Revisiting a tragedy for The Boston Globe by Brett Carlsen

This wasn't meant to be a portrait shoot, but it ended up being one. The Boston Globe asked me to travel to Binghamton, New York to paint a moody picture of the city as they revisited the 2009 shooting which grabbed national headlines at the time.

The idea was to see how a community moves forward years after an incident like this. I was tasked with making a portrait of a victim's son, photographing the location where the shooting occurred, a memorial down the street and making artistic photos of the city. 

I ended up double dipping and making a portrait of Dr. King inside the memorial (a plan editors had hoped for) and catching some beautiful sunrise light on an American icon inside the location of the shooting.

The story ended up running on the paper's Sunday edition on the A1 page. You can read the story here.

Technical notes: assignment was shot on the Canon 1DX Mark II, 35, 50 and 135mm lenses.

 

Communal living for Time Magazine by Brett Carlsen

New clients are always very exciting, when a new client happens to be Time Magazine it's call for a party.

I was asked to photograph a slightly challenging story in Syracuse, New York for Time with little notice. The goal was to illustrate a communal living space for millennials and how it could be a great option for all involved.

The space was inside of a downtown nondescript building featuring communal workspace but also two floors of studio style apartments joined together with large community kitchens and living areas. An interesting concept that offers affordable options for those wanting the downtown lifestyle and also to share in community experiences.

However, small apartments and people at home are not always the most exciting subjects for photographs. I attempted to show the environment, the exterior and most notably the culture of sharing spaces.

I once again lit these photographs with my Profoto B1 lights and shot on the Canon 1DX2 bodies with an assortment of Canon L Prime lenses.

Read the article here

Ithaca portrait for Sierra Magazine by Brett Carlsen

This was a fun one, a quick portrait session in golden hour and then next to a whale skeleton, what more could you ask for?

Sierra Magazine asked me to photograph Alexandra Moore in Ithaca, New York. She works at two of the local education centers one that focuses on teaching outdoors in nature and the other that educates on evolution and the history of the earth.

I worked fast as I was attempting to take advantage of the golden hour as much as possible. While the two locations were only a ten minute drive apart, it still made for a tight schedule. I attempted to get as much variety and show off the two moderately different locations in their best light as quickly as possible. 

Check out the article here.

Battle against MRSA for The New York Times by Brett Carlsen

This fall has been about photographing the invisible for me it seems, first Virtual Reality and with this assignment MRSA. Well what I photographed is not exactly invisible, this story is about one University's plan to combat MRSA to prevent an outbreak in their athletics department.

The New York Times sent me out to Colgate University in Central New York to illustrate the ways in which the school's athletic trainers are competing against MRSA outbreaks. An assignment like this can be very linear and action based meaning that it will end up looking like an Ikea instruction manual more than illustrative photographs. That is something I had to overcome, I did so by asking myself "what's the story about?" over and over.

It sadly was still a little process oriented but finding small wins, like how to illustrate the department director Steve Chouinard in a way that wasn't a portrait. I then had to work on showing the overcrowding and the amount of close contact that happens in these training rooms. By the end of the afternoon thanks to patience and diligence I ended up illustrating both of those things in one photograph.

This was a pretty straightforward shoot as far as gear goes. I shot with two Canon 1DX Mark II cameras paired with a 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 lenses.

Check out the full article here

Virtual Reality for Education Week by Brett Carlsen

Virtual reality is one of the neatest and 'wow' inducing experiences to anyone using it. However to someone outside the headset, it is just a person wearing a funny pair of goggles. This was my challenge when asked to photograph Virtual Reality technology being used by researchers in Buffalo, New York to better aid teachers in dealing with classroom issues.

Luckily the amazing editors at Education Week allowed me to take some creative license. I proposed that instead of approaching this with a typical reportage approach, how about we put these people in a neutral background and allow the person and VR goggles take over the frame. My thoughts being that the environment has nothing to do with what these people are experiencing so let's completely remove it.

I'm very happy with the results. I created them using the Profoto B1 lights and a simple green seamless paper taped to the back wall of an office space in the charter school where the program is happening.

View the final story here

Cornell University CubeSat for WSJ by Brett Carlsen

There are times when you get an assignment that is just too cool, meaning it's the nerdiest thing you've seen in a while and you'd rather listen and learn than make photographs. This was one of those assignments for me.

I was asked by The Wall Street Journal recently to photograph Cornell University's CubeSat program. You may be thinking what I was, "what is a CubeSat?" Well from my basic understanding, they are small satellites or space craft that travel on the small unused spaces within bigger spacecraft often made by research teams.

It was so incredible to see these students, all barely old enough to rent a car, finding new and innovative ways to use these tiny spacecraft to discover new things. As a nerd I also loved seeing the ingenuity for example using a tape measure as the antenna (pictured below) or using programming tools like Raspberry Pi to operate the systems.

Check out the final article here (subscription may be required)

Cornell Wedding by Brett Carlsen

Cornell University is not only one of the most highly respected universities in the United States, but also one of its most beautiful. At the heart of campus is Sage Chapel, a beautiful small chapel that fits in well with the historic architecture across campus. Though it offers a steep challenge to photographers being one of the most dimly lit buildings one could imagine, it is a favorite among Cornell alumni.

I had the joy of photographing Cassie and Jacob during their beautiful wedding ceremony on Cornell's campus. They made the very wise decision to have their reception at the Ithaca Farmer's Market, another beautiful venue that overlooks Cayuga Lake and even offers a dock that guests can enjoy the sunset from. It too offers a similar challenge to Sage Chapel however and that it is extremely dark once the sun sets. I was able to setup my Profoto B1 lights around the dance floor and create a sweeping soft light that maintained vibrancy and contrast while making everyone on the dance floor look amazing.

If you're looking at having your wedding in New York's Finger Lakes region please do not hesitate to email me or follow me on Instagram.

Classic Rochester, NY Wedding by Brett Carlsen

Had the pleasure of helping with another amazing couple's special day, this time in Rochester, New York. This time we had some classic wedding moments, like the big Catholic church ceremony, an incredible Father of the Bride speech and even a quick bride and groom portrait session under the marquee lights of the Eastman Theatre. 

A beautiful couple in a timeless wedding so I attempted to keep things simple and clean and use available light as much as possible throughout the day, even at times when it could be seen as a little harsh. Would love to hear your thoughts and always couples looking for a wedding photographer in New York, do not hesitate to email me with inquiries.