Photos of the Week

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Sept. 4 

September 4, 2023

By Hillary Grigonis

Lakes and oceans can be as inspiring as they are challenging. The locations can often lack shade, while blowing sand and water can spell trouble for camera gear. But, as popular summertime destinations, one of the biggest challenges is often capturing a shot without bystanders in the background. From wide ocean shores to alpine lakes, these five photographers overcame the challenges of shooting on a body of water and captured stunning images as a result. Fuel your photo inspiration this Labor Day with ocean and lake-side images from Amy Chapple, Mikalynn Amos, Jessi Vaughn, Kylie Farmer, and Rusila Rokotabe. 

Amy Chapple, Sunday Love – Photo and Film 

© Amy Chapple

For this photograph, Amy Chapple of Sunday Love – Photo and FIlm wanted to capture a wide view that not only showed off the whole scene but also captured the essence of the day, like the wind, choppy waves, and shore birds. Capturing the whole view, she said, is an important way to bring the couple — who traveled to Devon and Sauton Sands from Hong Kong — back to that moment whenever they look at the image. She captured the image with the Canon R6 and the EF 24-70mm f2.8 II USM lens. 

“Being a busy summer holiday destination, there’s often lots of people at the beach, but being a born-local, I know just the right areas where we could get enough privacy for the couple to feel at ease from watching eyes, and to not have people in the background,” she said. 

Mikalynn Amos, Venturing Vows 

© Mikalynn Amos

The incredible beam of light shining through the rock formation and highlighting the couple in this photograph wasn’t a coincidence, but the result of extensive planning. Photographer Mikalynn Amos of Venturing Vows said her couple wanted a spot with light coming through a rock formation to exchange private vows. Amos had been familiarizing herself with this location over the years. But, the correct position of the sun also needed to be matched with low tide, which only happens a few times a year. She captured the shot with the Canon R6 and an 85mm f1.8 lens. 

“The ocean tides are a huge challenge and especially a challenge for this image,” she said. “The tide has to be extremely low, and the low tide time has to correspond with sunset. Having both of these factors at once only occurs a handful of times each year for this location. Additionally, the fog that hangs around the Oregon Coast frequently covers the sunlight before it gets low enough to show the beam of light like it is in this image. There are many ocean locations that are simply inaccessible at certain tide heights and the tide heights vary by time and height every single day.” 

Jessi Vaughn, Jessi Vaughn Photography 

© Jessi Vaughn

Lakes don’t have to be large to create a dramatic image. For this image, photographer Jessi Vaughn (@jessivaughnphotography) leaned into the couple’s sense of adventure. The biggest challenge, she said, was avoiding other guests at the location, but she said everyone was kind and willing to step away from the water for the photos. She captured the image using the Nikon Z6II and a 24mm lens. 

“The couple’s love for nature led us to this location,” she said. “It’s not every day couples are willing to explore these types of locations and climb boulders for their engagement session, so I took full advantage. Using the framing of the rocks, I felt it made a gorgeous backdrop.” 

Kylie Farmer, Kylie Farmer Photography 

© Kylie Farmer

Sometimes, photographers have spur of the moment ideas, and other times, ideas percolate for weeks, months or even years. For photographer Kylie Farmer (@KylieFarmerPhotography), this photograph fell under the latter category. She explained that she’d had a vision for this calm, serene image for quite some time, and for this wedding, she was finally able to execute her vision. She captured the shot with the Sony a7iii and the Sony 35mm f.4 G Master lens. 

“One of the biggest challenges of shooting at the lake was working around other people who were visiting the area,” she said. “Thankfully, this shoot took place later in the evening so the lake wasn’t busy with other watercraft, but there were lots of people on the shore watching us, which can sometimes feel intimidating.” 

Rusila Rokotabe, New Light Wedding Photography 

© Rusila Rokotabe

The simple beach background draws the eye to the light and movement of this couple as they share a kiss beside the water. Fiji-based photographer Rusila Rokotabe of New Light Photography says she was inspired by the light and timing in this wedding portrait. The biggest challenge, she said, was shooting into the light. She captured the shot with the Canon EOS R6 Mark II and the 24-70mm f2.8 lens. 

“I love light and just having the perfect moment, time and light inspire me to take the photos,” she said. 

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: