Member Spotlight: Stephanie Michelle Photography – Wedding Photography

March 9th, 2023
wedding couple portrait at mountains by Stephanie Schnautz
Stephanie Schnautz bio pic

We chatted with Zenfolio member Stephanie Schnautz, a San Diego, CA based wedding and newborn photographer, about the making of one of her favorite images. Stephanie is a wife, mother, flight attendant, and photographer whose favorite compliment is when clients tell her how relaxed and comfortable they felt with her during a shoot. She excels at capturing natural expressions and genuine moments between loved ones and has a passion for creating timeless portraits that inspire joyful smiles from her clients, even years later. Stephanie believes that a portrait is more than just a picture, it is a memory turned into art; nothing makes her happier than seeing her work on the walls of her clients.

The making of: a serene wedding portrait.

This image is one of my favorites because everything came together so perfectly; I love the composition, pose, and scenery. 

Be thoughtful with composition and focus. 

I decided to put the couple on a hill vs directly on the ground because I really wanted to feature that beautiful sky and mountain in the background. By bringing them up on the hill, it allowed me to shoot from a lower angle and get more of the sky and mountain peaks in the photo. I loved the way the composition looked with 2/3 sky. I also loved the look of the shallow depth of field shooting with 124mm focal length and f/4.0. I am so happy with the way they are posed here because the couple looks not only in love, but also calm and peaceful.

Use LR Presets for faster editing.

To get the look I prefer, I applied my usual preset which consists of lifting the exposure and shadows, down with whites and blacks, and adding contrast. After my preset was applied, I made a couple other minimal tweaks.

Follow your creative instincts.

This was taken during the first look with my bride & groom. The coordinator originally picked a location that I did not like, because it was in a dark area with a bridge and tunnel. I had never been to this location before and wanted to trust the coordinator on knowing the best spots for photos, but my gut told me to move locations and keep walking. I went with my instinct, grabbed the groom, and we went for a walk. We walked up a hill close by and found this beautiful, picturesque spot!  The coordinator was amazed also and said nobody had ever photographed in this spot before. As photographers I feel like we often get in positions where our instincts are telling us something and this is a prime example to always trust that. We are all blessed with creative minds and if we trust our instincts, we can create MAGIC!

To me, this image represents love and beauty. Another reason I love this photo is because it is my brother and his wife. I was honored to be able to photograph my brother’s wedding; this family connection made it extra special to me.

You can see more of Stephanie’s work on her wedding portfolio website, and follow along on Facebook or with her Instagram wedding and newborn accounts.

wedding couple portrait at mountains by Stephanie Schnautz

Camera: Canon R6

Lens: RF 70-200mm

Exposure: 1/1600 ISO 400 f/4.0

Where: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Hear Stephanie share about following her creative instincts in episode 5 of Behind the Photo:

YouTube video


  • Amanda W

    Amanda is the Content Marketing Specialist at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer of Wild Orchard Studios photography. A BFA graduate from Maine College of Art and Design and professional Portrait, 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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