Member Spotlight: Ardee Chua Photography – wedding photography.

September 12th, 2022
bride leaning the front of her body into the groom's back, her hand resting on his shoulder while the groom holds the bouquet
portrait of wedding photographer Ardee chua, wearing his camera holster.

We chatted with Zenfolio member Ardee Chua, a Nashville, TN based wedding photographer, about the making of one of his favorite images. Ardee’s wedding imagery is influenced by his early work with street photography. His goal both then and now is creating vibrant images that are classically beautiful and people focused. His work carries traditional aesthetics, while being fresh and modern through the use of lively colors and interesting compositions. His images strike a balance of documentary and directed poses, all the while ensuring each photograph tells a story and shares an emotion.

The making of: a wedding portrait.

If asked to describe wedding photography, I would say it’s an attempt to capture beautiful chaos. It’s incredibly fast paced with event after event, with ever changing light conditions and backgrounds and content. I always advise couples that we’ll do the best to have a good timeline, but on wedding day, it’s just a guide.  

Venues: the unique opportunities and challenges.

Every venue presents opportunities and challenges. Urban Cowboy in Nashville is a beautiful and eclectic venue in the charming East Nashville neighborhood. We had already shot a lot inside and I wanted to give the couple some variety in their final album. Immediately outside the venue, guests had gathered. There wasn’t a lot of open area or a canopy of trees that normally accompany a wedding venue. I found this alley in the back. It smelled. It was lined up with garbage bins.  An old cinder block wall with graffiti was opposite. I had to apologize to the couple for the rotten eggs that we had to walk over on our way there. But the light here was beautiful, and it would allow some privacy. This would be our make-shift studio. 

Textures and backgrounds.

The variety of scenes in this alley allowed different textures and backgrounds for the bride and groom. For the couple, I chose this backdrop primarily for the light to fall on them perfectly. I simply added a little fill light from a reflector camera left. I wanted the photo to focus on the couple and not the trash cans so I shot at an aperture of 1.4 to have the maximum amount of background blur.  

Posing the bride and groom.

I directed them to this pose to communicate the groom’s future role as the protector of the family. I’m not the first to do this, but I like the groom holding the flowers as it communicates less traditional roles of men as well (I just asked him to hold it like a lightsaber). I asked the bride to look into the camera to create connectedness. 

I’m a big fan of using the histogram while I shoot and I try to get as much right in camera to minimize post processing.  My standard processing includes color correcting to my style, minor skin correcting and re-cropping or aligning. I love Lightroom’s new AI masking feature that makes warming up the background to match the subjects easy.

The atmosphere.

This mid-August wedding seemed like the last hot day of a long heat wave. This photo reminds me of the end of summer, but also the start of these newlywed’s lives together. It reminds me of this small moment in time in a really busy day where the couple can just enjoy each other, even if it’s in a graffiti-covered alley. It’s a small but welcome calm in between a busy ceremony and party. Most importantly, in between life’s very busy moments; be with the one you love, enjoy a sunset, and immerse yourself in the beauty.

You can see more of Ardee’s work on his wedding portfolio website, or follow along with him on his Facebook or Instagram.

bride leaning the front of her body into the groom's back, her hand resting on his shoulder while the groom holds the bouquet

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Lens: Canon EF 85mm 1.4L IS
Exposure: ISO100, F1.4 1/400 Sec
Where: Alley of the Urban Cowboy, East Nashville, TN

Amanda is a Content Marketing Associate at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer of Wild Orchard Studios photography. A BFA graduate from Maine College of Art and Design and professional Lifestyle Family and Branding photographer for over 10 years, she thoroughly enjoys drawing from her experiences to guide new photographers as they are starting out. Amanda lives in the wilds of Maine with her husband and two imaginative daughters. If there’s such a thing as too much dark chocolate, she hasn’t heard about it.

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