It's a gray day on a dusty Jersey City street, and inside an unfinished storefront studio—bare board walls, not much in the way of furniture—Stefanie Jasper and Paul Sky are looking at photos of sumptuous weddings and cheerfully disagreeing.
"Show the lily pad pictures from the New Rochelle wedding," says
Sky. "You really turned that around." Jasper, instead, pulls out a
B&W sequence of a bride drifting through a stand of
"This was a last-minute shoot at the Pepsico sculpture park; we hadn't scouted as we usually do," explains Jasper, ignoring Sky as he rummages for another group of photos, then hovers by the table. "As we were leaving I saw these trees with the light filtering through them, and I called to the bride, "Oh, look at that; go over there.' We have to be able to flow from one spot to the next, and improvise."
"I'm always amazed when photographers are walking away saying, 'I got my shot.' Keep shooting! You've got to shoot the shots between the shots." Sky lays out the lily pad pictures, a color series of the bride and groom reflected in flower-speckled pond water. "I was shooting this same scene, only from a wide angle," he says.
Jasper glances down at the photos. "Paul and I have our own visions," she offers.
A POWERFUL COMBINATION
These differing visions, and also a very like-minded dedication to "covering all the bases" (her words), "all the details" (his words), are what Jasper-Sky clients happily sign on for when they hire this very decidedly married wedding-photo team.
Shooting as much as possible with natural light and with up to eight cameras between them, Jasper and Sky break down the day. They both shoot the wedding, she with a slew of Minolta X700s with a variety of wide-angle and standard, macro, and zoom lenses, and a Rollei 8008 for still lifes and portraits; he with the Minolta, as well as a Canon EOS-1N system.
Just after the ceremony, with the bride and groom and their party at a (usually) predetermined location, Jasper lines up the portraits, Sky takes candids. He leaves her in the dining room to shoot still lifes of the tables and their settings, while he "does the cocktail hour." They meet up again to work the party, stopping only, she says, "to eat dinner."
"Yeah, but even then you've still got a camera around your neck," he teases. "I've got to be ready," she responds. What if something happens?"
They agree that the receiving line provides an unparalleled opportunity. Says Jasper, "Other photographers can't believe we shoot everyone on the line."
"It's great for reactions: Aunt Martha pinching the groom's cheek," explains Sky. "When you see the photos you can almost hear what people are saying."
They agree on the importance of balancing the traditional with the more artistic.
Jasper: "People want group pictures of the families, the bride and groom, that aren't blurry, or cool."
Sky: "They want a portrait of the bride that's not shot from a weird angle, that doesn't make her nose look like it's a yard long."
Jasper: "They want pictures of the people closest to them. "
But they also want something else: "A surprise."
She holds up two pictures. One is a straightforward, posed, color shot of the bride and the groom, standing on a lawn, smiling. The other is an out-of-focus, green-tinged portrait of a bride passing through a field in front of a barn, shot with infrared film, part of what she calls her "ghost bride" series.
"Yes, we can do this for you," she says, indicating the posed shot of the couple. "Mom and Dad will hang it on their wall. But the bride," (gently shaking the infrared), "is going to hang this on her wall."