Photo of the Day


Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for April 15

April 15, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

Capturing mood and atmosphere in photography isn’t a single technique but rather the play of different elements off each other. When composition, light, pose, and expression all work together to convey the same mood, a photograph sings. This week, we asked five of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography for their advice on creating mood and atmosphere in photography. Gain insight and inspiration from the photos of the week by Robin Goodlad, Raphaëlle Granger, Agata Grzaba, Daniela Gutiérrez Herrera, and Rune Havn.

Robin Goodlad, Robin Goodlad Photography

© Robin Goodlad Photography

The combination between the dramatic shadows and the unposed moment creates a stunning, moody image from Robin Goodlad of Robin Goodlad Photography. The photographer explained that he took this shot as the couple walked through the tunnel at Tunnel Beaches in Devon to change their shoes before the first dance. He knew the tunnel would create a frame with dramatic shadows and waited until the couple was just before the light for a silhouette. He captured the shot with the Nikon Z8 and Nikon 85mm f1.8 S.

“This for me was a classic case of looking for shadows and light — the shadow being in the tunnel and the light at the end of the tunnel with the fluorescent lights in the tunnel adding a little lift to the shadows for context,” he says. “I love using this tunnel as it provides the perfect frame.”

Goodlad continues, “I always advise looking for frames throughout a wedding day that you might be able to come back to, then looking at the light and how you might be able to light it. Fortunately, this lead itself to being lit just with the available light, but with the right exposure to intentionally blow out the highlights behind the couple to avoid any distractions. I then used the walls of the tunnel to create a golden spiral style composition, with the eye being lead in and around from the bottom left corner. With the warm lights providing unwanted color contrast, it had to be a black and white image.” 

Raphaëlle Granger

© Raphaëlle Granger

Raphaëlle Granger (@raphaellegranger) captured this shot by giving the couple a moment to themselves despite a tight schedule for the wedding day portraits. She explains that she finds her inspiration by connecting with the couple and getting to know them in order to represent their day in a way that reflects who they are and a true atmosphere in her photography. She captured this shot with the Sony a7 III and 85mm f1.2.

“I believe in staying true to what my eyes see, so I rely on available light sources,” she says. “However, experimenting with artificial lighting is a powerful tool for understanding its impact on a photograph’s mood. But my favorite tip for creating an atmosphere is to take a moment to pause. Instead of rushing, immerse yourself in the composition process. Take your time, explore different angles, play with lighting variations, notice the colors, go closer or further and truly learn to see again.”

“If you find yourself prone to overshooting,” Granger adds, “consider trying film photography. It naturally slows down the process, encouraging a more deliberate approach. When it comes to editing, I strive to maintain authenticity while also incorporating elements of my favorite film profile. This blend helps infuse my digital work with a timeless and nostalgic ambiance that resonates with my vision. Your editing choices will enforce or tone done the mood you are trying to achieve.”

Agata Grzaba, Couplet Photography

© Couplet Photography

This candid image by Agata Grzaba of Couplet Photography captures a carefree atmosphere. The photographer explains that she didn’t need to pose or direct, as kids will naturally play while at a wedding. She captured the shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV and a 35mm lens.

“Look for the light, details and little moments,” she says. “Try to shoot instinctively. Capture the scenes that make you hold your breath.”

Daniela Gutiérrez Herrera, Daniela Gutiérrez Photography

© Daniela Gutiérrez Photography

Daniela Gutiérrez Herrera of Daniela Gutiérrez Photography says light, composition, color and connection are all key to creating atmosphere in an image. Look for light that builds atmosphere, she suggests, like how soft light can create a dreamy, romantic feel. Composition techniques like framing and leading lines can also convey emotion. Color — or the decision to use black and white — will also work to create a mood. Finally, establishing a connection for genuine emotion is key, she says. Those components all work together in this celebratory, romantic wedding image that Herrera captured with a Canon R6 and the RF 28-70mm f2.8 lens.

“When I was capturing this couple, I wanted it to give a real meaning to the composition,” she says. “The antique car symbolizes enduring romance, while the endless path of trees signifies the start of their journey of love. The atmosphere, the couple and the moment really inspired me to take a simple but beautiful image! This image for me means a promise of a lifelong adventure together.”

Rune Havn, Rune Havn Photography

© Rune Havn Photography

“When I want to catch something moody, I always work with two things: the light and the chemistry between the couples,” explains Rune Havn of Rune Havn Photography. While the original plan was for sunset photos, an unusual fog settled on the coast of Norway. With this dock just outside the reception venue, the photographer exemplified the atmosphere the weather created by matching the pose and expression to the mood. He explained that his instructions for the couple were simply to hold hands, look to their right and not smile. He also asked her to hold her dress and him to put a hand in his pocket to avoid hands just hanging down freely. He captured the shot with the Canon EOS R5 and Sigma Art 50mm f1.4.

“My advice: You can’t plan everything,” Havn says. “Sometimes the weather or location makes preparations for you. But you need to be on guard. Because you need to spot these opportunities. Before the wedding, make sure you talk about these opportunities with the couple. Let them know that you want to do stuff like this for them. Then it’s easier to get them out of the dinner for a few minutes. The composition in this one is pretty basic: the Golden Ratio. When we are talking about colors, I always like to have a minimum of colors, or use colors that speak the same language in their palette. That makes the photo more consistent and more eye-catching to me. So, if you ever get a gut feeling of something, just do it. Try it out and learn from it. I love being intuitive, it creates unique art.” 

Dig into our Photo of the Day Archives for even more timeless photoseye-catching wedding photos and portraits. Submit your wedding, editorial, documentary and other interesting imagery (up to 5 images at a time) to: hillary.grigonis@emeraldx.com.

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