night Photography: After Hours by jeffrey byrnes

I started making photographs at night when I was in school. Back then I was running around with a tripod, an old slr, 400 tri-x bw film, and no idea what I was doing, except that I was having fun. Night photography is something I still do. The tools have changed, my vision has grown and expanded, and I still have the same fun I did years ago. The thrill is higher, knowing what I want to capture and that there is a method to doing so. I have found, for me and my work, rainy nights create the perfect ambiance. Textures come to life. There is a poetry that exists on rainy nights that otherwise doesn't exist on most nights. There is peace, quiet, and an unlimited amount of images to be found. 

Last night I grabbed my Canon 5d Mark ii, my iPad, and left the studio after a long day of work. I had my pancake 40mm 2.8 mounted. I haven't used a tripod at night in a long time. With a camera this good, high iso capabilities, I have not much need for a tripod. If I were to be shooting something like a landscape, bracketed exposures, or the stars I would surely use a tripod. Just running around at night with a good lens and high iso, no need for the cluncky set of legs. I did however forgot a key cable to connect to my iPad's cable. Dang... So I wasn't able to post these photos till this afternoon before getting into some projects. For me, I see things in the night that I do not get to see during the day. I am inspired. I was inspired. I made photographs.

Travel Photography: Charleston South Carolina by jeffrey byrnes

I am 90% sure that I have not posted any photos from my travels to Charleston South Carolina last year. In May of 2013, my then girlfriend, now fiance, took me to Charleston for my birthday. It was my 30th and she wanted to do something special for me. Had never been in an airplane before that trip. So it had a lot of meaning. 

Charleston is very historic. There is a vibrant, visible history that some cities can not even claim. Among the historic images one can come across on their walks through, there is a culture that makes Charleston a very lavish place to vacation and visit. 

Without providing a narrative for every day we were there, like I would like to do, rather I chose 5 images to show what I saw. These are 5 randomly chosen, spur of the moment choice that I think one could say, Charleston is interesting. I will give a one sentence blurb for each photo.

The architecture in Charleston is ornate, charming, often very lavish. 

After a day and a half of the intoxicating aroma, I was finally able to ask a local what the flowery bush was that emanated the fragrance. Confederate Jasmine.

During a tour of Charleston, we were told that the homes that do not have a steel fence were the ones that donated to the Civil War, with the expectation they would be returned after the war was over.

Poogans Porch is widely known for their food and their hauntings. Alligator 

This little boy was cooling off in a beautiful, well visited fountain located next to the wharf by the river. 

While my photographs are mere snapshots of what can really be seen in Charleston, they still capture an essence of the city. Charleston is one of those places were you could spend weeks documenting the life, culture, and ambiance of the city. In the last 18 or so months I have taken mental trips back to Charleston. On a good day, I can remember the taste of Alligator. 

Head Shots: The business of selling your client. by jeffrey byrnes

Initially I began writing this post for my LinkedIn blog. I am not an avid writer on that professional platform, but I do have things that get shared there. Due to an image sizing issue, I decided to forego using LinkedIn for this piece. Instead, I am writing for my blog:

Professional head shots say a lot about you as a business person, professional, and your personality. Their is value in having professional photographs made of yourself. In my previous post on LinkedIn, about head shots, I discussed how it is a tool for branding who you are, your business, and at the very least, marketing yourself.

Head shots do not need to be complicated. We are all a bit self conscious. For those that may say they are not self conscious and seem to be the most photogenic, those individuals are especially concerned with how they appear in a photograph. A professional photographer has the roles of making a photograph, editing, delivering, and maintaining the business providing head shots. What most people are unaware of when it comes to hiring a photographer is that the photographer also has another role: making you feel comfortable and eliciting the image that you need, the image that pleases you. To many people are equipped with cameras and possibly a set of lights that are unaware of the true responsibility when it comes to producing head shots. 

A head shot should capture more than your likeness, it should sell who you are. The photographer has a job of doing that for you. It isn't about the camera, or always about the lighting, it is about the interaction between the photographer and the client. You need to find the right fit for you, the right photographer that will make you comfortable, talk to you as if you are a person while putting you at ease. If a photographer fails to deliver on that, they are essentially making a snap shot of you. At that point, you might as well make a snapchat photo and do a screen capture and call that your head shot. 

