This Wedding Was Shot in an Abandoned Detroit Warehouse


All images by Hillebrand Photography. Used with permission.

While exploring abandoned locations is super cool, we never thought of ever having a wedding at one. But that thought process is slowly fading away.

When it comes to the modern wedding, the latest trends are to make them different from the traditional wedding in a grand church, giant wedding hall, etc. Instead, much more emphasis is put on the aesthetics and in saving money partially due to a downturn in the economy. And the folks at Hillebrand photography recently photographed a fresh take on the Jewish wedding at an abandoned warehouse in Detroit.

From the point of view of a wedding photographer, knowing a location is incredibly important. But when you have something so untraditional, it can be a bit of a challenge. We talked to Hillebrand about the challenges of a location like this–especially the lighting.

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Phoblographer: Doing a wedding at an abandoned Detroit Factory is quite unconventional. What challenges did you two anticipate vs dealing with more traditional churches, halls and other locations.


Hillebrand Photos: The biggest challenge was that there was too much to shoot: everything about that location was so interesting. Lots of great angles, great light, the space itself, the deteriorating factory, graffiti and the amazing reception space created by a very talented team of artists. For the ceremony, it was had to pick just one spot to shoot. Unlike a church, there was no geometric orientation indicating where to stand or sit, so we had to use our instincts and respond to the situation as it unfolded.

Phoblographer: This wedding is like a combination of urban exploring, weddings and portraiture.


Hillebrand Photos: Yes…

Phoblographer: How do you think the location loaned itself to creating better and less conventional images?

Hillebrand Photos: Location location location… In our opinion, so much about photography is the location. That, plus light and subject. This particular wedding had all three: amazing location, beautiful light, stunning subjects. The fact that it was unconventional, as far as wedding go, caused us to be response and improvise out of pure instinct. There was no time to over-think which made us completely engaged in every aspect of the wedding.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about lighting something like this. During the day, it looks like a lot of natural lighting was used. But outside at night seemed incredibly tough.

Hillebrand Photos: The night lighting was tough. There were a few strings of party lights around the reception area and up lights on the buildings in the background. Other than that, the only other light was the glow from a factory across the street. All of the electricity at the site came from a diesel generator. We really did need more ambient light to work with after sunset. It was really hard for our cameras to focus to even take a shot, so we ended up shooting manual focus for most of the dancing and reception. Situations like this make us glad that we both trained in the old school days of film where everything, including focus, was manual.














Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.