Exciting News, Coming Up Eventually!

Exciting news!

Before I break into the bit where I don’t actually tell you what the news is,  here are some photos of fall. Or are they?? Perhaps they’re photos of another season entirely, and somewhere else, too. Take a guess at where and when they are—details are in each photo caption.

 

Fall really is beautiful around here, and I’m glad I’ve been feeling pretty well and was able to go out and enjoy some hikes. Speaking of feeling well, my exciting news involves my first international trip in years. I am super excited to be going somewhere—finally—and am looking forward to bringing some great photos back. It’ll be a short li’l work diddy, so don’t get all worried now. Except for Ebola. You can worry about that.

I’ll be back with the details soon…ish.

Weddings, Waterfalls, and One More Alliteration

A favorite of my wedding photos from Marina Del Rey, Bronx, NY. Shot with Jimmy Ryan Photography.

A favorite of my wedding photos from Marina Del Rey, Bronx, NY

Well, I suppose wacky is what I might call the recent chain of events and situations. Perhaps I should have thought of that descriptor back when I wrote the title, but it’s far too late now.

For the past month I’ve been busy almost every week and weekend with weddings, wildlife, and otherwise slightly wacky events. I combined some of my wedding trips so I could see waterfalls, like this out-of-the-way beauty in the Delaware Water Gap.

Pennsylvania waterfalls are beautiful even in the rain

Pennsylvania waterfalls are beautiful even in the rain

From the You Know You’re in Pennsylvania When… signs (you’ll see one in just a minute) to odd nature, nothing compared to the premier of Art and Craft, a fascinating documentary about Mark Landis. For those of you unfamiliar with this art forger, Art and Craft—whether you care for art or not—will interest you as it details how Landis created his copied masterpieces—and how he eventually (and slowly) got caught. After duping dozens and dozens of museum curators across the country, he was eventually discovered–but not until the FBI had heard about him first. This talented and extremely smart (though delusional) man faked names, faked art, and even faked being a priest.

But while I tried to blend into the background as the photographer for the movie premier, Landis actually walked over to me and introduced himself. He said he wanted to meet me because he had studied photography in school, but then never found anything he wanted to photograph. Yes, he uses this line in the film. And as I stood next to him throughout the night, it appeared he had his act under control. Sure, he’s fascinating to be around, and yes, I believe he’s fully aware of how odd he appears to everyone else—and likes it that way. His slow stuttering and drawl remind you of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote. It’s hard to listen to and slightly disarming—but I believe Mr. Landis loves putting people off while making them all jealous of his notoriety. A wonderful film it was for sure, though photographing this deathly pale man was no easy feat! For once I was not the whitest person in the room. Below, one of my favorite shots is this slightly disturbing reflective portrait I took of Mr. Landis in Lincoln Center.

A portrait of Art and Craft's Mark Landis

A portrait of Art and Craft’s Mark Landis

Aside from movie premiers, the past month was full of weddings—and there are more to come! While I never imagined I’d be photographing so many weddings around the Northeast, I do love using creative lighting and angles to make the most of the scenery and subjects. Oh, and the food ain’t bad, either! Except wedding cake. Wedding cake is always bad. Always. Don’t tell me, “Oh, but my wedding cake was different. It was done by a local baker and I did lots of taste tests everywhere and this was the best.”

It was bad. I’m 100% positive of this statement. But here are some wedding photos I love from the past few weeks. Let them make your heart grow a little less hatred.

When I haven’t been photographing weddings or movie premiers, I’ve been attending weddings. Here’s an awesome sign I saw while driving to one in Pennsyltucky.

You Know You're in Pennsylvania When...

You Know You’re in Pennsylvania When…

As summer came to an end, I spent as much time as possible outdoors photographing. From waterfalls and birds (see the blue heron below!) to strange growths, green lakes, and newts, I thoroughly enjoyed our not-too-hot New York summer as much as possible. I’m still hoping for that end-of-year adventure, so we’ll see if one comes about. Until then, it’s all about weddings, waterfalls, and whatever little surprises come along.

Note: Several of these wedding photos were shot with Jimmy Ryan Photography. All other wedding, nature, and event photos were shot under my own company, Kathryn Cooper Photography.

Blood, Guts, and Mountain Biking: Photographing a World-Class Red Bull Event

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You think I like adventure? You believe that I love traveling to remote lands and photographing native tribes? You assume I love exploring foreign cities, living like a local, and reporting on daily life, food, culture, and more? Naw. I love talking about nails, makeup, hair, purses, and shoes. That’s what matters in life, I say.

Which is precisely why I was pumped when I heard I’d be photographing the Red Bull UCI Mountain Bike World Cup over the weekend. Held at Windham Mountain in the Catskill Mountains of New York, this exciting event—held in the USA for the first time in years—was little more than an hour’s drive away. Though I love biking and was given free reign to shoot as a press photographer, the most exciting event was Saturday’s Downhill event. The best bikers competed in the junior’s, women’s, and men’s divisions, and it proved to be quite an exciting day.

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Minus the beginning, that is. Less than 10 minutes into being there, I was photographing the cross-country race. While this might not sound exciting, it’s actually full of folks from around the world who go careening down hills, biking on roads, pedaling hard uphill, speeding through steep curves, and “small” jumping over rocks and little hurdles. It’s only for those well-versed in mountain biking. While photographing a section where bikers emerge from a rocky forest section, two bikers were battling it out, and one hit a rock (or perhaps the other biker?). His eyes widened, his bike careened, and he went flying over the course markers and onto the hard rocks just a foot in front of me. I yelled for a medic and kept asking if he was okay (despite blood coming out from his mouth, ear, and various visible body parts), but he was squealing and grunting. The sounds were not pleasant, but his friends rushed over and helped him on his way. Hopefully he’s all right!

