September 10, 2015

J&M Behind the Lens: How We Got the Shot


Every now & then, I think it’s fun to highlight an individual image that has (in this case very quickly!) become one of our all time favorites. So often all of the images are grouped together in a blog post and it’s easy to just skim past them and not really soak in any individual photo, and it also doesn’t give us the chance to talk about our thought process or what we did to actually get the shot. So that’s what this post is for! And here is what we did in each of a few key areas to make this photo happen!

The Lighting. We always think about the lighting first and foremost. In this case, our main light was coming in from a window to the left & behind our bride Natalie. Now initially, I was shooting straight on to her face, but the light was fairly flat there at about a 45 degree angle (think two imaginary strings from the window to her face, and then from her to me). It was a gorgeous beauty photo, but I wanted something more dynamic to show off the whole dress (the stunning “Dori” from Hayley Paige!). So for that, I moved my feet around to the side of her until the angle of the light to her and then her to me created more of a 120 degree angle (imagine standing where she is and then pointing one arm to the window behind her and one arm toward the camera to help you visualize it). And now we have that amazing, epic “120 light” that gives us very dynamic highlights and shadows and really showed off every fold of that dress!

The Posing. To keep the posing really authentic and organic and full of natural gesture, I just asked Natalie to count the layers of her dress. I asked her to count them up and then count them down, and then repeat. And in doing that it just creates this beautiful, elegant & flattering reach….it gives her something to do with her hands….and it gives her something to think about other than having her photo taken. The result is a moment that almost feels like it happened when a photographer wasn’t even there. And that’s always the kind of photo we love the most!

The Settings. This photo was shot on the Nikon D4 with a 50mm 1.4 lens at f 1.4. It was shot in Manual at 1/200 and ISO 1000.

The Black & White. We get asked about our black & white conversion ALL the time. And the answer really is just desaturate. In this case, what you’re really seeing at work to make that black & white feel so rich is what the light is doing when the image is taken. Those highlights & shadows (and every gray tone in between) make the image so more tonally rich & that gives it that more elegant/classic feel over all! And now you KNOW why we love us a good black & white! :)

Ok, hopefully that was fun & somewhat helpful! And at least gave you a little idea of the thought process that went into getting this shot!

Have a great day guys!

***PS: If you would like to learn a TON more tips & tricks for rich, iconic lighting and what angles to look for or authentic, organic posing that never feels stiff, static & posed, then definitely check out our J&M Lighting Guide & The Art of Authentic Posing in our new J&M Store! You can find them both by clicking HERElighting

  1. Melissa

    Gorgeous shot. So elegant and authentic. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jennifer

    Uh-MAZING!! But wait, you mean to tell me your B&Ws are merely you desaturating your color? No way!! That’s all you usually do?!

  3. admin

    @Jennifer: yep, that’s it!! :)

  4. Nate

    Love it…I know you guys use profoto but wondering if you had any hands-on experience with the Dynalite Baja B4?

  5. Mia Bjerring

    Absolutely loved this post and loved reading more about the thought process in creating this stunning photo! :)

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