Josh Newton, Wildfire Wedding

The Gear:

The camera I used for the featured image was my iPhone 5S, edited on the VSCO Cam app. The second photo that was posted I shot with my Canon 5D Mark III with my 50mm f/1.2L lens on it. I shot it at f/1.6, 1/1000, and ISO 100. I didn’t have an off-camera flash, the rim lighting is coming from the sun wrapping around the plume of smoke on both sides. I edited it only in Lightroom and used VSCO Porta 400, along with my own modifications.

The Plan:

My plan at first was to get a silhouette of the couple—I could see the fire and light coming in the clouds behind them, so I thought it would look really cool if the couple was dark in the foreground. When I took the photo, I exposed for the clouds behind them, but then I realized that there was a lot of light on them (it seemed REALLY dark when we were directly under the plume). So I adjusted my settings a bit to compensate for the subject reflecting so much light, knowing I would have to bring down the highlights in the background, and bring up the shadows with the couple. I didn’t have to do nearly as much as I thought, but I did add some color and exposure gradients in Lightroom to bring out the amazing colors behind them.

Josh Newton is a professional photographer based in California who specializes in pictures of weddings and musicians. The images from his recent wildfire wedding shoot went viral, and found their way onto, Buzzfeed, PetaPixel, and many other media outlets. You can keep up with his latest projects by liking his Facebook page.


The cool thing about art is every viewer has their own interpretation as to what it could mean and the same image can invoke a different feeling to each individual who sees it. It's much like a mirror; look deep into the feelings you have and see what you might be saying about yourself by your response. If you only see the destruction of the wildfire and shame the photographer could it be possible that you are overlooking an artistic expression of two people committed to each other in the face of a decaying world. I think it's beautiful! I think we need to be reminded of the brievety of the material state and focus on what really matters- something that fire cannot destroy; love. 

_Travis Hall

The wildfire smokey fire background looks great in a landscape view.

And besides, Jordan, what would have you done? Take a bucket of water and fight the wild fire?

He didn't set up the fire to do photoshoot !!  Are you angry?  Because, the opportunity was not available to you !!!  Sheeesh !!!

 Josh...... Great shots..... Just forget and wipe from your mind any of the negative comments.  I guess there are some who would charge you with starting the fire just to get these shots.........Small minds say small things.

Seeing as how he was already getting paid for the wedding photography gig, I'm not sure how you can say he was capitaling on property burning (capitalizing would have been to not shoot because of the fire, rebooking shots, and charging them more for his time). The couple was getting married, despite the turmoil around them and they took some photos. I'm sure they probably would have preferred that their wedding be remembered for something other than a fire / disaster, but they made the best of it.

If, however, Josh was a freelance photographer taking a photo of firemen fighting the blaze, captured a great shot, and sold it to every news medium around, he would be capitalizing on the property burning. Funny though, photographers do that every you criticize them as well?

I think any photographer would have taken the shots if that's what the bride and groom wanted. It didn't harm anyone; it was just a couple determined to get married amidst an unfortunate incident. 

What I think is very cool though is that one shot was taken with an iPhone...pretty darned cool! The Canon shot is obviously better, but still! 

Beautiful photo Josh.  I loved them the second I first saw them last month. 

Rediculous comment below.  I'm a phtojournalist from a news station, and I would bet Jordan was watching our coverage, which by the way, we make plenty of money shooting. 

Great job.  I hope it gets you tons of work.  I know I'd hire you.

Hey dude, totally understand your POV. However, if you had done some research, you would have known that the wedding ceremony was cancelled right before the bride walked down the isle because of the wildfire. We were forced to evacuate, so it goes without saying that the wedding was directly affected by the natural disaster. And even if I was capitalizing on it (which you mistakenly judged my intention to do so), it honestly wouldn't be morally wrong in any kind of way. You'd have to be mad at a lot of things in which I'm sure you're completley okay with to be annoyed with the photojournalism aspect of the photos =)

I completely agree with you!

Holding back for a minute the loss for people that these wildfire cause, I would say the image is pretty damn amazing. For those people who are commenting negatively on the image, saying it has nothing to do with the wedding. I believe it does

The fire of marriage, the fire of passion, or the fiery romance of love. This type of image makes a photographer's career. Why, it gets people talking. It makes people go Whoa! and then talk about it. I think these images are amazing. (from a photography standpoint). I generally don't like images done from cell phones. I just don't think they have the professional quality that a person expects. However, the artistic nature of the featured image is pretty damn good. Now, as for the "loss". Yes, these wildfires can be devastating. Yes people can lose their lives and homes. This doesn't mean a couple who had just got married the day of one has to make sure they avoid having the fires in their wedding photos. In fact, it makes a pretty memorable photo and as well a reminder and a memory that their wedding took place during the wildfires. And I would like to remind everyone who has gotten married and tell everyone who will be, that the Bride and Groom have the final say in the photos. They decide where they want their photos done. They decide yes or no on any creative ideas for their wedding photos.

So you capitalize on people's property burning to the ground (even if its just trees, its still someone's property) to take a wedding photo.


Wedding Cinematographer