infographic stating how i got the shot featuring ShootDotEdit customer Brent Looyenga

Meet Brent Looyenga, a seasoned Spokane wedding photographer who has made the picturesque Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, area his home base. The wedding pro considers himself fortunate to have found a profession that brings joy. It's not every day that you find someone who loves their job as much as Brent does! But when it comes to his work, things are not just going good - they're going great! Brent is not just a photographer; he's an artist in his own right and is constantly pushing the boundaries of what wedding photography can be. We were absolutely thrilled when Brent agreed to give us a sneak peek into his creative process. In this special ‘How I got the shot’ series, Brent has shared the behind-the-scene stories of four stunning wedding photos.

So, whether you're an aspiring photographer looking to learn from the best wedding photographers or a pro in search of new ideas, stay tuned and discover how Brent Looyenga got the shot!

the groom and groomsmen posing in front of a dimly lit barImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

A Passionate Pursuit Of Capturing Precious Moments

There's certainly a lot happening behind the scenes in Brent Looyenga's wedding photography business. But one thing is clear: his passion for photography and his dedication to his clients make him one of the leading figures in the industry. Brent's passion for people is evident in every frame he captures, and specializes not only in wedding and engagement photography but also in capturing the essence of family gatherings and senior portraits. 

A family man at heart, Brent's love for people is a central theme in his work. His ability to connect with his subjects allows him to capture both big and small moments. His commitment to his craft extends to his online presence on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter - diligently building, administering, and maintaining Looyenga Photography across various social media platforms.

Read More: A Guide To Photographing Emotional Wedding Moments

How I Got The Shot: Behind-The-Scene Of A Photograph Featuring Brent Looyenga

1. Take Advantage Of Extra Time And Plan Your Shot

In the realm of wedding photography, every picture tells a story. Some images are captured in a fleeting moment, while others are meticulously crafted to create mind-blowing photography scenes. One such wedding photo was captured at The McGinnity Room in Spokane, Washington - a venue that, while stunning, did not lend itself well to natural lighting. 

The industrial aesthetic of The McGinnity Room, characterized by its dim, moody light and brick walls, made for a challenging environment. Yet, it was exactly this setting that Brent wanted to leverage to highlight the class of the groomsmen (all thanks to the bride as “she was running a little over an hour late.”), the style of the bar, and the darker mood of the venue.

Sharing his experience on ‘how I got the shot,’ Brent says, “ We used a tripod and a 6ft Octagon softbox with a Godox AD200 light inside. My camera was a 5D Mark IV with a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens, and I photographed this at f/1.4 with the Godox on high-speed sync to keep the aperture down.” With the camera mounted on the tripod, Brent and his second shooter lit each groomsman individually using the softbox, ensuring great light coverage with a good directional falloff. Posing was also crucial to the process. Brent believes that "editing the photo is much easier if the people never overlap."

Once each groomsman was photographed from left to right, a final picture was taken of the area without any light or people. This step enabled them to fill in any spots that didn't look quite right. The end result was a composite of roughly nine photos. Brent layered these photos in Photoshop, using a mask to individually place each groomsman over the final shot of the empty venue. This method gave him complete control over the amount of light spill and the positioning of each groomsman.

Creating such a detailed wedding photo is undeniably time-consuming, both in terms of capturing and editing. But for Brent Looyenga, the effort is well worth it. "If I can create something that is mind-blowing — that makes them love it, then it’s worth it," he affirms.

an aerial top down shot of couple lying down on a bridge surrounded by waterImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

2. Find A Strong Texture

Winter can be a challenging season for photographers. However, Brent Looyenga made the most of the cold weather during a winter engagement shoot - proving he can transform challenges into opportunities. "The snow is an incredible natural reflector, which means you can get some super well-lit faces," Brent explains. But in this particular shot, the lighting wasn't the key factor. Rather, it was the calmness of the river that caught Brent's attention. "What I noticed here was how calm the river was - super calm."

To capture this tranquil scene, Brent used a drone - specifically a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Drone photography requires envisioning the world from the top-down perspective, a completely different approach compared to conventional ground photography. "You can’t separate the couple from the background because they are ON the background. So you need to find a way to make them pop," Brent says.

