It goes without saying that a Washington, DC, wedding photographer’s first job is to make couples look great on film. Whenever we pick up our cameras, we aim to produce images in which future spouses or newlyweds shine. They should be at their most beautiful/handsomest in these pictures, of course. DC wedding photographers should always cast their clients in favorable lighting and emphasize their best features.
We have found, however, that drawing out a bride’s and groom’s inner radiance is equally if not more important. Couples should also look fantastic on a deeper emotional level in their wedding photography. Happiness should radiate out of them in the images we capture of them. The photos should show how they feel in the arms of the person they will marry/have married. We want this because when those emotions shine through on film, brides and grooms look that much more beautiful.
If we do this part of our jobs right, then the setting in which we photograph a couple barely matters. If our pictures elicit the affection that a couple has for each other, then almost nothing can distract from that. The ugliest possible background is not enough to distract the viewer from how good the future spouses or newlyweds look. We could photograph them in a grimy DC alley, and no one would notice anything but the two of them. Not that we would ever do something like that, of course! We obviously seek out venues that complement the people we are photographing and that enhance the beauty of their love.
That is why we love engagement shoots and couples portraits in settings that can be integral part of the images we create. We do not just seek pretty backdrops in front of which to pose the couple. We want locations that are a vital component of the composition. When DC wedding photographers find them, the surroundings feel like a part of the future spouses’ or newlyweds’ love story.
The Nikolaikapelle, one of the most famous and easily recognizable structures in Hannover, Germany, is exactly that sort of venue. It allows a Washington, DC, wedding photographer to make the setting a key player in the tableau. The Nikolaikapelle is a hauntingly beautiful old church with a Gothic-style stone architecture. It was partially destroyed by Allied bombing raids over Hannover during World War II and never subsequently rebuilt. Because that wartime damage left several sides of the building open, it is ideal for producing dramatic images. A photographer can use truly inventive angles during an engagement shoot or a couples portraits session. We also love that it is an Old World European structure. We do not really get a chance to photograph in places like that when we are working in Washington, DC.
We had all this in mind when we took this bride and groom to the Nikolaikapelle for their engagement shoot. We specifically asked them to meet us at sundown. We thought that the best way to incorporate the church into the portraits would be to light parts of it with our flashes. We also thought that the Nikolaikapelle’s location would make a night shoot preferable. The church is situated rather unusually, in that it is in the middle of Hannover’s main commercial district. Photographing couples there during the day can sometimes lead to incongruous distracting elements showing up in the background. Taking pictures of future spouses or newlyweds there at night would eliminate this problem.
Our plan was to use the aforementioned artificial lighting on the building’s walls to draw the focus to the couple and leave the background’s distractions in darkness. In this particular image, for example, we put one flash in the circular back chamber of the church. The lighting illuminated that area and turned the couple into a silhouette. We also aimed flashes covered by orange gels at the front side of the Nikolaikapelle. Thus was that portion of the building was illuminated by a color that complemented its brownish-red natural hue. We then asked the couple to practice their first dance as a married couple and took this picture. We loved the resulting image. More importantly, so did the spouses-to-be! And when that is the case, any Washington, DC, wedding photographer knows they have done things right!