Before & After with Eastlyn Bright Tolle

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“There is too much competitive crap out there, it’s time to love.” Eastlyn

Couple weeks ago, our friend and colleague Eastlyn Bright Tolle had us all aghast at the gorgeousness of this image. So, yeah, we got on the proverbial horn to find out from Eastlyn what’s what. She did not disappoint, to say the least. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourselves. And, enjoy!

Eastlyn. You. Go!

I live in Ohio with my husband Joshua. We like living here because not only does it have an extremely affordable cost of living, both our families still live here, as well; but because there isn’t a lot of scenic variety, we travel often. Together, we enjoy long road trips filled with creating goofy snapchats (no joke, we’re serious about our goofy road trip videos), camping in the woods, and fast strenuous hiking, especially hikes that take us above tree line. So far, my favorite hikes include the Eagle River Trail in Oregon, Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Slieve League in Donegal, Ireland, and my all time favorite to date, Mount Roberts Summit in Juneau. The feeling of accomplishing something that hard and then being rewarded with serene moments by a waterfall or lake, or with a lofty summit view, is unmatched. The longest I’ve ever hiked in one day is 16 miles, and it was so painfully hard. As weird as it sounds, toward the end of that hike, all I could think about was pizza. So when we got back to the car, we immediately drove for pizza, and it was the best thing I ever tasted in my life. 

Obviously, like all of you, I also love photography. Photography allows me to share my perspective with others in a way that not only captures what a moment looked like, but also what it felt like. Being able to freeze a physical moment and make it tangible, to me, is a gift. Creating images has caused me to view the world in a different way: every detail and every moment is important and beautiful. This “photographer” mindset, has taught me to live in the present. When I focus on what I am trying to capture, every ounce of my attention has to be on the now. To me, this is an incredible application to all of life. Being present to those we interact with everyday is crucial to living. People matter more than anything. And this is one of the reasons why I love this job so much. Telling other’s stories with my camera is literally the greatest honor. Almost all sessions and weddings seem to put me back in the right direction and remind me that it’s not about “me,” that others matter more anything, and that when someone’s life is changing, I better get over myself and be present to the miracle in front of me.

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

So many, but at the top of my list is . . .

Jonas Peterson. I was honored to hear Jonas speak at Yeah Field Trip, and I was inspired and brought to tears by his honesty and his heart for telling his couple’s story. He never makes someone’s wedding about himself. He’s attentive and intentionally looks for what makes a couple’s wedding special for them and focuses on capturing that. He’s the one who has inspired me to be intentional about being present to the miracle and honor set in front of me. I keep coming back his resonating words, “I’d rather be a selfless photographer than a fearless photographer.”

Wyn Wiley. Wyn just loves. He’s one of the kindest and most sincere people I’ve ever met. We were internet friends for several years before I had the privileged of meeting him this past winter. He’s the real deal. I’ve learned a lot from him in the creative and business aspect of photography, but what’s had the most impact is his genuine heart. As an example of his character, after meeting me, he sent me a card just because. It encouraged me and made me feel valued. I want to be like him. I want to make other creatives in this industry feel encouraged and valued. I never want to give the impression of superiority. There is too much competitive crap out there, it’s time to love.

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.

My heartfelt desire is to photograph people and moments as they are. I may tell my clients where to stand, but I’m not the type of photographer who plans poses, I want to capture my couples in an honest state, because that what’s beautiful. When you look at a photograph you should be able to not only see it, but feel its emotions. So my portrait sessions are unconventional, I’m not afraid to give direction, but I like to watch the moments play out on their own.

The only vision I have before shooting is getting to know the couples that my husband and I work with. For engagement sessions, we always like to meet with our couples beforehand for coffee and just get to know them and their stories; and we also share our story with them. Sharing couple-to-couple has really helped our clients feel comfortable with opening up to us and being raw in front of the camera.

In order for us to document a couple’s story, from their engagement session to their wedding day, the very best that we can, I like to get to the guts and the bits and pieces and the intimacy of their story. I’m not just talking about their personal love story, I’m also talking about their individual stories. I want to know the whos and the whys. If they choose to add something special to their ceremony, or if they’ve chosen to wear an heirloom, I want to know. I want to know why they decided daisies over roses, or vise versa. I want to know what makes their traditional wedding nontraditional for them. I want to know their individual choices so that Josh and I can fully understand and capture the entirety of their story.

The goal of sessions is never the scenery or special effects, it’s always the honest connection of the couple.

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

As stated before, the goal of sessions is never the scenery or special effects, it’s always the honest connection of the couple.

My husband and I met with Kyle and Sam before their session for coffee, and instantly connected. Although this was the first time we met, they felt like old friends. We went to the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus first, and although it was pretty we all felt cramped and restricted. We left there and had dinner together before heading to the Hoover Reservoir. The two most important technical aspects that Sam and Kyle wanted for their session was a sunset and to use smoke. At the reservoir we found a beautiful pine grove, and because it was after 7pm, the sun was low enough to create harsh directional, horizontal light and shadows. After taking a few shots, we decided that this was the perfect spot to use the smoke. I positioned Kyle and Sam in a light streak between two shadows, and then Josh lit a green smoke stick and ran around them. As the smoke moved through the air, Kyle and Sam embraced and kissed and connected; and with my Mark III, 35mm, and settings at f/2.2, ISO 100 and slightly underexposed at 1/80, I photographed my back lit subjects, taking one shot after another. It wasn’t until I looked through my playback that I saw what we just created together. I showed Kyle and Sam, and we were all ecstatic.

Post processing was fairly simple. The in-camera image was already at great quality. For simplicity, I’m going to list my processing steps: 1) Portra 160+1, 2) Shadows +100, 3) Highlights +17, 4) White Clipping +54, 5) Black Clipping -17, 6) Contrast +10, 7) Orange Luminance Shift -12, 8) Yellow Luminance Shift +14, 9) Red Luminance Shift +42, 10) Green Luminance Shift +23, 11) Yellow Saturation Shift +5, 12) Red Saturation Shift +42, 13) Removed all grain, 14) Exported and then applied 100% grain to blocked up shadows in Alien Skin Exposure. And that’s all folks.

In summary, the smoke illumined the sunbeams that were already shining in between Kyle and Sam’s embrace. The true beauty, to me, is their beautiful connection–the sunbeams and smoke just actuated it.

now MouseOver the image for some sweet B&A Magic!

Bonus Eye Candy!

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Posted by Seth Langner – Jacksonville, Florida & Seattle, Washington destination wedding and portrait photographer. and Contributing Editor at LOOKSLIKEFILM