Church of the Redeemer - A Decommissioned Sanctuary

posted on: July 29, 2015

When I received an inquiry about tracking down and photographing a few works of stained glass art that remained in a Brooklyn church, my heart skipped a beat.  A project I'd always been passionate about - preserving architectural artistry and history- coming to my inbox through a client commission.  Little did I know what work was ahead, or even if the stained glass art still existed.
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I've always loved churches with big sanctuaries.  The atrium-like spaciousness of the high ceiling, the echo of the chamber that allows songs and chords to last a little longer, and the peaceful quality that people bring as they enter in humility, grace, gratitude, and gathering.  The sanctuary often built in stone as a symbol of safety and stability, but with delicate stained glass to bring in ethereal light.
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In recent years, it seems like there's an increased frequency of these vast sanctuaries going into disrepair, many without enough congregational tithes to keep them maintained or even occupied. So many beautifully crafted buildings, adorned with donated artifacts and artistry, but difficult to maintain on volunteer efforts.  What will become of them all?
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In the case of Church of the Redeemer, it will be torn down to become a mixed use building set on prime retail and residential real estate with the subway below, the neighborhood behind, and more shopping across the street.  But what will happen to the artifacts?  The Midmer/Gunzelman pipe organ, the stained glass windows, the wooden doors and pews?
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For one stained glass artist, Jessie Van Brunt, who signed her own work before donating to the church, there is still hope that her works will be recovered and preserved.  Though Jessie died in 1947, one of her surviving relatives, Karen, has been on a mission to recover as many of her art works as possible and got in touch with me to help.  This hunt has led Karen to inquire about churches in places like Alaska and London, only to find that the churches have already been destroyed by fire or war, leaving little hope that Jessie's work would remain in a decommissioned church.
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Even though the historic building was sold in 2012, I found it still standing on the corner of Pacific Ave & 4th Ave, giving direct reference to the subway tiles immediately below when I first arrived in April 2015.  Hardly any scaffolding had been put up yet and it seemed as though many of the original windows were still in tact.  It amazed me that this church hadn't been landmarked with such an iconic presence and location, but for whatever reason, this 1866 bluestone building never made it through the process.
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I compared historic Smithsonian Archive photographs to see if I could first identify if the windows were still there.  While the windows were mostly covered from the outside, a few of the window shapes appeared to be similar enough, so I grabbed whatever reference photos I could get on my first visit in order to zoom in later and get a closer view for comparison.
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Many of the windows on the building had similar shapes and similar visual themes, so it was only through getting as much detail as possible from all of the photographic records I could obtain on site and comparing them to the Smithsonian archives that allowed me to determine that yes, Jessie Van Brunt's stained glass windows were still in the church and still in an acceptable condition to photograph and to potentially remove for preservation.  However, gaining access to the interior proved to be an entirely different challenge that would take months to unfold, as the developer wasn't interested in providing access to the building.
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A tip from the Brooklyn Historical Society helped me learn that The Demolition Depot was able to make arrangements with the developer to remove many of the artifacts that the community was concerned would be destroyed in the processing of tearing the building down.  Several of the items that I had been sent to photograph had already been removed from the building, but the windows that I could identify from the exterior of the building remained.  The challenge was then to create as much of a detailed archival record of the stained glass window as possible, so that if it suffered any damage during removal, it could be pieced together exactly as it has been created.  Unfortunately, one window was now completely obscured by construction scaffolding on the front of the building, which did not exist when I first requested access back in April.  Instead of focusing on obtaining the best color from the light no longer available through the covered window, I turned my focused to the texture and construction of the stained glass.  I also chose to provide enough context around the window in order to demonstrate its architectural placement and the space that had been carved for it in the building, which would be lost once the building was gone.
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This church sat empty for 3 years before an architectural salvager was allowed access to remove the artifacts for preservation.  If access had been granted sooner, less damage would have been done and more materials could have been recycled or preserved before they were rusted, warped, or broken.  Some other decommissioned churches I've seen have been in much worse condition than this after just one year.  The damage is almost always a result of a leaking roof or broken windows that could easily be repaired with small fixes accomplished during regular observation.  The neglect and failure to act on minor problems until they become large problems are what create the most damage.
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One of my hopes is that by sharing this story and these images, any future churches seeking to be decommissioned or sold will give time for family members, their congregation, and any historic groups an opportunity to find ways of preserving what is meaningful.  Quite a bit of the labor and artistry put into churches was done on a volunteer basis, or as a gift of gratitude.  It seems the least we can do is to give the craftsmanship of these artisans some consideration and opportunity to be saved, even if the structure itself cannot remain.
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I'm grateful that I was given the chance to preserve what is left in imagery.  Even if further damage is done or if the artifacts end up in a private collection, what has been preserved in images now can be remembered and shared in clarity and colorful detail.  To see more images from my documentation of the Church of the Redeemer, visit:
Church of the Redeemer - Brooklyn, NY - 2015


