Wedding Photos Use Wildfire as a Unique Backdrop and Go Viral


This last weekend, photographer Josh Newton created some of the most memorable wedding photos we have ever seen. Set against the backdrop of a raging wildfire, Newton’s dramatic, striking photographs of April Hartley and Michael Wolber’s outdoor wedding are sweeping across the Internet today at an unbelievable clip.

In case you didn’t catch it in the intro, this wedding had the equally fortunate and unfortunate opportunity to be set against a very unique backdrop: the Two Bulls Wildfire.


With a wildfire tearing across the countryside so close to the ceremony, everybody was told to evacuate to a safer location. But before they were forced to leave, Newton and the couple took advantage of the unique circumstances to capture some truly unforgettable pictures.

With Newton’s permission, we’re sharing some of our favorites here:

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As you might imagine, the photos have received a mixed welcome. Some believe something as potentially deadly as a wildfire makes for a tasteless backdrop, while others thought the photos to be both dramatic and appropriate, saying that Newton simply captured an accurate chronicle of this special day as it happened.

It’s worth noting that the fire, as of this writing, has caused no injuries or property damage, but you can see where the former group is coming from nonetheless. Still, whatever their opinions, few argue with the powerful nature of these unforgettable wedding photos.

To see the rest of the set, head over to Newton’s website by clicking here. And if you’d like to see more of Newton’s work, be sure to follow him on his blog, Twitter and/or Facebook.

Image credits: All photographs by Josh Newton and used with permission

  • Monteraz

    Dont tell me it is a “documentary work” while they are posing and smiling. Maybe I would have done quite the same in the moment, however dont ask me why but I dont like it.

  • Matthew Rubel

    Maybe not so much about “liking” as it is about remembering it. Chances are pretty high you’ll remember those pictures for a while. How many other wedding photos are thought of by anyone besides the bride and groom?

  • E L Frederick

    I hope this couple sticks together for a long time. The photos could be a dramatic testament to their desire to stick together… “we got married in hell… and it’s only gotten better…”

  • Sid Ceaser

    I can hear that little fat kid from “Super 8″ screaming “PRODUCTION VALUE!” when I look at these awesome images. These are gorgeous. Give the photographer a bonus for this. Perfectly taking advantage of the situation. Some of these are gorgeous.

  • John Mueller

    Why is it wrong to have a fire in the background? It’s not like they can help it. It’s not like they were going to go help put it out or anything. It’s not like they’re doing their portraits in front of a crash scene and there are bloody victims on the road dying. I actually photographed a wedding in Santa Barbara in 2008 when they had the huge wildfires and had similar results. I love a bride/groom with a sense of humor and adventure who are game for something like this.

  • Allen

    Ugh. Can we just go back to putting T-Rex in wedding photos?

  • Sid Ceaser

    I can hear that little fat kid from “Super 8″ screaming “PRODUCTION VALUE!” when I look at these awesome images. These are gorgeous. Give the photographer a bonus for this. Perfectly taking advantage of the situation. Some of these are gorgeous.

  • Daniel Cely

    I actually quite like it, what I first thought was “love on fire” well, love and more haha. The images look powerful to me, people may not like a photog taking advantage of what actually is a tragedy but given the circumstances I think he did the right thing with this pictures, people will remember them.

  • slyman

    i think they look good but i do think they’re in bad taste.

    no injuries to humans anyway

  • Alexander Sollie

    Wildfires are a natural and critical component in any healthy ecosystem. They aren’t a tragedy. Someone getting hurt or killed by a fire is terrible, but there isn’t anything inherently bad about a fire.

  • Alex Tardif

    Some are quite spectacular (where you can’t really tell that the background is an actual forest fire), others are a bit disturbing.

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but does the guy look… well…really young or something???

  • Unfiltered Dregs

    They’ve got this loverly apocalyptic vibe, end of the world, hellfire & brimstone…kinda cool since most marriage goes pot. lmao

  • KG

    Without the backdrop, they’re pretty plain.

  • OtterMatt

    I guess I can accept it. It’s certainly striking, and he took good advantage of an obviously dramatic and available background. Given that no one had died by the point he took them, I guess I can’t really say that it’s tasteless. I’ll give him props for it.

  • Omar Salgado

    Perhaps what you don’t like is the same I don’t: not well composed photos.

    I think of it as a an opportunity not well taken. Of course, then there begins the fad…

  • hdc77494

    Really interesting flare on that last pic. This was a wild fire, not an arson fire. Natural, beautiful in it’s own way, and a unique backdrop to a unique day.

  • Jason Wright

    They didn’t start the fire, they couldn’t help stop it and they didn’t make it worse. I don’t see a problem.
    I quite like the pictures, some are great.
    I could see why some people wouldn’t like them, or even approve of them, but I don’t see there being anything wrong with taking them.

  • herzco

    It does not feel like there is any personal connection between subjects and environment, so it just reads as “Hey! Cool! Disaster porn!”

  • Nicolas James Bates

    some posts here really bring out the utmost of uptight people. even if someone had died in this fire, explain why these photos were in bad taste.

    what is a wedding photographers job? to document the wedding? hmm. think he did his job. quit your bitchin’, because for those of you who are actually working photographers (and wedding photographers at that), let me know when you have photos half as memorable as these.

  • Bolkey

    Not to document. But to create a fairy tale. The vast majority of couples choose a fairy tale of oversweet romanticism. Then a bit of smoke is like breathing some fresh air to me.

  • Oscar

    […some of the most memorable wedding photos we have ever seen…]
    I think someone is tripping, with LSD…

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    yeah, as opposed to the normal ‘personal connection’ to some random church, field or restaurant.

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    No they didn’t light it, but they’re tryin to fight it…

  • Alina Golovachenko

    There’s a certain Gone With the Wind feel going on here… it would have been fun to go for a cheesy homage to it in addition to the above images.

  • Don Tusk

    Wildfire is natural event. Does mother nature offend you ?

  • Jigsaw

    Very cool. That way at least something good comes off all that destruction. But expect couples lighting wildfires on purpose in the future, because they also want photos like that.

  • Cameron Talley

    From what I understand, this particular fire was started by man, not a naturally-occurring event.

  • herzco

    This comment makes little sense.

  • herzco

    Often people DO have a special connection to a place.

    In any case, these photos are weak and the ONLY thing going for them is what is in the background. The composition of the images themselves is boring (in the way that many celebrity photos are not good images but are only interesting because of who is in them).

    The only thing of interest is the fire, not the photo.

  • Jack Zhang

    If you couldn’t help to put the fire off, just go away. Why you want to take the wedding photos there?

  • jane

    Except for innocent wildlife getting killed from a man made fire.

  • James

    This comment makes all the sense.

  • James

    Most portraits with an awesome backdrop are…

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