As photographers there are many times when we get to locations and there is not much to work with or the lighting is cruddy, or or or…

There are very few times where conditions are just ideal (perfect lighting, perfect location, perfectly dress cooperative subjects).

The key to becoming a skilled photographer is learning to work with whatever comes your way. To be able to adjust your expectations and look for the sweet spots of whatever location you are shooting at, with whatever lighting you have at the moment.

I set out on a sunny afternoon around 2 pm to do an engagement shoot. The lighting was not ideal. The Indiana grass and trees have still not woken up from the winter so everything was looking drab, dreary and a little too bright.

We started at an old warehouse.

What makes this location work by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography

I chose this location for the framing of the branches and the fence. I knew that if I tucked them in there just right I could shoot from the side with a shallow depth of field and get rid of some of the distracting elements. If I would have shot with a deep depth of field it would have been very distracting.

couple photo by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography

After a bit of shooting at that location we moved on to the bride’s parents house. I have to admit, when we got there I got that sweaty, bad location nervousness feeling. I thought of this blog post though and how perfect this would be and started scouting around getting ideas while they changed into their next outfit.

location pullback by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 3

As you can see from this shot, the lighting was terrible at this time of day. The grass was dead, and the lake did nothing to help anything. I knew that negative space would work to my advantage. I put on a wide lens and used the sky to help. The trees on the side framed it. Because everything was so dead, I converted it to black and white to add to the simple shot.

engagement picture by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 4

For the next shot I went over to a small grouping of pines right by the street. I had a car to work around so I knew I couldn’t pull back really far. I used my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. I knew I could use the trees to frame them for composition. I also knew the trees would add some color and texture to the image. Also, I noticed on the bottom there was a little brick ledge. This little factor helped because I knew the couple could sit on it (everything else was spring muddy).

photography location pullback by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 5

photo location pullback by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 6

couple surrounded by trees by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 7

couple sitting by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 8

For my last spot, I chose to go out by the lake for variety. As you can see from the next image, the lake in the winter and that time of day didn’t help anything, but I still thought it would add variety. It wasn’t much to look at though. Again I decided to use negative space. I chose to put the subjects out of focus a little bit for an artistic type of shot (I also did some in focus). I used the rule of thirds and shot from the ground using a wide angle lens.

pullback photo by the lake by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 9

wide angle picture of couple by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 10

And lastly I brought it in close. This was my favorite shot from the session. It just goes to show that you can make anything work with enough tricks in your pocket!

close up photograph of a couple by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography 11

Save