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Back in August, I attended photographer, Cara Mia’s EARTH Workshop out in Moab. It was a workshop I had been waiting for almost over a year for. We spent our first few nights nestled in the mountains just a little outside of Salt Lake at Sundance and eventually made our way over to Moab for the remaining part of the workshop.

We did 6 sessions in total and the one that stuck out to me the most and had me completely at AWE and fully inspired was our session with Kerry and Max, a couple from Boston who flew all the way out of Utah to model for us. They were absolutely true naturals in front of the camera. There was no denying how strong their bond was and they way held one another.

This session was done out at the Under Canvas site in the middle of the Moab desert. It was super hot and dry that morning and the light that we got to work with that morning was beyond our expectations. I felt 100% creatively pursued by this session as not only the light and the location, but how Kerry and Max perfectly showed off their love so naturally even when prompted.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

We prompted them to sit closely with each other, hold their martini glasses like normal, and then tease with a slow kiss. The rest was up to them and how they wanted to interact with one another after being prompted.

What did you say?

Kerry sit shoulder-to-shoulder with Max horizontally with your legs over his and get really close and go in for a very slow kiss – tease each other bit.

How did you compose your image?

We were in groups so it was slightly tough to move around others without ruining their shot, but I immediately knew I wanted my shot to be more at an angle in order to create a more moody and journalistic feel, but still properly composed to achieve the entire emotion within the photo itself.

How and what did you focus on?

I found myself very “in” the moment with this session, I wanted to take my time to fully understand where I was standing and what my subject was before capturing each image + the light was pretty harsh that day so I had to really pay attention to my settings and where I was when taking each photo. However, this moment was definitely more prompted at a slower pace and allowed me to really focus in on what I wanted to focus on and that was Kerry and Max’s upper body to create a clear and intimate setting.


How did you use the light in your image?

We were working with clear skies and harsh sunlight so it made it a little difficult with figuring out the best settings that would photograph and edit well after the session. I decided to under expose in order to keep most of the details sharp and lighting soft.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

The editing process was very simple, as the scene already related well to my normal editing style. I mostly tweaked the exposure a bit and adjusted my shadows and highlights to appear just as natural as they were when photographed. I also used the “Radial” tool to soften the shadows above Max’s head to create a less intense background.

Software Used


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What challenges did you face?

The direct light. Yes it was hard, but I knew what I was getting myself into and that I was going to have to underexpose in order to get the photos I wanted …but other than that it was a very calm atmosphere!

How did you solve them?

Under expose and angle subjects out of any weird shadows that would conflict with the hard light and camera settings.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Don’t be afraid of harsh light! Yes, it’s not the most preferred light situation, but when you get a moment to think creatively and take your time playing around with your settings (*another don’t be afraid to underexpose your photos) …Hash light can also gift in disguise

Ivy Hansen

Shooting since


Current Home

United States of America



I’m Ivy, like the vine and I’m a destination wedding & elopement photographer based out of Minneapolis. I like to spend most of my time photographing my couples along the North Shores of Minnesota, which is where I spent the majority of my childhood camping, hiking, and making some of the greatest memories with my family. Most of my inspiration comes from being surrounded by nature, the lake, and mountains.

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