2 minute read

Miles Witt Boyer’s Portrait Challenge

Miles Witt Boyer awards Tyler Gardner a well-deserved win for his dreamlike portrait of elopement

Evidently, Tyler Gardner’s stunning image wasn’t created during any ordinary moment. Much like Miles, he makes many of his portraits on a couple’s big day.

“This image was documented during a destination elopement. My clients wanted to elope in a unique place, and asked if there were any locations I wanted to photograph. Madeira had been on my radar for a few years, so I suggested we go there,” Tyler begins. “I was drawn in by the mountaintops floating above the clouds. My goal was to find a location where my clients could be alone – and experience that feeling of being on top of the world.”

Like Miles suggested, the final result is a fine balance of planning and spontaneity – though that’s not easily done.

“My ambition is always to incorporate clients into the scenery. I try using the natural setting to lead the eye to the human subject. In this portrait, the cliff edge makes a leading line directly towards the couple. I also photographed from a low angle, to make sure they didn’t get lost in the background.

“I do so much research that I have a clear idea of what to expect when we get there, which allows me to focus less on the surroundings and more on my subjects,” Tyler notes.

Another of Miles’s tips was empathy. Without tapping into the emotions of the subject in the moment, he asserts that we can never convey them through an image. It’s a sentiment Tyler agrees with wholeheartedly.

“Miles is definitely right. It’s our job as photographers to stay in tune with our clients. During this session, I could tell the bride was a little uneasy with heights. I asked the groom to focus on helping her as they walked, and not worry about the pictures. I was able to document a moment where nothing mattered to the groom except keeping his bride safe. When you add that emotion into the frame with a stunning background, you can’t go wrong!”

The session’s final challenge was a matter of time.

“We only had a few minutes to work in this amazing light before the sun dipped below the clouds,” Tyler explains. “One way I speed up my process is by always having two systems on me. That way, I can have a portrait lens and a wide lens, to quickly switch between focal lengths. There’s no need to pause, but you’re still able to cover a variety of perspectives.”

Miles saw something reminiscent of his own imagery in Tyler’s winner. “Tyler’s photo doesn’t look like one of mine exactly, but beautifully embodies what I look for in a moment,” he comments.

“You can almost feel the cold wind, see the clouds rolling between them, and what strikes me most is the sheer magnitude of the moment. It’s amazing how intentional this frame had to be with the fleeting light. I have no idea where this is, but the photo makes me want to go there. There’s a humanity and vulnerability to the couple that feels very personal. The chef’s kiss for me is the way the clouds and the bride’s hair echo each other.

“There were a number of absolutely remarkable portraits shared in this competition. But of the three tips I laid out in my video, this was the one image that seemed to perfectly embrace the entire concept. I firmly believe that portraiture can bring people together. Images like this make us all feel deeply connected to the subjects. Well done!”

Please note, this video was released during the 2022 Create With Me competition. Entries have now closed.

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