Self Portrait in studio. Don't be caught using a "selfie" as a professional image to market yourself. 

Self Portrait in studio. Don't be caught using a "selfie" as a professional image to market yourself. 

There are many photographers around the world that have their approach to making sound head shots. Each one of us implements a set of skills, both social and psychological, (don't be scared by that last one: psychological.) The fact of the matter is that when working with people, personalities, we need to be able to connect with our clients and subjects. They need to be given confidence and allow trust in us to make them feel comfortable enough to show their personality. 

Portrait of a Dancer

The true value of a professional head shot transcends the cost. The monetary value of a head shot can be written off, paid for easily depending on your business. In some cases your company might be fronting the cost for you to have that photograph. Your clients, whether you think so or not, will and are always evaluating who they do business with based on their perception and your appearance.

JeffreyB is available for head shot and portraits. 

Greg Stone: Artist

JeffreyB is available for head shot and portraits. 

New England Farm: In Passing by jeffrey byrnes

I was out on a location last evening working on a project. I was testing a few new things for upcoming work. As I was heading down the dirt road to the location I observed a very large group of people picking vegetables. I hadn't been down to this area of Northampton in quite some time, so seeing crops being picked kind of surprised me. The number of people picking was also interesting. 


By the time I finished my work and left the pickers were gone. They left behind their tractor, crates, and a hard days work. I took a few minutes and made some photos with my iPhone. The light is what inspired me to capture them. At the very least, this post is a vignette about farming in New England. 

Underwater Photography: A Wave of Trends by jeffrey byrnes

If you like to hit the "like" button on instagram, re-tweet things on that twitter app, check out wicked photos on 500px, and post on other social media apps and sites, chances are you are into some trendy things. There are nearly countless online avenues to see trendy photographs that are spreading around the world by the minute. If that sounds like you and your social media practices, you might be familiar with photographers posting underwater photographs as well as images of waves. Underwater photography and photography of waves is nothing new. However, with more people than ever owning great cameras, not just Gopro cameras, but dslr's, it has been getting easier to put them in unique places, such as underwater. 

Cape Cod, First Encounter Beach 

Every other day I come across an awesome image of waves, the ocean, surfing, something underwater. I have been inspired. I want to see what I can do that others aren't. I want to see what I can do with water and photography. When I was in Bermuda two years ago, I wished so bad I had an underwater housing for the 7d that I had with me. I didn't think to rent one. That is an easy option for people that have a great dslr and want to work on some water based projects. Projects with water, hmmm interesting. In fact, I am working on a water based photography project. I am not ready to discuss yet as we are still in the prelimb stages. We will announce sooner than later. 

I chose an affordable option. I bought an inexpensive underwater housing for my 5d. I purchased a Diacapac Waterproof Case. Thanks to Amazon's shipping problems two weeks ago, it didn't arrive on time, as scheduled, and I was unable to use it for the intended project. No worries. No need to cry on my behalf and beg the Amazon gods for a refund, because we just shot with a few Gopros. Having spent the last week at Cape Cod, I had day or two to give it a try. Cape Cod doesn't get massive waves with amazing sunsets like some exotic locations, but what Cape Cod has to offer is unique to the North East. 

Cape Cod, Eastham, MA

I threw the 5d in the bag, sealed it up, turned and ran into the water. I could hear my fiance still yelling at me for wanting to put my camera in the ocean. She thinks I am nuts for doing so. But hey, you know what, #yolo.. While Canon cameras do not come with gills, they can go underwater with the right case. 

The tide was high. The sun was setting. I was in the water and had fun just pointing the camera in any direction with an intuitive angle. My goal was to simply see what came out of the camera. There was nothing under the water worth seeing. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn't have been able to. The tide was rough for the bay, which means all the sand was being churned up in addition to seaweed and other ocean stuff. I was able to capture a few fun images. It wont be soon enough before I can get in the water with a camera. 

Cape Cod, Eastham, MA

Travel Photography & Vacation by jeffrey byrnes

Destinations near and far are still destinations. However far your travels bring you, you are still wandering. This summer I had hopes to visit some new places and make some extraordinary images to include into my travel portfolio. With my work schedule and regular trips to Cape Cod and Maine, I was not as fortunate as I had hoped to be in securing some elaborate destination. That is fine. I can not complain by any means. I have been spoiled this summer. 

