• clear sky
  • cliff
  • distance
  • far away
  • Harsh Light
  • kissing
  • Landscape
  • Leading lines
  • leaning back
  • Ocean
  • Side Light
  • Water
  • Waves
  • Wide
  • wild

The story behind the image

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I was motivated to take this shot because I wanted to capture a dramatic image. I absolutely love this location and have always wanted to pose a couple on the edge of the cliff. I was inspired by the gown, the gown had a ton of movement to it while still remaining light. I thought that the light movable fabric in the champagne color would photograph well against the blue of the ocean.

I knew that once the couple was posed where they were located on the cliff that I got the shot I was envisioning, I was so excited to have this image come to life. It came out better than I was envisioning, with the help of the wind it blew the bride’s hair perfectly. I was very nervous about the couple climbing down the edge of the cliff in a gown and heels but they were absolutely amazing and had no fear at all.

This location is typically very busy, there are usually people standing on the cliff and sitting down for a picnic at the bottom. I knew that when we had the cliff to ourselves, it was all meant to be!
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

Before the couple went down to the cliff, I told them to lead one another when walking. Once they got to the bottom of the cliff, I waived to them to position in the center. Once they were there they went in for big hugs and even bigger kisses. That’s when I got this image. It was difficult because once the couple was at the bottom of the cliff we could not communicate with words, we could only communicate through hand gestures. Luckily the couple was extremely lovable and not afraid of PDA.

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What did you say?

Guys, I want you to walk down to the edge of the cliff and stop at around this point (shows them). Once you get there, go in for the most lovable kisses and hugs and I will try and use some hand signals if I need you to change positions or something. Just be yourselves and most importantly, stay safe when climbing there.

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Framing the image was the most important part of getting this shot, I wanted the couple centered but I also needed to capture the entire cliff, including the cliff’s arch in the shot. At first, I pulled out my 85mm-200mm lens thinking it would be better to focus on the couple instead of the landscape. I quickly changed my mind and pulled out my 35mm. I am so happy I made this change and focused on landscape first. My goal was to receive a dramatic image that shows how stunning Sunset Cliffs is! I love a little couple in a big landscape!

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I used autofocus, I absolutely love my camera’s autofocus! While I have to worry about all the other components of the camera settings it allows me to worry about one less thing. The main focus was the cliffs and I sharpened the couple in editing so they were more focused.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The cliff

Equipment &

Nikon D7500
NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8
1/250 @ f/9.0 ISO200 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 shot this about 2 hours before sunset, the sun was still out and bright but beginning to go down. Since we were shooting on the west coast of the US, the sun would set right on the water. We did have to be mindful of the shadows of the couple. For instance, for the groom, we wanted to make sure he was slightly off-centered so that his tall shadow did not block the bride out completely since the sun was coming from the left. I love working with full sun, it takes a little more thought regarding shadows but it creates some unique and powerful images.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I used G presets-The Moon Pack. I wanted the tones to be moody and slightly warm. I brought up the shadows and blacks and brought down the contrast and highlights to show the details of the water while still remaining a moodier tone. I used the brush tool to sharpen the bride and groom’s heads/faces so they appeared a little crisper and focused. I only use Lightroom classic for this image.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic


The biggest challenge was the crowds, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in San Diego is one of the most popular areas to go and watch the sunset, get photos done, go to the beach, or have a picnic. This specific cliff is the most photographed area of the entire natural park. There are constantly people sitting on it, getting photos done and just exploring around it.

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On this day, we were hosting an elopement and a picnic reception right next to this cliff. After the ceremony there was a lull where no one was on the cliff and we ran over and took full advantage of having it to ourselves for a few minutes.

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Location Name

Sunset Cliffs

Location aDDRESS

Sunset Cliffs San Diego, CA 9210

Loation Type

Beach / Coastal


United States

I absolutely love this shot and this entire session, I believe I got it all by not putting too much pressure on myself to capture one specific shot. I try to map out a general idea of how my sessions are going to go but when shooting in a public crowded area, you have to have flexibility. My initial plan was to capture this couple on this specific cliff right at sunset and get a shot of the sun setting right over them, however, because of the crowds when I saw an opening I just went for it! Thus producing one of my all-time favorite images.

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