The stories behind the top 10 images from our first year of business

In our first year of business we took upwards of 100,000 images. It feels like we only share a tiny fraction of what we shoot and deliver our clients, but when we do we're always so encouraged by your support.

In our first year of business, we were quite surprised by what were our most popular images on Instagram. We are often asked what lens we were using or how we got that moment, so we wanted to take some time and tell you the stories behind our top 10 images! 

Some of these photos were taken on a camera some people may call "cheap" (a Canon 6D), and others were taken on the popular Canon 5D Mk IV! Some were spur of the moment shots, others were more planned out. But all of them have one thing in common - they moved people. And we want to share why we think they did that.

01.

jordan + dylan

During Jordan + Dylan’s ceremony, the groom took the microphone and spoke for probably 20 minutes. While Dylan spoke his bride was so moved she ended up on her knees, and if you read on you’ll see why.

Dylan’s passionate and poetic plea to his family and friends was to know the love of God. It was gentle yet powerful, and he told the story of Hosea - a man who was asked by God to marry a prostitute, and who fiercely loved his wife even though she kept leaving and eventually sold herself back into prostitution. Yet still he sought her out and bought her back, showing a love without judgment, without condition - a forgiving and pursuing love.

Just like marriage isn’t based on a contract you can break but a covenant that says “forever,” so is God’s love for us. Even when we’re like Hosea’s wife, leaving and rejecting Him, He loves us still.You should have been there - the whole room was completely electrified with God’s presence.

Sigma 35mm f1.4 on a 5D mk iii
f2, 1/640, ISO 800
Edited with Seasons Color preset

The groom invited his guests to experience and know this love as his bride kneeled and prayed, expectant for God’s love to really change hearts. Their faith was genuine and humble and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen at a wedding.

I think what made it so powerful to us was that there were all different kinds of beliefs and religions represented in the room.And in a depth of humility we’ve only seen a few times in our lives, the groom shared the love of Jesus. Jordan’s reaction was to kneel and pray as He spoke and gave space for God to work. It wasn’t his eloquence or her beauty or the fact it was their wedding day - it was God, at work, in the room. Seriously never experienced anything like this! We get goosebumps every single time we tell someone about it.

If you’ve never read the story of Hosea, this is what Dylan shared and is a really beautiful picture of the way God pursued you in Jesus:

"And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
And then I’ll marry you for good—forever!
I’ll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness.
Yes, I’ll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go.
You’ll know me, God, for who I really am."
- Hosea 2, Passion paraphrase


To Jordan + Dylan - you could have chosen to elope but instead you created space for your family and friends to know the love of God through your wedding. The way you humbly ushered in this moment is something we’ll never forget. Your marriage is going to shape generations and it was a privilege to capture day one 

what we learned

It's important to shoot moments like this NOT at f1.4. As stunning as this moment is, we would have been able to capture her better in focus if we'd upped our aperture to at least f2.8 as they weren't exactly next to each other.

02.

Jen + ANDREW

This was a very special wedding to us because Jen + Andrew are some of our closest friends, and we were also in the bridal party (king and queen of multitasking right here).

Before the ceremony, Andrew told us he was going to kiss Jen at the end of the isle, so we put on our Sigma 24mm f1.4 lens so we could get a nice wide of the moment. He actually chose to wait until way after the end of the aisle, so it wasn’t until they were here that he pulled her in and kissed her - which made us fall in love with the moment even more, their family and friends out of focus.

I think this photo was so popular because of its simplicity. It is such a sweet moment, it makes my heart happy. A lot of it is subconscious - you were probably drawn to the image because the left half is blue where Andrew is, and the right half is pink where Jen is. It's very symmetrical, in an organic way, and everything is completely focused on their moment of intimacy.

Sigma 24mm f1.4 on Canon 6D
f1.6, 1/400, ISO 100
Edited with Seasons Color preset

what we learned

So much of what makes an amazing photo is given to you on a silver platter. In this context, it was the sunset, the sides the groomsmen and bridesmaids were on, and Andrew + Jen's incredible elation and beauty. But what we can do to make it even better is communicate beforehand. We made sure this moment happened. And we prepared for it by having a 24mm f1.4 on ready to get a wide context shot of the kiss (not the first kiss - the end of the aisle extra kiss!).

