the Shoot

Location Equipment
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This was my first time in Rome and what an incredible city it is. Michelle & James got married at the rad Castello Bracciano and it’s not every day you get married in a medieval castle, but when your clients are avid GOT fans (they even had their own house banner) is there anywhere else you want to get married.

We spent a good amount of time shooting in the surrounding village and in the castle and the images we got were ace and told a great story, but none of them were images that prominently featured the beautiful Italian landscape, the castle, and M&J all in one image. After finishing some family shots, the sun was setting beautifully, and whilst we already had captured plenty of couple shots I knew I wanted a shot from the balcony as the sky was so prominent and we had free rein of the whole castle.

I turned to Michelle and asked “How do you feel about getting up to the balcony?” and she replied “I was hoping you’d ask us that!” and we both smiled. A few moments later we had this image and what a treat it became. I learned this a while ago but this image is a pure example of “squeezing the lemon as much as you can until the last drop of juice available is out”. Teaming up with clients that get you is always a privilege and this image is a true testament to what those collabs can create.

Fun fact – Tom Cruise got married at that castle and every local I met made sure I knew about it
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Location Name

Castello di Bracciano

Location aDDRESS

Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 14, 00062 Bracciano RM, Italy



Location TYPE




Canon 5D Mark IV




Canon 85mm f/1.8

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Calm Natural Playful


Earlier in the day, I had scouted the balcony, so initially, I had thought I would be able to do a few different poses with M&J but the balcony was really small for two people so there was really only one position that they could be in. Due to the time restrictions and distance, I was shooting from I was quite limited on my position (I was at the end of a low wall which had a big drop on the other side and to move to another position would take a few minutes around the vast castle) so I asked them to get up to the balcony and face each other

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What was said

Hey guys how do you feel about getting up to the balcony? Once you are there, could you please face each other quite closely and enjoy the moment together

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Why I composed the way I did

I think the composition of this image is really what makes it. Yes, you have those elements of the great landscape, castle, and the couple but without this specific framing, the feel would be completely different. I started shooting M&J fairly wide with the 35mm where the whole tower and castle wall (left side of the frame) were visible together with the landscape (on the right side of the frame). Whilst this was good it brought too much prominence to the wall and tower; negative space is good but also can detract from your subject and in this case, it did that because the subject was just way too small. I switched over to the 85mm and played around with different framings – subject to the middle, subject to the left and right – and M&J in the middle of the frame was the clear winner.

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Center Framed Minimalistic Symmetry


Focus mode

Single point focus

Focus Technology

Single Shot Autofocus

Focused on

The Couple

Focus description

I always shoot with a single middle focus point (If I’m not using live view). In this case, I used the back button to focus on the couple and then recomposed the scene. I did this a few times and took around 5 shots to what would normally be only one or two shots, just to make sure I had the shot in focus.

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Shutter Speed






White Balance


Other Light Sources
No additional light sources were used.
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Light &

How the light was used

The golden hour was almost at its end quickly getting to the blue hour, and the sky had beautiful hues and details. I underexposed to get all those details in the sky captured knowing full well that I could recover all those shadows in the tower and couple at a later stage. As an aside, usually, when shooting I don’t go below 1/250 to keep things in focus in case of camera shakes. In this case, I clearly didn’t do that which surprised me a bit, especially because I am using an 85mm meaning camera shakes are even more visible. Quick tip, when working in “lower” shutter speeds, breath in, shoot and breathe out to keep things steady.

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Soft Light Back lit Natural Light Sunset

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset Used

Custom Preset

How I edited this image

I exposed this image for the highlights so in the edits I could recover all those sky details. In Lightroom the highlights were zeroed down, the shadows were upped above +60, and the clarity was upped quite a bit increasing the texture on the walls, the details in the sky, and the overall look of the image. When doing this, do it so sparingly.

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

Being a solo shooter that day (this happens at most of the weddings I shoot) I didn’t have long to work with this setting as I still wanted to capture more of the cocktail hour happening on the other side of the castle. Everyone is different, but I definitely thrive under pressure so most of the time this is a challenge that I welcome as it pushes me to be more decisive with what I shot and how long for. If that doesn’t work for you, having a second shooter really helps too, and whilst I have rarely had any in the past years, I have really enjoyed them lately on certain weddings.

I was also quite restricted in my position where I was shooting from. This meant that I used a few different lenses, shot in landscape and portrait, all to get a bit of variation. This was the perspective and lens combo that worked the best.

Solutions I found

Don’t be afraid to keep things short. To be specific this image and the others in this setting were taken in a 2 minute window, so once I knew I had what I wanted I moved on to the next setting as light was going rather quickly.


Try to create images that encompass the main essence of the day, your couple, and location, especially as a destination wedding photographer. Easier said than done but I have that constantly in my mind when shooting and it’s definitely a win when it happens.

Whilst wall hangers like this one are ace, I would much rather focus on telling a good story about the couple, location, moments, and details, and once that is solid, feel free to chase after that epic shot that rounds up the story and truly adds the cherry on top.

Would I have had enough time and permission a drone shot from a completely different perspective would have been sweet.

On a final note, I love to study images from photographers like Sebastiao Salgado or purely travel images as it very much teaches you to see perspectives and framing that sometimes are not so obvious, but for them, it’s simply second nature. Study the greats!
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Photographed by

Igor Demba

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