Shooting Winter Engagement Photos

Jessalyn and Adam laughing.

So this past Sunday afternoon I was in Arnprior shooting half of the engagement shots for an upcoming wedding we've booked this summer.  Jessalyn and Adam were hoping to do half of their shots in the winter so they could send out their save the dates with some of the imagery, so out we went into what was supposed to be a moderate, "-3 degrees, mostly sunny with a chance of clouds."  Well that didn't happen.  Turns out it was -13 degrees and snowing, which meant it was COMPLETELY overcast.  I know what you photographers are thinking, "Well that's not so bad!  At least you don't have to deal with harsh shadows!"  Yeah, that's true.  The thing is, these are engagement photos, these aren't the type of photos where flat lighting is ideal.  You want shots with punch and contrast!  Sure, not all of them have to be that way, but you need to really bring them to life!

Thankfully I was fortunate to have Jessalyn and Adam who brought their A-game with smiles galore and cute mittens.  Though those two things are pretty crucial to winter engagement shots, I had to be creative with it; and more importantly: I came prepared.  I'll show you a handful of the shots, then I'll explain how I managed to overcome the massive softbox that was the sky on that dreary day.  Here are some of the shots we captured:


The trick is to create my own light with some smart off-camera flash.  Straight flash wouldn't do though, too harsh from a distance, I wanted versatility AND softness.  How did I adapt?  I always shoot with an assistant, this time it was actually Bill (one of our photographers) who stepped-in.  I set him up with a medium sized softbox on a monopod with a pocketwizard and boom: instant ratio.  It's almost the exact same setup I use with my assistants during reception and posed family shots.  Check out the following shot, notice the contrast and shadows on their faces despite the overcast weather, this shot is completely unedited straight out of camera.


Here's the very next shot, zoomed out so you can see Bill helping us out.


Take a look at how flat the lighting is on Bill's face, and how much punch the light has giving a Rembrandt light to Jessalyn.

Thanks to some quick thinking and preparedness we were able to really pull these engagement photos together.  Now the client has some great shots for their save the dates, and we'll move on to Bridal Portraits this summer!  Thanks to Bill for all his help, and thanks to Jessalyn and Adam for sharing some of their most beautiful memories-to-be with us.

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