NYC Architectural Photography Apprenticeship Available

posted on: July 13, 2015

Position Open as of June 25, 2015
Applications Accepted before July 25, 2015
Interviews Begin August 3, 2015

Who I Am:
An Architecture & Interior Design photographer based in Manhattan, New York City, NY, USA with 11 years of experience as a professional photographer in Michigan, Indiana, Massachusetts, Queensland, and New York.  I have an active travel and client schedule, and I'm looking to expand my team of help in order to better serve my existing clients as well as future clients while my client list continues to grow.

Manhattan Interior Design  Photographer

Who My Clients Are:
My clients are everything from solo interior designers with boutique businesses, to high end real estate agents featuring multi-million dollar properties, to architectural furniture and utility suppliers, to large architectural firms with multiple projects.  Clients come in large and small accounts, and are all equally important to serve with the best quality and care.

The Ideal Apprentice:
  • Has a passion for Architectural Photography and working with Architects and Designers.  
  • Has familiarity with using Lightroom and Photoshop to edit and retouch images, and is willing to learn more on their own time in order to create better results for clients.  
  • Strives toward a clean and natural color profile in their work and sees the difference between egg-shell white and coconut white while color-correcting a room with mixed lighting sources.  (If you aren't sure about your own ColorIQ, try this excellent visual color test: http://xritephoto.com/ph_toolframe.aspx?action=coloriq)  
  • Is dedicated to constantly improving their personal skills along with their photography craft.  
  • Is flexible and can handle stressful situations or people with ease and calm.
  • Is willing to commit to a 12 month paid apprenticeship for a minimum 1 day per week in Manhattan, with additional opportunities to take on more independent projects as skills grow.
  • Already has DSLR camera experience, knowledge, and equipment.
  • Already owns their own computer and Lightroom and/or Photoshop software.
Apprenticeship Experiences May Include:
  • Post-production tasks such as selecting ideal images for editing, color-correction, lighting manipulation, retouching, and exporting for client usage.
  • On-site assisting during shoots that includes manipulating lighting set-ups, staging furnishings and accessories, operating lighting and camera remotes, equipment set-up and proper storage.
  • Submitting pricing proposals and creating warm-lead marketing proposals.
  • Client care and follow-up on projects and proposals.
  • Using various online services for billing, proofing, and asset delivery.
  • Organizing digital assets and maintaining back-ups of assets.
Additional Apprenticeship Benefits:
  • Access and use of professional camera and lighting equipment when needed for Anne Ruthmann Photography clients, and/or apprenticing projects.
  • Sales and marketing training 
  • Client management training
  • Freelance lifestyle mentoring
To Apply:
Please include the following in an email to: info (at) anneruthmann.com before July 25, 2015.
  1. Email Subject: Application for Architectural Photography Apprenticeship 
  2. Email Message: Introduce yourself and write about why you would like to apprentice as an architectural photographer.  Include what you're looking forward to learning as well as what experiences and skills you already have that you will immediately be able to use.
  3. Include: Resumé of previous working experiences, education, and any volunteer experiences you've had as well as your contact information with mailing address and phone number
  4. Include: Portfolio link or PDF that shows 10 Before & After photo examples that demonstrate your photography style straight from the camera as well as your post-production editing style.  Bonus points if they are interiors and architecture.  If you don't already have some, this is a great opportunity to go out and create some!

