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When it comes to photographing intimate moments, one of the things that are absolutely crucial is the whole “warm-up” phase. If you think about it, being intimate with your partner in front of a stranger is pretty tough. Even, awkward. But, if you’ve taken the time and did a bunch of shots where you aren’t right up close to them, your couple will likely start to feel more comfortable around you.

That’s exactly what we did for this image. We didn’t start with shots like this. In fact, this was nearer to the end of the shoot, once we had our good laughs, our fun moments, and our wide shots. It’s a way for the couple to trust us and allow themselves to feel at ease in front of our camera. When we asked them to get up close, and really go in for a beautiful, gentle, kiss – we were almost silent. We but whispered slight affirmations as to not disturb such a delicate moment.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

We asked our couple to stand as close to each other as they could; so much so that their bellies were touching. Once there, we asked the groom to hold his bride ever so gently with his hands resting on her neck, and fingers caressing her jawline. Finally, we suggested bringing their foreheads together. We then told them to go in for the most gentle, slow but passionate kiss. Completely forgetting about us, and only focusing on each other. To almost “say something nice, without saying it”.

What did you say?

Get real nice and close you guys, so close your bellies touch. [Groom], bring your hands up and gently hold [Bride] by her neck, and let your thumb caress her jawline. Perfect, now bring your foreheads together and completely go with it. Give her the most gentle, the most beautiful, the slowest but most passionate kiss you can. Tell her how much she means to you, only by kissing her.

How did you compose your image?

We wanted to capture a really intimate moment between our couple, and so we really got up close to them. We wanted the frame to overflow with our couple and to let the viewers really feel the intensity of this moment. We raised our camera slightly and shot just above his shoulder downwards with his hands taking the center of the frame. This hand gesture was the key point – we wanted this to be the focus, so the viewers could see and feel the love he was showing her.

How and what did you focus on?

The main focus of the image was on the groom’s hand as this was the storytelling piece we wanted to convey through this image. Since we were shooting slightly above his shoulder, we chose to use live view which allowed so much more freedom with how we positioned the camera. We set the focus area to be the middle of the frame and just guided it over the hands of our groom.


How did you use the light in your image?

The sun had just dropped below the horizon which meant we were getting these gorgeous, soft, remnants of the golden/magenta light. We had our couple positioned so the sun was coming off to the right of our frame so we could gently light the bride’s face. It wasn’t much light, but it was enough to make her stand out a bit more. That being said, the light was super soft all over, so recovering details was really simple.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

The edit was very straightforward as we simply added our Protea preset, tweaked the white balance to be a bit warmer, and also to introduce a bit more greens as we had a strong magenta color cast. Once we finished tweaking our exposure and contrasts, we then moved in closer with the brush adjustment to enhance a few highlights that were there already (also known as Dodging & Burning). We did the same for the shadows by painting over those areas and darkening the exposure slightly.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic


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What challenges did you face?

The only challenge we had here was not disturbing our couple. Everything was pretty quiet on the beach and we needed to make ourselves as invisible as possible.

How did you solve them?

It helps to just stay as calm as possible and be relatively fast with the shots. We moved in, got our shots, moved out. And the whole time we tried to be gentle with our movements.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Intimate moments are really beautiful and can be a definite money shot for both you and the couple. But it takes a bit of confidence and calmness on your part as the photographer as you need to let your couple build up their trust in you. It can be painfully obvious if the couple is nervous or are not feeling comfortable, and so we cannot stress enough about allowing them this warm-up period.


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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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