Photo of the Day

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Feb. 19

February 20, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

A photograph can be textbook perfect, but if the image lacks emotion, the impact will fall flat. Capturing genuine emotions is key to great portraits and wedding day images. But, unlike shutter speed and ISO, there’s no quick standardized definition. This week, we asked five photographers to share their approach to capturing genuine emotions in wedding photography — from cracking jokes to a ninja-like ability to blend in and be ready to act. Find insight into heartwarming imagery with these photographs of the week from Flora Gibson, Jaakko Perälä, Jenna Kathleen, Aly Robinson, and Diego Martinez.

Flora Gibson, Flora Gibson Photography

© Flora Gibson Photography

Flora Gibson of Flora Gibson Photography loves to tell stories by capturing the small moments. This stunning image unfolded as the couple shared their first kiss after the elopement ceremony. Gibson was inspired by the tear on the bride’s cheek and the way the couple embraced. She cropped in to show the detail of the moment. Gibson captured the shot with a Nikon Z6 II and a Nikkor 58mm f1.4 lens.

“Always have your camera up and ready so when authentic moments happen you are ready,” Gibson says.

Jaakko Perälä, Nordic Elopement Photographer Jaakko Perälä

© Jaakko Perälä

As a Nordic elopement photographer, Jaakko Perälä says it’s easy to fall into a trap of only taking images that show off the epic location. While he captured this image in front of a beautiful mountain scene, he asked the couple to get as close as possible to each other and then he stepped away. When he saw how the physical closeness brought out their emotions, he quietly moved closer to capture this moment. He took the shot with the Canon R6 Mark II and the EF 35mm f1.4 L II lens.

“I’ve always thought that the experience is more important than the pictures, which is kind of a bold statement made by a photographer,” Perälä says. “But when you’re talking about somebody’s wedding day, it’s obvious that it shouldn’t be about images. I’ve been talking about ways to make everything more meaningful for the couple for a long time, and the most important things — trust, expectations, and building the atmosphere — are done long before their wedding or elopement day. It’s a bit of a complicated process, but the best way to start to get more meaningful and emotional images is to build an experience where the focus is on their love and connection. The magic happens inside their head, but you can be the one who allows this process to happen.”

Jenna Kathleen, Jenna Kathleen Photographer

© Jenna Kathleen

While her style is primarily documentary, Jenna Kathleen (@JennaKathleenPhotographer) always aims to spend a few minutes capturing portraits at the end of the getting ready chaos. For this bridal portrait, she was inspired by the neutral background and the window light that would help make the bride’s style choices pop. She captured the shot with the Fujifilm XH2s and the XF 33mm f1.4 R LM WR lens.

Take the time to really connect with your clients,” she says. “Getting to know them on a personal level can make all the difference as it helps them feel more relaxed around you, which in turn leads to better photos. Also, don’t be afraid to stir up some emotions! Crack a joke, share a funny story—whatever gets the results you’re looking for. The bride’s laughter here is a result of one of my cheesy one-liners. Keeping your camera up and photographing through the action gives you the best possible chance of capturing genuine moments, even with a posed portrait like this.”

Aly Robinson, Aly Robinson Photography

© Aly Robinson Photography

This photograph comes from the first wedding that Aly Robinson of Aly Robinson Photography captured after relocating to Scotland. The couple, who traveled from Texas, ended up having several challenges including the maid of honor and mother of the bride’s attire being lost along with their airport luggage. Despite the obstacles, the day was filled with genuine joy. Robinson captured this image at the end of the outdoor post-ceremony shots after the couple requested a wedding tunnel. The movement plus Robinson’s quick wit helped draw out genuine smiles. She got the shot with the Canon R6 and RF 28-70mm f2 L.

“I believe the traditional approach of posing subjects in photography has become quite antiquated,” she says. “In my experience, this often leads to photographs that appear stiff and awkward, lacking the essence of spontaneity. Instead, the key to capturing genuine emotion lies within authentic moments. My top recommendation is to guide rather than dictate poses, employing broad and open-ended prompts. This approach allows individuals to respond in a manner that feels natural to them, resulting in truly authentic reactions. Furthermore, encouraging movement during the shoot ensures that subjects remain engaged and less preoccupied with minor concerns, such as hand placement. Most importantly, establishing a strong rapport with your subjects is essential. When people feel comfortable and at ease with you, they’re far more likely to open up and share those genuine moments. Building such a connection isn’t just beneficial; it’s absolutely crucial for authentic photography.”

Diego Martinez

© Diego Martinez

As a wedding photographer, Diego Martinez says he’s always looking for genuine emotions. He says his goal is to blend in unnoticed yet always be ready to act. He captured this first look moment with the Canon R6 and the Sigma Art 35mm f1.4 lens.

“Have a 360 vision and the camera always ready to shoot,” Martinez recommends. “You have to act like a ninja. Nobody notices you are there, but you are always ready to act.”

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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