Couple Camille and Stephan traveled all the way from Berlin to say “I do” in Washington’s Olympic National Park, and wedding photographer Jonas Seaman was there to capture it all.
The bride first contacted Seaman about photographing her intimate backyard wedding on the shore of Lake Crescent in Washington’s Olympic National Park after stumbling upon a wedding he shot that was featured on the blog A Practical Wedding. "Living in Berlin, they made all their wedding plans from across the globe," Seaman explains. "After our first Skype together, I right away felt a connection with them. I always know a couple is a great fit when we spend more time getting to know each other and talking about life than we do about the actual photography."
Their vision for the day, Seaman adds, was firmly grounded in bringing together the people they love, but also the importance of the area around Lake Crescent. "I remember Camille writing me: My mom's (very large) family is from Port Angeles and several family members (my grandma included) have houses on Lake Crescent (that date back to before it was a National Park), and it's a very special place for my entire family as well as for Stephan and me. Basically, it's our heaven on earth as well as our family gathering place, and so the location itself is very important to us.”
The clearer the understanding of how the couple envisions their wedding, Seaman says, the better. "Of course, the reality of the day dictates much of what my wife Mary and I shoot together, but knowing what a couple is aiming for always helps our goal in telling their story. Camille was great at communicating her vision. She knew she wanted to create a slightly more elegant, 'best' version of summer lake gatherings, which she described as, BBQ salmon and lots of other delicious Northwest food, lots of time outside (hopefully not in the rain), maybe some swimming, boating, campfires, stargazing and general togetherness and soaking in the beauty of the soul-healing place that Lake Crescent is for us.”
There were parts of the day that presented challenges for Seaman and his wife Mary (acting as second shooter), mostly lighting-wise. "The cloud cover made for some beautiful diffused light, but every few minutes the clouds would break and the light became harsh and direct. The most difficult time was during the ceremony. The sun was directly behind the couple which made shooting them from the front difficult." This wound up being not too much of a hinderance, Seaman says: "I actually prefer to shoot from behind the couple during the ceremony. I find it less distracting for the guests if I’m not moving around between them and the bride and groom."
The difficulty came when those clouds broke to let in direct light, casting a dark shadow over the bride as she said her vows. "The only thing that was lit was the tip of her nose, and the rest of her face fell into darkness," Seaman says. "I could have adjusted to expose for the shadow area, but it would have blown out everything else. I remember I stopped shooting, took a deep breath and repeated to myself, 'She’s going to step into the light. She’s going to step into the light…' Sometimes we just have to intuit these things. Midway through her vows she did step forward a tiny bit and I clicked the shutter just as a tear fell from her eye. It may not be the most majestic shot of the day, but the patience and drama of that moment for me, personally, makes it my favorite."
GEAR FOR THE DAY
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lenses: Canon 35mm f/1.4L, 24mm f/1.4L and a 45mm Tilt-Shift. (Mary was shooting with a Canon 50mm f/1.2L.)