Throwback Thursday – November 5th edition

Today’s #tbt image proves that you have to be willing to take risks to get a great shot.

I love holding photo sessions at a beach. That is a secret to no one. I have no problem taking chances in order to get something magical. That is also a secret to no one. It is not unusual to find me neck deep in the water, camera in hand, trying to manage an off-camera flash all in an effort to capture that one shot that will elevate my craft.

Take these images of Annabel here, for example. We had set a time and date to do a beach session at sunset at Frist Landing. The weather, however, decided it didn’t want to co-operate. It was mostly cloudy when we started and it quickly went downhill from there.

Annabel-Lee-Williams-portrait-session 2
Annabel rocking her portrait session after a thunderstorm at First Landing State Park.
This image of Annabel rocking her portrait session was taken minutes after the first one, after the sun started to break free of the clouds.

While we were shooting I noticed a thin line of haze at the horizon line heading for us, the wind started to pick up, and knew we had to move fast for cover. We didn’t quite make it back to our cars in time when the storm hit and boy did it hit. We stayed put for a good 20 minutes as the winds howled and the rain came down with force.

After a while it did ease up which allowed us to get back together and talk about options. After a brief check at the online weather channel we decided that we’d hang around until after it was over to see if anything opened up. Sometimes the weather improves, sometimes not but if it does, I’m ready for it.

This time we waited to the rain was almost done and headed back to the beach. Almost immediately I realized we made the right call. The skies were starting to break up. An added bonus was that it was still raining in the distance. This was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. We really hustled to get things reset and got back to work.

Now, when we restarted our session the sky was a cold grey which we used to our advantage as you can see by the first image. I quickly realized that we needed to get into the water to fully utilize the magnificent backdrop. She didn’t hesitate even for a moment and soon we were in the bay.

As the session progressed, the sun started to peek through which immediately threw the sky into a fireball of yellows and oranges. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The combination of a stunning subject against the glorious backdrop was almost too much to bear. We were getting pushed a round some due to the waves but none of us wanted to give up until the last rays of light were gone.

Waiting and taking chances paid off. To this day I consider images from this session some of my most successful. To this day I’ve also never been able to recreate it so I’m glad we did what we did when we did it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you will never, EVER get a great shot by playing it safe.

Mark Knopp is a Virginia Beach-based portrait photographer covering the Hampton Roads community. Contact him today at for your portrait needs.


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