If you’ve been following my blog before you will have noticed that almost none of my photos involved a human being. Not trying to be anti-social, but I usually don’t use models because I like to take my time, make my tweaks, experiment, and obsess over a single composition. My model would probably be so annoyed with me holding a pose for so long unless I’m the one paying the model to hold that pose. If I would ever get a client who’d like me to photograph them, I’d give them fair warning of my work process.
However, this photo is special. It’s with my most favorite human!
We recently got back from Belize and I’m currently weeding through a couple thousand plus photos I took there. But I had to do a blog post on this one photo because the post-production experience of this is different than what I’ve been through so far.
Photographs capture a thousand words and words can convey a myriad of emotions.
When we got married in 2014, all we ever wanted was to wake up next to each other and sleep in each other’s arms forever. It was a simple wish that took over lives and became an unavoidable desire.
To me, this photo captured a glimpse of this wish in the perfect morning light through the shutters in an island in Belize.
What I could’ve changed but wouldn’t change
Our rings are dirty because we’ve been hiking and covered in bug spray and sunscreen for days. Some parts are out of focus. And my husband’s fingers look unnatural (I pretty much placed his hand on my pillow and he was in an awkward position trying to hold still). There were several versions of this photo where we tried different hand positions. And there were other shots that made more sense composition-wise. I could’ve made our rings shinier, erased the scratches on his ring, and made it all look nostalgic. All the things I would’ve done if it were not me and husband’s hands in the picture.
I picked this one because although his fingers weren’t naturally relaxed on the pillow, it looked like he was reaching towards my hand. Inching in closer slowly without losing respect for my boundaries. I feel like this position is very much reflective of our relationship. I’m skittish when it comes to emotionally-charged or intense situations so when we just started dating about 9-10 years ago, I would push him away sometimes and then at times I’d be okay with him. Now that we’re married, I asked him how it was for him back then. He said he was just very confused during the times that I would push him away but just kept at it until he wins my trust. And he did.
Another thing I love about this photo is the lighting. Most people just see the high peaks in other people’s relationships — travels they did, date nights, weddings, and anniversaries. They don’t see the day to day inner workings of making the relationship work, keeping each other happy, and making sure both parties are on the same page. After 3 years of our marriage, I think this lighting creates a good symbolism of what we’ve been through that other people do not see. Memories that only he and I have together. Life lessons we figured out together. The growth we inspired in each other so we are both taking steps forward at the same pace despite our differences. This lighting also highlights the parts of us that most people see — our rings, which is our wedding, and the work of our hands, which is our status in life and the activities we do together that we post online.
The 3 edits I made
I wrote about how much this photo means to me so that you can understand the 3 edits I’ve done on this photo:
Because the area on my husband’s ring is slightly out of focus, I felt I had to apply a little enhancement on his ring so that it is in equal emphasis as mine. Julian has always been the type to work behind the scenes and I wanted people to see that even if I am a little more outspoken than he is, his few words are golden to me.
I just had to tone down my pores on my finger a little bit. It was distracting me from my ring finger. This is the most intensive edit I did on this photo — because there’s always something we can improve about ourselves to make our relationships better.
Because of the light touching my ring finger, it’s applied a slight discoloration on my skin a little bit. It’s just totally a wrong skin color so I had to fix that part and make sure the highlight didn’t come off too “silvery”.
And that’s it!
This is by far the most unedited photo I’ve ever done and the most personal one.
Also published on Medium.