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Julia Blumenthal & Gil Gropengießer

A couple tenderly embrace. Photo by Canon Ambassadors Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer, taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Can't Imagine A Life Without You. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/2 and ISO125. © Julia Blumenthal & Gil Gropengießer

Known for their lively, atmospheric and honest style, German duo Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer are destination wedding photographers who love nothing more than exploring breathtaking landscapes and capturing the connection between two people on the happiest day of their lives. They are also, appropriately enough, a couple themselves.

The couple met in 2011, fell in love, and quickly realised that they shared a passion for photography. A casual interest in snapping friends and vacations quickly developed into something more, and the positive response to their elegant, natural style finally convinced them to try working together as wedding photographers. By 2014, Julia and Gil had booked their first professional shoot. Today they are classed as 'destination photographers', travelling all around the world to shoot with clients, and also regularly commissioned for engagements and weddings in their home country of Germany.

Canon Ambassadors Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer pictured on a beach.


Location: Leipzig, Germany
Specialist areas: Weddings, portraits
Favourite Kit:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

"Exploring breathtaking landscapes and chasing beautiful light makes our hearts beat faster," says Julia. "We don't just create those kind of posed photos you tend to see; we want to show our clients as they really are, looking as natural as possible. It's about the real connections, and those little moments that you see between the lines. We like to say that 'emotion beats perfection'."

This is also the tagline for Julia and Gil's wedding photography workshops, which offer prospective shooters not only tips on how to take successful pictures, but guidance on how to look past the technique and focus more on the moments, emotions and relationships going on beyond the camera.

"We love to teach and help people find their own way," Julia continues. "Our workshops are different, because our approach to photography is different. We have never cared about rules. The only rule we live by is that communication is key." Alongside their group workshops in the real world, the duo have also created a series of popular online tutorials.

A couple running in the sea, photographed by Canon Ambassadors Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
A Day At The Beach. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/2.2 and ISO125. © Julia Blumenthal & Gil Gropengießer
A newly married couple stand face-to-face, holding hands in a leafy churchyard. Photographed by Canon Ambassadors Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Lovers In Austria. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L lens (now succeeded by the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II) at 1/100 sec, f/3.5 and ISO100. © Julia Blumenthal & Gil Gropengießer

As well as keeping things natural, the couple says another unique selling point of their business is themselves. At a similar age to many of their customers – and, of course, as a couple – they are able to relate to their clients' needs and tastes. "In this day and age, there are so many talented photographers out there," Julia says. "Many of them have similar styles, others perhaps edit their photos in a similar way. So the big question is: how can you differentiate yourself from everyone else? The answer is personality. That's the key that convinces the client to book you for their wedding."

Gil agrees: "We believe that personality is just as important for getting hired as the photos themselves. That's why we show a lot of our daily lives via social media. If you want customers who share the same values and ideas as you, you need to be transparent. It can make a huge difference in a saturated market."

A wide shot of a skater couple kissing in the middle straight, deserted road through flat countryside. Photo by Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer, taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
On The Streets. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/2 and ISO500. © Julia Blumenthal & Gil Gropengießer

Why wedding photography?

"We think it's because of the people. We love to connect with strangers and get inspired by their stories. That's something that inspires us so much. Wedding photography is also very challenging. It includes so many different genres of photography."

Does working as a team make a difference?

"There are only positives. It feels a lot safer knowing on a wedding day there is someone who has your back, getting the shots too. It's a good feeling and it allows you to be more creative!"

How do you create your trademark style?

"Soft light and backlight is something we love to capture, so we use natural light 99% of the day. We use a wide aperture to create soft and luminous photos, and fast shutter speeds, as you never know what is about to happen next."

Other than the day of the wedding, what else do you have to do?

"We always arrive at the wedding location a day before to check the surroundings and search for places to shoot. The day after the wedding we look through a few thousand images and do the necessary edits."

What advice can you give to someone trying to break into the industry?

"Be brave! If this is what you want to do, heart and soul, then challenge yourself; we never stop challenging ourselves. Also find out what makes you different, and use that to your advantage. It's something we did, and it worked for us."

Facebook: Julia & Gil Photography
Instagram: @JuliaandGil
YouTube: Julia & Gil Photography
Website: juliaandgil.com

One thing we know
Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer

"Many beginners make the mistake of thinking it's all, and only, about technique. What they should do is just practise. Shoot, shoot, shoot. When we started, we photographed couples whenever we had free time. That's the only way to get better, get a feeling for people and different situations, and find your own style. Another difference between a beginner and a professional is the ability to communicate. As wedding photographers, to get the best photos, we believe your clients have to trust you, which can be hard to achieve in a short period of time, especially as every couple is different. So you must become a good communicator."

Julia and Gil's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Julia and Gil's kitbag.

Cameras

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

A versatile camera designed for high performance, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can capture the perfect moment under all conditions. "This camera is a game-changer! It's just so quick, even in difficult lighting situations," say Julia and Gil.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

Designed to give maximum control and stunning image quality, the PowerShot G7 X is a pocket-sized camera with the power to create beautiful pictures and videos. "We use this camera for all our videos on YouTube," say Julia and Gil. "It's small, easy to use and perfect for vlogs!"

Lenses

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

A standard of many photographers' kitbags, the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is able to limit depth of field at wide apertures and make the subject stand out against the background – ideal for weddings and documentary photography. "This lens is our all-rounder!" say Gil and Julia. "We use it for 90% of our jobs. Because we love to use natural light, we need a powerful lens like this."

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM

A 24mm prime lens with a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture that is perfect for landscape, travel and documentary photography. Julia and Gil say, "For weddings there is so much going on and often so much to fit in, which is why we love to photograph with this wide angle!"

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

The TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lets you control perspective and depth of field separately, giving it a remarkable level of flexibility. Its lens element coating helps to minimise flare to create crisp, clear images. "We love this lens for highlighting couples at sunset," say Julia and Gil. "The sun flare is amazing!"

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