How Do You Capture Beautiful Sunrays in Photos? Use Smoke

My heartfelt desire is to photograph people and moments as they are. I may tell my clients where to stand, but I’m not the type of photographer who plans poses, I want to capture my couples in an honest state, because that what's beautiful. When you look at a photograph you should be able to not only see it, but feel its emotions. So my portrait sessions are unconventional, I'm not afraid to give direction, but I like to watch the moments play out on their own.

The only vision I have before shooting is getting to know the couples that my husband and I work with. For engagement sessions, we always like to meet with our couples beforehand for coffee and just get to know them and their stories; and we also share our story with them. Sharing couple-to-couple has really helped our clients feel comfortable with opening up to us and being raw in front of the camera.

In order for us to document a couple's story, from their engagement session to their wedding day, the very best that we can, I like to get to the guts and the bits and pieces and the intimacy of their story. I'm not just talking about their personal love story, I'm also talking about their individual stories. I want to know the whos and the whys. If they choose to add something special to their ceremony, or if they've chosen to wear an heirloom, I want to know. I want to know why they decided daisies over roses, or vise versa. I want to know what makes their traditional wedding nontraditional for them. I want to know their individual choices so that Josh and I can fully understand and capture the entirety of their story.

The goal of sessions is never the scenery or special effects, it's always the honest connection of the couple.


My husband and I met with Kyle and Sam before their session for coffee, and instantly connected. Although this was the first time we met, they felt like old and dear friends. We went to the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus first, and although it was pretty, we all felt cramped and restricted. We left there and had dinner together before heading to the Hoover Reservoir. The two most important technical aspects that Sam and Kyle wanted for their session was a sunset and to use smoke. At the reservoir we found a beautiful pine grove, and because it was after 7pm, the sun was low enough to create harsh directional, horizontal light and shadows. After taking a few shots, we decided that this was the perfect spot to use the smoke. I positioned Kyle and Sam in a light streak between two shadows, and then Josh lit a green smoke stick and ran around them. As the smoke moved through the air, Kyle and Sam embraced and connected; and I photographed my back lit subjects, taking one shot after another. It wasn't until I looked through my playback that I saw what we just created together. I showed Kyle and Sam, and we were all ecstatic. You'll see those images at the bottom of this post. In summary, the smoke illumined the sunbeams that were already shining in between Kyle and Sam's embrace. The true beauty, to me, is their beautiful connection--the sunbeams and smoke just actuated it.

Kyle and Sam are the real deal. Their connection and love is so incredibly raw and honest. Some people believe that it is possible to be compatible with hundreds, and anyone could be your soulmate--that might be true for the majority, but not for Kyle and Sam. With them, it seems like a fairy tale romance. They were made for one another, and no one else.