• calm
  • Center Framed
  • Close up
  • Directional Light
  • Golden hour
  • holding each other
  • intimate
  • Intimate Framing
  • Natural
  • Natural Light
  • Soft Light
  • Square Crop
  • Sunset

The story behind the image

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When we took this couple out for a spontaneous couple shoot at sunset, we started a bit earlier than the “ideal” time of the day so that by the time the perfect light came, our couple would have warmed up and things would be just awesome. However, we happened to see our couple have a moment together. Just a simple hug. But it is so meaningful.

Going in for a hug that doesn’t look forced, doesn’t look staged, and doesn’t feel awkward is the absolute goal because while a kiss may be passionate, a hug can be deep. Real deep. It’s that whole embracing of the body and not wanting to let go that this image is portraying.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that speak the loudest.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

We simply asked our couple to give each other a big hug. But a genuinely real, big hug and to hold each other while doing so. Not a fast hug, nor a friendly hug. A hug that says “I f***ing love you and I don’t ever want to let you go”.

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What did you say?

Guys, we want you to give each other a hug. But a proper, big hug. Feel each other, hold each other, and just close your eyes, forget us, forget everything. You are alone here, and embrace this moment.

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Tone of Directions



We initially shot this image wide, but realised that the negative space actually took away from the impact of this shot. We then decided to experiment with a square crop while editing and we really liked the overall feel and intimacy this new look gave to the image. We framed it so that our couple filled the entire frame, even with parts of them being cut off.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

Since we wanted the arms to be the main message in the shot, we focused on her tattoos. We simply moved our focus point over her arms and let it lock on.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The Girls Tattoos

Equipment &

Canon 5D mark IV
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II
1/1600 @ f/2 ISO100 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

At the time of this shot, the sun was peeking over the building to our right and was in full view of our couple. This meant that we had rather harsh light hitting them from the side and instead of turning them around to shoot them backlit, we decided to embrace this light. After all, we were our at sunset and this harsh warm light adds a depth of realism to the image.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day


Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

We applied our protea preset as a base and adjusted the exposures and contrasts to get the overall feel that we were after. We then went into the HSL sliders to help calm down the saturated tones (due to the harsh light). We dropped the luminance of the oranges and yellows while also reducing the saturation of those colors. We warmed up the image slightly via the white balance and finally did some dodging and burning using the brush tool.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic


The biggest challenge we had was getting our tones and contrasts just right since the light was pretty harsh and we noticed that colors started to oversaturate

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We really went through each panel in Lightroom testing what each slider did in order to find the key ones that helped reduce the saturations while also keep the skin tones looking warm and healthy.

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Location Name

Paje Village

Location aDDRESS

Paje, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Loation Type




Harsh light can definitely be challenging, especially if you are not used to it. But sometimes it’s worth being brave and embracing it. Learning how to harness it and make it work for you is a skill that will save you so much stress down the line when you aren’t always given the perfect light to work with. You have nothing but a bit of time to lose when trying things out.

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