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Casa Pestagua Destination Wedding Before + After | Cartagena, Colombia

I’ve noticed that my favorite photos as a creative wedding photographer have a sparkle of magic to them. They ask questions that play subconsciously in the back of your mind: “who is she” or “what happens next?”. They elevate the mundane into something that inspires true emotion, connection, and longing.

When I’m shooting, I’m always asking myself — how can I make this special? How can I take this to the next level? How can I surpass the ordinary and go into the realm of imagination? Not only does it satisfy the artist in me, who craves creating something special and unique in my own voice, but it also differentiates you from the many photographers in the field. There are many ways of doing this, but for me, with my fine art background, I’m consistently drawn to painterly images that are just on the edge of magical realism. I find myself growing closer and closer to this ideal. My favorite images show people as a part of a wider, fascinating setting — as adventurers and explorers, as those who appreciate and who belong to the spirit of the place. I can’t imagine a better environment to have a wedding, especially as a lover of capturing destination wedding photography.

This shot of Yency was taken on a safari of Cartagena’s walled city streets before her wedding at Casa Pestagua. The walls were painted over with advertisements, but the fundamental structure of the arches and the low, directional cascade of light informed Yency’s pose. I told her to take a breath of air and turn towards the sun and appreciate it. By turning her face to the light, I set her direction, but it didn’t feel like enough on its own. My husband Marc assisted me in giving her dress a fluff, adding a little motion, a breath of spirit.

Back in the studio, I selected the final blue colors, because the ripples the light on her dress and around her reminded me of the way light shimmers under the ocean. I removed the distracting elements of the shot (including my prancing husband there), and softened everything up to give it an airy, breath of wind feeling.

A very important note is that my presets are made to reduce contrast and lighten everything, including, as an unfortunate byproduct, skin tone. As a photographer who has worked with hundreds of human beings, I am very sensitive to caring for the colors and gorgeousness of skin tone, and other features that make people unique (like freckles, etc) So it was important to go back in and compensate for this with an adjustment brush — bringing a little contrast and saturation back in.

Leah is a top DC Wedding Photographer who specializes in creative wedding photography in destinations throughout the world.

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