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This was my first trip to Utah, and I was so amazed by the landscape. I traveled there with my dear friend Georgia Grace (also a very talented photographer) who offered to model for me. We went to goodwill that morning a found this dress for $16. Georgia had been to Utah multiple times before and wanted to take me to The Great Saltair for sunset photos. Neither of us could have anticipated how spectacular that sunset would be – it was truly something magical. I did not have any particular shots in mind going into this shoot, but I knew I really wanted an emphasis to be on the landscape. As this was a very last-minute shoot, we did not have any flowers, details, or props, but with a sunset like that, you really did not need much!

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

Georgia is a very talented model so very little direction was needed on my part. I told her I would be focusing on wide shots and asked her to give me lots of movement. I wanted it to feel ethereal and whimsical.

What did you say?

“Now hold the skirt of your dress in both hands and start twirling around.”

How did you compose your image?

I generally follow the rule of thirds in most wide shots like this, but here I really wanted to emphasize the point of reflection by placing it right in the center. And to show off this combination of sky and mountains, I really wanted the backdrop to seem grand and imposing so I got low to the ground and backed far away from my subject to keep her small in the frame.

How and what did you focus on?

I used autofocus to focus on my subject in this image. As there really was nothing else close to her to compete for focus, it was fairly simple to catch focus.


How did you use the light in your image?

This was taken as the sun was setting with my subject backlit at a side angle. Sunset is always a favorite time to shoot, and it was exciting to watch the sky change so rapidly. As the sunset, it cast its light across the landscape & the model which created beautiful, soft, highlights & shadows. Gently adding dimensions to everything.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark III


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

In Camera Raw, I used TAP presets to mimic Fuji 400 film tones. I adjusted the white balance, brightness, and darken the shadows. I also used HSL and the brush tool to brighten up her skin tone a bit. I did not clone or heal anything.

Software Used

Camera Raw

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What challenges did you face?

This biggest challenge that we had was the fact that the sand was incredibly difficult for the model to walk on in her high heels.

How did you solve them?

I had her switch to her boot so she could move more easily to the spot I wanted to be at. And since the dress was long enough to cover the boots, it was pretty easy to have her hide them for the photo.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

As much as I love getting to photograph a fully planned styled shoot, sometimes the rush that comes from a spontaneous shoot can really push you to think creatively and drive you to do something different.

Jessica Doherty

Shooting since

I photographed my first wedding in 2014.

Current Home

Charleston, SC



I’m Jessica, a Charleston-based wedding photographer, with a fierce love for storytelling, fostering memories, and capturing each moment, big and small. I love traveling everywhere and anywhere, talking with my hands, buying too many plants (and attempting to keep them alive), spoiling my sweet cat Louie, and spending as much time as I can with my loved ones. I have lived in Boston, Paris, and New York City, and am now lucky enough to call Charleston home, while also still traveling the world for my clients.

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