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This beautiful couple got married at a location in LA that allowed them to have access to the rooftop for family pictures. I went to change out camera batteries and caught the bride doing a beautiful turn and snapped the picture. I never had this end image in mind which is how most of my creative edits are. It’s not until I begin culling the gallery that I find an image that intrigues me and I decide to get funky with it to see what art piece I can turn it into. Sometimes it works out great and other times it doesn’t. In this case, I was obsessed!

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I told the couple after finishing their family photos to just take in the scenery since it was on top of an epic roof top overlooking all of Los Angeles at sunset. As I was soaking up the moment I caught a glimpse of her spinning and snapped a pic of her doing so without any directions. I was simply seeing a beautiful moment without needing any direction.

What did you say?

Hey guys, just take in the scenery here while I do my thing. I’ll be around shooting and I’ll reach out if there’s anything I need to you to do.

How did you compose your image?

When I was composing this shot, I really wanted the viewer’s attention to be directly focused on the bride. I felt such a softness and simple elegance in the way she was twirling in the sunset and I wanted the viewer to be able to feel that in the shot as well. When I began culling the gallery I remember going directly to this shot and knowing I had to make something more artful of this composition. That is when I decided to remove the buildings and floor to remove all distractions and focus solely on making her the center frame and making a more artistic portrait.

How and what did you focus on?

I was in autofocus mode for this shot because I typically shoot in auto at all times unless I am free lensing or using my tilt-shift. Using my viewfinder I used a single point focus on the bride and snapped the picture quickly because this was a fleeting unprompted moment I needed to get quickly. This is also why I love having my camera in autofocus because I can capture a moment quickly and nail the focus on the subject.


How did you use the light in your image?

It was a blue hour (the short period of time following golden hour) and we had just finished taking family photos and I told the couple to take in a few minutes of alone time with their view. I was doing the same myself and I noticed she began spinning on the rooftop beautifully and I loved how the light kissed her and her dress so softly. I didn’t have this pre-planned I just soaked in the moment with her by capturing it through my viewfinder.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

As you can see before the image is entirely different than the end results. I first edited the image in Lightroom creating a custom edited preset. I decreased the contrast, highlights, and brought up the exposure. I then had a ton of fun playing with split toning and fine-tuning coloring with the H(hue) S(saturation) L(luminance) sliders. I then brought the image into Photoshop to more accurately remove the buildings in the background as well as the floor. I then used the liquify tool to liquefy her dress in an outward direction to add extra emotion and blended it into the background. I then saved the image back into Lightroom and pulled the image into Alien Skin Exposure 3 to add grain and the side light streak. I was super stoked about the end results and how I let the image really edit itself along the way. My favorite edits are never pre-planned, I just play and have fun with the edit!

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic


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What challenges did you face?

The most challenging part of this shot was the editing process. Getting the dress to blend in with the background seamlessly took a lot of time.

How did you solve them?

I found that using a combo of overlays and the spot healing brush on the edges of the places I liquified allowed the dress to blend nicely!

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

I firmly believe in consistently trying new techniques and being ok with it possibly not working out in the end. That’s how real magic happens in my opinion by learning from past mistakes and always trying to grow by implementing new techniques and stepping outside of the box. Let your imagination lead the edit.

Mel Rey

Shooting since


Current Home

United States of America



Hi there! I’m Mel, a funky rollerskating wedding photographer based out of Long Beach California. I have been shooting weddings full time for four years but, picked up my first camera over ten years ago and fell in love ever since. I believe that every wedding or session has something unique and extraordinary magic woven through every moment. It’s just waiting to be captured in the most equally unique way. I also love teaching photographers how to push through their own negative thoughts and fears that are suppressing them from being their own unique creative self. Do not worry about falling away from what’s trending because ultimately, what we put out there, as long as it’s done with all of your heart, will attract the right people. To stop blending and start creating work that resonates with their own soul.

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