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How to make a great shots in bad spots

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Paris and Jamil stand near a window in the county courthouse overlooking fall color. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Paris and Jamil stand near a window in the county courthouse overlooking fall color.
I'm often asked to photograph in a space or place that is not ideal for picture taking. Last weekend was no exception.

I had three weddings and I was under pressure to make some great shots in bad spots.

The first wedding I photographed was at the El Paso County Courthouse. While I really love photographing couples being married there, it's an office space that doesn't always lend itself to romantic pictures.

Outside of the courtroom, after their ceremony was over, I asked the couple, Paris and Jamil, to stand in near window overlooking some fall colors and I made a dramatic portrait of the two of them (pictured above).

I photographed another wedding at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Before the ceremony, the bride, Madeleine, asked me to make a photograph of her with her veil. Madeleine was waiting in the dressing room behind the sanctuary for the ceremony to start.

There was nothing glamorous about this room. It was filled with some cabinetry and some shelving and there was one fluorescent overhead light.

I asked Madeleine to stand in front of a black closet and to look up at the light to avoid casting shadows underneath the eyes. I used a long lens to blur the closet and created a pleasing portrait of her with her veil.
A portrait of Madeleine photographed in the dressing room behind the altar at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A portrait of Madeleine photographed in the dressing room behind the altar at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

The long and short of making great pictures in less than desirable locations is to be aware of your surroundings and think creatively about how to make the best picture possible.

Happy shooting!

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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