A New York Engagement with Kelowna Photographer Neil Slattery

When Vanessa asked if I would fly to New York for their engagement session, I instantly pictured all these epic images of Vanessa and Tony in all those iconic, New York places. Unfortunately they didn’t want to get up that early. I’m teasing. These first few images are from my first morning in New York. As many of you will know, this is Central Park, but probably unlike you’ve seen it, unless of course you’re like me and get up before the sun in order to get images like these. Can’t you picture Vanessa and Tony walking hand in hand down this lane?

The next day I met Tony and Vanessa in Greenwhich Village, at a little park with a fountain. Tony appeared comfortably cool in his white-collared shirt (unbuttoned at the top, ’cause that’s how he rolls) and suit jacket, paired with a relaxing pair of jeans. The handkerchief in the pocket put his look into the realm of humbled-sophistication.  While Tony’s look was high-casual, Vanessa wasn’t just ready for a night on the town, she appeared in a dress for which the town gets ready. A beautiful translucent nude-coloured dress with a neckline… well, it’s not a neckline at all. My job was going to be easy.

For the first couple of hours we stayed pretty much in the neighborhood where they lived. We walked the streets and talked, and got to know each other. This was literally the first time Tony and I met each other, and I could tell one of us was in need of a drink. We stopped at one of their favourite spots in Chelsea. The White Horse Tavern on Hudson St is pretty cool, and no, not all those glasses of beer in front of Tony are his. They were kind enough to buy me a drink as well. It was fun, and we could have stayed longer, but I had a job to do. One last shot for Tony (for the GQ effect) and we were off.

We came across this street with over-hanging trees and wrought-iron fences, so we decided to play around a bit. The scenery looked like it could have been in a movie, so I asked Tony and Vanessa to act out their own romantic scene. Turned out to be a romantic comedy.

I had recently acquired a brand new Fujifilm GFX 50S and was dying to use it in a situation just like this. The 63mm lens was the only lens I had for this camera, but somehow, being restricted to one choice is oddly freeing. The images straight out of the camera are amazing. I will admit though, the Canon 5D MKIV with my 70mm to 200mm lens performed spectacularly well.

If you haven’t noticed yet, Vanessa is sporting a pair of shoes with some pretty hefty heels. She wouldn’t let on if she was feeling a bit uncomfortable – we had walked quite a distance by now, so I started to look for a spot where Vanessa could sit for a spell. Earlier Tony had told me that he would like a picture with the Freedom Tower in the background. When we came across this promenade, I knew I found a spot that would get Tony the picture he wanted, and allow Vanessa to get off her feet.
This place is as popular as the Sea Wall in Stanley Park, Vancouver, so getting this type of shot requires some patience. After about four minutes of waiting for people to clear the scene, both Vanessa and Tony seemed to forget all about me, and that’s when I captured this moment.

One of Vanessa’s requests was a picture with Manhattan in the background. So we hopped on the subway and headed to Brooklyn. Looking at these images so far, one might suspect that New York isn’t very busy, or that the zombie apocalypse has come and gone. In fact we had quite a bit of luck in some places, like the subway, but in others…

…like the Brooklyn Bridge, it was so busy, the only thing I could do was use a long lens and shoot from a low angle. The black and white image of the vacant walkway was actually taken the next day at 5:45 AM.I love this image of Vanessa looking back at the setting sun. Like the tower behind her, she is monumental! It was unplanned, but the colour of the stones in the bridge nicely compliment the colour of Vanessa’s dress.

For a bit of fun, I gave my camera to Tony and had him snap a few pictures of Vanessa. We got to see her playful side, and Tony did a pretty good job. When it was Vanessa’s turn with Tony as her model, she gave some of the most inspiring direction I’ve ever heard; “Do something,” she said. And Tony was like, “Whadda ya wan me da do?”For the following image I had to act as my own assistant. I placed my camera on a tripod and underexposed the scene a bit. I used a single speedlight, triggered manually to illuminate Tony and Vanessa. We had to work fast because of all the people I was holding back. I like the way this image turned out.One of the ideas I had for this engagement shoot, was sunset on top of the Rock, with a view of the New York skyline in the background. Unfortunately, we had already spent the sunset in Brooklyn. Not that I don’t love those images, but I’m a dreamer, and a perfectionist. I wanted all the images I dreamed of for this couple. In my hotel room later that night, I felt as though I hadn’t captured all that I wanted. Based on passed experience, I had my doubts that Tony and Vanessa would be willing to meet me again, but I called them. Of course, Vanessa was on board, but Tony wasn’t sure he could leave work in time. I went ahead and purchased tickets, and stood in line. Time was marching on, and there was no sign of them. I knew the light was waning, and the queue for admission was long. I had this dark lamenting pit twisting my guts. It’s the feeling I think many photographers feel when they experience the fleeting beauty of amazing light and no subject to photograph. But alas, they arrived. But man, was it busy up there.