Framed: The Cave

This week’s Framed post is from a wedding I did a few years ago for Ashley and Chad in Maquoketa, Iowa. These two were fun, down-to-earth, and loved everything rustic so I knew there wedding was going to be a blast. They were having it in a very remote area complete with a beautiful field and a barn that would house a crazy reception later that night.

The night before the wedding, I traveled out to stay with some relatives in a nearby town so I wouldn’t have such a long drive in the morning. As soon as dawn hit, I was out and on to meet Ashley and Chad. The morning went as usual, but I was still a bit unfamiliar with the area so portraits were going to be a bit of a challenge. We arranged for Ashley and Chad to do a first meet in a nearby wooded area that ended up having a beautiful clearing filled with tall golden grass that looked absolutely dreamy when backlit by the mid-day sun. After a tearful first meet and some quick portraits, we met up with the wedding party and got those shots taken care of before strategizing for the main bride and groom portraits. Ashley and Chad wondered where we should go and, being unfamiliar with the area, I was a bit light on ideas.

I pulled out my phone, opened up the maps and looked around to see any areas that were green to designate a park or nature area. The first place that came up was a state park — Maquoketa Caves State Park. So, I turned to the couple and said, “How do you feel about caves?” They were intrigued and I was nearly bursting at the seams with excitement.

We followed the GPS and arrived to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever photographed. At one point the forest floor gave way and descended down into some truly amazing rock formations and natural stone causeways. The lighting was fascinating to work in as the rock formations funneled it into a natural skylight to create a dramatic, moody feel. We started shooting and the portraits were so beautiful and unique that it just fit this couple perfectly. I think the results speak for themselves.

These shots will always be some of my favorite as I’m a huge fan of anything out of the box. One day I hope to head back to the caves with more years of experience under my belt and take in all that natural beauty again.