Round 5: Self-Portraits closes in
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John Branch IV’s Challenge - Winner

Nina Larsen Reed’s winning image showcases an intimate display of love, set against a truly stunning backdrop

“The photo was created at an alpine lake, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, near Boulder, Colorado. I first hiked to it over ten years ago, and it still takes my breath away, no matter how often I visit. I love getting to share it with my couples!” Nina enthused.

“This couple had to postpone their big wedding in Atlanta due to the pandemic. However, following a move to Colorado, they decided to elope, instead of waiting. This moment was right after they exchanged vows. I wanted to highlight the joy and freedom they felt in finally being married.

“I often try to frame couples within the outline of a mountain. Here, I used my XF16-55mm at 50mm, so that I could step back and give the couple space to be together, while pulling the mountains in closer with compression. I don’t use artificial light, traditional posing cues, or much editing, because I always want my photos to bring the couple back to the moment and let them remember it naturally.”

Despite being such a crucial element of her image making now, Nina didn’t always create outdoors. “I started out doing studio photography, but I was getting tired of spending every day inside. In 2017, I switched to wedding photography, after realizing I could combine my love for exploring the Colorado mountains with photographing elopements,” she said.

Shedding light on his decision-making process, John commented, “I absolutely love everything about this winning photo. I feel that they’ve been able to encompass all three of the focuses I mentioned in my video, as well. While the couple is not moving, you can clearly see a gust of wind beautifully catching the bride’s hair and the groom’s jacket, providing motion. Next, you have intimacy, with his hands by her cheekbones, pulling her in for a kiss. So much emotion is being shown. Finally, participation and curation are illustrated in the location. Obviously, this view had to be walked or hiked to, and it pays off for the final image. It’s just an absolutely beautiful scene.”

Watch John Branch IV’s Challenge

Winning photographer

Nina Larsen Reed

“I’m so excited about winning the FUJIFILM X-T4 and XF16-80mm Kit because it means I can finally switch out the beat-up X-T3 I’ve been using as my personal camera, for hiking and landscape photos. And, because having your photos judged by someone is always intimidating – but winning even once makes all the rejections worth it!”