modern arizona wedding in the desert

the Shoot

Location Equipment
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For ceremonies, couples are mostly looking at each other so you don’t see their full face a ton, but I love the moments when they look out at their audience after the officiant says something that makes them laugh, or mentions something about their guests! I wanted to create a moment like that! I wanted to create and capture that feeling of “we’re so happy we’re surrounded by our favorite people”!
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Location Name


Location aDDRESS

Phoenix Arizona USA


United States

Location TYPE




Nikon D750




Nikkor 35mm f/1.8

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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modern arizona wedding in the desert



Energetic Laughing Natural


This image was taken at a workshop I host with Olivia Markle, called Yellow! Normally during a real ceremony, I obviously wouldn’t be directing the couple at all but since this is a styled shoot we direct the couple with prompts, for this photo I jokingly told them to look out to all their guests who they are so excited came – when in reality the guests we’re just our students so it got them to laugh! I love being sarcastic with my couples and making jokes to get them to loosen up and get those real smiles out of them!!

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What was said

okay now lookout to your guests and see all your very best friends and closest family in the audience who you adore sooooo much

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Why I composed the way I did

I wanted to capture the landscape, specifically the full length of the amazing cactus behind them! I also wanted to add some magic to the image by putting something in the foreground so I grabbed a piece of a plant laying around and held it in front of my camera on the left side, which is how I got that pretty light spot there!

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Rule of Thirds Horizon Line Wide Full Body


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Continuous Autofocus

Focused on

Brides face - with far away images like this one I just center it in the middle of her face!

Focus description

I always use autofocus and for this image, I focused on the bride’s face! I use back button focus and I use continuous focus mode with my camera’s max amount of focus points available (for me that’s 52!) This allows me to move my focus point to wherever I want, so I moved it to be on the bride’s face then I pressed down on my back button to focus and then click the shutter!

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Shutter Speed






White Balance


Other Light Sources
No additional light sources were used.
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Light &

How the light was used

This was around 2.5-3hrs before sunset so the light was still pretty harsh but pretty low in the sky which is great! The key for me when shooting in this type of light is to shoot dark, aka underexpose. It’s going to seem like the couple is super dark but I want to keep the highlights of the sky from being blown out and when editing all it takes is to bring up the blacks and the shadows and your couple will be correctly exposed again!!

We backlit the couple – aka the sun was behind them! The sun was also off to the left which I usually prefer to be directly centered behind them which creates super hazy images from so much sun right behind them. With the sun to the side of them, we got crisper images which I prefer for the majority of photos!

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Harsh Light Back lit Natural Light Sunny Afternoon

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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modern arizona wedding in the desert

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Editing &

Editing Software used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset Used
How I edited this image

I used my Tessa Tadlock Preset #1 and then bumped up the warmth until I got that glowy goodness that I love! Then I added a little bit of contrast. Next, I went to the HSL sliders and bumped up the oranges to give their skin more life and blues to make the pretty blue sky pop! Lastly, I upped the luminance at 20 because their faces were a little grainy, so that smooth it out!

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

The blaring sun can always be a bit challenging!

Solutions I found

Under exposing!! Trusting that you will always be able to bring those shadows up while editing!


I’ll never get over how much I love the look of something blurry in the foreground! I really think it just adds so much extra spice and sparkle and interest to an image!!
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Photographed by

Tessa Tadlock

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