03.

KAYCI + EVAN

I choke up every time I see this photo! I can't really find words for what it was like, but I'll try. Kayci wanted to have a first look with her dad before seeing her groom, and she told me she thought her dad would tear up a bit.

She had a sign that said 'daddy's little girl,' and I took a photo of her holding it before she put it aside to walk up to her dad. I'm sure that photo will be really special to him in the years to come.

When she tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around, he absolutely melted into a puddle of tears. 

I think the reason it became so popular was because it's all about the way he's looking at her as she wipes her tears away; his tender hold, the framing of them under a thunderous sky. One of the most moving father daughter first looks we've ever had the privilege of capturing.

Sigma 35mm f1.4 on Canon 5D Mk IV
f1.4, 1/3200, ISO 160
Edited with Seasons Color preset

what we learned

When your bride tells you her dad will react emotionally, get the heck ready. I was so nervous to capture this - we wanted to get it right. Thankfully we had two shooters - I shot with the Sigma 35mm f1.4 and Camron shot with the 24mm f1.4 to get the wide shots. I was shaking so hard after the first look with her dad because of how moving it was. I actually DROPPED our camera body on the grass as I was trying to change to the 85mm - nothing was broken, hallelujah. Next time I would have two camera bodies so I didn't have to change lenses between the dad's first look and the grooms.

04.

manda + johnny

The funnest photo of the year!

It was dusk and the haze from forest fires had diffused the soft pink light everywhere. We had just run around shooting a first look and first dance in the new Sara gown for A&Be Bridal, and then we gave them an opportunity to do a first champagne pop! ;)

We shot this photo from two angles, and Camron captured this one from a bit further back with a wider lens. We fell in love with this angle because it shows the whole scene and the surreal soft haze of that sunset. If you're thinking of shooting here (Lake Wenatchee, WA), let me assure you it does NOT usually look like this! It's gorgeous on any given day, but this was something else.

Manda actually had a photo of her popping champagne go viral on instagram a few years earlier, so they were basically professional champagne poppers by this point. But I'd say this was their best one to date. 

Sigma 24mm f1.4 on Canon 6D
f1.4, 1/800, ISO 800
Edited with Seasons Color preset

It went everywhere (but thankfully not on her dress) - I (Athena) got drenched as I was only a few meters in front of them ;) This photo went our own little version of viral, with our inbox overflowing with wedding enquires in the weeks following, saying they found us through the champagne pop photo!

I think this photo was so popular because if we were to sum up how our brides feel at the end of DAY ONE of their marriage, this photo would be it! The joy is incomparable. The longer we shoot weddings (and the longer we’ve been married) the more we fall in love with MARRIAGE and how the wedding day is just a beautiful glimpse of the deeper connection and joy to come. Photos that reflect that invariably draw us in :)

what we learned

Don't take the obvious angle. The front angle with the Sigma 35mm f1.4 was fine, but it lacked the context and beauty of the wider Sigma 24mm f1.4 shot that Camron took. Before your couple does something exciting (like sparklers, confetti, a champagne pop, anything that can only be done once!) make sure you're ready to go and all set up. We only had ONE chance with this bottle of champagne! Prep your couple to do it correctly - demonstrate the best confetti throwing technique, or the best way to shake and spray the bottle of champagne. Make sure you have your settings ready, and, in this case, be ready to get drenched ;)

05.

jen + Andrew

We submitted this photo to the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards, a super prestigious organization that chooses one photo for a few categories that is the best of the year - single capture, bridal party, black and white, from above etc.


Sigma 35mm f1.4 on Canon 5D Mk IVf1.4, 1/2000, ISO 400
Edited with Seasons Color preset

We entered single capture, and when we woke up the day it was announced I was so nervous and hopeful. This photo means so much to us, and while we don't need any validation to tell us it's moving, emotional and stunning, I was hopeful to see it chosen. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see OUR OWN WEDDING PHOTO was chosen! 