Caution: Drone Wedding Photos

posted on: July 6, 2015

After my Architecture Drone Photography experiment, I started seeing some photographers doing drone photography at weddings and I have to say it made me VERY uneasy.  Even if someone has registered their craft and received FAA authorization to fly a drone commercially, has special drone hazard insurance, and hundreds of hours of drone operation training, there are still several things which would make me extremely leery of having drone photography at a wedding:


1. WiFi, Radio, GPS Interference = Control Hazards

One of the greatest benefits of drone photography is also one of the biggest limitations of drone photography.  The wireless control systems used for drones can be easily interrupted by other WiFi networks or radio transmissions in a given area.  You've probably already experienced this when your phone's GPS puts you two blocks away from your actual location due to a signal reflection, or when your car radio suddenly switches over to another station and then back again as you're traveling, or when your WiFi keeps defaulting to a network you haven't selected- these same signal interruptions can happen with distances between drones and their controllers.

If you're in an open field in the country, you will have less interruptions than if you're in a densely populated area, but a wedding generally has a higher percentage of people with their cell phones emitting or collecting a WiFi  and GPS signal, along with wireless microphone and or lighting systems which can interrupt radio frequencies causing inconsistent drone operator's control of their device.

When the drone loses signal, they can act erratically, which could potentially cause a crash on a wedding cake or on grandma.  Even though they are fairly light aircrafts, when a forced landing occurs from a certain elevation, the blades become spinning weapons that can slice whatever they come into contact with.  Unfortunately Enrique Iglesias learned about drone blades in a very public and painful way.  Of course that's a fairly dramatic example, but it's better to know the potential dangers than to ignore them, especially when you have invited guests who haven't signed liability waivers to attend your event.

2.  Aerial Object Interference = Crash Hazards

Drones are not really created with "extra" propellors that will kick in when one fails.  In order to achieve the stability needed, they need all blades to be fully operational at all times.  If any single blade is interrupted by whatever random item a child can throw, tree can drop, or bird can carry, the  drone can crash instantly without any ability to control the landing speed, location, or direction in which the blades hit the object below.

The absolute worst example I've seen of this was someone trying to operate a drone over a dance floor where people had foam fingers they were putting in the air as the DJ was pressing the music to get everyone to jump higher and higher.  No way would I ever do that.  Perhaps you heard about the incident with a woman getting knocked out by a drone flying during a parade?  Not only is it just begging for a liability issue and endangering the guests below the drone, but the photo and video coverage won't be any different than what you can achieve by just sticking a GoPro camera on a mono pod!

Some drone uses are just excessive and irresponsible for the actual footage that is even possible in a given environment.  It really needs to be considered if there are safer ways to get desired shots in environments that involve crowds of people.  It's been done safely for years with cranes, lifts, and stands that can balance and control cameras which produce much higher quality images than the ones flying on most drones.  Just because someone has drone availability, doesn't mean it's the most appropriate tool for the job.

3. Usage Limitations = Is It Really Worth It?

Most people who have never flown a drone fail to understand how limited the flight time is and what areas are actually legal to operate a drone in.  Currently, one of the best photo drones on the market can only fly for about 20 minutes while capturing continuous footage.  This makes it an interesting use for random bits of unique footage, which can only be captured by drone, but it's not realistic to think that a drone is going to be capable of capturing an entire wedding ceremony, or an entire wedding day without interruption or increased hazards and complications.