Barnstable, Cape Cod

This post comes very late at night. Excuse any typos for that reason. This week has been long, exhausting, and very painful. My week started on Saturday with a destination wedding in Rhode Island. While I do not discuss wedding photography on this blog/site, I still do weddings throughout the year. I set out on the road Saturday morning. I was to shoot a wedding and be back for a head shot session in studio by 10am on Sunday. All went according to the plan. Immediately following the shoot I was on the road to Cape Cod. My fiance's grandmother rented a house for the family in Barnstable. Most of the family, including my fiance had arrived on Saturday.

I had been excited to come down for the week. This was the first year I was going to join the family. I had been invited the two years prior, but timing had not worked out for me and my work schedule. This yea, this year though I was incredibly excited. Throughout the day on Sunday my fiance was informing me that her nose hurt. Friday during a walkthrough of a house she accidentally bumped it. Small tap on the nose, nothing to think twice about. No blood, no break, no worries. By Sunday night after my arrival the pain was up and so was the swelling. Everyone was hopeful that by morning the swelling would have subsided and all would be well and she would be back to the beauty queen she is. That was not the case.

Over the years we have often wondered what people do when they have medical emergencies on Cape Cod. We no longer have such worries. Monday morning we traveled to an urgent care center about 15 miles from the house. In concur-ment with her mother, nurse, and aunt, nurse, the dr began his treatment course and sent us on our way. He gave instructions, if it got worse tonight go ER. If it doesn't, stick with planned course. Monday evening we went to the emergency room and sought further treatment. That was the first of many late night ER visits we were to have this week.  

Barnstable, Cape Cod

As I write, I am thinking back over the course of this week. It has been a long and exhausting week. I have been an observer to pain, sadness, and the question, "why me?" While I can not answer that, what I can say is that it has been hard to watch someone I am in love with endure so much pain. A few times I have heard her say, "I feel like a pin cushion," referencing all the needles, attempts, and fails at being pricked, that have happened this week. Most of this week has been spent going from urgent care to the house to eat and the back to the ER. Twice for me and three times for Sue, we have made it to the beach. A medical emergency like this has never been a part of our beach day plans. But life interjects when it does. 

ER Night V--Seventh IV

I am tired now. Sue is fast asleep and as I type I keep looking up at her. Merely two hours ago tears formed a path down her freckle dotted face and on to her hoodie. Her hand was interlocked with mine as nurse after nurse tried to run an IV. The peaceful sleep is a break for her. A break I am happy that she is having.

I am not ready for bed yet. Instead, I found the inspiration to write these thoughts and share a few photos. While I did make a few shots with my iPhone at the beach Thursday, I didn't really make any photographs until late on Friday night. It is rare that I go so long without bringing my camera out and making photos. Even of the most mundane subject. For me, my mind was on one thing, getting her better. I did not care about what I was missing, what I was not out shooting, I was concerned with the health and well being of my fiance.

After dinner we went down to the beach for a fire. A fire on the beach has been a bucket list item since I was a teenager. In all the trips to the cape, all the family vacations I have had, we had never had a fire on the beach. That changed last night and it was quite relaxing. Given the circumstances, my exhaustion, my concern, and near panic attacks at the health of my fiance have made it a hard week for me. But to sit on the sand and hear the waves breaking as the tide was coming up, combined with the ambient glow from the fire was soothing. There was a poetic comfort to the crackles and flying ambers that broke free from the fire. Fire is essential to human existence. At least I believe that we have an inherent need to be around fire at times in our lives. Without it, we wouldn't have survived. 

We left the beach a few minutes earlier than I wanted. We left just as the moon was coming up over the horizon. Without my telephoto lens, I did not care to stay to see it. We had to get to the ER. We were hopeful for an early exit, a short stay. That was not the case. We were there much longer than we wanted to be. Last night was the first night that my camera accompanied me. It stuck close to me. In my hands or on my shoulder. I wasn't leaving it in the car. No way, no how. I had taken just my 5D with my 40mm pancake lens. Was enough to capture some incredible photos at the beach and a few at the hospital. 

The Milky Way and a beach fire. Sandwich, Cape Cod

Surrounded by family we had an awesome fire on the beach. I noticed the Milky Way in the sky behind the fire. If you look at the top left closely, you'll see I caught a shooting star as well. 

