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The desert offers so much beauty during the day, and especially after the sun sets and everything gets completely dark. There’s something special about shooting in the dark, where the only thing that offers light is the night sky. Love is the same way, it sees you in the dark and chooses to be that shining light. This image was shot in the California desert, where we’ve been shooting all day. We really wanted to end the night and capture some beautiful night photos. All we had was the night sky and the car headlights to provide some light. Sometimes, staying a little later after dark can really offer amazing images.

We drove to an area that offered an epic backdrop to park their car, that not only depicted the beautiful location as a whole but provided symmetry. We used the headlights to create a more dramatic look and offer some back light to the couple highlighting the outer parts of their body/clothes, in turn making the dust appear more.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

We asked the couple to center themselves in front of the car and enjoy this moment between them, forget that the camera was on them, and to connect with each other. We had our them stand close to each other and we then asked the groom to grab her bum and give her kiss while dipping her (gently).

What did you say?

grab her bum, give her a kiss and dip her, just slightly.

How did you compose your image?

In photography, it’s always so boring to have the subject directly centered. However, for this shot, I feel like it was perfect. The milky way leads your eyes to the couple and then takes your eyes away from them directing you to the headlights to the desert surface where the dust is in the foreground. Your eyes aren’t immediately drawn to the couple, instead, it takes you straight to the night sky. I thought this worked so well, especially it being vertically shot. You’re able to see the dust in the foreground the headlights, the desert organic landscapes that frame the couple, the snow-capped mountains behind them, and the stars that just fill the scene.

How and what did you focus on?

I always shoot in live view, so that I can see how the image will look without it being cropped. This is also a great way to not have too much space above or below the subject. In my camera, I use Face AF + Tracking. I initially focused on the groom’s face, then it tracked it as he leaned in for a kiss. When I shoot, I’m never posing the couple, I usually always have them moving around. Face AF+tracking helps me get those really clear shots while the subject is in motion.


How did you use the light in your image?

This was shot just after the blue hour, the stars had already started to appear since we were in the desert. It was completely dark. The only light source we had was the headlights of the car which created a dramatic look. The reason things looked so dramatic was that the light behind the couple created a rim light to separate the couple from the darkness of the night, while also illuminating the dust and letting it play a bigger role in the image.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon R6


Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

I used a custom preset. I really just wanted to bring out the stars a little more and not change the editing too much. I wanted the image to still look like it was still taken at night while illuminating the sky and subject.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic


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What challenges did you face?

This was obviously the end of the day, the couple was tired since we’ve been shooting all day. We were all tired, restless, and dirty, but we still had a little bit of energy and sometimes that’s all you need.

How did you solve them?

It’s natural for us to get drained and exhausted, especially if you’ve been shooting and walking around all day. But just having the motivation and positive attitude to create beautiful art can change that.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Approach every session wholeheartedly and push yourself to be creative not only when the sun is out but when the stars come out.

Oak Image Photography

Shooting since


Current Home

United States of America



What’s good!!!! I’m a wedding photographer based out of Northern California. I love shooting couples as much as I love wearing crocs to my photo sessions. I’m all about capturing true connections, intimate and meaningful moments in the most beautiful locations.

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