If the additional cost of a drone only ends up adding 2 minutes of final edited video to your final wedding coverage or only 2 special images to your wedding album, is it worth it?  Is the final result worth the hazards, the insurance, the potential FAA violations?  I'm just not convinced it's worth it, even if the coverage is free experimental coverage by a friend.

For a special portrait session, in which the only hazard is the drone falling into the ocean and being irreversibly damaged or recovered in order to achieve an impossible shot by all other measures?  Maybe it's truly worth it in a spectacular location.  But if that drone is potentially flying over people you love and care about?  Not worth it in my opinion.  Whatever you end up deciding for your wedding, make sure you've consulted the FAA Authorization Site for Unmanned Aircraft Systems to confirm you're hiring an authorized commercial drone operator in order to ensure the highest quality experience and safety measures are being considered.

Now that I've given you a disclaimer, here's a sample of what most people's first few drone flights end up looking like before they have sufficient experience controlling a drone... some wins and a lot of fails until people figure out how to watch the drone location and the image capture simultaneously.  Remember that people have paid hundreds for these drones, and they aren't intentionally choosing these results...


3 Keys for Photography Success: Brand • Business • Well-being

posted on: May 22, 2015

If you've been following my personal and business adventures on my blog the last 10 years, you've seen the ups and downs I've shared, but you've also seen how my last few years in business have been absolutely amazing.  I've solved so many of the big problems that used to hold me back from being successful and now my business continues to grow while also having more time to enjoy my life outside of my client obligations.  It wasn't always this way, and it took a lot of problem solving and overcoming failure to get here, but now that I'm here and I know what's possible on the other side of all that struggle, I absolutely want to help other photographers reach this point too!  I finally feel like business is easy, clients are perfectly aligned with my talents and what I love, and I have healthy working and life habits that keep my energy high and allow me to take time out for family and friends.

In order to help more photographers reach this point in their business, I'm collaborating on a Full Day Workshop, June 17th 2015 9:30am - 5:30pm, in New York City along with Editors-Edge and The Healthy Photographer to address the 3 Keys for Photography Success: Brand, Business, and Well-being.

Photography Brand, Photo Business, Photographer Well-being
Brand is all about knowing what makes your work unique and what work will attract your ideal clients.  Without knowing what makes you unique or who your ideal clients are, you're just throwing darts at a wall without having a target to focus on.  Once you solve that problem, your business becomes laser focused on the who and why of what you create and how you create your work.

Business is all about taking the brand you've established for yourself and applying it to the products and pricing that you offer.  Offering products or pricing that don't align with your ideal client or your unique work often creates frustration for you and your client because you're in different places about what you need to create good work together.  Once you've aligned these things with your brand, bookings become easier, negotiations are super smooth, and clients actually want to invest even more in what you have to offer.

Well-being is the capstone of success as a creative professional.  You can have a successful brand and a successful business, but still feel entirely unsuccessful in life because you haven't taken the time to establish healthy habits as a small business owner or freelancer.  In my business, I learned that no amount of six figure years in revenue made me happy until I had taken the time to work on my well-being as a creative business owner.  Once I solved those problems- I was really, truly, able to feel success in all areas of my life.

You may know that I've been doing private consultations for photographers now for several years.  I've helped hundreds of people privately and in group workshops with pricing, packaging, products, relocation, and workflow management as part of the Smarter Business Workshop as well as thousands of photographers by regularly sharing free tips, advice, and free webinars on PhotoLovecat over the years.  I've always wanted to be able to help more people than is possible privately in one-on-one consultations, but one thing that has frustrated me about traditional conferences and group workshops- is that the format often encourages attendees to be passive observers to a speaker rather than active participants in co-creating their future.  I've also been unimpressed with the rockstar mentality of "you should do it the way I do it" which is just not practical or applicable across the board, since everyone has unique life situations and different goals for being in business.  So, I wanted to create a full day experience where people can actually be actively engaged in applying information to their own businesses and lives, with regard to their unique situation and how it all fits in to what they need.

