Tips + Techniques


Waterfall Wedding and Portrait Photography Tips

January 10, 2024

By SLR Review

Capturing the allure of waterfalls, nature’s splendid spectacle, can elevate wedding and engagement photography to new heights. The fusion of natural charm and the dynamic cascading water results in imagery that’s both stunning and unforgettable. To harness the full potential of this majestic backdrop in your wedding and portrait photography, here are several expert tips to guide you in making the most of a waterfall setting.

All of the images are provided by the photographers at Wedding Maps and used with their permission.

1. Use a Wide Angle Lens

To capture the grandeur of the waterfall, consider using a medium to wide-angle lens. This allows you to include more of the surrounding scenery and convey the vastness of the waterfall in relation to the couple.  Take a step back, zoom out, and try to include all of the natural beauty.

Allgäu in Bayern, Germany © Andreas Pollok
Nauyaca Waterfall in Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica © Raw Shoots
Skogafoss, Iceland © Green Apple Weddings

2. Under the Waterfall

If it’s safe and accessible, consider taking shots from under the waterfall. This perspective can add a dynamic and adventurous element to your photos.

Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, Oregon © Tekoa Rose Photo

3. In the Water

Consider having your couple get into the water if they’re willing. This can create intimate, unique, and dynamic shots with a touch of spontaneity.

El Tigre Waterfall in MonteVerde, Costa Rica © Dan Dalstra
La Fortuna Waterfall Park, San Carlos, Costa Rica © Mauricio Urena

4. Winter Waterfall Portraits

Don’t let cold weather deter you. Winter waterfalls can provide a stunning, icy backdrop, offering a different aesthetic from the usual greenery.

Public Lands, Colorado in Telluride, Colorado © Love and Adventure
Telluride, Colorado © We The Light 

5. Golden Hour Photography

Shooting during the golden hour – just after sunrise or before sunset – can add a magical quality to your waterfall portraits, with soft, warm lighting.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Lemont, Illinois © John Foley

6. Centered Composition

Try a centered composition with the couple in front of the waterfall, creating an effect where the water seems to flow towards them, symbolizing unity and continuity.

Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, North Carolina © JCM Photography
Asheville, North Carolina © Party of Two

7. Portrait Orientation

Using a portrait orientation allows you to include the entire waterfall, emphasizing its height and majesty alongside the couple.

Cascate dell’Acqua Fraggia in Piuro, Italy © Magda Moiola 

8. Long Exposure for Silky Waterfalls

Utilizing a long exposure technique when photographing waterfalls can transform the appearance of the water, making it look smooth and silky. This effect is achieved by allowing the camera’s shutter to stay open for an extended period, which captures the movement of the water over time, blending it into a continuous, fluid motion. This creates a dreamlike, ethereal quality in the photographs, where the water appears as a misty, gentle flow rather than a series of individual droplets. This technique not only highlights the waterfall as a serene and graceful element but also adds an artistic, almost painterly quality to the image.

Looking Glass Falls in Brevard, North Carolina © Kivus and Camera
Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, California © Let’s Make a Memory
Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton, Pennsylvania © SMJ Photography
Greece © Sofia Camplioni 

9. Man-Made Waterfalls

Don’t overlook man-made waterfalls at hotels and wedding venues. They can provide a controlled yet beautiful setting for portraits.

Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California © Elizabeth Victoria

10. Top of the Waterfall

If it’s safe and accessible, positioning your subjects at the top of the waterfall can offer a breathtaking perspective and a sense of adventure.

Glymur Waterfall in Capital Region, Iceland © Francis Sylvest
Prairie Creek Park in Richardson, Texas © Stefani Ciotti 
Rutland, Vermont © Jeff Tisman

11. Embrace Splashes and Mist

The natural splashes and mist from the waterfall can introduce a spontaneous element to your photography. As the water cascades down, it creates a fine spray and droplets that catch the light, adding a dynamic and unpredictable quality to each shot. This mist can softly blur the surroundings, focusing attention on the subjects and creating a romantic, almost mystical atmosphere. Moreover, the splashes can capture moments of joy and playfulness, especially when the couple interacts with the water.

Telluride, Colorado © Vow of the Wild
Takakkaw Falss in Yoho National Park, Canada © 4 Eyes Photography

12. Action Poses

Try action poses with the waterfall as the backdrop. This can add a sense of movement and excitement to your shots.

Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah © Jessie and Dallin

13. Use a Bridge

If there’s a bridge over the waterfall, use it. It can provide a great vantage point and add depth to your compositions.

Grand Tradition Estate & Gardens in Fallbrook, California © PMC Photography 

14. Foreground Elements

Incorporate foreground elements like rocks or foliage to create a sense of depth and frame your subjects within the landscape.

Hana, Maui © Angie Nelson

15. Elopement Photography

Waterfalls make for an incredibly romantic and memorable backdrop for elopement photography, emphasizing the intimacy and uniqueness of the occasion.

White River National Forest in Breckenridge, Colorado © Larsen Photo Co
Yosemite National Park in California © Scenic Vows

16. Engagement Photography

Similarly, use waterfalls to add a dramatic and romantic setting to engagement photos, showcasing the couple’s love in a stunning natural environment.

Snoqualmie Falls in Washington © Loc Le
Dupont State Forest in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina © Zack Bradley
Boulder Falls, Colorado © Cameron Martinez
Dead River Falls in Marquette, Michigan © Laura Skebba Photography
Yosemite National Park © Lin and Jirsa

Conclusion

Waterfalls offer a versatile and spectacular setting for wedding and portrait photography. By using these tips, you can create breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime images that capture the essence of the couple’s special day amidst the beauty of nature.

Photographing Love by Kristina Wikle

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