• Bright
  • canyon
  • Center Framed
  • clear sky
  • cliffs
  • kissing
  • Mountains
  • Warm
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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While Horseshoe Bend is an epic and massive landscape to see in person, sometimes it can be hard to always show off the sheer epicness of it in photos with a couple. In order to do so, you really have to shoot from an angle where you can see the couple and the background. In this case, the background is down, behind the couple. So when I am there I am constantly looking for perspectives where I can be a bit higher than my couple while also separating them and the background.

I have shot at this particular spot before but not with a couple standing on top of it (they were sitting before). We lucked out with a bit of cloud overhead which provided some really nice even lighting which helps a ton because you can actually see the detail in the canyon walls and water below. Normally, if it’s sunny you can get some pretty gnarly shadows. So typically I will only shoot up here if it’s cloudy because there are spots I like to shoot at closer to sunset. While we were walking up, I knew immediately we would start over here and knock these shots out while the clouds were overhead.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

We had a bit of time to chat while we were walking up to Horseshoe Bend and I could tell that they were both very outgoing and comfortable in front of the camera. They were having a great time with everything thus far so I knew they would be down to climb up onto the rock for this shot. There was pretty minimal direction involved except for asking Paige to pull Levi in for a kiss with her hands. From here I usually see how couples interact and Levi did exactly what I had hoped and grabbed onto her waist. I never want a guy to just let his hands dangle at his side. This is something I mention at the very beginning of every shoot.

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What did you say?

Paige, I want you to lean in gently pull Levi’s face in for a kiss with your hands.

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My main goal when composing this image was to obviously make the couple the primary focus of the photo but to also show off the background and scenery. I wanted them to be in front of the river but also not completely blocking it. I chose to put her on the left side and him on the right so that her dress would fall off the rock with the slope of the rock. This also works well with the slope/angle of the river in the photo. I really love that the couple’s bodies and her dress somewhat mimic the path the river takes. When it came to framing their heads, I have a rule that I either will frame them above the horizon or within the landscape itself (so no horizon lines are going through their heads). I had to do a bit of compromising on this image because ideally, I would like their heads to be a bit higher in the mid-section of the canyon wall. However, to achieve this, I would have to get a tad lower than I was which would hide more of the river. It was a happy compromise to not put the bottom of the wall through their heads to show off more of the river but to also not put it too high.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

Because I was fairly far away from them and the background is very far away from them, I focused on their bodies with the center AF point. This was an easier focusing situation since they were standing still and it was a portrait photo which put them dead center in the frame.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The couple's bodies

Equipment &

Canon 5d Mark II
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II
1/2000 @ f/f/2.8 ISO640 WB-10000K

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

We shot this image in the evening around an hour and a half before sunset. There were clouds present which really helped diffuse the light and minimize the shadows on the canyon walls.

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Light Type

Natural Light



Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I first applied the VSCO preset and added a bit more warmth via white balance before bringing it into Photoshop. From there I added a couple hue/saturation, curves and color balance layers to get the colors exactly how I want them.

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Editing Software
Photoshop CC 2014


There weren’t many challenges in making this image except for dealing with the light. The sun was coming in and out of the clouds every now and then so we had to time it when we got up on the rock to shoot this image.

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We were patient and aware of the sun and when a bigger cloud may pass over in order to have even light in the image.

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Location Name

Horseshoe Bend

Location aDDRESS

Page, Arizona

Loation Type



United States

I am always looking for things to climb up onto in order to give a more unique perspective of the couple and the environment they are in. Look around and see how you can either get higher or lower to create a different-looking image than just standing level with your subject.

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