The Brand • Business • Well-being: A Photographers Workshop is designed to give you a ton of personalized feedback specifically on your brand, your business, and your wellbeing as a creative professional.  This isn't about doing things just like we do them, it's about identifying what makes you and your business unique and uniquely valuable to your clients.  It's about finding what pricing and products will actually make your life easier rather than harder.  And it's about figuring out how to implement healthy changes in small and measurable ways so that you can actually take action and not just take notes.

If you've been feeling stuck in your business and the path ahead seems unclear, it's most likely time that you got some outside perspective on what you've been doing and offering.  You could just hire one or all of us as coaches to help you discover the path ahead.  To work with each of us individually as consultants and coaches, you'd pay up to three times the cost of this workshop, but by creating a group environment on a set date, we can combine all of our services together in order to make it much more affordable for those who need our help.  If you think that this workshop is just what you need to move into a new realm of success as a photographer and creative business owner, head over to the eventbrite link below to register, and save $50 by registering before May 31st:
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brand-business-well-being-a-photographers-workshop-tickets-16942204590?aff=smarterbusiness


CLOSED POSITION: Part-Time Virtual & On-Site Office Assistant (Greenwich Village / SoHo / Manhattan)

posted on: May 11, 2015

****** Updated***** This post is no longer active.  Thank you to all who applied!

Looking for an awesome virtual assistant and occasional in-office assistant (Greenwich Village/SoHo) for 4 - 8hrs a week at $20/hr.  If you have design or photoshop skills, I may have even more work for you at an even better rate.  My primary concerns are that you love to take care of my clients and make sure they have everything they need when they need it, and you love to make life easier for me by doing things even better than I can do them on my own.  No photography experience needed, but if you have an eye for organization, design, and constantly strive toward greater efficiency, I will go above and beyond to keep you hired and working with me.  Here are the basics of what you'll do:
  • Be punctual, keep your word, and show up when needed or make arrangements for someone else to take your place.  I realize this seems basic, but you'd be amazed how many people can't do just this one simple thing with consistency.
  • Be able to work from my Greenwich Village / SoHo office a few times a month and on your own from a great internet connection otherwise
  • Use these programs (if you don't already know them- you should be a self-learner who is comfortable learning new software on your own and have confidence that you'll figure it out from tutorials and youtube videos online without my help): 17Hats, PayPal, Pictage, Dropbox, Gmail, MacMail, iCal, Mac Address Book, Mac Remote Desktop, Lightroom, Skype, Google Hangout, iChat, Eventbrite, Facebook Pages, Instagram, Twitter, Blogger
  • Create new contracts from established templates and occasionally draft a new contract
  • Have impeccable grammatical and spelling skillz (and be annoyed by the fact I used a z and be able to point out my other faux pas)
  • Talk to me on the phone to get quote or proposal details which you clearly and beautifully compose into an email or 17Hats proposal for clients
  • Handle email and phone communications on my behalf when I'm traveling or working intensively on location and can't be in touch with clients directly
  • Email clients with project updates, links to images, billing reminders if needed
  • Schedule appointments and shoots into my calendar using my super awesome system full of functional details I can access offline in the subway when needed
  • Organize client info online based on a system I already have and be innovative about finding ways to make it even better or more streamlined
  • Maintain digital asset organization (images, videos, contracts, proposals, PDFs, client info)
  • Learn easily, aren't afraid to take charge when needed, and like to finish every project you start even if it takes extra time or means asking for help
  • Have a sense of humor, not take things personally, be flexible, and roll with the craziness while still getting things taken care of when a huge project comes in at the last minute

If this isn't you, but someone you know, I thank you for sharing this post with them!  If this is you, please send an email to info@anneruthmann.com before June 1, 2015 with:
  1. 3 dates and times that you can do a Skype video interview online
  2. A link to one article I've written online and a paragraph sharing what you think about it
  3. Your resume 
  4. 3 References I can call



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