learn wedding photography

How I shot it – Iona and Dom

30 JAN 17 – Learn – by Lucas Kraus


This weeks article is the first of a new series I will be doing titled “How I shot it?” This series will analyse one of my wedding photographs and discuss how I photographed it, including the settings that were used, lighting, posing, editing and my thought process at the time.

This particular wedding photograph was taken at the RACA or the Royal Automobile Club of Australia. The RACA is smack bang in the middle of Sydney CBD and overlooks beautiful Circular Quay. This was my first opportunity to photograph a wedding at the RACA so I was pretty excited to be there.

Iona and Dom were married at Observatory Hill and did our location shoot at The Rocks and Hickson Road Reserve. The above wedding photograph of Iona and Dom was taken literally about 10 mintues before they were announced into the reception as husband and wife so I had approximately  3 minutes to plan, pose and implement this photograph.


First of all, I knew I had to capture the beauty of the room and therefore used my Canon 24-70mm at its widest to be able to capture the entirety of the room. When implementing the pose, I always try to match the pose to the location. As this particular venue has a classical and historic feel to it, I needed a similar pose to complement the location.

First I had Dom sit directly in the middle of the room on the seat and asked Iona to sit on his lap. I knew I wanted to have the subjects in the middle as it was a wide shot and might look a bit strange if they were off to one side. This was where the rule of thirds come in to play. I made sure to have more room above their heads then below their feet to be more aesthetically pleasing. If I had placed Iona and Dom directly in the middle of the wedding photograph, it would look odd.


I experimented with a couple of different variations of this pose such as Dom cuddling Iona around her waist and both of Iona’s arms around Dom’s neck. I then asked Iona to turn into Dom and place her opposite hand on Dom’s next. Bingo! This was the pose I was going to use. In wedding photography, it is extremely important to have both subjects doing something with their hands.

The worst thing a photographer could do is have the subjects hands idle or hanging down beside them. In this case, I asked Iona to out her other hand on her thigh, giving her body a bit more shape to it and for Dom to simple put his hands on Iona’s hips and to look at her husband.

Camera settings

Next is working out the camera settings I was going to use. I used a relatively slower shutter speed of 1/50 which allowed the cameras sensor to take in more ambient light. I used an aperture of 2.8 to again let in more light and isolate the subjects from the background (although minimal as the focal length was 24mm). I needed to use a higher ISO to counteract the lack of ambient light in the room. This was ISO 1250.

Right from the start of this wedding photograph, I knew I wanted to backlight the subjects. Backlighting always works well with wide symmetrical photos in my opinion. The advantage of doing this is that it separates the subjects from the background, gives the subjects a cool halo effect to them and created a pretty cool light pattern on the ground due to the shadows from the tables and chairs. It took me about 6 or 7 attempts to get the off camera lighting exactly how I wanted it.

The flash power was set to 1/8th power. In some of the wedding photos, you can actually see the light star from the actual flash going off. A pretty cool effect but I knew I didn’t want it for this particular photograph. I then went and moved the flash just behind Dom’s leg so you could not see the light star from the actual flash.


When it comes to the editing process, I like to do minimal editing. This photograph was an exception. First off, there was about 3 waitstaff in the background setting up the tables. I then cloned out some unwanted light spill from the flash onto the bride and grooms hair. Next was the usual colour corrections, exposure and contrast adjustments. I also smoothed over the background to give it less detail as I wanted the subjects to stand out from the background and voila! The image is complete.


I think the thing that completes this photograph is the off camera flash. If I had not of used this, Iona and Dom would essentially blend in to the background and it would not have that dramatic light behind them. Normally I am not a big fan of excessive flash, however I think it works in this particular wedding photo.

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