Photographed by Melli & Shayne


The first look is always exciting. They’re exciting for the couple and for us to capture. It’s a moment where feelings, emotions, and actions are all true. No staging. No poses. Just genuine love for each other.

When we capture first looks, we do our very best to not interfere with anything. We only location scout and give the couple a signal once we’re all set up and ready. The rest happens as it happens.

We love to move around our subjects when we’re shooting, and this shot is a good example of that. As our couple fell deeper into their moment, we moved up and found different angles to capture it all. Even shooting with a longer lens to not distract them too much.
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Center FramedClose UpIntimate Framing

This is one of the cases where the rule of thirds was not followed. One of the main points of focus was the details of the dress our bride wore, as well as her necklace. We framed it so we still kept a bit of their heads in the shot, just enough to show their emotion, but we let her back take the biggest part of the overall image.
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Move in close and look for the details. The movements. The gestures. The emotions and fill your frame with these.


Single Point Focused on The Brides necklace Single Shot Autofocus
Our focus was on the necklace as it turned out to be an easy spot for our cameras to lock on to. Since we used a longer lens, we didn’t need to worry too much about the focus fall off as we were still a distance away from our couple. We simply used our single point autofocus and moved that where we wanted it.
Light & Weather

Soft LightNatural LightShade

As the first look took place just after the getting ready & before the ceremony, we didn’t have the most ideal to work with as this was around midday. We did however find a shaded area in a courtyard which allowed us enough room to move around our couple. This shade creates a beautiful soft light over our couple without any blown out spots or too much contrasts.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/400 f/2 ISO 100 WB Auto


Canon 5D Mark III


Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II


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
Our main challenge was being ready the whole time for these “micro-moments”. They happen so fast and often never reappear again. We had to constantly pay attention to what was happening as to not disturb them and to get ourselves into a position to take our shots.


Castle Germany

Wasserschloss Unsleben

Wasserschloss Unsleben, Schloßgasse 22, 97618 Unsleben

Final tips & Advice

The first look moments are beautiful to capture and can be full of emotions, genuine feelings & stunning opportunities to capture. The biggest thing is to not over plan it and get too involved in it. Find a great spot for your couple (you should be in charge here as they wouldn’t know what’s good for your photography), and then let them do their thing.

Always be on the move during these moments and don’t stop shooting until they’re done. Some first looks are over in 2 seconds, others take their time. Whatever it is, keep shooting until the couple looks to you to stop.

Once you’ve got your safe shots, move in for close-ups. Look for little details, little emotions, little gestures, and try and fill your frames with these. They make awesome storytelling pieces and can be really striking by themselves.
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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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