Behind the Lens | Setting up the sunset shoot in Tahoe!

I love when good planning meets opportunity to create unbelievable photos for my clients. 

Location: Lake Tahoe. 
 It was the afternoon before the wedding and my second shooter, Shannon, and I had planned to scope out all of the locations for our wedding the next day. We had never shot in Tahoe before and wanted to make sure we had a lay of the land so we know what to expect for lighting and portraits for the next day. 

Boy am I so glad we did! 

We first went to the bridal house where we saw there was the cutest dock that had just the right amount of wear and tear. What we then realized was that the wedding location and reception was just a stones throw down the shore. 

I knew this was the spot I wanted to shoot Matt and Cristina's wedding portraits, and they happily agreed to slightly alter the wedding schedule so that we could be out on this dock as the sun was setting. This did make them step away from the reception for abut 40 minutes, but it was so worth it and they both say it was one of the highlights of the day!  I love when client are a little flexible to  maximize their wedding photo time! : ) 

So we took a walk...
What neither of us could have known was how perfect the sunset was going to be that evening. 

The sunset went from cool blues and yellow, to vibrant reds, pinks and oranges that seemed to set the lake on fire all in a matter of 20 minutes. And then it was gone. 
Behind the scenes setup to this shot: 
Thats me laying on the dock. I brought the equipment I needed to get the right lighting for this situation. Since they were backlit, I used my 600 exrt on a Manfrotto light stand with white umbrella to throw out just enough light to make them glow. We also had a 8 pound sandbag on the base to make sure any wind wouldn't send my light setup toppling into the lake. 

The next one: from the lake... 
The Behind the scenes: 
I knew I wanted the angle of coming up from the glistening water. So I planned ahead and brought shorts to change into as I knew showing up to the reception in sopping wet pants wasn't going to cut it. It was so worth it as I had no reservations to walk into the lake and get down to get the shot I wanted. 

The Shot: 
 Behind the Scenes: 
I found I couldn't get the light strength I needed when my light was sitting on shore, and putting it on the dock wasn't the right angle, so I  brought my stand into the water with me. I weighted it down with an 8 pound light weight and dug it in deep into the sand to make sure it wouldn't move on me. It was a risk, but it worked just great and the photos we got were so worth it! 

One of my favorites from the day 

And Behind the Scenes: 
Same setup as before. Me in my soaking we shorts ( Like I said, I don't wear this to weddings ever, but needed it to have the flexibility to get into the water : ) 

So there you have it! A little behind the scenes into my mind of how I see the shots before hand and then plan out how to execute!  We really had only about 20 minutes of just spectacular light, you can see how fast it changed just in the time we were there. This is a great case of how to really optimize your shoot locations and great light. Hope you enjoyed! 


  1. Great lighting Jen! It's been fun to watch your work improve and man has it gotten good! Keep up the great work!

  2. Wow, Jenn. You certainly have become quite the professional photographer!!! We had no idea so much went in to taking photos. The sunset you captured in this wedding is spectacular. Don't think there are many photographers willing to go in to oceans, rivers, etc., just to capture a particular photo! I am certain this couple will be more than happy with their wedding photos. Love you