• bride over groom
  • Moody
  • Wall
  • viewpoint
  • view point
  • Sultry
  • Stormy
  • still pose
  • Still
  • Soft Light
  • Sitting
  • Scotland
  • Rule of thirds
  • Overcast
  • Natural Light
  • Looking down
  • calm
  • legs crossed
  • Leading lines
  • intimate
  • holding each other
  • her leaning over him
  • her holding him
  • full body
  • Evening
  • embrace
  • dramatic
  • Dark
  • Cloudy
  • city
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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This photo was taken on one of the handful of weddings that I photographed in 2020 during the pandemic. I don’t usually photograph elopements and weddings in Edinburgh (where I’m based) so I was really stoked to be able to capture an intimate elopement story that was so close to home in a city that really inspires me.

The bride and groom had originally planned to have a bigger wedding with a dinner reception but due to last-minute changes with Covid rules on indoor mixing they had to downscale to a simple city elopement.

Their wedding day took place in late November when days are much shorter and the light disappears early. Their city hall ceremony was set to take place in the afternoon so we scheduled the portrait shoot for earlier in the day before the ceremony in order to catch the daylight. After getting ready we spent a couple of hours exploring all the nooks and crannies of the city and old town together and despite all the rules and restrictions happening at the time with Covid, their day couldn’t have been more relaxed and perfect.

A lot of the thought went into the composition and look of this photo and I already had decided how I wanted the couple to pose and position themselves before the actual shoot. The location wasn’t too far from our house so I visited the spot at Calton Hill, Edinburgh a few days before the wedding to try and visualize the photo exactly. I wanted to capture a close connection between the couple with the city skyline of Edinburgh (where they got married that day) as the backdrop and I wanted it to feel dramatic and romantic.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I had already pre-visualized this photo in my mind so I was conscious of their position and hand placement. Once I had found my composition I asked the groom to sit on the small wall with his left leg resting on his right leg as I felt it helped compliment the composition.I then asked the bride to stand right against his body at his side and wrap her hands around his face and left shoulder while positioning her head behind his neck.

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What did you say?

Ok perhaps you (groom) could sit down here facing towards me and then if it’s comfortable for you, rest your left leg on top of your right leg and place your hand on your foot. Now (bride) perhaps you could come really close so there is no space in between you guys and hold him really close to you with your hands on his face and shoulder. Now relax and just stay like this guys for a minute while I take a few shots.

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Tone of Directions



I’d photographed at this location (Calton Hill) a couple of times in the past but I was never fully satisfied with the photos I had created there. I always felt that this iconic Edinburgh location had a lot of potential for something cinematic so I decided to invest a bit of time before the wedding day to properly explore the area and find 1 amazing composition that I could place the couple in.

After exploring for about 15 minutes I found a small stone wall with the Dugald Stewart Monument in the background and the city skyline behind it. I stood there for about 10 minutes trying to visualize how the couple could fit into the shot and how they would be interacting with one another. I liked the way the wall curved into the left-hand side of the photo, leading the eye from the couple towards the Dugald Stewart Monument, and decided that I would place the couple in the middle of the shot (with the groom sitting on the wall to make it relevant in the photo) with the Dugald Stewart Monument to the left. I kneeled to a lower position as I was taking the photo to make sure the couple were above the city line and dominating the attention in the photo.

I chose to use a 35mm lens for this particular shot as I wasn’t able to stand back much further and it managed to fit everything into the frame perfectly.

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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

This shot was taken with single-point continuous autofocus (center frame) with the viewfinder. I focused on the groom’s head, locked the focus, and then recomposed the shot (focus and recomposing).

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Focus Mode

Continuous Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

Grooms head

Equipment &

Nikon D780
Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G
1/640 @ f/2.0 ISO100 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

Due to the scheduled ceremony time we had to shoot the portraits earlier in the day when the sun would usually be harsh and bright. The day before I was checking the weather forecast and secretly hoping that it would be cloudy so that the sunlight would be soft and diffused. In the end we got lucky because it ended up being a typical dark and moody Edinburgh day!

As the light was diffused I was able to shoot in any direction and frame the shot in any way that I wanted. I also think that the cloudy, overcast sky compliments the overall romantic and dramatic tone of the photo and this matched the exact mood that I had visualised in my mind.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I used our very own ‘Emotive’ color preset as the base for this photo. The image was underexposed (as I wanted to make sure to keep all the detail in the sky) so after adding the preset I dragged the exposure up slightly. I then made the white balance warmer and dragged the ‘Tint’ slider slightly towards the green direction. I then used the brush tool to add more brightness to the couple’s body and face.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used


A big challenge when photographing in an urban environment can be other people walking into the frame. Although it wasn’t as busy as it usually was due to the pandemic, Calton Hill is still one of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist locations so trying to create photos while people walk around and in front of you can be a challenge.

Usually when I know I’m photographing in a busy city location I will try and time the shoot for later in the evening when it isn’t so busy but it wasn’t possible on this particular day due to the scheduled ceremony time in the late afternoon.

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A lot of the time patience is key in busy urban environments. It’s all about waiting for those small pockets of time when the background/foreground is empty to take your photo.

Fortunately on this day we had time up our sleeve so we were able to wait for people to walk by out of the frame and then knock off a few snaps. If there are ever people in the background I tend not to worry as I know that they can easily be removed with the clone tool in Lightroom or even Photoshop.

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Location Name

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Location aDDRESS

Edinburgh, EH1 3BQ

Loation Type



United Kingdom

Sometimes it can pay off to invest time in sculpting out a precise vision for your photo. A lot of the time I decide on how I want to pose the couple as I’m shooting however for this particular photo I was following a pre-visualised vision to a T which allowed me to realise the vision IRL.

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