Muse & Mirror

Medium format and wedding photography: a love story

Capture One ambassadors Victor and Ronja, known as Muse & Mirror, shoot wedding photography like no other. They specialize in after-wedding portraits, a growing trend in the wedding photography genre. More and more marrying couples are asking for high quality and an artistic touch to their wedding portraits. That’s where medium format comes in.

With their “dark romance”, surrealist style, Muse & Mirror’s photography showcases the extraordinary potential of medium format in shooting wedding portraits. What they achieve with their creative use of dynamic range, dramatic light, color and detail depth is a testament to the unparalleled capabilities of this format. So when Victor and Ronja visited London to shoot a personal project with the Phase One camera system, we knew we were in for a very special treat. Below they share their vision, their work process, and their experience shooting with Phase One.

Hi, we are Victor and Ronja, a couple of wedding photographers. We became photographers because it was the best medium for self-expression we found while facing the variety of challenges that come with professional photography. We would play music if we were good at it, or write poems. But our path led to photography. Emotionally or aesthetically we are not tied to wedding photography. It just happens to be the genre we’ve adopted for now, and we are grateful to earn a living doing something we love.

We did this shoot earlier this year, when we were travelling to Scotland for a wedding and hopped over to London for a bit to shoot with a local florist (Saint Floral) whose work we had been admiring for quite a while.

Turning wedding photography into an art form

We have been attracted to a certain aesthetic since before starting out as photographers. Our challenge was to find a way to manifest that aesthetic in such a traditional genre, we wanted to explore what’s possible. Art is uncompromising. As a wedding photographer you can be uncompromising in some areas, but not all. Most of the time, it feels like we are doing “classic” wedding documentaries, but bringing our own style and personalities to the table still leads to something that is often perceived as “different”. And we often realize that we’re not the only people drawn to this particular aesthetic. In the end, every project is a shared journey with the clients and us to craft something outstanding.

"The magic is not only in the image, but also present in the real moment we’re capturing."

What we love doing is After Wedding Sessions, because they give us much more creative freedom. We can choose a concept, the right place, the right light, have enough time to prepare. With such a session, the creative demands get more sophisticated, so for the photographer it’s a greater challenge. But it’s also much more fun and more rewarding when looking at the results.

The wedding day itself is filled with so many people and emotions and things to do, so we think it is a good idea for the couple to focus their energy on their loved ones and the already stacked schedule, without squeezing in a portrait session as well. Having the portrait session on a separate day gives us a lot more room to really create an experience that is personal and intimate.

Coming up with creative concepts

We build the creative concepts around the people in the images. We try to understand their vision and bring it to life. No photographer is a magician, so there are quite a few aspects that we need to take care of to ensure the final images will live up to our clients’ expectations: light, styling, movements, props, background, textures, sentimental heirlooms. But the essence of our images lies, in the end, in expressing a certain emotion rather than using a certain editing technique, focal length or whatever. A beautiful melancholy, romance and nostalgia that we try to let ourselves fall into when taking the photographs. An atmosphere that surrounds us and the couple. In the best case, the magic is not only in the image, but also present in the real moment we’re capturing.

"The essence of this project was in the fabrics, flowers and beautiful surroundings. Using Phase One helped us capture all those rich details. It just brought everything to the next level."

The key element is to make people feel safe. In fashion photography, for example, you have professional models. But as wedding photographers we work with people who have maybe never stood in front of a camera. They need to find their pace and we try to give them enough room to find it, to reveal their special kind of togetherness in front of the camera. Our photographs draw a very clear picture of our personal understanding of love and connection, and our clients share that understanding. That is why they hire us, so it all comes down to trust and authenticity.

Every project starts with a consultation, in person or virtually – but always face-to-face. We ask about their ideas and wishes, their values. We create an open brainstorming that basically goes on until the shoot, and the vision gets more and more refined over time. Every client is a human being – that sounds trivial, but it’s good to remind yourself of that every now and then. We just finished a Skype session with a couple by talking about our favorite Netflix series for 10 minutes. In the end, it’s all about human connection.

Flowers were an integral part of this dark romantic narrative we wanted to weave. This aesthetic is something we all adored from the beginning, so the images really feel like the manifestation of a shared vision.

Full frame medium format wedding photography

Part of the magic of our images lies in the beautiful tones that only a big sensor can pick up. Everything is smoother and, given that our work is very much about dramatic light, the transitions from light to dark become a key element in how a picture finally looks. Shooting medium format requires time and patience, but that’s precisely why it’s perfect for after-wedding portraits, where taking our precious time is part of the whole experience.

"We already printed a picture from the project and the detail is absolutely insane."

For this shoot, we wanted to get as much quality as possible out of the final images, so we used the Phase One IQ3 100MP Trichromatic. The colors you get from such a large sensor are massively powerful if we want to go beyond our usual output. Working with a medium format system requires precision work, but we think the image quality speaks for itself. An essential part of this project were the fabrics, the flowers and the beautiful surroundings. With the Phase One camera we could capture all those rich details. It just brought everything to the next level. We already printed a picture from the project and the detail is absolutely insane.

Working with Phase One paired with Capture One also makes a big difference. We like to plan, to stage and to build an image, not just take it. For that we work at the edge of what’s possible, visually speaking. We strive to create mystical, deep pictures that ooze quality and technical brilliance. Using Capture One during the shoot gives us complete control over the colors and contrast nuances we want to achieve with our images.