The Landscape as the Main Composition

A lot of time when we think of  wedding portraits, we are thinking of close ups of the bride or groom, or group shots of the wedding party.  Our focus tends to be on the human elements of the image.  However, sometimes it is worth while to think outside the box about the other potential elements for composition, particularly the landscape.

A large number of my wedding clients here in Breckenridge, Colorado, are visitors from other states, and often other countries.  For them, the location is every bit as important as the dress, cake, or flowers.  For these couples, the landscape is a integral part of their wedding, and as such, it should be an integral part of their wedding photos.

Before I shot weddings, I photographed for publications like Outside Magazine and National Geographic. When working for those publications, the landscape is an incredibly important aspect of an image. That background in environmental portraiture has carried through into my wedding photography.  The key to incorporating the landscape into a portrait is the combination of landscape and human elements.

What I mean by that, is that it is not enough to just stick someone in front of a beautiful backdrop and expect a decent image. When I plan shots like this, I start with the idea of the landscape and people fitting together in some meaningful way. I might start by identifying a beautiful landscape, with nice, light, but then I carefully think of how the human element will fit in.  I will look for negative space in the landscape to insert a subject, or I look for leading lines that will draw attention through the landscape to the people.

Here are some examples of what I mean:


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