From the photographer, Cengiz Ozelsel of Adagion Studio: My studio is based in Miami, where I live with my wife, two kids, a crazy dog, and a cat who thinks hes human. Interestingly, most of my photography engagements take place outside of Florida–notably in New York City, which is one of my favorite cities in the world to photograph. With that said, excellent communication is even more important when your clients are located too far away to simply drop by your studio for a consultation. My shoot with Daniella and David was no exception given that they live in New York.
I would estimate that today my studio is equally associated with the modern engagement session as we are with wedding photography. I suppose one of the reasons why we have developed a reputation for world-class engagement sessions is because we do not approach them as an afterthought to the wedding. Our clients routinely visit us from around the world or, alternatively, take us with them on exotic adventures far away from home. The idea is to come away with fresh, fun, and creative memories that are different albeit complementary to what our couples can expect from their wedding day. We routinely go over what we have coined the five elements of preparation to ace your engagement session: location(s), logistics, attire/accessories/hair and makeup, props, and the delicate and high art of the kiss.
More from the photographer: Once we committed to a date, I encouraged Daniella to create an inspiration / mood-board specifically devoted to our shoot. My clients typically use a restricted Facebook Album or a Pinterest board to collect, organize, discuss, and fine-tune our vision. Daniella went with Pinterest and it worked well as she selected a good mixture of my photos, pictures from my peers blogs, scanned magazine clippings, and even her phone snapshots. We decided to connect in the late afternoon for a twilight shoot, which we define as a starting a few hours before sunset and ending 1-2 two hours after sunset.
Daniella and David are incredibly stylish as you can see from the photos, which really made our job easy. I asked Daniella to err on the side of color given that it really helps add some spice to my photos. I always tell my clients that formal wear is by no means required, but style is. And Daniella and David were brilliantly stylish.
As soon as we exited their apartment, we were met by an incredibly friendly driver, who was waiting for us with a black limousine. On a side-note, if you are thinking of doing your shoot in a busy city like New York, please do yourself and your clients a favor and spend the money on a spacious car and driver. It will likely be the best money you will have invested in your shoot as you will save time, reduce stress, and have your hands free as you move from one location to the next. And one more thing…select a car with tinted windows so that you can use the automobile as a dressing room for attire change if required. It almost certainly beats standing in line to change in a cramped up public restroom.
Our first location was on 125th West Side Highway–perhaps the most under-appreciated location in New York City. It is stunning and has so much variety that we could stage an entire engagement session there. We kicked off the shoot with Daniella and David dangling their legs off a ledge with an 80-foot drop-off. Whats more Daniella harbors a slight fear of heights so it took a little coercing from my side. In the end, we got a priceless and infinitely frame-able image to go with a happy smile from the bride. What else can you ask for? We played around a little more until it was time to head to our focus-location of the day, 5 Beekman. When I say focus-location, what I mean is that it is our most important backdrop. Now, some of you may be asking yourself why we would not do our most important location first. The reason is quite simply because it takes both the client and me time to properly warm up. That is one reason we discourage 1 hour e-shoots, for they usually are simply too short to come up with a worthwhile set of imagery.
More from the photographer: 5 Beekman must be the absolute coolest architectural gem in the City. Unfortunately, it is now closed permanently as it is being restored to a hotel by Andre Balazs. We can count our blessings to still have had free range there, for it was stunning and made for memorable photos that would otherwise likely necessitate a visit to a war-ravaged district in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, we enjoyed our photos so much that we almost lost track of time. When I say losing track of time, I do not mean that we went over the contracted 5 hour session. In fact, I rarely ever look at the clock once an engagement session is booked (but dont tell anyone :-). What I mean is that we had about 45 minutes left before sunset and were approximately 25 minutes away from our next location, Central Park. Fortunately, our driver was able to get us to the Park in record-time. We quickly changed attire, grabbed 20 over-sized white balloons, and headed into the park. Contrary to popular belief, some of the best Central Park photos happen in random (non iconic tourist hot-spots)…so be open-minded and creative. The beauty of this particular Central Park visit was that it was an icy-cold (below freezing) day and already late in the evening. So we miraculously found the Park devoid of people, which is usually only possible when you show up at sunrise (when I kick off most of my engagement sessions).
Our final aspect of the day was about night-time photos. We grabbed our props and headed to Times Square, where we initially intended to pop a Champagne. However, once we arrived, there were simply too many cops and so we settled for throwing rose petals in traffic. We had a blast as uncountable curious tourists observed us celebrate Daniella and Davids love. We searched a little for a remote street to pop the Champagne, but…guess what, this is New York City around Times Square. Good luck. So we moved on to finish our shoot at Lincoln Center, which with its colorful red lights made for a magnificent backdrop to pop our bubbly Champagne. And when better to open a good bottle than for an engagement celebration?
Thanks so much for sharing this gorgeous session with us Cengiz, and for the little sneak peek into your process!