How I Got the Shot(s): Studies of Arches Over the Years

I grew up in between the two small towns of Clare and Coleman, Michigan. Both have about 4000 residents last time I checked the statistics. I’ve been used to seeing beautiful nature (trees, wildlife, etc) since my childhood. Due to living in a small town (more exactly in the woods outside a couple small towns) I never got to see beautiful architecture until I moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts to attend the Hallmark Institute of Photography. During Phase 3 (similar to third semester) at Hallmark I made a trip to the Boston Public Library to do a shoot with a couple I had originally met in Michigan. I had photographed Katie and Tim’s wedding shortly before moving to Massachusetts in 2012. Tim and Katie had one of the coolest weddings I have ever photographed. They had a lightsaber battle between the wedding and reception (which was a ton of fun) and walked into their reception to the imperial march.

Shot using a Nikon D200 with a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 Lens. ISO 400 12mm f/8 1/1250 of a second shutter speed.

Shot using a Nikon D200 with a 50mm f/1.8 Lens. Lit using a Sunpak speedlite (this thing was dirt cheap, fully manual, and worked for about a year, it died on the last shoot I did before moving to Massachusetts) triggered with Yongnuo 506N Flash Triggers (which I still use to this day and have proven to me more reliable than the Radio Poppers and Pocket Wizards I have used). ISO 400 50mm f/2.8 1/20 of a second shutter speed.


Tim and Katie had moved to Boston for school around the same time I did. One of my professors David Turner had mentioned the commons at the Boston Public Library during a lecture and I figured I would check it out as a potential location for a photoshoot. In February 2017 I did a shoot with Tim and Katie in the commons which has beautiful architecture. This was the first time I had photographed a portrait against architecture as in this scene and loved it. From growing up in the wood I had never seen architecture like this. Also at this time my photographic style was starting to get developed as well. I was starting to incorporate that elegant clean simple timeless designs into my portraiture (and other work). There is nothing that says timeless like beautiful old architecture. The arch was a great framing tool to draw the attention to Tim. I also used a Profoto strobe to light Tim and let the ambient light go a little dark to make him stand out.

Shot using a Canon 5d Mark III with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Lit with a bare Profoto strobe (I don’t remember the exact model anymore). The lights were triggered using pocket wizards. ISO 160 70mm f/5 1/125 of a second shutter speed.


When I was leaving the library and looking for a cab to take me back to North Station (I took the train from Fitchburg to North Station in Boston; one does not simply drive into Boston) I stumbled upon the gorgeous Trinity Church across the street from the Library. A little over a month later I would return to Boston and do another shoot but this time in front of Trinity Church. Many will remember this church from the scene in the movie Blown Away with Jeff Bridges and Forest Whitaker. After shooting several images someone at the church notified us that I was too close to the entrance of the church and we were asked to leave. I was able to get the shot before we got kicked out.

Shot using a Canon 5d Mark III with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Lit with a bare Profoto strobe (I don’t remember the exact model anymore). The lights were triggered using Pocket Wizards. ISO 100 85mm f/14 ⅛ of a second shutter speed.


A few weeks later I would travel home to Michigan for spring break. I spent much of spring break shooting for my final portfolio. I stopped in Detroit to do a couples portrait with my (distant) cousins Alex and Michael. I had also photographed these two before my formal photographic training. At this point I had grown to love arches and decided to incorporate the entrance of a church in Greektown in Detroit into the photograph. The day of the shoot was Saint Patrick’s day 2013. I didn’t have an incredibly wide lens on me at the time (I rarely shoot with really wide lenses) so I had to wait until the light on the road next to use was red, run out into the road snap a few images, then run back to the sidewalk. After a few attempts (and some mild jaywalking which J Gresham Machen was also in support of) we got the shot.

Shot using a Canon 5d Mark III with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Lit with a bare Profoto strobe (I don’t remember the exact model anymore). The lights were triggered using Pocket Wizards. ISO 100 24mm f/10 1/60 of a second shutter speed.

During my final portfolio review at the Hallmark Institute of Photography (passing this determines if you graduate; your work is critiqued by four famous photographers) my arch shots didn’t go over well because the subjects were small and I shot too many arches (my portfolio still passed with flying colors and I graduated with the highest academic honor). After this critique I set a personal goal of shooting a “redeeming arch shot” as I called it (an image which corrected the issues of my past arch shots). After moving back to Michigan I got the chance to make a trip to Ohio to visit two of my friends I had met from the Hallmark Institute of Photography (Sean and Jess). At a park in Cincinnati I was finally able to get my “redeeming arch shot.” This image is now on display at the Four Leaf Brewing and has been part of shows at the 515 Gallery both in downtown Clare, Michigan.


Shot using a Nikon D600 and a Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens. ISO 125 18mm f/5.6 1/320 of a second shutter speed.

Around the Clare areas there are few (maybe no?) places with pretty arches to frame subjects, but I have came across other nice arches throughout Michigan. One of the reasons I love shooting with arches (as I alluded to early in this article) is it matches my photographic style. The arches fit my clean simple elegant timeless aesthetic. I want my images to be something my clients with cherish for years to come and I want them to only be dated by the clothing and hairstyles in the image (not by the style or shooting or retouching). By incorporating other elegant timeless things like beautiful architecture into my images it helps create that timeless look. This last arch image was shot of the lovely models Chelsea (who I’ve had the privilege of working with multiple times) and Dayna in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2017.


Shot using a Nikon D600 and a Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens on a Feisol Carbon Fiber CT-3371 Tripod with Kirk B3 Ball Head and Kirk L bracket. Lit using a Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-II with a Westcott Pocketbox 8×12 triggered with Yongnuo 506N-II Flash Triggers. ISO 100 18mm f/8 1/125 of a second shutter speed.

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