Photos of the Week

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Feb. 12

February 12, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

Traditional portraits are clean and beautiful — so when portraits are messy rather than the expectation, the result is often striking. But, working with mud, water and other messy mediums requires planning and, of course, clean-up. Wedding and elopement photographers, meanwhile, have to prioritize the couple’s wishes and whether or not the bride wishes to keep her dress clean or wants to venture off the beaten path into messy portraits. This week, we feature five photographers working with mud, water and even syrup to embrace the mess. Find inspiration in these shots from Eve Taverne, Gabe Frasca, Sasha Mortimore, Samantha Burke, and Rose Groves.

Eve Taverne, Eva Taverne Photography

© Eve Taverne Photography

Senior photographer Eve Taverne of Eve Taverne Photography says she often files away ideas to use for future shoots, and the milk bath was one of those inspirations that she had to try out for herself. She decided to try the concept during Alexa’s senior photo shoot, using multiple sunflowers from her own garden, as well as some shots without the florals. As Taverne edited the session, she found herself wishing it had been peony season, so she decided to try to add one using Adobe Photoshop’s Generative AI. It took a few tries, but she was eventually able to get a lifelike flower that blended seamlessly with the original image, drawing out the color of the subject’s lipstick and nail polish. She captured the shot with a Sony a7R III and the Sigma Art 35mm f1.4 lens, using natural light outdoors in the shade.

“I photographed my model, Alexa, in a small-sized kiddie pool, which honestly was too small,” she sys. “If I were to do this again, I would go up one more size to give a bit of headspace for her inside the pool. Additionally, we photographed this setup at her residence, which worked out perfectly as we also got a few shots of her in her backyard pool. The only downside was transporting all this stuff to her house, which also meant that we had to use water from the garden hose to fill the pool quickly, and that fresh water was pretty cold, as opposed to photographing this setup at the studio location and filling the pool earlier in the day and letting it sit in the daytime sun. We did, however, boil some water to add to the mix to warm it up, which helped quite a bit!” 

Gabe Frasca, Frascat Photography

© Frascat Photography

When beautiful, clean images are the norm, messy portraits can create a jarring, uncomfortable feeling — and that was the intention with this shot by Gabe Frasca of Frascat Photography. The photographer said he was originally concerned with the syrup getting into the model’s eyes, but by preparing with towels and a shower nearby, the shoot went smoothly. He captured the shot with the Fujifilm GFX 50 R and the GF 110mm lens, lighting the portrait with a Paul C Buff Einstein with a beauty dish.

“I wanted to create something with a lot of texture,” Frascat says. “Something that makes people feel a little discomfort but yet still portrayed beauty.”

Sasha Mortimore, Sasha Mortimore Photography

© Sasha Mortimore

Working with water can be a challenge — Sasha Mortimore of Sasha Mortimore Photography captured this dramatic portrait in a tiny bathroom. Besides the challenge of working in a small space, keeping the model comfortable also added to the complexity of the shoot. The tinfoil that creates the dramatic background also kept wanting to float away. Mortimore captured the shot with a Nikon D750 and a Tamron 24-70mm lens. She used the compact Profoto A1 to light the small space, bouncing the light off the white ceiling. Blue cellophane and rubber bands added the dramatic color. She worked with model Fortunee and make-up artist Vikki Aldridge.

“The inspiration behind this image was experimentation and play,” she says. “I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something that I had not done before. I was curious about how the light would look with the reflections from the foil. I had no idea whether I would like the end result, but I am so glad I tried something out of my comfort level because it gave some very interesting results.”

Samantha Burke, Samantha Burke Photography

© Samantha Burke Photography

Rain can quickly make an elopement day muddy leading to messy portraits, but this couple was determined to embrace the day and laugh about the mud they had to trek through to get to their designated vow location. Samantha Burke of Samantha Burke Photography says the biggest challenge was keeping the bride’s dress clean and trying to keep feet from slipping or getting stuck in the mud. The mud also meant they had to find another location to park, the photographer added. Burke captured the shot with the Canon EOS R6 and Canon EF 35mm lens.

“When we were walking to the river for their private vow exchange, I just knew I had to capture the essence of what Chris and Tyla had to walk through as we were laughing at trying to not slip,” she says. “I believe this photo really captures the atmosphere of their day with pivoting locations, embracing the heavy rainfall the North Shore had experienced, and having their little adventure before meeting back up with friends and family. It really tells part of the story for their elopement day.”

Rose Groves, Matlai Photography

© Matlai Photography

How a photographer deals with mud on the wedding day depends largely on the bride’s wishes. For this shot, Rose Groves of Matlai Photography said, the bride was willing to trek through the mud and ok with messy portraits. Groves was inspired by this funnel of rock at the Cliffs of Moher. But, the wind pressing through the gap in the rocks meant the couple had to hold on to each other to avoid getting pushed over by the wind. That same wind, however, adds texture and detail with the billow of the bride’s dirty dress. Groves captured the shot with the Canon EOS R5 and a 28-70mm f2 lens.

“Working in mud with wedding dresses depends entirely on the person wearing it,” Groves says. “In this case, Agnes was DOWN for a dirty dress and to my utter delight she meant it. Getting your clothes dirty can be one of the more beautiful opportunities for expression, because it allows for the reality of imperfection. The challenges were only to come at the end of the day when we went to clean ourselves off before hopping back in the car.” 

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 to:

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