01 Mar

Top 10 Favorite: Wedding Portraits of 2017

Posted by Brent Looyenga
Bridemaid getting her makeup touched up by Evelyn, a Spokane makeup artist.

Top 10 Favorite: Wedding Portraits of 2017

At the end of every wedding season I get the chance to take a breath. There are so many things that push me through the year, things I love, things I want to try, different ideas and perspectives. In 2016 I tried different things with lighting, things that I think changed my photos in a powerful way. In 2017 I tried some different things with perspective, getting the photo that would otherwise not have been possible even 5 or 6 years ago. You'll see two photos in this blog that fit that category. It's always fun for me to try new things, to push wedding photography to another area, to say "what else can I learn?" These photos do not represent every wedding from 2017, not even close, but when the season was over, these are the ones I said to myself "man, I remember THAT one". It was super hard to narrow down the photos to my favorite 10. To give perspective, when I started culling through my photos to create my portfolio album for 2017, I pulled over 600 photos (which will definitely NOT all fit in the album). These are my top 10 wedding portraits for 2017.

This image is amazing. It's also one I didn't know if it would turn out. Mitch and Marissa got married at the Coeur d'Alene Resort during the smokiest time we've had in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area in years - visibility was trash. And it's normally the clear skies, and beautiful lake the draw people the the Coeur D'Alene Resort. In this case, I remember standing in front of the bride and groom and saying "it's up to you guys if you want to try sunset photos, after all, there may not be a sunset". I'm so happy they did. The worst thing that could happen is you lose 20 minutes, the best thing? you get a photo like this. I love the reflection on the water, but also the incredible color gradients in the sky, from warm orange from the sunset, to the cool blues of a day almost gone. The photo feels epic, unique and subtle - the more you look at it, the more it grows on you.

Aaron and Mattie booked me for their late October wedding maybe midway through the summer. Aaron is a friend and I was excited to photograph their wedding in Spokane. The great thing about an October wedding (especially a late October wedding) is the fall colors. Aaron and Mattie were right in that sweet spot of full color, but all of them hadn't fallen on the ground yet. Photos like this are a challenge because you're trying to find the framing and the foreground of your photo from a different angle than you would normally ever look at. This particular photo is one of my favorites because of it's framing around them, the color surrounding them and the unique perspective it provides. 

I remember the moment when I took this photo. I remember saying "I may have just taken my favorite sunset photo of all time". Nick replied "Don't get my hopes up, because that's a really high standard to set". Ultimately a huge compliment, but I think I may have been stating the truth. Nick and Stevies wedding just north of Spokane, in Deer Park, was amazing. We drove maybe 5 minutes out to get this photo, at the perfect time. There are so many things I love about this wedding photo; the way the sun hits the grass and casts small shadows across it, the way the sun is peaking around the barn, the way nick and Stevie are kissing, the way the light looks on them, and the way the sun looks so warm and welcoming. It's an image that pulls me in with it's details, warmth, and look. 

Kyle and Yiquen had an amazing wedding. I loved so many of the photos I took on their day, from the prep photos, to the dancing photos. But their is something about this sunset photo that I really love. The way we got the dress to flow like that, their smiles, the light on them, the lake and clouds. There is something exciting and unique about it. I've lived in Coeur d'Alene most of my life, and this view is great even when you've seen it for the vast majority of your life. 

When I first posted this image of Josh and Haley, one of my friends said they think this may be the best image I've ever taken. The crazy thing about it is, there's nothing particularly special about this image (that I did). I have no control over how beautiful Haley looks (and she is beautiful), or how great of a smile Josh has (he's got a winner), I didn't choose their amazing colors, or the beautiful dress (by Trish Peng). Instead, I just put them in a place and took an image that I absolutely love. Their smiles make this image for me, but the way the veil is bringing in our focus is perfect, it's subtle but not, it's textured but not distracting. Josh and Haley's wedding is easily one of my favorite of all time, and it helps that they made things so easy on me.

David and Abi's wedding out at Camp Sanders was one of my favorite weddings of the year. It felt like everywhere I went, everywhere I took photos, they just looked awesome. I realize that may be weird to say, but there were so many instances where I just loved the way things looked. Portraits went smoothly, the sunset ceremony was filled with emotion and amazing color, their reception had lots of dancing and great lighting (once I set my lights up anyway). Their wedding was incredible. This photo has so many things that pull me in, their reflection, the veil, the subtle light on their faces. I love it - I find it striking. 

If I had to pick a single image from the year that was the most striking, it would be this one. It's not that this image is my favorite of them all, but when you see it (even when I see it now) I go "woah." There aren't a lot of other words for it beyond "striking". This wedding photo is another instance of me knowing what I had the second I pulled the trigger. The water was completely still, the background was lost because of all the smoke, and the light on them was perfect - everything you need to make a photo look other-worldly. This isn't a situation that can't be copied or replicated, it was an instance of perfect place, perfect time. When I look at this image, I think to myself "Did I somehow cheat to make this image look like this?" but no, I didn't, this is so close to how it looked out of camera it's amazing. 

There are so many things I like about this image. How the bride and groom pop, the dress, the green grass and how it seems to be framing the couple, and even the way they are holding each other. My eye gets pulled to them. It's also a perspective we rarely get to see, something unique and different, something that really can catch the eye, and I love it. 

Jake and Nicoles Hayden Lake Country Club wedding was beautiful. There were SO many things I enjoyed about the day. It was beautiful. They had some great moments all the way through. But this image in particular has stood out to me because it is actually about 15 images. There are several things about this image that couldn't happen with a single image, such as the compression we have on the background (it appears closer than it would if I had shot it with a wide angle lens), and the amount of blur we have on the background is beautiful (also not possible with a wide angle lens). Instead we get to see what Hayden Lake has to offer, but at the same time we understand that the true stars of this show are the bride and groom. I also love how the trees frame the couple, and the way the tree branches create that top line of green just above them. It really is a beautiful image (and a large one). 

The last but certainly not the least of the images on this blog. I love this image - the way Haley's veil flows in the wind, the way the two look, and the light on them is perfect. This photo isn't necessarily the most unique of all the images here or the most original, but it has something about it that pulls me, and thus we find it here as one of my favorite wedding photos from 2017. 


Brent Looyenga is a Spokane Wedding Photographer based out of Coeur d’Alene. He loves people and specializes in wedding, engagement, family, and senior photography. You can like Looyenga Photography on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.


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