• Back lit
  • Center Framed
  • Cloudy
  • Creative
  • Dancing
  • full body
  • minimal
  • Natural
  • Natural Light
  • Playful
  • Reflection
  • Soft Light
  • Sunset
  • Wide

The story behind the image

Show more
This was the only shoot I was able to do during the corona spring 2020 and I had a huge amount of repressed creativity, ideas and hunger for connection boiling inside me. The elopement was without a doubt a very personal, private and important occasion for the couple. I felt like there was a strong emotional charge from both sides and we were able to take advantage of it. I would describe it as a shared flow state.

The Suomenlinna sea fortress island is a 15 minute ferry ride away from the city, which really makes it feel like an adventure no matter how many times you make the journey. Being extremely versatile the island is one of my favourite photo locations with endless secret spots. We’d already been shooting for a couple of hours in the freezing February temperatures when I walked us to the furthest corner on the island. I had saved the spot for the sunset time really hoping the couple would still bear the cold for a couple more minutes. Playing with a prism is always a hit-or-miss game and knowing I didn’t have much time to pull it off, I was aware I could end up with nothing special. But in the end I was so happy I went for it because for this one shot all the elements just clicked together.
Show more


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

As I was going for a silhouette shot I knew I wanted the couple a little apart so that they wouldn’t blend into each other. I also love natural movement in photos because body language can bring out quite strong emotions. So I asked the couple to do a little dance and made the groom spin his bride a couple of times. Besides wishing for some cool frozen motion poses there was another reason for the dance. I needed to distract the couple from the feeling of near hypothermia!

Show more
What did you say?

“For the last photos I’d like you to do a little dance. Spin each other around, pull away and then back close together. I will go shoot from down below, so just do your thing and be yourselves. I know you’re freezing and suffering but you can do this!!! You can spend the rest of the night – or your whole lives – curled up under a blanket or in a hot bath drinking red wine.”

Show more


There are no mountains and not many high places in Finland. That’s why I wanted to use the opportunity in this location to shoot up towards the sky and not down towards the sea. I wanted to create a delicate and ethereal sensation of a higher altitude. I wanted to make the picture look and feel a bit surreal, as if the couple was floating on an island in the sky. My chosen perspective made me achieve this as the clouds appeared to be hanging low at the level of the couple. In reality the view opened up to the sea right behind the little hill and the clouds were very far away in the horizon.

This is a very classical, easy to look at composition with no gimmicks. It follows the rule of thirds very precisely, thus I think that the actual interest of the picture lies in the content (the pose) and in the negative space (of which there is a lot). Wanting to have the tree in the picture the placement of the couple was a no-brainer. Too close to the tree, they would’ve felt overshadowed by the tree. Too far off to the side, it would’ve felt as if the couple was falling off from the floating island in the sky.

Show more

Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I used single point focus for this shot and pretty much just locked the focus on the couple and fired away. It was easy to decide on the correct focus because the bride and the groom were on the same focal plane. They moved a little bit while dancing but the distance didn’t change. The only thing that made focusing trickier than normal was trying to find a good position for the prism at the same time. That’s where a third hand would have come in handy. It’s just a matter of preference but I tend to “see” my compositions better when using the viewfinder instead of the live-view.

Show more
Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The groom who stayed more still

Equipment &

Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L
1/2500 @ f/2.0 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 shot was taken probably around 20 minutes before sunset. The sun was setting to the back right of the couple so that they were almost backlit but the light was extremely soft because of the gentle cloud coverage. Compositionally there was only one angle I wanted to use, so I had to have the couple turn their face towards the light in order to have some remnants of light falling on them.

The use of a prism added quite a lot of lightness to the picture as the bottom of the photo is a reflection of the sky. I find this to be very strong manipulation of light and therefore only effective used occasionally. I used it this time because of the mood and narrational effect I wanted to create for this picture.

Show more
Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

If I’m not doing studio work I practically always rely on auto WB. There’s almost always temperature tweaking to do in post so it doesn’t matter too much what setting I use as long as the file format is RAW. However, with this photo the colour and glow of the sky must have somehow confused the camera as it didn’t do a very good job. The unedited image is way bluer than how I perceived it in real life – it was sunset time after all. I have never before or since had to push the temperature as high up as 25 000K in order to get the temperature that I like. And still, the picture doesn’t feel too orange or too warm.

The most drastic change to the image came from the white balance shift alone. Other than that, this wasn’t a very technical image to edit at all. For colour work I applied my personal preset. To get the dreamy feeling, I lowered the contrast, texture, clarity and saturation a bit, but also introduced controlled highlight and shadow hues in split toning. I also brought down the overall highlights in order to make the cloud structure more visible, and dropped the shadows to enhance the silhouettes.

I didn’t feel this photo benefitted anything from local adjustments like brushes or filters. The subjects are half silhouetted on purpose so I didn’t want to bring extra light to them.

Show more
Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used


Having your wedding portraits taken during the Finnish winter is no stroll in the park. A lot, and I mean A LOT of cold resilience and courage are required from the couple. On this particular day the temperature was only a few degrees below zero but being out in the sea the wind chill made it feel like -15°C. I believe the (dis)comfort factor plays a huge role in what is possible to be achieved, what and how I can shoot, how everything feels, how I direct the session etc. Yes, the couple was freezing.

Another challenge was trying to work out in which angle to hold the prism in front of the lens in order to make the hill look like a floating island, keeping my own fingers (holding the prism) out of the frame, all while holding the heavy camera in one hand, trying to keep the focus on the moving couple and capturing the best movements they pulled off. Tricky much?

Show more


The solution for feeling cold is to wear warm clothes, obviously, but in the case of taking wedding photos it just doesn’t work. When the cold has already reached your bones there’s not much more to do than to keep moving; squatting, jumping and being active. What I did too is I talked to my couple a lot, encouraging them but also distracting them from the cold sensation.

As for the technical challenges, I found it important to stay calm and keep trying, trying, trying. I knew what I was doing but it takes a bit of luck as well. I call the result a happy accident, which is often what the nicest photos come down to. Success out of experimentation.

Show more


Location Name

Suomenlinna sea fortress

Location aDDRESS

Susisaari, Suomenlinna, Helsinki

Loation Type




In photoshoots make sure to take your safe shots but always leave room and time for playfulness, creative experimentation, self-expression and spontaneity. Don’t get fixated on the results and the need to deliver. Just give your ideas a chance and they might turn into something really beautiful.

Read More

Login to your account

Oh no :(

This content has been marked as Premium and requires an active subscription in order to access it. We’re so sorry about that. But hey, here’s what you can do:

Join the

Get access to everything on the site as well as a ton of perks & benefits.

Have an account?

Well then, let’s get you logged in and hide this annoying thingy-ma-jig.