New York Bike Portrait: Ryan Brenizer

Ryan Brenizer is one of the most admired and in-demand wedding photographers in New York City or anywhere else for that matter. It’s not really hard to see why. He is fantastically versatile – his wedding work bridges engaging photojournalism with stunning, studio-quality portraits that he somehow creates on the fly in the midst of the chaos of a NYC wedding day. He’s also the hardest-working shooter I know, somehow juggling 70+ weddings a year with teaching workshops, running a blog, reviewing products, keeping up social media… Basically, Ryan makes me angry. In an admiring kind of way.

Ryan started cycling in for transportation in New York relatively recently, yet he has had a very direct influence on the #BikeNYC project from its inception in early 2010. This is because a few years ago he came up with a cool photography technique which the Internet has since dubbed “the Brenizer method“. It involves stitching together several/many images with a shallow depth of field in order to include more of a scene while still isolating the subject from the background. Basically it’s a cheat to effectively turn a 35mm SLR into a medium or large format camera.

I found it’s a great technique to use for the bike portraits – bikes are sort of transparent, after all, and can use all the background isolation they can get. It’s also allowed me to feature a larger New York City setting while still maintaining focus on the stars of the show – the person and the bike. So, Ryan’s innovation is directly responsible for the “medium format” look of many the #Bikenyc portraits over the years. This means that Ryan is also directly responsible for the dozens of hours I’ve spent in Photoshop fixing mis-aligned bike spokes because I screwed something up during shooting. That’s another story.

Ryan Brenizer with his VANMOOF bike. The sticker on his shirt is from the “Right of Way” traffic rally we’d just attended. His camera is the Olympus OM-D.

Our paths crossed last week when we both attended a Transportation Alternatives rally at City Hall (Ryan has quickly progressed to advanced-stage livable streets activism, going from his first NYC bike purchase to reading Streetsblog to attending rallies in only a few months!) and I was thrilled to find that he had brought his new VANMOOF 5.7.

After the rally we did a quick shoot and I had the honor to try and “Brenizer the Brenizer” as it were. Shooting photographers is scary (we generally don’t like to be on the other side the lens), shooting photographers you admire is scarier, and doing so using a unique technique they’ve pioneered is just the icing on the scary cake. Hope I did right by my subject.

Be inspired by Ryan’s work here:

His bike is the very distinctive VANMOOF 5.7

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  • Ryan Brenizer - You did great! Lots of fun seeing you all over the bike scene.

  • Shmuli - That is an awesome shot! Being a photographer and in the photograhy business its great to see cycling and photography being combined in this great fashion! Kudos Dmitry & ryan

  • Stefan Jansson - He came up with a really fun technique, I try to use it as much as possible although I find it quite tricky. I have tried it on portraits, cars and one bicycle portrait.

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