the Shoot

Location Equipment
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Before I explain the story behind this photo in detail, I must say this. This photo was shot in Helsinki, Finland during one of the darkest months in the whole year: November. Any photographer living in Finland or who has visited the country during winter time knows this. Usually Finnish natural-light photographers don’t work during the winter months because the days are simply just too short. Regardless of this, I wanted to complete this shoot exactly that time of the year!

The female in the photo, Wia, was very soon moving out from her flat (where the image is taken). We wanted to say goodbyes to the flat as she was moving in with her boyfriend, Manu. We wanted to complete the shoot even it was a very murky and cloudy day and Wia’s flat was in the heart of the city of Helsinki, apartment complex first floor. Aka VERY little light.

As I have worked in this country for many years already, I knew the light would be the biggest challenge. And it was. Wia’s studio apartment only had two windows so I needed to really think through how to position them to get the light just perfectly. Luckily, even one murky light source can be enough! As I continued with the shoot, I quickly noticed how intimate it became. Small space, very low light and very limited options. The best platform for creativity!
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Location Name

Kallio, Helsinki

Location aDDRESS

Kallio, Helsinki



Location TYPE

Private Home / AirBnB / Apartment



Canon 5D Mark IV




Sigma 20mm f/1.4

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Calm Holding Each other Natural Playful


I asked Wia and Manu to get comfortable and cuddly on the bed. I gave very little direction to them during each pose. I mainly advised them to position their bodies and faces while keeping in mind the light direction the whole time. The facial expressions and subtle touches are all them!

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What was said

Okay cuties, get nice and comfy, hugs and kisses are welcome. Manu you lead the way and Wia you react!

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Why I composed the way I did

I wanted to create a feeling where the viewer is like a “fly in the ceiling looking down”. The image is shot with a wide angle lense, as I am standing on the bed with them and raising the camera as high as I can. This choice was intentional as I wanted to get both of them to the frame, faces highlighted and from the same angle. I also wanted to show a bit more of where they were: the wooden floor, curtains etc.

Even composition is super important to my work, in this image there was no deeper compositional choices made. The leading lines of Manu’s arm and the wrinkles on the blanket are meant to guide the viewer to the focal point: the faces. Intimacy is highlighted with “frame within a frame ” effect caused by Manu’s arms around Wia.

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Rule of Thirds Lower Thirds Leading Lines Mid Range High Angle


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Live View Single Shot

Focused on

Wia's face

Focus description

I autofocused on Wia’s face, locked the focus and then recomposed the shot.

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Shutter Speed






White Balance


Other Light Sources
No additional light sources were used.
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Light &

How the light was used

I used only natural light and a single light source of a window. The window is located on the left side of the image. The light was a bit of a challenge at first, but I was able to tackle it quickly. It was important to get the anatomy, skin, and faces shown and highlighted with the light. I was happy with the result.

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Directional Light Dark Moody Window Light Natural Light Indoor

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used
Preset Used
How I edited this image

As a base I used my own signature black and white preset called “Moody Me Original BW”. I tweaked the exposure a bit lower and added a tiny bit more contrast.

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

As mentioned before, the biggest challenge was the light. The day was very dark and the light options very limited in the apartment.

Solutions I found

As going in with the mentality of “Light is the king” it really helped. I composed and directed every pose and position solely based on the light. Even some parts of the apartment would have had better furniture or cool details, but were in the shady side of the space, I rejected those ideas.


The better you get the luckier you get. I feel like with this couple it all just clicked! They were just perfect together in every way, and that made my job very easy! Showing a bit of skin is always a plus. I just love how the light can paint the human anatomy even more, and bring out some nice details in our bodies.
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Photographed by

Henna Koponen

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