This past week, while working in post, I found myself thinking a lot about sunset shots. A lot of brides love them, and I do too! They are incredibly romantic and human skin loves that rich, buttery light, just before the sun dips. But I’ve also seen a lot of “contrived” sunset shots while exploring wedding galleries and I have to tell you, I’m not a fan.
When I say contrived, I mean not natural looking. I don’t mean HDR toning, fish-eye lenses, or anything that dramatic. I am all for the dramatic. But if you’re going to do it… do it. Make it look surreal and fantasy-like. What I’m not a fan of is a gorgeous colored sunset in the background and the couple in the foreground, hit with a flash. Even if you diffuse it…even if you take all the highlights down in post. Even if you “light them perfectly.” It just doesn’t look right. How can the background be so gloriously subtle and full of tone, with a couple frozen like mannequins in the foreground? The light in the scene didn’t create that. You did. And no me gusta.
I’m not saying you should do all your sunset shots “natural” and untouched. A vignette is nice, and I love it. It’s one of my favorite shots. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get the beauty of the couple AND the sky in one shot. I just suggest you do it a little more “sneakily.”
Instead of blasting couples with flash, or setting up crazy strobes or flashes, what I really have found works beautifully is a simple technique I've discovered. It involves a sky overlay and I think it’s pretty brilliant. Check out the results below!