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One look at that building with the sun beaming down on it and we knew we had to use it somehow!! We’re already a huge fan of using harsh sun and shadows in our work, so walking past this building was like being handed dinner on a silver platter.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

Tina and Akash were really accustomed to the way we worked by the time this photograph was taken. It was near the end of our session and we were just walking back to our car when we came across this building. I jumped a little in excitement and asked if they would humour me by standing on the ramp next to the building. I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted them, but it always helps to get the bodies there, see how the shadows play and then adjust as needed.

What did you say?

OWW! Guys, this building is super cool, do you want to try something with it? (They excitingly nod!) Let’s start with you both on that slopey bit over there. Stand slightly apart and just look out in front of you for now. Try not to stare in the sun!

How did you compose your image?

With a lot of our work we think about the dimensionality, the depth of the image. A lot of time that comes through our work as foreground blur or using the background to frame our subject in some way. In this case, I was able to find a concrete bench near by which had similar angles to the building. It made for some easy framing!

How and what did you focus on?

Since they were really far away my AF point was about the size of their entire body. That’s okay! Auto focus did the trick and zooming into the image on the back of the camera help confirm that the image was sharp.


How did you use the light in your image?

It was mid summer in the late afternoon during this shot. The light was strong and dare I say, harsh. Not the easiest to work with, but when used in this way, it’s pretty dramatic and fun to see the results. On super sunny days, it seems like the only option is to look for a shady spot, but we actually prefer the sun, it’s dynamic and adds a certain something that we gravitate towards.

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?

We applied our preset first and made a few adjustments. Our Canon’s run a little more towards magenta than we want them to, so correcting that was first on the docket. We added a radial mask around the two of them and increased the exposure slightly. Highlights were brought down a touch as well. Finally a little straightening and the photo was done!

Software Used


Our own creation

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What challenges did you face?

With direct sunlight it’s best to see what you’re being given and then decide on how you want to use it, instead of the other way around. It would have seemed easier to look at the building and find a cool angle to capture our couple and the building together, but then the challenge would be to figure out how to work all those elements together with the sun shining down the way it is.

How did you solve them?

Instead, look at how the sun is shining down, think of it as your key light in a studio setting. But instead of you placing your subjects in the studio and then moving the key light to light them, do it all backwards instead! The key light is already placed and can not be moved, so where should your subjects go?

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

I would definitely do this shot again, or at least come here and play with the sun at a different time. That’s the best and worst part about working in living spaces (vs. a studio) sometimes you get the most spectacular lighting and environmental elements and the next day you could get absolutely crap from the exact same place! Being a wedding photographer is about taking all the different elements you’re being given in that moment and figuring out the best way to apply your style and approach.

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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