Time, Light & Location: Ingredients for Beautiful Fine Art Photography

In our almost 4 years of marriage, Stephanie has learned that, while I’m easy going about some things, I’m also pretty particular about others. 

For example, tacos.

For me, tacos come with sour cream. If you want to properly prepare a meal of tacos, there should be sour cream in the mix. It’s just the way it is.

Maybe you agree, or maybe you don’t. If there’s one thing marriage has taught me it's that if I believe something should be a certain way, someone else probably believes it shouldn’t.

The point is that, for me to really enjoy my tacos, there are certain requirements. And, while tacos and photography are quite different, they have this in common.

In order for us to achieve our vision, there are a few key ingredients. No, sour cream is not one of them.

Time

We believe you’re the most beautiful when you’re comfortable. And, ask anyone who’s been in front of the camera, it takes time to get comfortable.

For truly authentic imagery, you need time to settle in to a location and get comfortable. If you’re rushed, you aren’t able to relax and let beautiful, natural moments unfold.

Without time to settle in and get comfy, your images may look stiff and unnatural. Since our work focuses on the authentic moments that take more time to achieve than stiff poses, we recommend giving consideration to time for photography when planning your timeline. 

We work closely with our clients to give let them know just how much time we recommend for us to do our best work for them.

In addition to getting comfortable, the creative process itself takes time. While our experience helps us execute our vision quickly, the best images usually happen once you've gotten comfortable and we're in a creative groove.

Light

Photography actually means drawing with light, so it’s no surprise that light is a key ingredient to our work. But it’s not just about the existence of light, or quantity of it, it’s about the quality & direction of the light.

Light Quality

Like most photographers, we are suckers for golden hour, the hour leading up to sunset. This light is soft, warm, and flattering for all skin types.

While you can’t have all your wedding photos taken at golden hour (unless you’re getting married in Iceland in the middle of summer when the the sun stays low on the horizon and never truly sets—mind blowing!), take advantage of this precious, fleeting time by considering when the sun sets on your wedding day and plan your timeline around it.

It’s also likely that not all the photos on your wedding day will be captured outdoors. The quality of indoor light is just as important to photography as the quality of outdoor light.

Interior light fixtures are almost always unflattering and don’t lend themselves to the soft quality of fine art imagery.

When we’re working inside, we gravitate toward large picture windows as this kind of large, natural light source is almost always the most flattering light available for indoor portraiture.

When planning where to get ready, think about the available light. Are there large windows available to let in that beautiful light?

Light Direction

The direction of light also has a huge impact on the look of an image. We use light direction very intentionally to help us set the mood and tone of an image.

As you've likely seen from our work, we strongly prefer natural daylight. And because we can’t change the position of the sun at will—it would sure be convenient if we could—we can’t shoot in any direction in a particular location at any given time of day.

Because light direction has such a strong impact on the look of an image, we are incredibly judicious with how we use the direction of light in our images. When we scope out a location, our minds are evaluating position of the sun, and often, it's future trajectory for rest of the day in relation to the locations we have available.

While a particular background might look pretty to the naked eye, we're looking at a scene from the perspective of how it will photograph for portraiture.  

While the front of the church (or any particular desired location) might truly be beautiful, have you thought about how the sun will be hitting it when you've planned to be photographed? 

Rather than starting with the location itself, we start with the lighting and then apply that to the location so you don't have to worry about things like sun blinding your face during photos.

Location

Just as salt accentuates the flavors it's applied to, location is like the spice that gives time & light real impact. We can take nice photos with just time and good light, but when you add in the right location, the image truly becomes spectacular!

For our work, the best locations are those that play a strong supporting role. You want a setting that sets the tone for your story and doesn’t detract from it, nor take the attention away from it.

It may seem obvious, but you want to choose locations that fit cohesively with your story. If your wedding is classic and elegant, it may not fit that story to photograph in front of a barn. If your wedding is rustic and organic, getting ready at an ultramodern hotel might not make for a cohesive story.

While having the right light and enough time allow for nice photos, it’s location that helps make the story pop.

Now that you have the ingredients, let's cook up some beautiful photography!