the Shoot

Location Equipment
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I took this image at the end of a rather chaotic but beautiful engagement shoot. When we planned the shooting we didn’t know that it would be the only day where it would snow this much. The location was on a mountain and on the drive there we got stuck so we had to continue right where the car stopped. Only later on we were able to drive to the top of the mountain where we couldn’t stay longer than a few minutes because it was basically a snowstorm and freaking cold. Fast forward to the end of the shooting and as much as I would have loved to wrap up the shoot with a beautiful sunset, the weather was still just meh.

We ended the shoot with the couple walking, dancing, and sitting in front of my car on a road surrounded by trees as it started to snow again. Always love the looks we get from passing cars. During all of this cold weather, I still wanted to show the warmth of their relationship as they were enduring the cold.

I learned that it’s best not to fight what obstacles one gets thrown at during a shoot but to use what is available. The weather was far from perfect but instead of postponing the shoot or avoiding the outdoors I tried to work with what I was given and with the tools I still had (so happy my car didn’t break down lol).
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Location Name

Salzburg, Gaisberg

Location aDDRESS

Gaisberg 32, 5026 Salzburg



Location TYPE




Sony A7III




Sony 35mm 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 Intimate Playful Sitting


After having them walk towards the camera a few times (in front of the car backlighting them) I asked them if it would be okay for them to sit down a bit, facing each other. I always offer my jacket or a blanket for the couple to sit on it as a wet road isn’t really romantic. After some back and forth on positioning them right in front of the car lights I told them to get as close as possible and to warm each other hands while touching their heads. With calm poses like these I try to keep my tone and voice low and calm as shouting wouldn’t really help to get in the mood that I want to capture. I told them to keep playing with each other’s hands, rubbing them to keep warm and to keep the movement going on, as this usually gives me way more different results than them just holding one pose the whole time.

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What was said

I know it’s pretty cold right now so if you don’t mind, take each others hands and keep them together to warm up a bit. Keep your heads very close and try not to look into each others eyes but keep your focus and eyes on your hands. Again don’t be afraid to move this whole time so you’d get a bit warmer but try to keep just a little bit of space you so your hands will fit between you.

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Why I composed the way I did

I like to compose everything very center focused. It’s just something my brain likes to do. At the same time I wanted them to act as a frame around their hands to draw even more focus to the hands and the engagement ring. I photographed them a bit from above so the dark street would act as a background and make the falling snowflakes a bit more visible.

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Center Framed Mid Range High Angle


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Continuous Autofocus

Focused on

the hands

Focus description

99% of the time I use continuous autofocus with the focus area “zone” on my Sony. That way I just have to move around the huge focus field and it focuses on whatever is in that box. I placed that field over the middle of the image and focused on their hands. Nothing special. I just like continuous because it corrects the focus when I move a lot (which I do a lot to find which composition works best)

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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

As it was getting dark outside I relied on the car light behind the couple to light them up. Similar to how you would photograph a sunset when backlighting the subject. I needed to move the couple around a bit to be able to hide both car lights a bit. I like using backlight as it usually produces this beautiful rim light around the subject and makes it stand out. As long as one is not photographing directly into the sun, the image usually has also a lot of contrast which I also like.

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Artificial Light Back lit Rim Light Dark Moody Colorful Light

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset Used
How I edited this image

I used a modified version of the preset from Anni Graham called “yosemite 01” on this image. After I imported the photos and culled through them I usually apply the preset over every image and for this one I wanted a bit of a cooler tone in the highlights so I changed the highlight tones from yellow to a blueish hue. Very subtle but it helps to to show the yellow from the car lights more. Other than that I only adjusted exposure, made the image overall a bit warmer by adjusting the white balance to around 11.000 Kelvin and cropped it a bit so it would look straight (for some reason my images in camera are always a bit crooked – don’t ask why, I honestly don’t know).

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

In that situation I had to take care of the light a lot as it only looked good from a specific angle. I shot some shots from a lower angle and this is when the image usually gets washed out because the light hits the sensor with all of it’s force. Or the couple just looks like a silhouette because you need to expose for the bright direct light.

Solutions I found

Changing the angle through a higher position (standing slightly above them) helped to position that light out of frame, making it a softer indirect light.


I love the result we created. I say created because it was a process where different poses/actions just didn’t work out with that lighting setup in the beginning and it was a process of finding how to use that light to support the mood.

Next time I shoot in the cold weather I’ll bring some blankets and some warm tea to warm up afterward – having a warm car to run to after the shots were taken helped too though :)
I learned that the last part of the shoot was just problem-solving. We had already taken lots of photos with natural/flat/smooth lighting up to this point and I wanted something more dramatic but had only the car to use. I wish I would have taken a few more shots with different angles just to have more variety of that scene but that’s for the next time.
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Photographed by

Lukas Leonte

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