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Last year (2017) we travelled to Sri Lanka with these two and explored this incredibly beautiful country together. They are friends of ours (actually, family) and originally we had no intention of doing a couple shoot or anything – it was just meant to be a holiday.

On our last day though, we drove up and found a really beautiful beach where we had a few beers together. We watched as the sun was starting to set and then it hit us. Why the heck don’t we just do a quick photoshoot with these two? A short one, nothing to lose right?

As we had our cameras with us, and they had their surfboards (as we were also looking for surf), we downed our last beers and headed straight to the beach. It was a short shoot, but so much fun! To be honest, we hesitated about doing it but eventually our motivation kicked in and we just did it. Best thing ever!

We think that when an opportunity arises to take a photo, regardless of what genres or subject; if you feel it – do it. We would have regretted not taking these two out and we are so glad we did. We even tried something completely new – putting them out in the water on their surfboard quite a distance away from us.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

We had our couple sit on the surf board facing each other (and also do their best to keep balance amongst the waves) and cuddle right in close. We gave them a few hints just before they went into the water and then directed them when they were at their spot. We asked her to bring her hands up to his neck, and gently lean her forehead against his and to go on from there. We wanted them to be natural and to just “love each other” like they would.

What did you say?

Bring your hands up to his neck and chin and lean your forehead against his. Show him you love him. Gently kiss him, caress him and even rub your noses together

How did you compose your image?

It definitely was a challenge to compose this image as we couldn’t get ourselves close enough to them to have more control. We chose a long lens and framed them in the center as the ocean formed a very simple, minimal canvas for them to be the subject on. Having them in the middle meant that the viewers attention go straight to them, and then to the rest of the image to explore the scene and whats happening.

How and what did you focus on?

As our couple were quite far away and there was a good few waves pushed in front of them, we didn’t want to risk focusing on the wrong thing (i.e the wave); so we chose our faithful single point autofocus and kept it locked on our couple as much as possible.


How did you use the light in your image?

We took this shot during the blue hour/super late evening. There was literally a few more moments left of light before we had to stop shooting. The sun had set just off to the right and while it was incredibly hard to try and direct our couple into the “perfect spot of light’, we just rolled with it. Fortunately, the sky was covered with broken storm clouds as the storm had just dissipiated.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

For this shot, we applied an experimental preset that we’re working on. The goal with this edit was to keep those awesome skin tones while still keeping a bit of the blues of the ocean visible. We adjusted the white balance to get the skin tones right, then spent quite a bit of time in the HSL sliders adjusting the blues and Aquas to get the color shift we liked. Since this photo was quite underexposed we had to brighten up everything quite a bit and needed to do a bit of noise reduction. We added a few radial filters to adjust the vignettes, the light, and the focus on the couple.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

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What challenges did you face?

Our biggest challenge here was that our couple was pretty far out in the water and we couldn’t exactly direct them easily. We had to raise our voices for them to hear us over the waves and the wind.

Secondly, it takes mad skills to balance two people on one surf board in choppy water; so we had to be quite quick with our shooting, as well as paying attention to the fading light.

How did you solve them?

Just before our couple went out in the water, we gave them our idea of what we wanted them to do (sit on the board and face each other) as well as little hints as to what they can do. We also made sure to let them know that if they couldn’t pull it off, it was no big deal at all (as we had a ton of great pictures from the beach).

Once they were out there, we had our cameras and settings dialed in and kept shooting. We didn’t put the cameras down until they started to swim back to shore. We knew that if we put the camera down even for one second, we could have missed something really awesome.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Jump on opportunities. If you ever find yourself thinking “should I do this? should I take some photos of them? hmm… I’m not sure, do we have time? are they keen?” just do it. Ask them, if they agree – do it. Rather come back with not-so-great images than no images at all. Because even if you don’t show anything – you certainly have a lesson learned and a story to tell. Plus, it’s always fun to shoot. :)


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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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