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This photo is from the wedding day of two friends of ours that we first met back in 2016. These guys traveled all the way from the USA with their families to host their small wedding deep in a forest tucked away in the Scottish Highlands. Scotland is a meaningful place for this wedding couple because it was also the place that the groom proposed 2 years prior while they were on vacation.

After their emotional forest ceremony, we jumped in the car and drove 10 minutes to a nearby loch that we’d scouted the day prior. It was a real honor to be asked to photograph their day as we had already documented such an important moment in their lives (their surprise marriage proposal). The bride and groom are genuinely two of the nicest people and I think it really shows through in their photos. It was heart-warming seeing them so happy to be marrying one another joined by their loved ones in Scotland.

I wanted to create a dark and romantic looking shot that featured the roots from the tree. I scouted the location the day prior to the wedding and already had a rough pre-visualization in my mind of how I wanted the shot to look and how they would be sitting. We always scout before each wedding and the day prior we discovered this cool little nest of roots beside a loch that was shaped in a way that was perfect for a couple to squeeze into.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I asked the groom to sit down first and make himself as comfortable as possible. It was a tight space and a small root of the tree was poking into him so I knew I had to work quickly as it wasn’t too comfortable. I then ask the bride to sit in-between his legs and fall back into him and curl up with one another. Basically, I wanted this shot to be very still and quiet so I simply asked them to close their eyes for the moment.

What did you say?

If you could place yourself down first that would be awesome. Now if you could try and fit in-between his legs that would be great too! Now, let yourself relax and get nice and cozy and rest your head on his chest. Close your eyes guys and we’re just going to snap away for a minute or so.

How did you compose your image?

We composed the trunk of the tree in the middle of the shot and positioned the couple right in the middle nestled in between the tree roots. I wanted to capture all the roots spreading out around them so I stood back as far as I could (the water from the Loch was literally just behind me) and used a 35mm lens to frame the shot. If I could take this photo all over again I would perhaps consider using a 24mm and standing a little bit closer which would probably give an even more dramatic effect with the roots due to the lens distortion.

How and what did you focus on?

Single point continuous focus (center frame) with the viewfinder, I focused on the bride’s face, locked the focus, and then recomposed the shot (‘focus and recomposing’ technique).


How did you use the light in your image?

The sun was behind me but it was a really cloudy afternoon in the Scottish Highlands so the light was very soft and diffused and easy to work with. The great thing about diffused outdoor light is that you can place the couple in any position and photograph from any angle as the light will always look flattering.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Nikon D750


Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

The image was cropped, centered and our Emotive color preset was applied. After that, we adjusted the white balance to make the photo feel a bit warmer. We then did some extensive brushwork on the roots to bring out some more detail on them and also made the couple pop out more by brushing on a bit more exposure on their bodies.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

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What challenges did you face?

a. The little space between the roots they’re sitting in was mega-tight so it was difficult to squeeze them in and it was a little bit uncomfortable for the groom. They are both absolute champions though and willing to do anything for a good photo.

b. Also, whenever scouting for locations sometimes you have to take things like sun position, wind direction, and even the tide into consideration. This particular spot was right next to the shores of the loch and I knew that sometimes the water level rose up covering the roots of the tree making the location inaccessible.

How did you solve them?

a. I knew it was uncomfortable for them so I simply worked really quickly to get the shots I needed.

b. I reached out to the park ranger about what time the tide would come in the next day and he said it will still be out at 6 pm. Sometimes it’s beneficial to plan ahead and have a plan B in case things don’t go according to plan.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

If I didn’t take the time to familiarise myself with the location I likely wouldn’t have taken this shot. Sometimes it pays to visit the portrait shoot location the day prior (or the morning of) and make some time to scout and visualize your photos. Sometimes I’ll find a composition or location that I like, stand there for a few minutes, and try to visualize how the couple will be posing, which direction they will be facing, and what they will be doing.

The Kitcheners

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We’re Dylan and Joanna and we’ve been photographing weddings and elopements since 2011. Lovers of the great outdoors, an adventure and meeting new people, it was our passion for all of these things that led us to find one another in Australia 11 years ago. We didn’t waste time, we got engaged after 3 months and tied the knot pretty soon after. It all happened pretty quickly but sometimes you just know when you know! For a long time we were both looking for a way to express ourselves creatively and after searching high and low we discovered that photographing people in love and their stories was what made our hearts race. We’re passionate about the real emotions, the honest moments and capturing how it all really felt. To us that’s what it’s all about! Today we live in Edinburgh, Scotland documenting elopements and weddings around the UK, Europe and further abroad.

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