Space for Subjects
Cassandra Kahl was hosting a workshop when she photographed this fleeting moment of the couple together. “The happy couple, Vanessa and Mac, were beaming all day and full of joyful energy. I happened to capture a gorgeous wide shot of them dancing in the beam of the setting sun when Mac dipped and kissed Vanessa as they twirled around the field,” Kahl recalls.
The photographer played up the shadows and vignetting in post to amp up the dramatic natural light. But other than tweaking the edit, Kahl says the key to this shot was simply observing: “Sometimes, the best approach is to allow your couples or subjects space and time to be themselves, and to remain present to be able to capture those ‘in-between’ moments that you can’t account for in a timeline.”
Framing for Natural Light
Bethany Stanley, one half of the photography and filmmaking duo Bethany & James in the UK, was photographing a small wedding in England a few weeks ago that had just 15 guests, only one of which represented the bride’s side: her mother. Moments before the ceremony, which took place in England, the two of them found themselves preparing in a room meant to accommodate a gaggle of bridesmaids—though the circumstances of the pandemic have changed that.
“This image represents so much emotion: the loss of the dream wedding, but the intimacy found in reducing down the numbers,” Stanley says. “Most importantly, it represents the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.”
Having just the two of them to frame in her image, Stanley was able to place them in the most beautiful spot in the room, easily cropping out the “corporate-looking” aspects of this large room and focusing on its older features, like the original stained glass.
[Read: The Art of Photographing with Natural Light]
The artificial light in the room, unfortunately, was “very green,” she says. Placing them in the bay window, however, meant she could afford to turn off all of the lights and harness the power of natural light. She exposed for the highlights so that the bride’s face was visible in the mirror.
“I love images that have a cinematic feel and always look for contrasting, low key lighting situations,” Stanley notes. “I also love looking for frames and lines when it comes to composition to make images feel like they could be a still from a movie.”
Inspired by Hitchcock in Lockdown
While she was in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, photographer Carly Zavala found herself watching Alfred Hitchcock movies for the first time. She found an affinity with his darker film-noir style, given that Zavala’s images tend to “lean more on the moodier side,” she says. So when it was time to get out of the house and dive into a creative project, she decided to photograph a Hitchcock-inspired shoot with a model friend.
“My friend happens to have a good collection of vintage pieces that went really well with the theme,” Zavala explains. “The day that we picked for the shoot couldn’t have been better because it was super sunny and exactly what I needed to get that dramatic look. I was intentionally looking for pockets of lights that were either reflecting off of a building or light that was passing through them, creating stark contrast of light and dark.”
In general, Zavala notes that her portraits have changed post-pandemic. To comply with safety precautions, she photographs more outside rather than in a studio, where she’s used to having a bit more control over the shoot’s environment. “I’ve learned that one needs to be open and accepting of change as well as being willing to go outside of your comfort zone,” she says. “This is where growth and improvement happen, both for your art and for yourself.”
Check out some of the closeup detail shots from the series, photographed on a Fujifilm GFX 50S medium-format mirrorless camera and a Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 lens using only natural light. A portrait from the series is in the gallery above.
Photographed at f/5, 1/4000 of a sec. and ISO 100. Photographed at f/2.8, 1/4000 of a sec. and ISO 100. Photographed at f/8, 1/250 of a sec. and ISO 400.
Always Camera Ready
Emily and Steve Broadbank of Emily & Steve Wedding Photography got the opportunity to photograph a wedding at Manor House, a venue full of big, grand rooms and with big, huge windows. “After shooting the first look between Jen and her dad, we decided to leave them to it and head down to the ceremony room to get ready,” the duo explains. “On the way out of the room, we happened to turn around and see this moment.”
The bride was nervous, the photographers recall, and as her very emotional father looked on, he stood halfway in the light streaming through the windows, “looking very proud,” they note. “We are always on the look out for these intimate moments that tell a story, and the light and shadows in this photo makes it perfect. It’s a reminder to always be ready to shoot!”
The Beauty in Circumstance
The brides had booked photographer Kylie Farmer to document their vows at Yosemite National Park back in January. They didn’t know then that the world would experience a sweeping global pandemic and that the park itself would be caught up in ravaging wildfires across the west coast of the United States. “But as you can see, Mother Nature not only made way for them to carry out their special day as planned but also provided us with a smokey backdrop that served as a gentle reminder of the beauty that rises from ash,” Farmer says of the session she was able to capture.
This frame in particular came about when Farmer observed a brief interaction between Kate and Bri: “When I saw Kate adjusting her dress and Bri looking at her so intently, I knew that I had to capture this beautiful moment. I told Kate to continuously adjust the train of her dress while instructing Bri to stare at her beautiful new wife—with the sun coming in from the right and the smoke creating a haze behind them.”
Dig into the Photo of the Day archives for more compelling imagery.
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