Behind the Scenes: Joe Shoots a Bridal Portrait

by | Jan 22, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

It has been a long time, maybe 25 years or so, since I’ve photographed a wedding but when I was testing some monolights for the former print edition of Shutterbug, I asked long-time collaborator Pam Simpson if she had a wedding dress that she could borrow and together we made today’s featured image.

This photograph was made during our second portrait session together and is different from the typical glamour or boudoir image that she and I have made together over the years. In this more traditional portrait, Pam is wearing her grandmother’s 70-year old wedding dress. A high-key version of this image made on a white background originally appeared on the cover of Shutterbug’s Wedding & Portrait print edition.


How I made this shot: I used a simple lighting set-up for this bridal portrait of Pam Simpson. (See above right.) The main light is a 300 Watt-second monolight with 28 x 28-inch Softbox mounted. I placed a 150 Watt-second monolight behind Ms. Simpson without a reflector to allow light to scatter around the studio, when it was painted white. The camera used was a Canon EOS 5D Mark I with a now-discontinued EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 85mm.) Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/11 and ISO 100.

The background is a very non-traditional (for brides, anyway) red. I used clips I get from Loews to attach Silverlake Photo Accessories’ Sweet Apple Colorsmack backdrop to my aging JTL background stand. Colorsmacks are available in a different sizes and are sublimated onto a fabric that’s wrinkle-free and can be washed and dried in standard washing machines using mild fabric detergents. Silverlake assures me that Colorsmack backdrops look amazing when wet and used in swimming pools and although I haven’t get a chance to try that yet.

A note about the lighting: The important characteristics of any studio lighting system are the quantity, quality and color of the light they produce. Other factors such as recycle time, output control, build quality and the ability to accept accessories may be crucial but for many of us the most essential element is price. To create today’s image I used two inexpensive store brand monolights and they are no longer available. I ended up purchasing these monolights but, after a time, sold them and standardized on using lighting equipment from a dependable source. In my case, it’s Paul C. Buff’s Alien Bee B800 and DigiBee monolights and they have done an amazing job in my studio.


If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), please click here. And if you do, thanks so much.

If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of my book Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available new from for $25.81 with used copies starting around two bucks, as I write this, which seems like a heckuva deal. The Kindle version is $19.99, if you prefer a digital format format.