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I recently traveled to Utah, USA and attended a series of styled shoots organized by a talented Utah-based photographer named Cara Mia for Cara Mia Creatives. This specific shoot was styled by Melissa Tshikamba and inspired by an African tribe. Every detail of this styled shoot was done with intentionality. From the outfits to accessories to makeup, every aspect was executed so perfectly. I was captivated by the inspiration for the shoot and wanted to make sure I captured the significance of every detail and shoot with intention. I am very happy with how this image turned out. I feel as if it captures each beautiful detail with grace while retaining their power. There is a little secret that I will share in how I shot this!

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I had the couple connect back-to-chest facing toward the light source but glancing down creating a soft gaze. I wanted them to keep the same pose as each other, look natural while coming off almost statuesque. I had them look down to appear more powerful/superior. I had the model gently hold their arm to add some softness to their posture.

What did you say?

Please get close together and position yourself back-to-chest. Face your bodies towards the sun and glance your eyes gently down to your left. Bring your arm up to your shoulder and gently hold onto your arm.

How did you compose your image?

I framed the shot to have the light source coming from the left side of the image and have the models just after the middle to the right. I used the rule of thirds and positioned their heads where they would meet intersecting lines. I did this to create visual interest onto the models. The background is blurred as I wanted the main focus to be on the models. My secret trick was using clear cellophane on the left part of the lens! This softened the light and added haze to the background.

How and what did you focus on?

I focused on their eyes. I use the touch option on my camera for this shot to adjust my focus instead of using auto focus. I was able to have my camera capture both models with the right amount of sharpness. When lowering your aperture, it is important to pay attention to where you are focusing. If you have multiple subjects and depending on where you focus, some subjects in your image will be out of focus thus compromising the sharpness of your photo. Most newer cameras have great autofocus but it is important pay attention to where it lands. I recommend keeping focus on the eyes/face area for the best results and if there are multiple subjects, focus on the middle.


How did you use the light in your image?

Natural sunlight was used in this photo. It was late morning, so the sun was getting brighter and brighter. This type of direct and bright light can be trickier to shoot in as it can create harsh shadows and contrast if not worked with carefully. I typically shoot with the sun behind my subjects, but because the sun was still low enough, I was able to have my subjects facing toward the sun. The trick for me was adding that clear cellophane over the left part of my lens which almost created a filter for the sun, softening the photo while adding a creative touch.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Sony A7 III


Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

I edit in Adobe Lightroom and I use Archipelago Presets – specifically ExFilm 06 for this photo. I wanted a soft and warm edit while having the models contrasted from the background. When I shot this photo, I shot it a touch underexposed due to the bright sunlight at that time. During editing, I lowered the contrast a little bit and brought down the shadows to create depth. I used the brush tool to smooth out skin texture and used the heal tool to remove any makeup imperfections and other distractions. I also used the brush tool to brighten and lift shadows from their eyes. Lastly, I added some vignette to the photo to draw attention more to the models.

Software Used

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What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge was the light. We had to work fast at this point as the sun got brighter and brighter. It was still safe to have the models facing the sun without squinting or having harsh shadows. Another challenge was working with the clear cellophane on my lens, but that was a lot of fun to play around with! Not pictured but another challenge were all the bugs flying around!! I may have edited a few out of the photo!

How did you solve them?

I had the models quickly form this pose before the sun got too bright. I also underexposed the image to prevent anything from becoming “blown out”. It is better to underexpose and bring up the exposure and shadows while editing than overexposing which is very difficult to recover your photo from.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Photography is about having fun! All of my best images have come from me experimenting and playing around with new compositions and tools. And shoot with intention. When I first started, I would click my shutter endlessly hoping for the best. So think about your shot and the feeling you want to evoke, experiment and have fun with it and you will produce art every time! And remember there is beauty in imperfections.

Venture Out Photography

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Hey hey! I am a photographer and adventurer from Vancouver, BC. I am a super clumsy, super tall and super silly gal who takes pleasure in a good playlist, long drives, a tight hug and oat-milk lattes. When I’m not snapping pics, I am making a mess in the kitchen, petting my dog until he gets sick of me, and reading self-help books. My absolute favourite thing to do is adventuring and hiking through the backcountry of beautiful British Columbia. I am happiest when bundled in my sleeping bag spending the night under the stars with fellow adventure pals.

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