• Artificial Light
  • night
  • smoke
  • Rule of thirds
  • Rim Light
  • Reception
  • Party
  • off center
  • Moody
  • Back lit
  • Leading lines
  • Indoor
  • Harsh Light
  • DJ Lights
  • Dark
  • dance floor
  • Dance
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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There was something unusual about the place we were photographing that day. We were strolling in the middle of the castle courtyard, over which a glass roof had been built. All the walls were covered with ivy and the tables were overflowing with bouquets of white flowers and luscious green leaves. When it got dark, the whole room was lit only by candles and spotlights brought by the team.

Conditions were beautiful to look at and very difficult for the camera. We took this photo during the romantic first dance when the sun was already long gone. We didn’t give our couple any guidelines. Everything was pre-arranged, the team was given specific lighting guidelines, and we had to find the best possible perspective to capture the impressive atmosphere well.
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We chose a horizontal frame to put the couple in a broader perspective. We wanted to show not only them dancing but also the rest of the space, which after dark looked like something out of a movie. On one side there was the dance floor glowing with cool light, and on the other side there were tables with lit candles. From above, they looked like streets lit by lanterns.

To balance this mood well, we divided the frame in half. We used a 35mm lens to emphasize the scale of the place. This helped a lot because in reality, the whole courtyard was smaller than it looks in the photos.

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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

We always use continuous tracking mode. In dynamic moments like dancing, reframing or using single-shot mode only gets in our way. With the focus point set on the couple, we could compose the scene in peace. No distractions or thinking about parameters.

We imagine that many cameras may not be able to do well with focusing on dark silhouettes. Manual mode would work well in this case too. Especially if you can enable focus peaking on the camera. Choosing between auto and manual mode is often a matter of preference and established habits.

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Focus Mode

Continuous Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

Bride and groom

Equipment &

Canon R6
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
1/160 @ f/2.0 ISO1000 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

We did not use our lights during the first dance. The team set up powerful spotlights that illuminated only our couple. We had reporter lights hidden in the room, but their light would have taken away all the mood.

We photographed this scene from several perspectives. From below and from an upstairs window. Downstairs, we had the choice of shooting with or against the light because the space was small, and it was easy for us to change positions. Upstairs, we had to decide on one position because any change would have taken too much time.

The dark outlines of the couple looked great against the background of all the guests gathered around. This way we showed enough to see the desired details but maintained a dense atmosphere.

We used the spotlights set up by the band. They were so strong that using additional lighting would have ruined the atmosphere.

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Light Type

Artificial Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

The courtyard was filled with light smoke, so all the lights automatically became softer. They didn’t need to be tweaked anymore, so we focused mainly on changing the colors.

We corrected the white balance and turned off all the unnecessary colors (especially the fluorescent green backlighting of the band) that were distracting and made the photo lose its “smoothness”.

We applied our favorite grading to the left side of the photo, which is blue in the lights and orange in the shadows. Finally, we changed the yellow to a more orange color. We love this autumn candlelight shade, and our photos rarely have a yellow tint.

The rest of the processing was just minor adjustments in Photoshop. Most importantly, we removed the part of the cameraman who was sticking out from the bottom of the frame. Despite all the love for LR, we do the removal of unnecessary elements, retouching, and even final color corrections in Photoshop.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used
own custom preset


The biggest challenge was working with conditions beyond our control. We knew how the couple was supposed to be illuminated, but the final result may have been different from what we envisioned. We wanted to be prepared for everything, so we needed photos from several perspectives.

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The best solution is to work as a team of two – either as a regular duo or with a hired photographer. When we’re not sure what to expect, one of us can photograph safely while the other looks for more interesting shots.

In this case, the journey from the dance floor to the first floor would take tens of seconds (not counting squeezing through the crowd). If we hadn’t traveled to weddings together, we definitely wouldn’t have taken this photo.

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Location Name

Castle Łagów

Location aDDRESS

Tadeusza Kościuszki 3, 66-220 Łagów, Poland

Loation Type




Before the reception, we always take the time to walk through the entire property and memorize the most interesting areas. Sometimes we photograph all day in the same space – this helps a lot. When we first arrive at the venue after the ceremony, we use the dinnertime to take a long walk around the area.

With all these perspectives in mind and knowing the plan for the day, it’s easier for us to plan our work. We shoot very reportage-like and don’t stage anything, but we know where to hunt for images. We avoid places without potential and focus on the best ones. We don’t spend hours there waiting for the photo of a lifetime, but we walk among them and look out for interesting situations.

Before this reception, we walked around the entire castle, so we knew ahead where we could take the best photos.

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