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Wedding party portrait at the Audain Museum in Whistler British Columbia photographed by Vancouver photographers Cat and Jeff of The Apartment Photography

Cat and I had about 45 minutes to capture some unique images of our couple, Avery and Geoff, at the Audain Museum in Whistler, BC. It’s a really unique building, not just because of the stunning architecture but that most of it is painted jet black. Their wedding day was in the winter so it was pretty cold out plus it was super sunny.

A pitch-black venue, in direct sunlight with a wedding party that is freezing their butts off, that’s a tricky combination if you ask us! We had scouted the venue beforehand so knew of a few cool spots that we wanted to work with. Of course, no matter how much planning you do, the weather and the location of the sun can always throw you a curveball. In this case, it was a happy curveball.

While Cat was taking photos of the wedding party I wandered off to look at the other side of the building. That’s when I noticed the sun casting a perfect triangle onto the ground. Inspiration struck in the form of excitement and thinking to myself “I have to find a way to use this!!” I knew that because the building was so dark that if our couple and their friends were in the stream of light I could create something really dramatic and moody, but the question was, what should they be doing in the stream of light? I decided to go with the vibe that the building and light had already created for me. Mimic the rigid lines and starkness of the building and light.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

The first thing we did was get our couple and wedding party excited and set the expectations for this shot. We said something on the lines of, “Guys!! we found this awesome area behind the building and the light is just perfect!!” Because their wedding party was pretty big we knew we’d have to set up some form of expectation to get the shot right. “Okay, so I know this might seem a little weird but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one!”

Once everyone found a spot, I rearranged people based on height so that I could see everyone’s face from where I was planning on taking the shot. I took about 20 shots in total and after 3-4 shots I would review and adjust a little. I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to get everyone’s expression just right in a single frame so as you can see from the before and after I did photoshop the best expressions onto the one final image.

The whole time I’m taking photographs I’m saying “Oh my god, this looks amazing!! You guys look soooo good” – the positive reinforcement is great to keep them in the mood and excited to be in the photograph. Plus when you have them standing around like they’re in a police line up it helps to compliment them!

What did you say?

We’re going to start with everyone standing slightly apart from each other. Find a spot in the sun to start and I’ll come around and adjust as needed. Okay, so everyone turn your body so you’re facing me, and while keeping your body where it is, turn your head to the left and close your eyes. Oh my god, this looks amazing!! You guys look soooo good

How did you compose your image?

I could tell from the way the reflection of the sun was hitting the ceiling of the building where they were standing that I wanted to include it in the frame. With the wedding party taking up the bottom third of my frame I filled the other two-thirds with the black lines of the roof.

How and what did you focus on?

In this particular shot, I focused on the bridesmaid closest to me. Center AF point, then locked my focus while I reframed. I know on today’s cameras you can just about trust any point the camera gives you but I’m a little old school and have just become used to focusing with the center point and re-framing. I think when you do that it forces, in a good way, to move the frame around and consciously make decisions on framing. If I had used an AF point in the bottom third of my camera that perfectly fell on the main subject’s face, I wouldn’t adjust or move my frame. The choice of framing is already made at that point. By using the center AF point, I’m making one choice at a time. First that I want to focus on the bridesmaid and then I move onto framing. Instead of stacking my choices, I feel like I have more freedom and time to think. I could have increased my aperture to something like f5.6 and gotten everyone sharp, but I took the shot from fairly far away, and with the depth of field getting larger and larger the further away from the subject you are I figured it was enough.


How did you use the light in your image?

It was direct sunlight coming in from the west at about 40 degrees from the horizon. With such a large group and not a lot of time, it was easiest to have everyone turn their heads towards the sun and close their eyes. If you’re looking at the sun, I basically know you’ll be lit evenly, quick and dirty but it works every time. Making sure I exposed for the subject’s faces and making sure everyone looked in the same direction I knew I would get the look I was hoping for. If I had another shot at this frame I think I would have considered having everyone take five steps backwards and on a queue all walk forward slowly while looking over their left shoulders. Adding a little movement I think would have elevated this shot.

Wedding party portrait at the Audain Museum in Whistler British Columbia photographed by Vancouver photographers Cat and Jeff of The Apartment Photography
Light Diagram of an image composition

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


Unedited before shot of Geoff and Avery's wedding party at the Audain Museum in Whistler, BC. Shot by Cat and Jeff of The Apartment Photography Wedding party portrait at the Audain Museum in Whistler British Columbia photographed by Vancouver photographers Cat and Jeff of The Apartment Photography

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

To be honest my presets are from VSCO from a million years ago. I don’t even think they sell them anymore. Throughout the years we have tweaked and tweaked, saved over the previous iteration over iteration. At this point, I’m confident in saying the presets we use for our images bare no resemblance or have any “genes” as it were to the originals.

As with a lot of our images, there was an emphasis on making the image dark and moody. That meant bringing down the exposure in the shadows. Luckily with the style of this building, being so angular, the gradient tool was perfect!

There was some cloning and healing to get rid of some plants and signage in the background as well as some dirty spots on the concrete floor tiles. As mentioned before we also photoshopped a few expressions from other shots onto this one. Not something we love to do, but felt it added a fair amount to the final image and was worth doing.

Curves and split toning are for sure a big part of our ending process. Giving those shadow areas the amount of contrast they have is pretty much all from curves. And the color and tones of course are from split toning.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic


Personal Preset

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What challenges did you face?

Capturing the best expression is hard enough with two people but with 10 is near damn impossible.

How did you solve them?

Taking lots of photographs of the same moment and trying not to adjust your position is key to helping yourself out later in post production. Also remembering to scan the group while you’re looking through the view finder and voicing adjustments out loud will help too. Honestly the best piece of advice I can give when working with groups is learn their names! Find out before hand from the couple everyone’s names. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the day and take the effort to memorize their names. It comes in handy when doing quick on the fly adjustments to just shout out “hey! James, can you turn your body slightly towards me please!” instead of, “Ummm… guy on the left, no not you, the other left, yes you! can you turn to the left please.” You loose credibility and valuable rapport with the group. Plus to create moments you can always call someone out in a fun way (make sure you read the room and choose the right person!). “Everyone’s doing a great job, except for James, you could use a little work!” Said the right way and with the right group, you’ll make everyone laugh and that’s a great moment to catch!

Wedding party portrait at the Audain Museum in Whistler British Columbia photographed by Vancouver photographers Cat and Jeff of The Apartment Photography

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

We often say we’re searching for light. And this is the perfect shot to demonstrate that idea. What once was just a dark overhang area of the museum turned into an awesome opportunity with the sun coming in at just the right angle. Do your due diligence and check out the venue beforehand to have some ideas, but be open to spontaneity and bursts of creativity. I would definitely go for this shot again if given the opportunity but would have our couple or wedding party do something different.

The Apartment Photography

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Hey! We’re Cat and Jeff, storytellers and visual artists from the Pacific Northwest. We’re a husband and wife photography team who are passionate about living life for today and capturing memories for tomorrow. Working with real people and creating meaningful connections is what drives our creativity and strengthens our love for what we do. We were also recently named International Wedding Photographer of the Year by IWOPTY 2019. Aside from photography, we’re total travel bugs, are crazy in love with our tabby Watson, love plants but can’t keep them alive and have a soft spot for fresh churros at Disneyland.

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