How they did it: An electrical wedding portrait

Portland, Oregon-based photographers Jos and Tree WoodSmith pride themselves on capturing a wedding’s unscripted moments. But they also look to provide a jaw-dropping post-wedding portrait to the bride and groom. To that end they typically scout a setting that boasts a dramatic landscape or architectural feature to serve as backdrop. The composition and settings are planned ahead of time so they can capture the image as soon as the couple appears on site, often before the reception begins.

As this photo taken on Chesapeake Bay in June 2019 shows, planning and patience can yield a powerful photograph.

“We asked our couple, Lisa and Brian, to dance together near the shoreline after the ceremony,” remembers Jos. “Suddenly we spotted a wild, distant lightning storm over the bay and realized it was moving our way.”

Says Tree, “We knew that if we were lucky we could get a powerful image of Lisa and Brian with the lightning as a backdrop.”

As the storm approached, the photographers told the bride and groom that when the lightning framed them perfectly, they would take a long exposure so the couple would have to stand still when asked.

“As you can see, it worked. And it’s become one of our favorite wedding portraits,” says Jos. “People have asked us if the image was a composite of multiple shots stitched together, but we love explaining it was one shot, not photoshopped.” He smiles as he remembers that the entire wedding party was on hand watching and waiting with them. When the unforgettable image was captured, the onlookers erupted in applause.

They captured the image with a Canon 5D Mark IV camera with Sigma Art 35 mm f 1.4 lens on a Manfrotto carbon fiber travel tripod. It was a 6-second exposure at 400 ISO, F6.3, 5200 Kelvin. For editing they used DVLOP presets in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Raw. 

© Jos Studios

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Robert Kiener is a writer in Vermont.