In this case, Brent cleverly used the strong texture of the river and the dividing line of the narrow bridge to make the couple stand out. Once the composition was set, the next challenge was to make the couple look comfortable in the frame. The key here, according to Brent, is to ensure their hands and legs have a place to be. "Often legs crossed in some way, with hands under each other, or supporting their head gives some variation in the way they are laying down and also makes them look more comfortable." 

a wedding couple in a misty forest in front of a backlightImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

And so, through careful consideration of the environment, thoughtful composition, and meticulous attention to the comfort of the subjects, Brent Looyenga achieved a truly remarkable winter engagement shot. This is how he got the shot, transforming an ordinary winter day into an extraordinary memory for the couple.

Suggested Read: 7 Tips For Selecting The Perfect Background

3. Transform Setbacks Into Opportunities

As mentioned above, pro wedding photographer Brent Looyenga is known for his ability to transform seemingly challenging situations into stunning photographic opportunities. Another perfect example in his journey of ‘how I got the shot’ is a shoot he conducted on Mount Spokane, where an intimate ceremony was taking place in a dense forest.

The initial plan was to capture the breathtaking views from the mountaintop at sunset. However, upon reaching the top, Brent was met with an unexpected obstacle: a thick blanket of fog that obscured any view. He saw this not as a setback but as an opportunity to create something unique. "I knew that fog does some amazing things to light, and with how thick it was, I thought adding a light behind the subjects could be pretty incredible," Brent explains. 

With this in mind, he set up a GODOX AD200 for the backlight — a light he highly recommends — and photographed the couple from a far distance using his Canon 5D Mark IV with a Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART lens. Once the settings were adjusted to ensure the proper light was hitting both the trees and the couple, Brent knew he had something special. "Once we got the settings correct...I was pumped. It looked beautiful and unique," he shares.

The trees, illuminated by the backlight, added a subtle touch of color that Brent hadn't initially noticed. This shot serves as a testament to Brent's creative vision and adaptability. Despite the unexpected fog, he managed to harness its properties to create a stunning, ethereal image. Brent concludes, "Anyway, it’s amazing what a single light can do to change the way a photo is perceived."

a couple kissing in the middle of the woods covered in snowImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

4. Come Prepared And Invest In High-Quality Gear

Brent Looyenga's expertise in capturing breathtaking photos amidst challenging conditions shines through in this remarkable photograph. As he says, “I absolutely love this image.” Navigating his way in deep snow atop Mount Spokane in late winter, Brent’s couple desired a snowy backdrop. Equipped with his complete snow gear, including snow boots, pants, and a snowboarding jacket, Brent ensured he could move freely without discomfort. To reach the chosen location, he had to carve a trail through the thick snow.

The magic of this image lies in the way Brent handled the contrasting lighting conditions. The sun filtering through the trees created a stunning backlight effect. However, to properly expose the couple without silhouetting them, Brent had to overcome a hurdle - the bright backlight washed out the snow's detail.

Brent's solution was to introduce artificial lighting. “I used three-speed lights with high-speed sync in a 4-foot softbox to light the couple”, says Brent. This allowed him to reduce the exposure, preserving the snow's texture and the surrounding scenery while creating depth with well-defined shadows. Using his Canon 135 f/2L lens on a 5D Mark IV, Brent captured a striking foreground. To achieve soft, close lighting, he positioned the softbox just behind the bride and slightly in front of the couple at a 45-degree angle. 

After capturing the necessary shots, he removed the light and took one more photo. This final shot allowed him to use post-processing to eliminate the light from the final image. This is how Brent Looyenga got the shot, demonstrating his innovative approach to lighting and his ability to adapt to challenging environments. His careful planning and technical skill resulted in a breathtaking image that captured the beauty of a snowy landscape.

Further Read: Photography Lighting For Winter Weddings

We would like to give a HUGE shoutout to Brent Looyenga for sharing his invaluable knowledge and insights on 'how I got the shot.' His expertise serves as a beacon for professional wedding photographers worldwide. His experiences and wisdom are a vital resource for those aspiring to create incredible shots of their own. Thank you, Brent, for enriching the photography community with your expertise.

At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you grow your wedding photography business. A part of how we do that is by lessening your post-production workload with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.

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