• afternoon
  • Leading lines
  • white
  • towers
  • symmetry
  • sunny
  • sun behind
  • standing apart
  • Shade
  • Posed
  • Natural Light
  • natural frames
  • holding hands
  • architecture
  • gentle
  • Evening
  • Desert
  • couple separated
  • clear sky
  • Center Framed
  • cactus
  • building
  • Backlit
  • Back lit
  • Back light
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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I’m from England and was road-tripping solo around California and Arizona (a dream of mine!) with a few wedding dresses in a suitcase, setting up shoots along the way. I wanted to see some of America at the same time as having an adventure and shooting amongst the amazing landscape. I’d seen San Xavier Chapel on the internet and knew I wanted to shoot here! The location is unlike any other I’ve seen – I feel it really could be anywhere in the world! The couple I found were celebrating their one year anniversary so this was perfect for me. They were so stylish and she looked amazing in the dress and cowboy-style hat.

The light here was tricky as I wanted to shoot in golden hour but the amazing chapel blocked out the sun fairly early on in the evening. So this was shot in the shade which wasn’t what I’d hoped, for but you just have to roll with it! I learned a lot about shooting the Arizona light during my trip and during this shoot. It’s a very different light to what I’m used to in the North of England, it was a lot paler and had a totally different quality to it. So this was a major learning curve and an amazing experience too as a photographer.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I shouted to my couple to take this shot haha! I had to stand really far away as this was the only way to get them in the right position in front of the chapel doors. I told them to hold hands, standing slightly apart from each other, and stare directly into my camera. I asked them to stand as still as possible in order for them to be in focus. If I were to do this again I might have asked them to swap sides as I think her white dress would look good highlighted in front of the shadowy side of the doorway.

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What did you say?

hold hands, stand slightly apart from each other, don’t move and stare directly into my camera. OK wait there, that’s perfect, don’t move! This looks AWESOME!

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I really wanted the building to shine for this image and I think the couple in front of the building helped with conveying the scale. The couple really were in essence just props for this image, there to help give the sense of scale, but also add some context and style.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

For this composition, I knew the couple had to be in focus which was a little tricky when recomposing to get the full building in. I used back-button focus which helped. I’d just say make sure to zoom into the image on the screen after to check their faces are in focus. Perhaps use f 2.8 or higher if you are struggling to nail focus.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The couple and then recomposed

Equipment &

canon 6d
Canon 35mm f/2
1/200 @ f/2 ISO200 WB-Auto

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

The golden hour light in Arizona is really special. We don’t get many golden hours in England and experiencing shooting in this most days during my time there was amazing. Unfortunately, the sun had gone down behind the building by this point so the view I had was in shade. If I was more experienced shooting here, I would have tried to time things a bit better, shooting earlier on. I think this image would have really benefited with some amazing golden light, but I just worked with what I had!

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I used Mastin Labs, fuji pushed preset, upping the shadows slightly and cooling down the image a little as this preset tends to be fairly warm. I also used the radial filter and brush to lighten the couple a little more so they stood out more, as they were are small compared to the building, I thought this was necessary. Although the building had the wow factor, I wanted to make sure the couple was equally as noticeable so bringing up the exposure on them drew the eye to them a little more.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used


The main challenge for me was avoiding the many people visiting the chapel. At the time I took this shot there was a service on inside so it was a little quieter. I then cloned a couple of people out too in lightroom. Another challenge was the quality of light lacking for this shot.

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Visiting the location the day before to have a better understanding of the position of the sun in the evening and how quickly it would set.

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Location Name

San Xavier Chapel, Tucson, Arizona

Location aDDRESS

1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746, United States

Loation Type



United States

I would love to get this shot again because I know now how it could be improved. My timing would have been better in regards to the sun and in turn, the light. Also, I probably would have edited a little warmer. My style has changed recently and the warmer tones I think may have suited this image a little better. If you’re going for this type of shot in a location as busy as this, try going on a quieter day so the crowds don’t become a complication for you.

Don’t be scared about taking your time to make sure you nail focus, don’t rush it, just let your couple know they might be standing for a while so they know not to move. I find letting them know your “vision” for the shot is really useful so they understand what you’re trying to achieve and are comfortable and happy waiting for you to get “the shot”.

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