Photographed by Melli & Shayne


Have you ever felt a sudden burst of inspiration that just all of a sudden hits you right in the face? Well, this shot was the result of that. We were nearly done with our shoot as the light was 99.9% done, and the only real light source we had left was the 2 candles in the lanterns.

It was at this moment that we were about to say “Congratulations you guys! We’re done! Let’s go get warm, fed & drunk!” But we didn’t. We say this very image in our mind; where our groom held the light up close to them and leaned in to cuddle while our bride would look out or look at the light. We had no idea at the time if it’d even work or if it would have been worth it, but we did it anyway.

After getting a few shots of this, and then going through the whole editing process a few days later, this very shot was one of the hardest to edit. It was so challenging that we almost discarded it because we felt that it just wasn’t worth it. But, we took a break. We revisited it later and tried editing it again with new eyes, and we figured it out! We found a way to get it to how we wanted it to be!

Sometimes it’s all about taking a little break.
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Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
We had our couple sit really, really close to each other, and lean in. We then asked our groom to raise the lantern up close to their face so it could bring more light; and while doing that to just gently lean against the bride’s forehead with his. At this moment, we then asked our bride to turn slightly to look at the candle; and simply let them be. Like watching a campfire together.
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““[Groom], hold the lantern up high so it can light both your faces and really get close to her. Now, turn and lean with your forehead against her temple and close your eyes, take a breath, and just enjoy her right now. [Bride], you can look out towards the candle, completely relaxed and enjoying [Groom]’s cuddles””
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Center FramedBroken RulesMid Range

We had taken a few wider shots as well as landscape shots of this moment, but we stuck with this portrait version because it felt more intimate. We were also able to keep our bride on one of the intersections of the rule-of-thirds grid that naturally help balance the frame. By keeping the couple in the middle, we draw all the attention to them and their intimate moment.
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Try capture variations with your shots (landscape, portrait, wide, close, etc…) unless you are 100% sure you know which will work best.


Single Point Focused on The Groom’s face Single Shot Autofocus
Focusing on such low light is never easy. At this point, a lot of it was a hit or a miss, but we still tried our best to nail it as close as we could. We shot through the viewfinder and moved our single point over the groom’s face since he was lit the most. This light absolutely helped find the focus and since both the bride and groom’s faces were so close to each other – none of them were out of focus.
Light & Weather

Artificial LightDirectional LightDarkBlue Hour

The only light we had in this shot was coming from the candle. By having it raised up and just to the side of our subject’s face, we were able to light one side of them, while allowing a bit of shadow to appear on the other side. This adds so much more dimension to the couple as they aren’t flat in the frame. We did ask that they not keep the candle too close to them predominantly for safety reasons, but also to control how intense it lit them.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/640 f/1.4 ISO 2000 WB Auto


Canon 5D mark IV


Canon 50mm f/1.2 L


Adobe Lightroom Classic The Protea Presets

Software used:


Adobe Lightroom

Editing this picture took the most amount of work as it was a very tricky lighting situation to work with and one we are not so experienced in either. We really struggled with getting it right, and so by taking a break from editing it for a few days, we were able to come back and try new approaches. We started with our base Protea preset, and then focused only on the skin and the tones. We tweaked everything from the exposure, shadows, highlights, saturation as well as the HSL until we got tones that we quite liked. Afterwards, we then added in some radial adjustments to darken the corners of the image. We then focused in on the candle and enhanced this with radial adjustments too by dropping the dehaze slider and increasing the white balance warmth.
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This image was edited with

The Protea Presets

Challenges & Solutions
There were quite a few challenges in this shot, but the one that was definitely the hardest was the editing part. It was a hard balance between finding something that looks natural, looks good, and looks consistent with the rest of our work.


Beach / Coastal Germany

Sankt Peter-Ording

Sankt Peter-Ording, Germany

Final tips & Advice

Allow yourself to take a break when it comes to editing. Sometimes we’ll stare at the screen for so long that we’ll get used to certain colors and certain imperfections that we just don’t notice it anymore. By taking a break, even a few days, you’ll be able to see things you couldn’t before. And, you may even have a whole new sense of motivation too.

When ‘playing with fire’, absolutely always, no matter what, who, when, or why – safety. is. first. Since we were more than just the couple and the photographers, we always had a bunch of eyes on what was happening.
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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.

Designed with love by Katharina + Katharina & Shayne Thomas. Background image by Adrián Vilanova

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