If you and your future spouse are up for it, doing your engagement photo shoot before dawn can be a great option. We enthusiastically recommend it to any of our clients who express any interest in the idea. Pictures taken of you and your intended in the earliest hours of the morning can be absolutely stunning. They can be every bit as beautiful as the love that you feel for one another. So if you do not mind getting up early, give some consideration to scheduling your engagement photo session before the sun comes up.
A portrait session at such an ungodly hour might not be your cup of tea, of course. You certainly would not be alone in that sentiment! Many future spouses do not relish the idea of waking up that early. Truth be told, pre-dawn shoots are not every Washington, DC, wedding photographer’s favorite! Many folks (photographers included) are late risers and would understandably rather sleep in than get up before dawn. That is especially true if you need extra time to get “camera-ready!”
Early-morning couples portrait sessions become an even harder sell in the winter. At that time of year, the pre-sunrise temperatures in DC are often uncomfortably cold. With that in mind, it is not hard to fathom why you and your intended might prefer to schedule your photo shoot later in the day.
If early-morning shoots are so taxing, why would DC wedding photographers like us suggest it to you? Like we said above, the answer is that the effort is often rewarded with truly spectacular wedding or engagement portraits. If you are willing to get up early, pre-dawn shoots will offer you the opportunity to get magical, unique and unforgettable images. For example, your Washington, DC, wedding photographer can take pictures of you and your beloved in front of a glorious sunrise. The sun coming up over the skyline of the Nation’s Capital is one of the best tableaux for couples photos that we have ever encountered. And those early-morning scenes are even more striking in the winter months. The low angle of the sun means the colors become more brilliant. So braving the cold weather also has its benefits.
In the interests of transparency, we must tell you that getting those kinds of backdrops requires a fair amount of luck. Some mornings, the sky cooperates and gives a beautiful show. On other occasions, the sunrise is either obscured or unspectacular. For example, the sky on the morning when we took this engagement photo was overcast.
The good news for you is that a dud sunrise is not enough to spoil your pre-dawn engagement photo shoot in Washington, DC. Even if a colorful sky is not in the cards, we still have ways to produce impactful, engaging and memorable portraiture. Your DC wedding photographers can use artificial lighting to create dramatic differences between light and darkness, for instance. That is what we did while photographing this future bride and groom. As you can see in the engagement portrait featured here, the results can be absolutely stunning.
We took pictures of this bride- and groom-to-be during a destination engagement shoot in Hannover, Germany. The venue they selected for the session was the Tannenbergallee Bridge. It had the advantage of being near their house (meaning a few more minutes of precious sleep for them). More importantly for their photography, the bridge also offered a nice view of the sky and the buildings along the canal that runs through that part of the city.
We started by capturing some images of them illuminated from the front. This created a beautiful scene in which they were lit up against a city still shrouded in darkness. We then decided to move our flashes to a spot directly behind them. The idea was to use these artificial lights to backlight the bride- and groom-to-be.
Illuminating the future husband and wife in this particular way led to some dazzling engagement portraits. There are four things that we particularly like about the series of images that we captured using this technique. First, illuminating them from that angle gave the spouses-to-be nice rim lighting. That term refers to light that hits a subject from behind and is visible along his or her contours. In this case, it helped define the shape of the couple’s heads and set them apart from the dark background. Second, the light that spilled onto the sides of their faces was soft, gentle and flattering. We had set the flashes up very close to the fiancés, meaning their visages were not silhouetted. That was good, because silhouettes against a black background look rather dull. Third, we love the way that the future bride’s blond hair caught the light and blazed to life against the dark sky. It was frankly a happy accident that her hair color was so well suited to this! Finally, our flash did a great job of putting what is called “catch light” in their eyes. It really helps show the emotions on the face of the bride-to-be in particular.
This last part is extremely important in creating unforgettable pictures that couples want to print and put on their mantelpiece. Eyes that gleam with light look happier. That is why the beautiful bride-to-be in this photo looks so overjoyed to be in the arms of the man with whom she will be spending the rest of her life.
Location: Mittellandkanal, Hannover, Germany.
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