The Country Mill in Charlotte was the setting for Sarah and Brent’s beautiful summer wedding. The venue is an apple orchard and cider mill with multiple ceremony and reception spaces. Sarah and Brent were married at the Orchard Ceremony Site and had their reception in the Orchard Barn.
After Sarah’s mom helped her get dressed in the bridal room, inside the Orchard Barn, we decided to do a few portraits before the first look. The bridal room has no windows, but I used that to my advantage by turning off the room lights which gave me a blank slate to work with. Working in the dark, I can have full control over the light to create a dramatic, mysterious look. I also love the way the light quality and direction accentuates the detail in Sarah’s dress and bouquet.
Being an operational cider mill, the Country Mill has an enormous mountain of apple crates that worked great as a unique backdrop for the first look and some portraits.
After getting the “safe shot” of the wedding party (pictured above) I knew I wanted to create something more unique and exciting. The following images is a “flash composite”. It’s created by putting my camera on a tripod, and taking several photos, each one with my flash lighting a different person. Then I combine the photos in Photoshop. The end result looks like I had multiple flashes, giving each person in the photo a perfect spotlight. It’s a look that can’t be achieved any other way and I love the surreal, painterly effect that it creates.
For comparison, here’s one of my test shots showing what the actual ambient light exposure was like. You can also see my light stand with the flash on it.
Next, in the reception space, I noticed some Christmas lights that I thought would make a nice backdrop, and after that we took some photos in the orchard itself.
The ceremony site is in the middle of the orchard, surrounded by apple trees. There’s a white arch on a hill, and the elevated angle was perfect for capturing the beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds.
After the hugs and congratulations, we made sure to not let that gorgeous sky go to waste. Then it was time to head in to the reception for dinner and dancing.
I’m a simple man… when I see an old dude with a pipe, I take a photo.
We went back out for a few more portraits around sunset when the light was just right.
And of course, before I departed at the end of the night, we had to craft some stunning night time portraits.