Our hands. 

Sue's hands.

Sue's hands.

View from the hospital bed. 


Our hands, Hospital.

On Monday and Tuesday I was petrified. I was scared and worried. Most people, if not everyone would be just as concerned as I was. Some maybe more, some maybe less so. For me this week has been hard. It has been hard to watch emotionally as the woman I love sat in pain. I could provide all the soothing comforts, such as rubbing her forehead, her arm, her hand, coaching her when to exhale as the needles went in, or catching the falling tears, but the one thing I could not do is make her better. As the weekend is upon us, we have a few more days of visits to ER's and urgent care offices. Monday will be a new week and a new day in which we are hopeful her primary care doc will say, you're all clear. This will be one vacation, one trip to the cape we will not soon forget.

Hold the ones you love close to you.

Hurricane Arthur: Photographs of Provincetown, Cape Cod by jeffrey byrnes

"You're crazy, you're nuts, you're going to ruin your camera," Sue said. I tried to explain to her that the Canon Camera and lens that I was shooting with, Canon 5d Markii and a 70-200mm F2.8, are weather sealed and that unless I dropped it the ocean, it could handle some rain falling on it. I stood on the concrete landing, just above the boat launch around the corner from Commercial St in Provincetown. We parked to eat lunch. We had a great view of the bay, watching the boats as the fought to stay above the white capped waves the wind was creating. In between quickly chewing bites down, I spotted a guy walking from the shore right into the water. I dropped my slice and pointed out the window, past the rain drops and off into the distance. He was wadding over towards a small boat being moored. With him he was caring a set of wheels. I couldn't believe eyes. The wind was fiercely blowing as the rain beat down on the car. Occasionally a gust would create enough turbulence the car would teeter in its space. 

Hurricane Arthur, Provincetown MA

One of warnings that we kept hearing was to be careful for the undercurrents and how powerful the water would be. As we dinned on our pizza, we watched him make his way over to the boat. He was a considerable distance from where we were, but enough that my lens at max length would capture a decent shot. What I didnt not expect was that he would be swimming, pulling the boat and wheels with him, towards us, to exit the water off the ramp we were parked next to. The moment he reached the boat is when I shoved my last bite into my mouth. Reaching over my shoulder and grabbing my camera, I ejected myself out of the car and into the rain. Standing in the pouring rain for nearly five minutes, i became drenched. At one point Sue opened the door and tried to speak over the rain and wind, saying something about how wet I would be and how I would get that in the car. I stood with my back towards the rain. The wind wiped it against me with as much force as it could give. The rain drops pierced my skin, at least thats how it felt, as it fell. I pulled up the camera and looked down the barrel of the lens as the man made his journey towards us. The power and strength this man had was unreal. His boat was consumed with water, weight, an anchor, weight, wheels, weight, the weight of the boat. He swam against the waves, wind, and falling rain. 

Hurricane Arthur

Hurricane Arthur

Eventually he was able to get his boat past the rocks and began a slow walk towards the ramp. I began to worry a bit, in that even a short amount of time his strength could have been challenged to the point of exhaustion and fatigue. I kept pressing the shutter and watching him get closer and closer. At the foot of the ramp he began to have a tough time, but was able to push through and get the boat onto the wheels. Ethics and morals were being tossed around my brain, like a hurricane. Pun intended. If I saw him in any sort of distress, I would drop the camera and be at his him in seconds. He was well aware of the fact that I was photographing him. He glanced over at me at on point during his trek and showed a faint sign for admiration, as if he knew why I was photographing him, or if he knew that he was in the position to be photographed. It was a hurricane and he entered the water to spare his boat from becoming a victim of Arthur, and an expensive fossil. 

Hurricane Arthur

I knew I had made the money shot/s. It was time to head back. It was time to get back to my lap top and edit and get these to someone who could share them. While packing for our trip, Sue asked why I felt the need to always bring my lap top. Now she knows. I have tried to explain to her that there might be that one time, that single moment, when something happens and I capture it, photograph it, it is a story that needs to be shared. She understood very well after the photographs appeared in a gallery on "Wicked Local Truro" the news outlet for the outer most portion of the cape, Provincetown and Truro. "Gallery of Photos." When I was in college, my professor would tell us stories of photographers that captured "THEE" image that gets circulated around the Associated Press, leaving the photographer with an incredible pay day to follow. While those days aren't as frequent, not that our world is short of any tragic events on the daily, but the way the world of news and media is valued and treated is different. Regardless of the changes in media, having the right resources, such as my camera and machine to edit, I can still quickly provide images, from almost anywhere. It took about two hours before I was back to my laptop. It killed me to be that patient, but being 30 mins from the house in that weather, and still wanting to meander a bit, made it process to get back. Based on the time, I knew I had a very small gap. Most publications can still insert a cover image between 7-9pm. With my email blast I was able to connect with one editor at "The Wicked Local" she was delighted and pleased that I sent her the photos. 

