Before & After with Brook Cutts

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This image is pure gorgeousness and so, yeah, we wanted – no – had to get all the details on how our friend and colleague, Brook Cutts, created this epic bridal portrait. And, man, did she deliver. To wit:

Brook. You. GO!

My name is Brook Cutts and I was born and raised in North Carolina.  I grew up on bluegrass music and sweet tea–living in the country and enjoying the simple things in life.  I own Urban Bloom Photography with my husband Joey.  We have been a husband and wife photography team since 2010.  Photography started out as a couple’s hobby for us and now it has turned into something more than we ever imagined!  

I would love to say that I always knew I was going to be a photographer, but that was not the case.  I don’t think I even realized what my interests were until I started doing photography.  I would say, however, that my desire to be creative and different from the norm has always been there.    

By what artists/creatives are you influenced? What inspires you?

I am completely influenced by Nessa Kessinger.  She is lovely, kind, and most importantly, so incredibly talented.  Her photos ooze with romance, elegance, and softness.  She is my original favorite—she was really the first photographer that inspired me to produce these amazing dreamy photos and actually bring them to life. We had the opportunity of meeting her in 2014 when she did photos of my family.

Sam Hurd is another great influence. I can’t really talk about photography without mentioning his name.  I love all that Sam stands for. His work is effortless, it pushes boundaries—when you see his images, there is never a question to whose it is.  

Dylan Howell is another incredible photographer and an amazing influence. His photos are beautifully crafted.  His style is consistent and vibrant. Every session or wedding looks like he has gone on some great adventure with his clients.

Jordan Voth.  His images are just breathtaking. I absolutely love this work!

Sean Flanigan with A Fist Full of Blots.  He is edgy, fresh, and original.  He knows no boundaries.  No limits.  What more could you want to be as an artist?  I can respect that.

My husband and children inspire me.  They inspire me everyday to push, to fight, and to be something that I never knew I could be.  I do my best to make them proud.    

Do you have a vision in mind before going out and shooting? Tell us about about your workflow and how the vision comes to life before shooting and in post.

When we started Urban Bloom we always had a vision of producing beautiful, timeless, and creative photographs for our clients.  We always get input from our clients on where they would like to shoot and just try to get a feel for what they like and enjoy.  Every session and wedding is a new canvas, a new opportunity to produce something great that the client can cherish forever.  Honestly,  I work best going blindly into things.  I have found if I think too much about things, it makes my expectations feel out of reach. When I arrive at a session or wedding I just soak in everything and appreciate all the things around me when shooting.  Too many times I have started out with a plan of exactly what shots I want to get and it rarely (if ever) worked out the way I envisioned.   Each time though, I try and push a little harder than last time and try not to stick to my “go to” shots.   It can be very exhausting being a creative.

Now tell us how this amazing image came together, from conception to completion.

The wedding was held in a mansion on a mountain top in the mountains of North Carolina.  The bride told us beforehand about an area on top of the mountain (about a quarter mile beyond the mansion).  She said that there was a popular place for pictures and she wanted to shoot there.  We had never seen any of the photos that were taken up there and I’m really happy that we didn’t.  Whatever photos we took up there would be from our own vision and not someone else’s.   Once we got to the top of the mountain we saw that the view was out of this world, but it definitely wasn’t the greatest time of day to shoot.  The sun was still high in the sky and the tall trees were casting very hard shadows.  Hard shadows,harsh light, a beautiful mountain view, and a beautiful bride is what we were working with.  We worked some different places on the mountain top.  We did some group shots and some bride and groom shots.  We also wanted to get some shots of just the bride. We stood her out on a rock alone and everything lined up perfectly.  The sun moved its way between the trees so the shadows were gone.  The wind was blowing just enough to get some movement in her dress.  I had her face turned away from the sun and it was a bit dark so I told her to turn her face toward the sun.  Once she turned her face toward the sun, the magic happened.  She kept her shoulders back and presented such a beautiful silhouette.  In the bright sunlight, it was a blessing that she had on a rose colored wedding dress.   The movement of the dress in the wind was breathtaking.  I knew that the shadows would soon return, so I fired off as many shots as possible.  I really didn’t have to tell the bride what to do.  She just knew how to hold her body.  She looked like an angel.   I felt like the shots I got were epic, but you never really know until you get them up on a computer screen.   I had to move so fast and there definitely wasn’t going to be a second chance on this one.  

The image was shot with a Canon 5D Mark 2 with a Canon 50mm 1.2.  For post processing we used Lightroom and Alien Skin Exposure.  In Lightroom we use all custom presets.  In this image we brought down the highlights, lighten the shadows, and then crushed the blacks just a little to give it a hint of the filmy matte look.   Because of the direct sunlight, we had to bring down the contrast quite a bit to smooth the image out.  The bride was fair skinned so she didn’t have a lot of color in her skin.  I love the way it turned out in the image.  Also, the dress she was wearing was a pale rose colored dress that gave the image just a hint of color.  

One tool that we always use in Lightroom is the Radial Filter.  We use this to lighten, darken, sharpen, or unsharpen specific areas in an image.  Once edited in Lightroom the image is then moved to Alien Skin Exposure.  We use Exposure for all of the finishing touches.  In Exposure, I added some grain and sharpened the image.  The grain in Exposure is just awesome!  I am just thrilled with how everything turned out.  This is definitely one of those images where everything just came together perfectly at the perfect time.

Mouse over the image below & SEE some of that sweet B&A Magic!

Bonus Eye Candy!

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This post by Seth Langner of Karmathartic Studios –> 

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