In the best kind of turn of events, this photo by the legendary James Simmons from our Sydney Reception party WON the Single Capture award for 2018! We have always adored this photo - it's so out of the ordinary and family-focused - I adore my little nephew in the corner and his scrunched up excited face.

This photo has always meant the world to us and now it gets a gold badge on it for winning Single Capture - all thanks to our amazing photographer!

A few weeks passed and I woke up and saw that this prayer photo of Jen and Andrew actually made it into the TOP 10! We were completely amazed and it felt just the same as winning, to us. 

I think what makes this photo so powerful to us is the emotion, the connection (arms and hands), and the blue and pink hues of the sunset above the groomsmen and bridesmaids. This photo has diversity, deep connection and genuine emotion. It is also soulful, because it's capturing an intimate moment not just of connection between friends, but connection to God.

what we learned

When a breathtaking moment is happening before you, open your eyes. Take a breath. Really look - how can I capture this? What angles can I get? If you have the time, like we did, we were able to really look at what was happening and choose the exact angle that would best show it. We took into consideration the sky (pink and blue, hallelujah!), the placement of hands, the expressions, and getting Andrew + Jen in the exact centre of the frame. We learned it's okay to take a breath and look for your angle - especially when everyone has their eyes closed in prayer ;)

06.

shalane + colby

This photo was taken on a two-day after Adventure Shoot in Waipio Valley in Hawaii. Shalane and Colby really wanted relaxed and romantic photos in the valley, and we were so stoked to shoot them without the schedule and stress of a wedding day.

This was such a difficult photo to take and an even more difficult photo to edit. I shot it crooked, so I had to add space (water, sky, the mountain) before I could straighten it. It was also backlit, so invariably was foggy and muted. It lacked the vibrancy that it felt like in real life. It also was a black sand beach, and yet the sand showed up yellow in the RAW image. All that to say, we spent a long time on this photo!

The beauty of it is that it's so sharply in focus. It's pretty rare to get a backlit, moving, hazy moment like this in complete focus. Even the creaminess of the tide feels like you can reach out and touch it. He asked to pick her up and walk her so she wouldn't get her feet wet, and we kept shooting until we got one where her hair flew out (we're all about movement here!). ;)


Sigma 35mm f1.4 on Canon 5D Mk iiif1.4, 1/8000, ISO 400
Edited with Seasons Color preset

what we learned

Challenge yourself. It was so hard for us to shoot the direction of the beautiful cliffs because it was so backlit and hazy. But the cliffs were WHY we had come - to look at the beautiful waterfall coming off the edge, to see the thunderous clouds make the grey/green cliffs look so striking. We learned it's okay to shoot the difficult things if you get a gorgeous backdrop. And it's okay to spend HOURS in Lightroom on one photo, if it's a good one ;)

07.

jen + andrew

This was one of our most popular photos we've ever shared on Instagram. I remember feeling so surprised! It is a very simple photo. But I think that's why it resonates with so many. This is Jen's favorite photo from the day, and they have it framed in their living room :)

Sigma 35mm f1.4 on Canon 5D Mk IVf1.4, 1/160, ISO 800
Edited with Seasons Color preset

We're drawn to symmetry and connection. This photo has both of those, complimenting one another so simply. A key to helping them connect was us asking him to bring her in so close, so close she feels like she has to arch her back a little bit, so close it feels like they're melting into each other. And therefore as we shot this the shape of her body perfectly melted into his. And they're framed right in the meeting of the mountains - a meeting of souls. 

what we learned

This photo goes to show sometimes the simplest photos can end up being the brides favorite! Don't underestimate a certain angle, backdrop or pose because it feels too standard. Sometimes simplicity can give the best canvas for showcasing connection and emotion :)

08.

danielle + luke

There's something so moving about this photo that we had to share it on Instagram as the cover image for our Best of 2018 post. 

After a very emotional first look with her dad, Danielle had him walk her down the aisle. Their emotion is so complex and beautiful - her with her eyes locked on her groom, him clearly emotional over walking his little girl towards her future husband.

