but a BIG party! TEXT BY INGRID S. KRAMPE • IMAGES BY ANDY MARCUS
Picture this. You're shooting bridal images in front of The
Plaza hotel in New York City, when 12 guys in their underwear run
by and start splashing in the fountain. What to do? There are
several options. You can flap your arms wildly suggesting they
move. Go postal with your camera gear. Call security, and ruin the
mood by mixing law with love-which probably only works on "Ally
McBeal." Or, if you are Andy Marcus, consider the 12 guys as a
pledging "gift" from a fraternity and use them as the kind of props
you probably couldn't have come up with if you wanted to. From
streetcars to hot dog vendors, racks of cotton candy, and the
city's recent cow exhibit, New York City has the stuff to fulfill
even your wildest bride's fantasies.
Known for its fine traditional portraiture and wedding imagery for some of the most elite families in New York, as well as all over the world, Fred Marcus Photography has been in business for almost 60 years. The studio has catered to the nuptial needs of famous clients as diverse as Eddie Murphy, Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Trump and Marla Maples, and the Princess of Yasmin Aga Khan. And while they cater to the formal, traditional aspects of wedding photography, it is their knack for peppering them with spontaneous fun that augments their formidable reputation and makes the studio one of the most sought-after in the country.
No, Texas-based Bardagjy does not govern Austin's Department of Buildings despite his magic touch. But, for the most part, he does control his client roster, being careful to select those who will give him the most freedom. "In a perfect world, you could choose great projects over stinkers. In our world, the best way to go about this is to pick clients you want to work for and market to them." For him, marketing means a four-part series of colorful promo cards sent out to potential clients, followed up with a phone call. "But contacts leave all the time," said Bardagjy. "So it's important to keep up to date."
With a small staff, trained personally by Fred and his son Andy, the studio's doctrine is to provide quality through a low-key unobtrusive approach. "Years ago," says Andy, "we were shooting 800-900 weddings per year. I finally said 'no more.' We've brought it down to about 450 weddings. It gives us more time to work with our clients, and we invariably do two different albums for each event: a formal color album and a black-and-white album in a photojournalistic style."
Andy relies exclusively on Leather Craftsman, of Farmingdale, New York, for both color and black-and-white albums. "I think they provide the nicest presentation for our work, and their reliability and service is a hallmark in this industry," he says.
EQUIPMENT AND THE PENDING STATE OF
"Most of our black-and-white images (98 percent) are captured with available light only. The minute you add flash to the equation, it tends to become more posed," he says. Shooting with available light also dictates the need for fast film and he prefers the ultra-fine grain in Kodak T-Max T400CN and 3200.
Andy recently added digital to his repertoire. "Digital is no longer in its infancy," believes Marcus. "The quality is superb, the prices are coming down drastically, and the idea of it becoming mainstream is finally coming to fruition. I think the biggest issue with photographers is that they are wrestling with the software," he adds. "But software is one of the advantages of digital that is so hard to overlook. We can manipulate images almost immediately.
"We've been working with Megavision's S3 digital back on the Hasselblad. The quality is superb and portability is not a problem, because we rely on the Bat Pac," he says. "We used a Nikon D1 digital SLR at a wedding recently (bottom of page) and the results were superb. It is important to stay current in the emerging digital environment." Along with capturing images digitally, Fred Marcus Studios is also taking advantage of online services to sell their work. "It's a good way to sell images to Uncle Harry, who can't make it in to view the Album," he offers.
NEW YORK, MONTE CARLO, TOKYO
Despite the nature of their full-service, family-oriented photography business, Andy travels quite a bit. This year he photographed weddings in Las Vegas and Mexico, as well as a birthday party in Israel. "It's become a tradition. Every year, I shoot this client's birthday party," explains Andy. "He originally came to me
for an executive portrait, then I photographed his wife's birthday in New York, and then he asked me to go to Monte Carlo to photograph his birthday party."
The first event was on his 150-foot yacht in Monte Carlo Harbor. He flew into Nice, France, early on Monday morning, and then drove to Monte Carlo, where he checked into a hotel. At the
He is also working with the Japanese Bridal Industry as both a consultant and a photographer. And Pro Media recently bought the rights to a Japanese version of his book, Wedding Photojournalism, Techniques and Images in
One thing is clear: be it at home or abroad, Andy Marcus is setting the pace for wedding photographers. At a time when (according to a recent Wall Street Journal article) anyone with a car and a camera calls him- or herself a wedding photographer, Fred Marcus Photography makes its mark by putting the same attention to detail into their photojournalistic coverage as the formal wedding photography that they have long been known for. Open the pages of one of their exquisite albums and be prepared to look at fine-art wedding imagery-as well as a whole lot of fun.
THE CPQ CONNECTION
Andy Marcus has been using the CPQ Professional Imaging Lab, Cleveland, Tennessee, for almost all his printing needs for 12 years.