Gallery owner uses bucket to clear water that was flooding her store front as man on a bike passes by.

The photo of the gallery owner, above, shows just how awful the rain was that fell. It had only been raining a short time before I stumbled upon this scene. Standing in ankle deep water, she used a bucket to slow the progress of the flooding in her storefront. This was one of the first images I made as we entered the beginning of Commercial Street. Fierce winds, rain, thunderstorms, all the elements of a hurricane beat down on the cape for a day. The next day was filled with sun, soft clouds, the day after the storm was beautiful, the contrast of what I have shown you above. I survived my first hurricane. 

A few more photos can be seen in my Flickr Gallery 

New website: New Portfolio by jeffrey byrnes

Over the last 4 to 5 years of being a photographer I have shot a variety of subjects. I have done the wedding photography business with a former business partner. I have made photographs of animals. I have photographed food. I have produced some exhibitions, with the fine art mindset. I have photographed politicians, average people, models, places, things, objects, interiors, exteriors, walls, sunsets, etc. I have had two studio based business in which I served the community for wedding and portrait needs. ( I know I stated that already, not trying to be redundant, just transparent.) I have done a lot in a short period of time. It has all been a journey and the development of my career and personality as a photographer.

Chris & Andrea 2013 

I am starting this website with a fresh start for my career as a professional photographer. In the years that me and my business partner work managing the studio, I was always hustling jobs and prints. That work has built a reputation and is the guts of the new exoskeleton I am growing. In business you have to be tough, firm, an asshole. Well, a polite asshole, as I recently read in one article about how to concur something and get something out of it. I am making changes, have been making changes, and will continue making changes to my business in order to advance my career as a professional. I have found there are things I am not doing that I want to do, things I am not shooting that I want to shoot, and things I am doing and things that I am shooting that I no longer want to shoot. I am at the pivotal point in life where things are making a bit more sense and after having spent a few years building the foundation, I am ready to start putting up walls to line them with successful, jobs, prospects, shoots, and images. 

Personal Work

Some people tear down walls to get where they are going, but if you think of life like you would a house, you need a place to store your life's achievements, belongings, goals, and other life like things. The foundation of your career is built in the early stages, when you need to do certain things, certain jobs, or working certain hours. From that foundation grows the prosperity of your career. How you form the walls, stairs, and moves up is dependent upon the strength of your foundation. The beginning of my career was spent building two foundations. One for me and one for my former business. It was a small house that I have let go of. It is the past and it is out back, around the corner from where I have been working on my personal house. 


While the "house" is a metaphor, my photography remains to be ever evolving and growing. New inspiration, new people, new possibilities influence this change. Change is inevitable in all forms of life. You either grow with it or fall by the wayside. Instead of getting behind the change, I am out, making the change. I am making the change that I want to see. Someone profoundly important said that. "Be the change you want to see." Well, I am doing that, making what I want. I am making something new, to have something new, and go new places. 

Filmmaking: iPhone Film by jeffrey byrnes

  iPhone 4 Film Where The Light Is


Watch "Where The Light Goes" here on Youtube.

On Sunday I took over Sue's iPhone. I have been operating on a Droid system since I have had a smart phone. While all my computer equipment is Apple based, I always kept a distance from iPhones. Whenever I was due for an upgrade I would harass Verizon about this, that, and the other thing. It always came back to Droid. Here is why. Everyone is obsessed with iPhones. Yes, they are great. Seeing as how I just updated an iPhone 4 and my Droid, which is a bit younger, is basically a digital paper weight, it is clear that iPhones have a longer shelf life. Droid phones are clearly different. Not with just the operating systems, but with the camera features. iPhones can make a great photo, with the proper light, proper composition, and proper person behind the button. Also, if you know how to apply a filter, you can get away with hiding things such as noise. Droid cameras can do some pretty interesting things, like a real camera. You can adjust the brightness right in the camera, before the image is even made. iPhones can not do that. To be frank, that is why I kept going back to Droid phones, I could make better photographs. There have  been a few times where I made prints with photos from my Droid, prints that were very large. This one time, (not at band camp) I increased the image size to about 24" wide by about 18" high. I was impressed and so were the people who viewed the images.