Luckily that was the worst scare of the day, though upon seeing the professional’s downhill course, my heart skipped a beat for non-romantic reasons. One section careened blindly off a rock and over a brook, with only a narrow wooden bridge (and no corner bumpers or protectors) to land on. One wrong move at 45 m.p.h. and you are, pardon my English, dead meat.

You can get a sense of the action from the Red Bull recap below, or you can watch an even better video on their site. Naturally, there’s no way to tell just how fast these bikers are going–or how impossibly steep this mountain really is.

The juniors were fun to watch, but the women were quite impressive. Along with other special-access visual media press, I would lie on my stomach around a steep bend in order to get just the right shots. Drunkards around us—otherwise known as spectators—were luckily not on the course too much, and photographers/videographers were given special sections on either sides of the course. Up the mountain, the view of the green Catskills were just lovely, making for quite the nice jump backdrop.

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To say we were close to the action is an understatement; I was, in fact, under it at times. Positioning myself for just the right sky shot, I would kneel between jumps around a curve. That, my friends, is how I managed the shot below. Safe? Maybe not so much. But awesome, yes. Come to think of it, a few people gasped as one of the men rode over me…

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One of my favorite perspectives was taken from the chairlift and getting the timing right as a biker came down. But the best moment of all, besides seeing American Aaron Gwin zoom into first place with just one racer to go, was seeing the last racer come down the hill as the whole crowd held their breath. Brit Josh Bryceland—otherwise known as Rat Boy—came charging down the hill as the audience started shouting at the splits. I darted near the finish line and snapped a few photos just as he came into view on the bumpy home stretch. The crowd went wild as he zoomed under the finish line and first place by a whopping 1.5 seconds. The media stormed him, and Red Bull captured it all on film.

Just to be obnoxious, you can see the digital stills from Red Bull’s footage. I’m standing near the finish line in my issued green photo vest.

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And here’s the shot I got from the top photo at that exact moment–just so you understand what I do all day as a photojournalist:

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If I have any advice to give, it’s this: Wear a helmet, kids. I saw several people who weren’t, and there’s simply no excuse–though it’s your life, I suppose. And second, don’t go into mountain biking as a professional. Everyone–competitors and spectators alike–were in casts, bandages, and slings, and all were talking about their latest wipe-outs. Oy vey.

‘Twas quite the exciting day, and I barely got sunburned! Believe it or not, it was a long-time dream to photograph a downhill mountain biking affair, and I cannot wait to up the ante for the next Red Bull event. Or X-Games. Or the Olympics. I’m open to whatever adventure comes next!

Bigger Ain’t Always Better

If you were to win either (a) a 2-carat diamond, or (b) a 50-pound slab of granite, which would you choose? The answer is obviously (a), although granite is quite nice once polished and installed in your kitchen. Also, that 50-pound slab could (theoretically) contain a 2.5-carat diamond, in which case you REALLY chose wrong…but I’m getting behind myself! The point is, whether in travel, photography, gifts, meals, and many other things in life, bigger ain’t always better. Once we slow down and look at the macro world instead of always going for the biggest, the world becomes so much more interesting. I chose to look at the small picture the past few months, while attending events, photographing, traveling a bit, and even spending time in my backyard.   For example, folks in the Northeast flock to places such as Niagara Falls, Watkins Glen, and Kent Falls  and other huge waterfalls to be in awe. Here’s my photo of the oh-so-lovely Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen in New York’s Finger Lakes. Beautiful, no?

IMG_2049logo But are the small, none-more-than-five-feet-tall brook waterfalls of Dover, New York, any less beautiful? I get them all to myself, and the beauty of this almost temperate rainforest shocks those who see my state as one giant city.   IMG_9046pslogo   What about weddings? I had a wonderful time at all of the weddings the past few months, getting to see friends, celebrate, and reunion-ize to my heart’s content.

Yet I also was able to celebrate and photograph the wedding of two dear friends of mine—friends I actually helped set up!—in a small but equally wonderful ceremony. They shared their special day with just a handful of immediate family members, and it was a wonderful, intimate moment that they were able to share without all the cost, craziness, and show associated with so many weddings.

Or take something as simple as country drives. I can pay money and stroll through botanic lands and farmland, and see so many plants I never knew existed.

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On the other hand, I was able to walk into my own backyard and find a wonderful assortment of critters. This ¼”-long tree frog made my day!

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And most recently, I spent time at the beach in Fire Island with a friend of mine. We had entire stretches of beach to ourselves and had a great time exploring dunes, finding a disappointing shipwreck, and making fun of women who think platform sandals on sand are a wise choice.

Wait, look closer...

Wait, look closer…

But then out of the blue (literally?), I saw something wriggling on the beach. We walked closer, and I quickly realized I was staring at a small shark! At just about 3’ long, it sat wriggling there for at least 5 minutes, trying to…accomplish something? The reason remains unseen.

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It pretty much made my day. What I’m trying to say is this: Don’t always assume that the bigger the production, the more awesome it is. Sure, it can be. But there is so much beauty in the details. Go walk into your backyard, or grab a macro lens, and hopefully you’ll agree. And also, don’t buy blood diamonds. The end!