The making of a queen

Masters of Wedding Photography

The making of a queen

Crimson red Japanese maples.

Crimson red Japanese maples.

Crimson red Japanese maples. A lush green lawn. Expansive golden shrubs. All manicured to perfection in geometrical shapes. The perfect setting for portraits, right? No, not on this wedding day. Here we are in a venue known for its small but beautiful gardens. A place the couple was hoping to highlight within their photographs. However, nature had its own schedule. Just as the wedding day began to unfold the skies dumped buckets of rain on the couple’s parade. Making it impossible to shoot outside.So what now? The interior of the hotel adjacent to the venue seemed uninspiring at first. But upon further examination it had little gems in the most unexpected of places.

One of the spots was the elevator hall or corridor. You know, that spot where you awkwardly stand with strangers and wait for your elevator to arrive. As I walked by that area I noticed one of the walls had a small mirror with long alternating strands of metal-like branches. From a distance it looked like a circular starburst. However, two things immediately came to mind. First, it’s on a clean background. Second it could be used as a visual crown on the bride. The only problem, it was a bit high up on the wall. So how would we get the bride up there? Thankfully just underneath the mirror stood a tall credenza/sideboard. So, I walked over to the couple and I said: “I know this sounds crazy, but we need to get you up on the credenza”. Thankfully our couples have grown accustomed to these types of requests and they happily complied. I had the groom pick up the bride and we sat her on this tall piece of furniture; centering her head with the mirror. All the time hoping no one from the hotel staff would see what we were doing.

Then I had the groom stand about six feet in front of the bride, just under a light coming from the ceiling. Over the past couple of years my style of posed portraits has evolved into a more layered, editorial style. So, the thought was to make a large silhouette of the groom in the foreground while highlighting the bride in the back with off camera flash. To do this we had to patiently navigate through the hotel guests that were entering and exiting the elevators.

Somehow we got a lull in foot traffic and we took advantage. I had to stand literally right against the groom to fill the frame with his outline. I had him look down and to his right (my left) so we could open a spot over his shoulder to see the bride in the back. Next, I had my wife hold a monopod from camera right with a Profoto A1 which we had modified to hold a Magmod grid and sphere.

From there we just adjusted the light until it came from up above without looking over- bearing or too flashy. We had the bride close her eyes and look up into the light. A few clicks to adjust settings and that was it. We took other variations of the same shot but none had the presence of this shot.That miserable rainy day reinforced something that I live by constantly as I shoot weddings. Great images can happen anywhere. Even in an elevator hall. Don’t wait for pretty settings. Make your own. Seek geographical shapes with clean backgrounds and learn to make your own light…if good light is not available. Most of all take risks.

Orlando Suarez

More work by Orlando can be found at


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