I have a few friends that adore their iPhones, Sue included. Recently I watched a friend play with an app for time-lapse. He was shooting as we were driving through a city, recording an image every 1 second. Droid apps dont really do cool things. Aside from seeing the app do what was needed for a project that we are working on, I was also motivated because of the recent Bentley Commercial that was filmed using two iPhones.  When I opened the email that contained the link, I was stunned. Not because a low-tech device was used to film a major campaign, but that the quality is better than what I expected. With the proper light, tools, and composition, anything is possible with a device that can record an image. Hell, I still hold fast to the idea that one day I will use a Holga for a major fashion shoot. The fact is, an iPhone is an acceptable device for making photographs. The socially connected world of twitter accounts, Instagram likes, and facebook tags are powered by such devices. I have always viewed cellphones to be a threat, but as I have made changes to some of my business practices, I realize, it is more of a resource and integral part of my business and life.

Scott my filmmaker friend, iPhone guru, and film mentor has ushered me into a few cool apps. Filmic being one of them. I have barely used the app yet as I have been playing around with the camera features and acclimating myself to the device. I took a half hour to myself, between leaving the studio and getting ready for the gym and played with the video feature a bit. I knew that I had a few minutes and I could make a 1 minute piece just by looking for the right elements to form some compositions. I do not have any fancy jibs, cranes, mounts for this phone, so I had my hands and what ever I could place the phone against or on. Using my body, I was able to move, with a steady hand of course, to produce some motion. I didnt want a dozen static shots and no motion. It would have been nice to have a glidecam or slidder, but hey its just an iPhone. I have seen some cool products for iPhones that can be used to make a stronger film, but I havent even thought about those yet. After finding some strong visuals, the title popped in and once I was back from the gym I could edit the piece together. More or else, I was just looking for an excuse to do something "artsy" with films and play with the phone. In the end, "Where The Light Goes" is 1 minute film, almost, that is a bit fun and of course, inspired by light.

Get out there an play, shoot, edit, and share. Have fun. Take things seriously, but seriously, dont over think the work you are doing that is just for fun.


Political Photographs & The "Unsung Heroines" of Massachusetts by jeffrey byrnes

av_front Last Thursday I strolled through the halls of the Massachusetts State House with my camera and friend State Rep Aaron Vega. His 6 month old son Odin, wife Debra, and staff member Pat were with us as well. Aaron was there on business and I accompanied on this trip to also make photographs of one of his friends, whom was being recognized for the work that she has done. She was among the many other women being recognized as an "Unsung Heroine for the amount of generosity, hard work, selfless dedication, and the volunteer work that they have done within their communities and throughout the state. Some where there being celebrated for their businesses, volunteer work, or the social practices they  have used to bettered their communities. The age range spanned from 12-97 years old. In a touching moment, one of the presenters read the story of a 12 year old girl who recognized that a number of her classmates required the school lunch program. Her volunteer efforts inspired classmates to join her in seeking food donations to ensure that her classmates had meals on the weekends. At 12, most youth are concerned with clothes, iPhones, and other 12 year old things. However, she took an initiative to help others, earning herself an award for doing something ensure others had a dire resource.

I stood watching as each name was called, listening to the stories between photographs, realizing that all of these women took a belief and worked hard for it. As an observer, I also noticed that there was a sincere amount of appreciation and joy being spread around the room as the stories were read. Like a smile or a yawn, honest work is contagious. By this I mean, when people do great things it inspires others to do great things as well. As I scanned the room, making candid images, I pondered, "I wonder if any connections will be made today in which community service will foster a broader and larger development within the state of Massachusetts?" Which as we all know, the more people doing awesome things, the better the chances of all of our lives being enriched.

There is a hero in all of us, but few have the courage to live a life in which it is visible.

Unsung Heroine Gallery 

Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo addressing the "Unsung Heroins"


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