the Shoot

Location Equipment
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I had the honor of photographing these two lovebirds a few times by now and during before this shoot I told them I wanted to experiment with some lights at the end of the session. We took all of the photos in their home and moved around the house as we were shooting. As the last location we chose their basement / gym as it was pitch black and gave me full control over the way I wanted to light this shot. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go for this warm neon feel but made the mistake of not bringing any light stands with me so we had to improvise with their work out gear. It was fun and I’m actually really happy with the results.
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Location Name


Location aDDRESS




Location TYPE

Private Home / AirBnB / Apartment



Sony A7iii




Sony Zeiss 35mm f/1.4

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Tone of Directions


Action of Directions

Almost Kiss Intimate Natural


I told them before that this was going to be an intimate scene where I’d want them to almost not kiss, as to display the tension right before a kiss. I usually tell my couples to stop just before their lips touch and try not to make a duckface while doing so :) I let them pause a few seconds – plenty of time for me to get the shot and then finally let them kiss.

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What was said

Guys, I want you to go in for an “almost kiss”. Get real close and just before you’d make contact, stop.

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Why I composed the way I did

I really wanted to put the side of their faces into shadow – showing them as silhouettes and have the contours of their faces be leading lines for the eye to follow. Naturally I placed them in the middle of the frame and wanted for the light behind them to line up with her eyes. I was also very close with my lens to be able to replicate more of that intimacy.

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Compositional Rules

None / Simple

Compositional Framing

Center Framed Close Up Intimate Framing


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Live View Continuous

Focused on


Focus description

I focused on their mouths in continuous autofocus mode (as 99,9% of my shots). The Sony A7iii handles these kind of backlit situations like a pro usually.

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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 had two of the Pavotube 30C and placed one right behind them and set it to orange – it’s visible in the final shot and backlights the couple. I also used a 1/4 black pro mist in front of my lens to diffuse the light and make it “bleed” over the silhouette edges and give it a bit of a vintage look. I also filled the room with haze from a hazer that I brought with me so the light would diffuse even more and create more depth in the image. The second tube I placed above them and set it to a blueish/turquoise color but only as a fill light to fill in the shadows a bit and to create a complimentary color to the orange backlight.

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Type of light

Artificial Light Flash

Time of Day


Quality of LIght

Harsh Backlit



the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used
Preset Used

Anni Graham Yosemite Pack

How I edited this image

I used the Yosemite pack from Anni Graham and modified it to my liking. I usually apply the preset and use that as a base for editing. The original photo was shot at a way too warm white balance so I brought it down to 4500K from around 5500K and also shifted the hue from -4 (green) to +70 (magenta) in Lightroom. I brought up the exposure by about one stop since I underexposed the photo in the beginning. I also added a gradient from the bottom to the middle of the image and brought down the exposure + added blur on top to draw more attention to the middle of the image.

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

It took me a while to find a good balance between how much saturation the colors of the light should have as to not look to trashy. To find the right amount of intensity and so forth took a few minutes. What helped me was to communicate that before I actually tried to dial everything in – that way the couple knew that they could just relax a few minutes while I experimented with the lighting.

Solutions I found

If this is not communicated before it can lead to awkward situations where the couple might think that they are the problem and it takes away from the good vibes of the shoot. I try to communicate as much as possible what I’m about to do so there is no second guessing :)


I learned how to use complimentary colors in a way that I did not before – it was also the first time where I used haze and all I can say is that it helps not to have any windows or doors open since it would be gone again in a minute or two. I openly communicated that the last few shots were going to be experimental and that it might or might not work out. This put their and my expectations at a healthy level and gave me also the room to take more than a few minutes to set everything up and just be playful about it. It also took away the pressure from the couple since they knew that this is either going to work out really well or just turn really shit and they just won’t see the photos ;)
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Photographed by

Lukas Leonte

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