Photographed by Melli & Shayne


Theres a lot that can be said about working with couples during a styled shoot; but there’s a little something more when you manage to make a couple look authentic when, in fact, they aren’t a real couple. That was our challenge for this shoot (amongst a few other things) and it was something that genuinely excited us. We thought to ourselves, if we could get two “strangers” to show intimacy & affection, it’s only going to be easier with a real couple.

But that wasn’t our main goal of the shoot. That was just an after-shoot realization. What really inspired us for this shoot was the incredibly sparkly dress we were given by a bridal label and the fact that we found this stunning lady on Instagram who was super keen to model for us. It was a match made in heaven.

To add to the “sparkly” stuff, we also experimented with an external light source. As it was a pretty cold & miserable winter’s day, we knew we’d be missing the wow factor of having a “sun flare” in the shot lighting up all the little shapes of her dress.
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Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
We wanted to capture a moment between these two that felt authentic & genuine, though the challenge of them not being a real couple was ever-present. What we did though, was play really beautiful music on our Bluetooth speaker, and we simply asked them to get in close to each other. To close their eyes and imagine falling in love. It was at this moment that our bride raised her hand to his chest, tilted her head back, and fell into the moment.
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“Guys, let’s get you real close and have your eyes closed. Imagine for a moment you’re falling in love. Just go with the flow. Big, deep breathes and listen to the music. “
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Center FramedMiddle ThirdsBroken RulesClose UpSquare CropIntimate Framing

We originally shot this image in portrait as we chose not to include too much of the surrounding park in the image. That would inevitably take away from the intimacy of the moment. While editing though, we weren’t 100% convinced on how little emphasis the bride was getting as her moment here is really the focus. Her eyes closed, head cocked back, and her hand on his chest all ooze with intimacy. So, we experimented with a crop. It’s not a perfect square, but that doesn’t matter. We found a framing that we felt included enough surrounding information, enough light, and enough of the couple to bring forward the feelings we wanted.
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Rules are made to be broken. Don’t confine yourself to just a 3:4 or 4:3 crop ratio. Crop to whatever the heck you like. So long as it makes sense to you & it feels right.


Single Point Focused on The Brides eye Live View Single Shot
As we had our light positioned just behind our couple and off to the side ever so slightly, we did have a little of a challenge focusing as the light hitting the lens did throw off the focus. So what we did was move slightly so we could lock onto the bride’s eye, and then reconnect our composition. It wasn’t a huge movement, but just enough to get the focus.
Light & Weather

Soft LightArtificial LightBack litRim LightBrightOvercast

Since the day itself was super miserable and overcast, it meant the light we had was rather flat and easy. It’s great for skin tones and such but can also be a bit boring. So we decided to bring an external video light with us (constant light) so that we could experiment with it and hopefully create something interesting. We had the light set up just behind the couple, a tad higher than their head height and just to the side. Though realise afterward, we wish we raised it about a foot higher. We did love the flaring it created though.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/400 f/1.2 ISO 100 WB Auto


Canon R5


Canon 50mm f/1.2 L

Additional Equipment

Aputure LS60x

Flash / External Light Setup

Since we do filmmaking as well, we decided to bring our video light with us. It’s a constant light (not like a flash where it lights for a split second, but rather stays on the whole time) which is awesome because it allowed us to see exactly where and what the light was doing. We positioned it just behind our couple and set the temperature to be pretty warm. As for power, we had no scientific method – we just raised the power if needed.

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Light / Flash

Aputure LS60x

Light / Flash Mode


Light / Flash Power





Behind couple, slightly to the side


Adobe Lightroom Classic The Roots Presets

Software used:


Adobe Lightroom

We knew we wanted to keep the warmth going in this shot despite it being a rather cool winter day. The warm light temperature and the naturally tanned skin of the couple made this pretty easy to edit. We added a new custom preset of ours and adjusted everything to get the overall temperature & tones we were after. We also added in a bit more punch by dropping the blacks, shadows and raising the clarity. We finally added some grain to bring a bit more texture to the image.
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This image was edited with

The Roots Presets

Challenges & Solutions
Amongst many other little challenges we had (mentioned throughout), we also had to deal with the fact that it was pretty darn cold. Our bride was wearing just her dress with an open back and with almost no sun breaking through the clouds, the temperatures dropped pretty fast each minute.


Garden / Field Germany


Schlossgarten Erlangen, Erlangen

Final tips & Advice

While soft, overcast light can be really easy to work with – it also can start to be a bit boring. Learning to experiment with different light sources (whether artificial or natural) is not only great for you as a skilled photographer, it can be incredibly fun & rewarding. For sure you won’t love every shot you take, but what you do walk away with is a lesson on how you wouldn’t do it again. That wisdom is invaluable.
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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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