• almost kiss
  • hand up
  • Sunset
  • sunny
  • Soft Light
  • Playful
  • Kiss
  • Island
  • Intimate Framing
  • intimate
  • finger touch lip
  • Back lit
  • finger
  • Evening
  • Dark
  • Close up
  • Center Framed
  • calm
  • Backlit
  • backlight
  • Zanzibar

The story behind the image

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When shooting couples, we are often moving around them and capturing angles that are wide, close up, mid range and what have you. We do this because not only does it help increase the chances of coming back with an absolute banger shot, it also keeps your eyes and inspiration active the whole time. You’re constantly looking for things when you move; wide shots (what to include, what to exclude, etc…), close ups (what details, what movements, gestures). All of these things.

For this shot, we moved right up close after we had them get real intimate with each other and we simply asked the girl to bring her hand up to the guy’s neck/cheek; but she instinctively played with his lips. It was perfect; we didn’t really need to correct or change anything and instead, we let them have their moment as is.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

Getting them into a close up position simply involved us asking them stand as close as possible, get their foreheads together and from there – to take the moment as it comes. We asked the girl to hold onto his neck/check as they go in for a loving embrace and it was at this moment that she decided to play with his lips.

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What did you say?

guys, we want you to get real close. Hold on to each other, and bring your foreheads together. [Girl], that’s beautiful – bring your hand up to his neck, or his cheek and go in for that loving embrace. oh, shit that’s awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing. Amazing you guys!

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Tone of Directions



The whole compositional goal of this shot was to show intimacy, passion & the gesture of the hand on the lips. When we saw this moment arise, we moved in closer to fill the frame with the couple and even consciously cutting off parts of their head to ensure the frame was filled while keeping the hand in the center. Their bodies created a natural frame around the hand which draws our attention straight towards it. The arm also creates a leading line going straight up to towards where the finger touches the lip. All of these ‘micro’ elements make up the composition.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

We moved our single focus point right over the finger/lips as we knew immediately that this was the point of interest for us. It allowed us to exactly focus on this area keeping it sharp while the rest of the image would potentially fall into a blur or bokeh.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on


Equipment &

Canon 5D mark IV
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II
1/1000 @ f/2 ISO200 WB-Auto

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

This shot was taken during sunset and we specifically had them with their backs towards the sunset. We did this because it meant their faces were cast in shadow creating a much softer light to work with while also being flattering and hiding any blemishes. The fact that the sun was behind the couple also meant that we had a brilliant rim light that separates our couple from the background.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

We used our Protea presets for this edit as we really wanted to keep the tones more tanned, darker, and muted as it felt more reminiscent of the sunset happening. We adjusted the exposure sliders to keep the overall feeling of the image on the slightly “darker” side, while also enhancing the highlights. We added in a gentle radial filter to create a manual vignette which helps to lead the eyes to our point of interest.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic


The main challenge here was not disturbing their moment. It happened more or less naturally and we didn’t want our presence or directions to break that moment.

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The moment we saw this, we kept ourselves way quieter and only very gently whispered little words of encouragement .

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Location Name

Paje Village

Location aDDRESS

Paje, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Loation Type




When it comes to moments of delicacy, be as quiet and gentle as you can. The moment can be broken very easily and it’s really hard to get it back ‘naturally’. So, learn to control yourself, your emotions, your volume, and your movements so that when something like this happens, you can become… a ninja.

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