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This photo was taken during a wedding near Salzburg in Austria. Usually, I never give myself much thought to how a wedding will go or which photo I will take, as wedding photography actually lives from all those special (unexpected) moments.

But somehow not too much happened at that wedding and the environment wasn’t really inviting us to take unique photos at first glance. Hence such situations do motivate and inspire me to create something special because I don’t ever want to drive home without capturing at least one “WOW” photo, even when it comes to unsuspenseful weddings like this.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered a small path behind the castle which brought us up to a calm spot on a little hill where we met our friend: The sun. This was the perfect place for the couple shoot, away from the hustle and bustle.

Directing couples too much doesn’t really fit my style. It’s more about giving them 2-3 simple suggestions and that’s it. Keeping it simple for the couple is so important, so they don’t need to feel restricted in any way. I let them breathe! :)

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I always try to speak to them with a calm, relaxed voice, never with an imperious one or so. We shouldn’t forget that it’s all about their special day, they want to enjoy it as much as we do. So in this case I just asked the couple to face each other, to slip over the bridal’s veil over the heads, and enjoy the moment by whispering kind words or giving gentle kisses and gestures to each other.

Additionally, I told them that they shouldn’t care about the light or anything else, as this is my part, so they can trust me and just enjoy this intimate moment. I also told them they are doing a fantastic job, which gave them a lot of confidence.

What did you say?

Guys, you both look fantastic. The light is on spot. Just come together, facing each other, slip the veil over your heads, listen to nature, be gentle and enjoy the moment. Everything else is under control. By the way, you’re doing so well, you make my work so much easier! This is going to be a killer shot!

How did you compose your image?

When it comes to the couple shoot, I always know what I want to create with every single shot, even when it is a spontaneous situation. So in this case I didn’t like the cut-off tree trunks and the bushes around us. So I knew the main focus must be on the couple. One of the reasons I chose to shoot this in portrait, was that the nature would distract more than help to focus on the couple and the emotions. The most important parts of the photo were the lips and the hands where most of the light came in. It felt more harmonious not to set the couple 100% into the middle of the frame. I chose to set the important part in the upper area, so the observer of the photo takes a kind of small path from the lower darker part of the image to the more exciting one. It simply makes this photo more interesting to me compared to the classic centered versions.

How and what did you focus on?

I do use the Single Point Focus Mode on my Sony 95% of the time, so I always have control over the area that should be in focus. Besides that, the Single Point Focus helps me be more creative and my style of work is less limited. I don’t like to trust my camera to set the focus area automatically wherever it wants. In this photo, I set the Single Point on the bride’s lips, as this was the most Intimate area IMO. The challenge was the backlight and also the moving veil, so I couldn’t nail the focus immediately (I guess it needed 3-4 attempts).


How did you use the light in your image?

It was about 1 hour before sunset, so the light wasn’t that strong anymore, which I generally recommend instead of taking photos at noon. Especially for this photo, we didn’t climb all the way up the hill to avoid being on a level with the sun. The sun was behind the couple, but slightly above them due to the angle (vertically above). This is how I prevented strong light from coming directly into the lens (avoiding lens flare and less contrast). The veil served here perfectly as a kind of filter and made the light much softer. The side of the faces towards me stayed in the shadow and the main light fell more on the lips and parts of the hands that were situated towards the sun. I used especially light and shadow for the creative component of this photo. The illuminated hands reflected a part of the sunlight onto their faces which gives them an additional soft touch.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Sony A7 III


Sony FE 35mm f/1,4





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

First I added my own preset (I think it’s based on the old Vsco Portra 160, which I tweaked strongly to my own style over the last 5 years). As I mostly use the Auto white balance in the camera, the image had too much blue in it. So first I adjusted the temperature to 9200. From there I increased the contrast slightly (when you shoot against the sun and veil, you lose some contrast), the exposure (as I usually shoot underexposed), a bit of the highlight, and shadows. In the end, I reduced the overall saturation to mute the orange tones.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic


Custom Preset

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What challenges did you face?

1. Depending on the angle, there was still too much direct light coming into my lens, which caused less contrast and ugly lens flairs. This can also cause problems when it comes to editing (no contrast, weird colors, etc.)

2. Getting the autofocus where I wanted to have it (on the lips) as a result of the moving veil.

How did you solve them?

1. Sometimes it is just a question of one or two steps forwards, backwards, to the left or to the right. I solved this problem by moving myself (and the camera) while watching through the view finder until this softer light appeared.

2. Sometimes you need to take several shots to nail the focus. So I did. Other solution would be to switch to manual focus so get independent of the moving veil and focus manually on the lips for instance.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

This wedding taught me to not wait until things happen. If you land at a boring wedding without a lot of energy or a nice environment, use every free minute to walk around, look for different ways or discover the area/light and MAKE IT EXCITIN and CREATIVE (for you and your couple!) !!!

Mati Photography

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I’m Mati, a laid-back destination wedding & elopement photographer from Austria! My work is based on a somewhat artistic (but natural) touch and I love building up a good connection to my couples, which helps to create the best and honest results. Photography means so much more than only work to me, it belongs to my lifestyle and for me it’s the best way to express emotions.

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