Danielle and Luke have been together FOREVER (literally) and this was a long time coming for everyone. Which made the emotion all the more beautiful.

I shot this with a 35mm but captured this moment before I cut off their feet. It inspired me to always shoot a wider angle of the bride walking down the aisle - there's something powerful about the context and emotion of that moment, always!

Sigma 35mm f1.4 on Canon 5D Mk iiif1.4, 1/500, ISO 240
Edited with Seasons Color preset

what we learned

As we have two shooters, we learned from this moment that it's awesome to get a wider shot of the bride walking down the aisle. We edited it to make it as clean as possible, whitening anything yellow and enabling profile corrections to make the whole image clean and bright, so that everyone who looked at the image would see just the emotion and connection of this special father daughter moment.

09.

jordan + dylan

Out of the dozens of worship photos from Jordan & Dylan's emotional and moving ceremony, this was the one that caught our hearts (and yours). I think making it black and white was powerful because it made the photo only about the emotion. This was towards the end of their long and unspeakably emotional ceremony. They decided to sing The Stand by Hillsong, a song we haven't sung in years but always moves the heart:

Sigma 24mm f1.4 on a 5D mk iiiF2, 1/200, ISO 800
Edited with Seasons B+W preset

So what can I say
And what could I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You
So I'll stand

With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours

what we learned

Framing is key. When there are emotional moments like this, all you have to do is frame them in a way that doesn't distract one single bit. We made sure their arms weren't crossing over each other, and that everything was as clean as possible. Then we made it black and white because there was a pretty bright red dress behind them that's distracting. Also we had to wedge behind their triangle arbor to get these photos and it was awkward in many ways to do that but worth it. We were as subtle as possible and as I knew the song I waited until the kicker part of the song 'with arms high and heart abandoned,' to sneak there because I knew that would be a very expressive part of the song.

10.

jordan + dylan

Jordan with her bridesmaids getting ready.

Some of these women flew 9,000 MILES from Sydney to be there for the the most moving, emotional and God-centered wedding Camron and I have ever seen.

I teared up so many times seeing the bride with all her Australian friends who flew out for her wedding in South Carolina.

Deep friendships are a rare gift and friends that fly 8,000 miles for your wedding are even rarer. Being so far from Australia myself I felt an even deeper level of joy for Jordan as she experienced these sweet moments with her friends. And grieved with her as she was brought to tears many times during the day when people who couldn’t make it were mentioned.

Sigma 24mm f1.4 on a 5D mk iiiF2, 1/200, ISO 800
Edited with Seasons B+W preset

This one is one of my favorites because all morning they were reading Song of Songs, praying, singing, hugging and sharing their hearts with each other. These women aren’t just there to make her dress and veil sit perfectly - this photo is just a symbol of the incredible depth, vulnerability and power of Jesus-centered friendships.

I was shooting from the balcony INTO the room because the light was pretty that way. But I had a feeling if I came around and lit the photo on the side, it would create a beautiful, creamy, moody moment. This photo didn't need much prompting - they were all already helping her. I just asked them to all help her with her veil and smooth out her dress in the same moment. And now Jordan has this beautiful photo of her friends who flew across the globe to help prepare her for her husband - and be there (whether that be geographically or simply relationally) in the years to come.

This is two photos stitched together. Camron had the Sigma 24mm f1.4 with the boys and I wanted to get this photo WIDE! With all it's beauty! SO I took two photos and spent about 30 minutes in photoshop photo stamping the heck out of it. It was worth it to see my vision come to life!

< This is the image I wanted to deliver. But it cuts out the gorgeous light streaming through the window and the cute little balcony.

> I used this image to add the light, balcony, roof and floor!

what we learned

Even if you don't have the "right" gear you can still create awesome images. It would have been better if I'd had the 24mm f1.4 with me, but Camron had it and we can't afford two right now. So I made do with what I had and stitched two images together!

I learned to see light differently - it's hard for me to go outside my comfort zone (front light, soft light) and try backlit or side light. But it's always worth trying something new and getting the photo you really want to get for the bride or groom.