Photo of the Day

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Feb. 26

February 26, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

Incorporating elements from the sky, like the sun, moon, or stars into a wedding or elopement photograph often makes for a dramatic portrait — not to mention allowing couples to remember what the sky looked like on their wedding day. But capturing the sun, moon, or stars is rarely an easy challenge. Properly exposing the sky, using manual focus in the dark and keeping the camera steady under a blanket of stars are all challenges photographers need to overcome to capture those celestial images. This week, we feature five wedding photographs that expertly capture the sun, moon, or stars. Find inspiration from the photos of the week by Carly D’Angelo, Hayley and Andrew Forstved, Gabriella Rankin, In Biano e Nero, and Korey Nunley.

Carly D’Angelo, Wild North Weddings

© Wild North Weddings

Carly D’Angelo of Wild North Weddings says every element lined up perfectly for this wedding photograph, with the drama in the sky highlighting the emotions of this couple on their wedding day. The sunset brought out the reds in the arch, the moon was in a perfect position to be captured through the arch and yet the sky still had a few clouds for even more detail. She captured the shot with a Canon R6 and a Sigma 35mm f1.4 lens.

“I’m by no means an astrophotographer, but you don’t have to be to photograph beautiful moments like this,” D’Angelo says. “Sunrise and sunset are great times to photograph the moon. The clouds around it catch beautiful colors, and the intense light of the moon is diffused a bit by the brighter sky. Being this close to sunset also helps because the moon is at the same light exposure as the natural features around it, so you don’t have to worry about double exposures or extra editing in that aspect. And while we didn’t plan around this, the moon phase, the time of year, and its location in the sky play a big part in being able to capture the moon in this way.”

Hayley and Andrew Forstved, Film & Forest

© Film & Forest Photography

Elopement photographers Hayley and Andrew Forstved of Film & Forest Photography have been capturing the night sky for more than a decade during their adventures. Now, it’s one of their favorite ways to give couples a chance to pause and let their wedding day sink in, all while getting incredible images. For this shot, they decided to pull over at one of their favorite lakes in Banff National Park, knowing the clear sky and low wind would create a reflection off the lake for this wedding photograph. The couple had their first dance under the stars followed by Milky Way portraits. Film & Forest captured the shot with a Canon EOS R5, the RF 15-35mm f2.8 lens, and a Manfrotto tripod.

“Patience and practice are the two most important things,” Haley and Andrew say. “Photographing the night sky includes more variables and technical skills than most other types of photography. Practice whenever you can, so that you’re ready to ace these types of photos for your couples! It takes several shots to nail your focus (you’re probably going to be using manual focus, not autofocus, which is a skill that many photographers today don’t use if you only shoot in daylight!), and each exposure is going to be at least several seconds, sometimes up to 30! Patience is also key — prepare your couples to be standing in a location and pose for several minutes while you take multiple long exposures. Ensure they’re comfortable and in a position where they don’t need to move– both for their quality of experience and the crispness of your image!” 

Gabriella Rankin, Gabriella Rankin Photography

© Gabriella Rankin

Inspired by the fog, crashing waves, and a slice of moon in the sky, Gabriella Rankin (@gabriellarankinphotography) set out to capture light beams from the couple’s headlamps, resulting in this epic wedding photograph. Rankin says she wanted the shot to reflect the couple — unique, funky, and adventurous — while still capturing their love for each other. She got the shot with the Sony a7 III and the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8.

“Don’t be afraid to crank your ISO as high as possible since you’ll want to decrease your shutter speed and have a smaller aperture to capture the detail of the stars or moon,” Rankin recommends. “For this shot, I kept my aperture at 2.8 since my subject was so close and I wanted to keep the focus on the couple. The light on their headlamps and a high ISO wasn’t enough so I pointed my headlamp directly at them while on full power to keep as much detail as possible in their faces and clothing. If I was able to go back and redo this shot, I would have brought an LED light panel for additional light!”

In Bianco e Nero

© In Bianco e Nero

Lanterns and blue hour photos are a favorite for wedding and elopement studio In Bianco e Nero (@inbiancoenero_wedding). The photographers were inspired by the lanterns and the sense of emotion and melancholy the lights brought out. The shot was captured with the Nikon D5 and a Sigma Art 35mm f1.4 lens.

“The advice we would give to other photographers seeking to capture a sky like the one in our photo is to wait for the perfect moment,” the photographers say. “Study the behavior of light a few days in advance, conduct site visits to be aware of the available light, and have a clear vision of what you want to create. Clear ideas and preparation will undoubtedly result in a better outcome than expected.”

Korey Nunley, Korey Nunley Photography

© Korey Nunley Photography

Capturing the sun, moon, or stars often requires planning ahead. Korey Nunley of Korey Nunley Photography suggests her couples schedule their photos around the time of sunset for that day. That’s how this image came about, with the sunset on this Kentucky wedding day creating a beautiful warm glow. She captured the shot with the Sony a7 IV and Tamron 70-180mm lens.

“A huge sunset lover myself, I always stress to my clients the importance of using the sunset as a starting point to scheduling their day, so that we not only prioritize sunset photos, but give them some quiet moments to take in their day,” Nunley says.

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:

Photographing Love by Kristina Wikle
The Location Lighting Series
Camera 101
Essential Retouching Workflow
Editing from Start to Finish