Dramatic Northern Virginia Winery Wedding Photos
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Dramatic Northern Virginia Winery Wedding Photos

TL;DR If you like dramatic wedding photos, choose a venue that has the right setup for those kinds of pictures.

Are you a fan of dramatic wedding photos? You know, the kind with a grand scale and sweeping feel that take your breath away? The sort of images in which the beauty of the surrounding scenery is as much the subject as the two people in them?

Are Wedding Portraits with Drama the Right Fit for You?

If you like these shots, then you are certainly not alone! A lot of couples love these kinds of portraits and specifically request that we take them. And it is no wonder! They are gorgeous and stunning, and the sort of pictures that just about everyone wants as a permanent reminder of the beauty of their wedding celebrations.

Just about everyone, but definitely not every single bride or groom. Many couples find that they do not really like portraits with drama once they understand what they are and what they look like. Like those couples, you might end up preferring images that are more intimate and romantic. Which is perfectly fine, of course! We would love to create those kinds of photos for you if that is what you are looking for! In our experience, images like that are a great way to tell your love story. They allow the viewer to inhabit your personal space a little and understand what your relationship feels like.

Or, like the vast majority of couples, you might find that you want a mix of both kinds of photos on your wedding day. Which is also no problem! Our general approach to wedding photography is to give you a collection of pictures with a wide variety of looks and feels. Because there are two of us, we always aim to give you more than one look at the same important moments, for example. And we also endeavor to create couples portraits with a mix of drama and intimacy.

Why Your Choice of Venue Matters if You Want Dramatic Wedding Photos

Even though we are going to try to give you that variety in your couples portraits, it is still worth thinking about how much having dramatic portraits matters to you. Why? Because the venue you choose can either open up or limit opportunities to create those kinds of shots. So if you are pretty sure you want drama, it is good to keep that in mind when shopping for locations.

Let us elaborate a little bit on why. One of the nice things about more intimate portraits is that we can create those just about anywhere. In fact, this is one of our go-to moves when our couples pick wedding locations with less than spectacular backgrounds. Or if time is short, and we have to make do with whatever setting we find ourselves in at that moment. When we take portraits that are up close and personal, then the background hardly matters. The entire story in the picture is the two of you and your love, and nobody even notices where the photo was taken.

For more dramatic pictures, though, the scenery and backdrop matter considerably more. By their very nature, those shots really need to feature more of the setting. The drama comes from the sweep and scope. And that means you need a great background. Which means your venue needs to have a space that offers you that.

What to Look for if You Want Dramatic Wedding Photography

So let’s say the image featured here has piqued your interest in dramatic wedding photography. And let’s say we have made a good case for picking a venue that gives opportunities to create shots like this. Now the question is which specific features you should look for in a potential wedding location. To answer that, it helps to try to see the world like a wedding photographer. With that in mind, here is what we typically look for if we are trying to create wedding photos with drama.

Unobstructed views

The first thing we need to give you dramatic wedding portraits is a space with wide-open vistas. Why? Because one of the key elements in those kinds of photos is depth. If most of the backdrop is close to the subjects, pictures in that spot are going to be less grand in scale. So there should not be a lot of stuff near where we will have the couple stand.

At a minimum, that means that a venue needs to have an area with few obstructions. If we are at a venue in the city, for example, we look for spaces without tall buildings cluttering up the view. In a more rural setting, we want a spot without a lot of trees.

Open skies

Nothing gives portraiture drama quite like a beautiful sky soaring behind the subjects. Just imagine a photo of you and your future spouse against a canvas painted with the glorious colors of a sunset. Or one of you in front of a background with the vibrant blues and bright whites of a beautiful afternoon. Or a shot of you posing at night with the ethereal loveliness of the Milky Way behind you. Even a cloudy sky can give the sense of scale necessary for dramatic wedding images! So when we scout locations for those kinds of couples portraits, we are going to look for places with unobstructed views of the sky.

The best ones typically have a spot that rises above the surrounding area. Why? Because posing our subjects above us increases the likelihood that the view of the sky behind them will be completely clear. It gets the couple up above elements like the aforementioned buildings and trees. More importantly, though, being up higher gets them clear of the horizon line. The latter can be a major distraction when it passes directly behind the heads of a couple in their wedding portraits.

But what if the venue you love does not have an elevated area? Not to worry! We can often create such a space for you. During a part of one couple’s wedding portrait session, for example, we wanted to capture them posing in front of the sunset. Unfortunately, the ground was flat where we were. Even worse, there was a large fence between them and the western sky. Fortunately, the venue had some picnic tables on hand. So we dragged one out and had them stand on it. The result? Gorgeous images of them with the sky as a backdrop!

Lots of space

The last thing that we look for when we want to take dramatic pictures of our couples is lots of space. When there is a lot of room behind where we will pose them, we get that all-important depth that we talked about above. But perhaps even more crucial is lots of space in front of the couple. Why? Because that allows for more separation between us and them.

Though it is possible to take dramatic pictures from close to the subjects, images look much more expansive and grand when the couple is a bit smaller relative to the surroundings. And for that to be possible, the photographer needs to be able to back up. By doing that, they put distance between themselves and the newlyweds. That makes the latter appear smaller in comparison to the setting. And that makes the whole image more open, expansive and dramatic. So as you search for the perfect venue, keep an eye out for spaces with a lot of, well, space around them.

Dramatic Portrait from Northern Virginia Winery Wedding

We took the picture posted here in exactly the kind of setting you should look for if you want drama. The couple had their wedding at The Winery at Bull Run, a lovely vineyard wedding venue in the DC metro area. The winery's main space is great for a gorgeous outdoor wedding ceremony under the bluest of skies. Some of the photos we took of this bride and groom exchanging their vows during their Northern Virginia winery wedding are absolutely jaw-dropping.

Even more dramatic and impressive, though, are the post-ceremony portraits we created afterwards. Just down the hill from the vineyard is a lovely little valley with a grove of trees. That space gives you the possibility of very intimate portraiture in the beautiful, flattering light that filters between the leaves, branches and trunks. More importantly, though, the area offers the necessary pre-conditions for dramatic portraits that we mentioned above. Away from the trees, the view of the sky is completely clear. As you can see in this image, there is great spot back up the hill where we can get photos of a couple above the horizon line. Finally, there is plenty of open space. Which meant we could back way up for expansive shots that included the sky and much of the surrounding terrain. We think the results speak for themselves!


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