Photographed by Melli & Shayne


A little while ago we shared a business tip about creating shoots specifically to build your portfolio. It was one of the most fundamental lessons we ever learnt ourselves, and one that we pass on with full confidence.

This very shoot was one of them. We reached out to this couple on instagram and asked if they would be keen to be a part of a shoot we were putting together in Austria (where they lived). They agreed, and the process began.

We spent a few days putting together wardrobe ideas and a shoot plan, and got everything ready for the shoot. Everything went perfectly, and the kicker of it all was when we started to share these images – almost immediately we noticed we started to get likes & follows from people who matched our ideal clients.

Guys, we have no secrets to hide from you. Create your own styled shoots and be consistent with them, and good things will come.
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CalmHolding Each otherPlayfulDancing

We had our couple climb up (safely) onto this rock, and to hold each other very close. So close their bellies were smooshed against each other. From there, we asked (Girl) to bring her arms up and wrap it around (boys) neck, and for him to hold her by her waist. They held each other as if they were hugging, we could feel it and see it too. From here, we gave subtle hints like do a slow dance, or lean their foreheads together. Its a really great starting point.
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Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
“Stand close and hold each other tight. Really bring your bodies together. (Girl) bring your hands up around his neck. Lean your foreheads together, there you go! Even do a little slow dance”
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Center FramedMiddle ThirdsWideNatural Frames

For this shot, we really paid attention to our composition. We noticed that the mountain cast a reflection into the lake, and it lined up perfectly with this rock they stood on. We wanted to position them within this reflection and the rock as it created a natural frame. It’s subtle, but really makes a difference to the overall feel of the image.
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One of the most crucial things you can do is to location scout before your shoot. Getting to know the area and already having an idea of where you want to take and place your couples can make the whole shoot flow so much easier & smoother.


Single Point Focused on The couple Single Shot Autofocus
Focusing was a bit of a challenge here since the sun was peaking just over the mountain tops causing a flare into our lens. What we did was simply cover the sun with our hand for a moment, focused on our couple, and then removed our hand while keeping our focused locked (half pressed shutter) and fired away. It takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it quite fast.
Light & Weather

Soft LightBack litRim LightNatural LightShadeAfternoon

The sun was just about to hide behind the mountain tops but it wasn’t completely gone. We really fell in love with this composition and found that having the sun behind them wasn’t too much of a big deal (if we lost detail in the sky). We simply exposed for their skin with a slight under exposure afterwards,
and made sure we were getting images that we could work with.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/500 f/1.4 ISO 100 WB Auto


Canon 5D Mark III


Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II


Adobe Lightroom Classic The Protea Presets

Software used:


To edit this shot, I applied our protea presets as a base and adjusted the exposure, highlights & shadows to keep as many details as I could in the overall image. I then realized that the blown-out sky actually works to my compositional advantage as it removes things from that space, allowing viewers to focus on the geometry of the mountains and the reflections. Since the image was incredibly ‘cold’ to start with, I had to push the white balance really, really high to introduce our ‘signature warmth’. Finally, I added a simple vignette to help with darkening the edges to bring more attention to the center of the image.
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This image was edited with

The Protea Presets

Challenges & Solutions
The biggest challenge was trying to direct our couple while they were out on the rock. There were a few things we had to consider; not just the distance and the main thing was that they could easily slip/trip if they stopped paying attention to their footing.


Lake Austria


Vorderer Langbathsee 4802 Ebensee, Austria

Final tips & Advice

Keep your eyes open for natural frames. It may take a bit of practice to “see” them, but they’re everywhere. Even when you’re not shooting, try look around your environment and see how / where you could put a couple. It’s good practice and helps you find those spots much faster when you’re location scouting.

If you’re struggling to focus because of the light hitting your lens, try use your hand to the light momentarily and then hold the focus after you remove your hand.
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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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