• Center Framed
  • Directional Light
  • Energetic
  • holding each other
  • Hug
  • Laughing
  • Mid range
  • Natural
  • Natural Light
  • Ocean
  • Playful
  • Rule of thirds
  • sea
  • Soft Light
  • Sunset
  • Water

The story behind the image

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This session is still one of my favorites today, for the simple reason that I have known this couple personally for a long time, and knowing how shy and introverted S is, I never would have imagined taking them out for a couple shoot someday.

To make things even more difficult, being aware of how intimate my style and photos usually are further increased his apprehension and feeling of exposure, vulnerability, and discomfort. I knew I would have to respect these feelings, take them into account the whole time and adjust to them, build trust, lead gently and direct with confidence if I wanted to capture moments and images that they could love and that would feel true to them and respectful of who they are.

This is one of the first photos from the session, and you can tell from the smiles that they are loosening up and starting to have fun, but still feel a little bit nervous. What I did to soothe resistance and apprehension was immediately suggest going to the beach.

For one because I knew this familiar environment would help them relax and take their minds off the camera, but also because the water, as a “lively” element, works for me in cases like this: when the water physically moves your body, your body language unconsciously adjusts to it, and so any stiffness you might have had because of camera shyness instantly disappears.

The water element is also a very playful one, it makes it easy to let loose, to tame your nerves by just splashing and fooling around, and having something to do makes people feel more in control, less vulnerable, less exposed, and from there I can get them to relax and lead them towards a more emotive and intimate space as the session progresses.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

As this was just a few minutes into our photoshoot, I wanted to give them directions that would be easy to follow, so I just asked them to sit together on the beach just where the waves washed ashore, snuggled up facing each other, and added a few suggestions of things they could do to empower them and help them relax. Then all I had to do was give the waves a second to come in and play their part.

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What did you say?

Alright guys, we’re just going to start with something fun and easy here okay? I’d just like you to both sit down where the waves are washing up please. Snuggled up facing each other and simply find yourself a comfortable position. There, awesome, that’s perfect. Now just relax, have a little chat, tickle and splash each other if you wish.

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I had S and M sit down on the beach, with M turning her back on me because I wanted her tattoos to show on the photo. I also asked them to sit where the waves washed ashore because I wanted some water all around them, yet not coming too high up as to hide their upper body. I knew the interactions with the waves would create a natural dynamic in the photo, a genuine expression and possibly interesting lines, like in this particular image, where the foam really wraps them up in a nice curve.

I photographed this image standing, so as to give it a downward angle, my reason for doing this was because I wanted a frame cleared of any distractions, such as other landscape elements including the beach, the sky, the horizon line etc. I wanted an image that was simply all about them, with the water adding something natural, wild, unpredictable, fun and intimate all at once.

I had M wrap her legs around S because I knew in this position, when the waves would hit them, they would naturally hold on to each other in a very nice way, and I asked S to bring his hand up to bring additional movement and dynamic, line and story telling elements to the frame. As a general rule, I always pay particular attention to hands in my compositions, and like to make sure at least one is visible.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

There was no particular difficulties with the focus on this image, I used the flexible spot to focus on S’s eyes and shot in continuous autofocus to make sure that they would be free to move and be natural without losing my focus.

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Focus Mode

Continuous Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

His eyes

Equipment &

Sony A7iii
Sony FE 24mm F1.4GM
1/250 @ f/1.8 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

We went on this session late in the afternoon on a sunny day, so there was a lot of ambient light, yet it was all softened as we were approaching sunset time. We were not yet into the golden hour, so colors didn’t have that typical golden hour cast, but we were close enough to it not to deal with any harsh light anymore.

The sun, the only light source on this photo, was on our right hand side, hitting towards M’s back and S’s face, and high enough still on the horizon to hit us with some angle.

Such lighting scenario is flattering and requires less thinking/decision-making. I find this useful when I am leading a couple that is camera shy and I want to be able to give them all of my attention without having to think about best use of light too much or be challenged by it. It might not be the lighting scenario that has me most creative with light, but it gives me the level of comfort that I want to communicate to my couple in order for them to relax and ease into our session.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

As an ambassador for Archipelago Quest presets I like to play around with their latest releases instead of heading straight to my custom presets as I used to. On this particular session the LXCQ iii worked really well, all I had to do was adjust the blue shift to warm it up and get it closer to the hue I like. Then I bumped the slider and vibrance cursors from 0 to +15 (contrast) and +10 (vibrance). To finish off I applied a heavy vignetting (-40) to give the image a more intimate feel and a stronger focus on S and M and that was it.

For details and polishing I used a brush to sharpen and whiten the foam around them, making that beautiful curve pop, and I cloned S’s foot in the down right corner of the image. it was slightly cropped out of the frame and it just bothered me.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom


This wasn’t a highly difficult image to compose or photograph, so the main challenge, to me, was on my lead. As this was the start of the session with a couple feeling vulnerable and exposed despite wanting those photos, I knew that how I led these first photos was going to set the tone for the rest of the session: Either I managed to build trust, reassure them and eventually lead them into an intimate and emotive space, or I would trigger their anxieties, make them feel self-aware and awkward, and miss my chance to capture them in an honest and authentic way.

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I removed as much technicalities and difficulties as possible right from the start: easy pose, easy lighting scenario, clean composition. I showed them that the shooting process could be fun, natural and organic; that if they trusted me I could lead them with simple and easy to follow direction, that I wouldn’t be posing them in too much detail and that they would still have some level of control over their experience as models. I believe once these triggers were neutralized, they were able to enjoy this moment in each other’s company and let me handle the rest.

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Location Name

Mélé beach

Location aDDRESS

Mélé Beach Bar

Loation Type

Beach / Coastal



A session like this makes you realize that in our line of work, mastering your craft, knowing your gear, your light, your intention and vision is what enables you to put it all in the backseat when necessary, and put your couple first. Give them the attention, the communication and the lead that they need from you. In my view, this makes a world of difference in the final results, whether in terms of experience or in terms of moments, emotions and images captured.

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