Photographed by Melli & Shayne


We all love to shoot in that perfect light with that perfect background, but as we all know – that isn’t always possible. Being able to use what you are given to your advantage is something that you’ll learn over time with experience and practice.

In this case, we had our first couple shoot in the mid afternoon with the promise of taking our couple out again as the sun set later on. The light was not too great and so we chose to bring our couple amongst the forest. Not only did we quite like the feel of having them amongst the trees, the light was somewhat broken and softened by the tall trees.

We did have to pay attention to not let them stand somewhere in a patch of light as we would have had a nightmare with blown out highlights.

One of the best things you can do in unforgiving light is to just expose for the brightest part of your couple and then soften everything up in post.
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We wanted a strong, contemporary shot here as we felt it complimented the busy background of the trees. We had our couple stand facing us with a slight gap between them, and to hold hands. We asked our groom to have his free hand in his pocket while our bride held her flowers. We shot a variation of this pose with where they were looking, and we loved this shot when our bride turned to look at her groom. It adds to that connection between the two.
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Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
“Stand straight on towards us and keep a little space between you two. Look straight into our camera. Great! Now, [bride] turn and look at your groom!”
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Center FramedLeading LinesFull Body

As we wanted to go for a strong image, we had our couple framed directly in the center. The background was pretty busy and so by having them right in the middle, we were able to bring the attention directly to them first.
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Framing your subjects in the middle automatically means the attention goes straight to them first. Use this to your advantage when you have to shoot with busy backgrounds or can’t find any leading lines in the environment. It also depends on how dominant you want your couple to be in your frame – and with poses like this which are already very “strong”, it’s a good idea to emphasis that.


Single Point Focused on The Grooms face Single Shot Autofocus
We focused with our usual method of single point auto focus as we could control where the camera was locking on to. If we had used the full range of the focus points, theres a chance that the camera could have confused what we wanted in focus as the background had a lot of contrasty, focusable elements.
Light & Weather

Soft LightNatural LightShade

As the light was not exactly ideal, we chose to have our couple amongst the forest. This did help soften the light slightly as the sun had to pass through the tree tops before reaching our couple. We paid careful attention to not let them stand in patches of light as well.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/400 f/2 ISO 100 WB Auto


Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon 50mm 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
Paying attention to patchy light, especially in a forest, can be quite challenging when you’re also dealing with your couple, how you want to shoot them and all of those little things. And if you forget about the light, you probably will regret it later on.


Forest Germany

Faber-Castell Waldhütte

Faber-Castell Waldhütte Faberhof 1, 90596 Schwanstetten

Final tips & Advice

When going for strong, contemporary poses like this one; try and keep your couple relaxed and less “energetic”. It works best when they can assume a “serious” look with a slight smirk.

Keep your eyes open for patchy light as it’s quite easy to miss when you’re in the moment. It’s always good to put the camera down for a moment and just observe the surroundings.
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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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