• almost kiss
  • Back lit
  • calm
  • Center Framed
  • Close up
  • Colorful
  • Colorful Light
  • Dark
  • Harsh Light
  • Indoor
  • intimate
  • Intimate Framing

The story behind the image

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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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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

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 did you say?

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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Tone of Directions



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


Center FramedClose UpIntimate Framing


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

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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Focus Mode

Single Shot

Focus POints

Single Focus Point

Focused on


Equipment &

Sony A7iii
Sony Zeiss 35mm f/1.4
1/250 @ f/2.5 ISO1000 WB-5500K

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

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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Light Type

Artificial LightFlash

Light Quality


Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit 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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Editing Software
Preset Used
Anni Graham Yosemite Pack


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.

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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 :)

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Location Name


Location aDDRESS


Loation Type

Private Home / AirBnB / Apartment



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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