Photographed by Melli & Shayne


First looks are incredible. They are such a wonderful thing that we as wedding photographers get to experience with our couples and often times leaves us just as emotional.

They are also incredibly intimate moments; moments that may not make so much sense to you as an outsider but to your couple – it’s everything.

When setting up first looks for our couple, we always scout a location before hand so that we can bring our bride and groom there without wasting too much time. This is important since first looks normally happen just before the ceremony and if the getting ready started to take a bit longer than planned – at least you guys won’t spend too long looking for a spot to let them meet each other.

Finally, first looks as best left untouched. Meaning, let them be them. Capture the whole moment that happens, right from when they walk to each other and keep shooting until they stop embracing and turn to you for what to do next. Some of the best moments happen just when you think you should stop shooting.

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CalmIntimateNaturalAlmost Kiss

Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
During the first look, the only directions we give our couples are where to stand. As for the rest, we completely let them have their moment and we don’t start talking to them until they stop and turn to us
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“Nothing was said :) “
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Center FramedLower ThirdsIntimate Framing

We let our couple have their moment after meeting for the first time. We gave them space to be themselves and let the emotions flow. As our groom brought his bride closer, we siletly stepped in and framed this moment just close enough to really capture their feelings. We filled the frame with them and kept an eye that we had a bit of the bouquet still included.
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When your couples are having an intimate moment such as this during the first look, give them their space. Try frame the shots so you aren’t right up in their personal area and could distract them. Keep an eye open for the backgrounds as well since it’s quite easy to forget about it when you’re moving in.


Single Point Focused on Their noses Single Shot Autofocus
We focused on the smiles of our couple with our single point. It meant that we could lock on to this emotional detail that we wanted to capture. Just be careful to make sure that it lands directly where you want it to – and not somehow on the background because your camera will then quickly loose focus.
Light & Weather

Soft LightNatural LightShade

As the sky was overcast, we had really no issues with the light. We wanted our couple to be back amongst these castle walls as we loved the tones. The light that was there did bounce off of the walls and the neutral colored floor which helped create this creamy light that we were able to capture.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/400 f/2 ISO 100 WB Auto


Canon 5D Mark III


Canon 85mm f/1,2 L


Adobe Lightroom Classic M&S The Roots Presets

Software used:


The edits are made to be warmer with a big focus on skin tones and light play with shadows and highlights. A few minor local adjustments were made (Gradient and Brush) as well as finishing off with a fine layer of grain. The whites are not blown out nor are the blacks 100% crunched.
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This image was edited with

M&S The Roots Presets

Challenges & Solutions
There was no particular challenge here.


Castle Germany

Wasserschloss Unsleben

Wasserschloss Unsleben, Schloßgasse, Unsleben

Final tips & Advice

Allow your couple to have their space when shooting the first look. As best as you can, try and “dissappear” from their awareness by being silent and not making too aggresive movements. It is an intimate moment best capture as authentic as possible.

If you have a long lens, definitely use it when you want to get close ups. It allows your couple that personal space to keep doing what they’re doing without feeling uncomfortable that theres a giant camera in their faces.
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Melli & Shayne

Photographer Germany Canon 5D Mark IV Canon 50mm f/1.2 L
We are Melli & Shayne, a couple coming from vastly different worlds but have been inseparable ever since we met in Zanzibar. We have been passionately capturing love stories since 2014 and have loved every step of the way. We love to meet fellow photographers, to share our knowledge amongst a bottle (or two) of wine and support every one wherever we can.
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Everyone fails. It’s how you take it that will separate you from the rest. Failure is a lesson. And knowledge is a win.

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