North Topsail Island, oddly enough located at the northern end of Topsail Beach, is a thin barrier island located along the southern shores of the North Carolina coast. Vacationers flock to the area for its warm waters, beautiful beaches and peaceful ambience during the summer months.
For this wedding, the couple had dreamed of a beach wedding and chose a rental house on the small island, big enough house both their families, many from out of state. After getting ready in the upper portion of the house, I had a couple minutes with the bride to do some bridal portraits.
I was able to seat her slightly slight off center of the direct window light, while simultaneously using a stool to raise myself above her and shoot at a light angle downward for this image.
The resulting image shows her stunning beauty and provides great separation between the in focus areas and out of focus areas, including the bland wall that was a few feet behind her. This image was shot using an 85 1.4 lens, at 2.0, to maximize the out of focus content and allow as much light into the lens as possible, resulting in shutter speeds that allowing handholding of the camera and lens without motion blur.
What makes these shots so eye catching? In my opinion, it is the combination of the such a small focus area and the beautiful soft light. Window light can be both a godsend and a hinderance at times, especially depending on where the sun is located and what kind, if any, of window treatments there are.
While direct sunlight can be useful and provide some great wedding day artistry, for portraits, you want a softer, subtle light. Using any window treatments available to control that light is even better. Lacking one or both, the solution is simply move to the side of the window, where the light falls off gently.
Another great characteristic of this shot is the angle.
You almost always see images created at the same height. If your photographer is strong, you might see them get lower and shoot slightly upwards, even way up for creativity.
It is much more rare to find a picture shot down on the subject. The downward angle in this picture allows you to focus completely on the bride's face, while bringing into play her beautiful pearl necklace and the top of her wedding dress, giving the image definition of the setting.
Portraits can be some of the most stunning shots that emerge from any wedding. Whether bridal, family or couple, they secure a traditional place in the album and day and are the images most printed and hung in homes. They are simple, yet key, reminders of the beauty of the entire day.
When hired to do any wedding, I strive to ensure that while each bride receives a gallery of gorgeous images, they always have one of just them as a reminder of their joy and beauty on her wedding day. This image is one that often becomes a family heirloom and will last for years and years to come.
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