Photo of the Day

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Nov. 6 

November 6, 2023

By Hillary Grigonis

Dramatic elopement images are all over Instagram—but how do photographers balance the craving for stunning images with the potential risk of shooting in water or near the edge of a cliff? Experienced elopement photographers know that what’s not always obvious in these risky shots is the preparation that went into them, like wearing proper footwear and ensuring the couple has the necessary experience, adventurous spirit, and willingness to potentially soil their wedding attire. Another important element? Understanding how to use a wide-angle lens and perspective distortion to make a shot look riskier than it actually is. 

This week, we feature five photographers safely capturing dramatic elopement and wedding images, including Jodie and Matt Ward, Jennifer Beckton, Tina Vedrine, Kathryn Cooper, and Brynne Ferenczy. As always, photographers need to ensure both themselves and the people in their images are safe at all times — because no photo is worth the risk of serious injury. 

Jodie and Matt Ward, The Sassenachs 

© Matt Ward

Before becoming part of the photography duo The Sassenachs, Matt Ward was a landscape photographer. And from that experience, he knew that this particular part of Lower Falls in Glen Nevis, Scotland, looked quite dramatic after a rainfall. The idea had been forming in his mind for some time, but when a heavy morning rain hit and the couple were adventurous enough to give it a shot, he knew he had to use this location for a dramatic elopement image. He captured the shot with a Sony a7 IV and a 24mm prime lens. 

“With any setups where there is even a hint of risk involved, I always test it myself first,” he said. “I also make sure that the couple are wearing footwear with plenty of grip and do not go too close to the edge or put them at undue risk. Also, when getting them into position, we always make sure that everyone is holding on to someone else. Generally, these riskier shots look more risky than they are, but we frame them in such a way as to add the drama.” 

Jennifer Beckton, Jennifer Georgette Photography 

© Jennifer Beckton

Jennifer Beckton of Jennifer Georgette Photography photographs this staircase at Cobbler Path often, so when the couple asked specifically for a dramatic elopement image in this spot, she knew how to properly prepare. While explaining the risks and bringing proper footwear were all part of the planning, the photograph was a spontaneous moment when the wind blew the bride’s veil before the veil blew completely off. She captured the shot with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Sigma Art 24mm lens. 

“When picking a location like this, I always advise my clients of the risks and assure them there is no pressure to do anything they aren’t comfortable with,” she said. “Proper footwear is important, as well as knowing that your clothing will most likely get dirty. My tip for other photographers is to know your limits as well as your clients when it comes to heights and areas you are willing to go. If you do, wearing comfortable clothing and hiking shoes with ankle support are a must. It’s always a good idea to have your camera in hand and ready to shoot for random moments like this.” 

Tina Vedrine, The Vedrines Photography 

© Tina Vedrine

When the adventurous couple told photographer Tina Vedrine of The Vedrines Photography of a few things they wanted to try, she made sure to find a spot that was both suitable for good photos and had a soft landing. But the soft landing wasn’t used, as the guests catching the bride are regular gym goers and confidently tossed and caught the bride. Vedrine captured the shot with the Canon 5D Mark III and a 35mm f1.4 lens. 

“I made sure we were away from the rest of the wedding party and gave clear instructions to the throwers to bend knees on the way up and not stray from position on the way down,” she said. “It took a couple of chucks to get this image and we all had so much fun creating it!” 

Kathryn Cooper, Kathryn Cooper Weddings 

© Kathryn Cooper

What could be risky for the average couple is just another day on the lake for adventurous couples trained in outdoor skills, like Kirstin and Jeff. Photographer Kathryn Cooper of Kathryn Cooper Weddings explains that this shot of the bride and groom on stand-up paddle boards was captured during a multi-day wedding in Idaho. As the bride teaches such skills as a recreational therapist, the couple felt comfortable on the boards despite the risk to their wedding attire. A recent storm dumped snow on the nearby mountains — despite it being a summer wedding — which added the moody clouds in the background. She captured the shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV and a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. 

“I captured this image from a boat while several of us were all out enjoying time on a local lake,” Cooper explained. “Since Kirstin and Jeff are an adventure couple who are trained and teach in the outdoors, we were all in safe hands. We also had two boat captains (Kirstin being one of them), several people on the boat to assist, towels, drinks, and snacks. For photographers looking to create amazing new photos, I’d always advise trying it out with friends first, being comfortable on the water (good shoes, good balance, wet bag, lifesaving skills, etc.), and prepping any way that works for you, whether that’s speaking with photographers who have the experience beforehand, reading, watching videos, etc.” 

Brynne Ferenczy, Skinners Bluff Studio 

© Brynne Ferenczy

The photographer’s perspective and the distortion of a wide angle lens can often make a shot look riskier than it actually is. Brynne Ferenczy of Skinners Bluff Studio had an idea for an aerial shot of the Niagra Escarpment for some time. For this dramatic elopement image, she was inspired by Henry Tieu’s blue hour work, but wanted to mix it with her own perspective and one of her favorite shooting locations. She captured the shot with the DJI Mini 3 Pro. 

“Safety and a good client experience is key! If your clients don’t feel safe, they won’t want to participate, and the whole experience will be a negative one for them (and nobody wants unhappy clients),” she said. “In this case, I made sure to choose clients who were both very familiar and experienced with the area and risks it posed, and who were as invested in creating the image as I was. Getting to know your clients beforehand is a key part of my process, and I do this by sending client questionnaires ahead of time that ask about things like fears, etc. Before any photos are taken, I also prep my clients on safety and ensure that they feel comfortable with participating. For this shot, my clients are a body-length away from the edge and are lying down, so risk to them is minimal.” 

Dig into our Photo of the Day archives for even more timeless photoseye-catching wedding photos and portraits. Submit your wedding, editorial, documentary and other interesting imagery to:

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