It has been 16 or so months of firsts since picking up a camera with any intent at all back in 2013. In fact, being so new to photography means that just about all the work I do is pretty much a first. This was made imminently clear, in the company of some seasoned pro's recently. I was sweating about planning my first official couples shoot, while listening to them reminisce about their hundreds of couple, wedding and portrait shoots. That's right, hundreds ... each.

Getting back to the title however; this is more of a positive spin on doing things for the first time, especially things that we enjoy on one level, but scares us on another. In all pursuits, be they for pleasure or profit, repetition and experience brings a certain level of comfort and confidence, but I bet we all remember our first time and the adrenalin rush that came with it. This, for me, is one of the great things about being new to photography, as just about all shoots are new and exciting.

As couple shoots go, and I have very little to compare to, my first went reasonably well, but was a little, let's say challenging in some areas. Regardless, we had fun and the couple were very happy with the result. So I am counting it as a win.

The shoot started out with some formal poses to get warmed up, using a fantastic, giant lantern as a backdrop. I decided on a crisp, clean approach here, with strong lighting to punch the the couple out of the background. For the day I was limited to two speedlites with umbrellas but made the most of them here. At this stage, all was going well with the couple starting to relax and liking what they saw. This was shot at f/5.6, ISO-100, 1/200th @ 98mm. The editing style for the formal shots was straight forward, retaining the crispness and detail while applying some basic skin smoothing in PS.

From there, as the later afternoon approached, we moved the shoot out side for a relaxed picnic setup. The idea being to get some playful, relaxed, sun-drenched natural light shots. And this is where nature decided to throw a spanner in the works by blowing in grey, gloomy skies, wind and the threat of imminent rain. I decided to go with a single speedlite and umbrella, partly because I needed to brighten things up a tad due to the lack of light and partly because the wind kept blowing them over! At this point the guys were very relaxed and we got some amazing shots, regardless of the uncooperative weather. This was shot at f/2.8, ISO-100, 1/200th @ 61mm. I edited the picnic series with some added yellows and glow to warm the shots and at least make he final product look as though it was shot on a warm sunny day. :)

As mentioned above, I don't have too much reference experience, but it does seem that posing a regular (i.e. non-model) couple in an intimate embrace is rather tricky. In between shots, they interact and cuddle etc. quite well and this is the time to catch them true to each other. This was exactly how this one came about as we were wrapping up the outside shoot. Shot at f/3.5, ISO-200, 1/60th @ 56mm.

As the weather got worse and the rain started becoming a reality, we move back indoors to try some dramatic shots in a dark and moody smoking room. This part of the shoot was by far the trickiest as it was quite difficult to get the camera to focus in the very low light conditions. I made full use of the speedlites, in this case just the one, to create some great shadows and produce just enough light to bring out some details. This was shot at f/4.5, ISO-400, 1/60th @ 49mm.

In keeping with the indoor drama, but with a softer touch, we did this shot as a beauty shot for the future bride using a single light source. I did a low contrast edit and tried to balance the tone across the image for a washed out, dreamy look. Shot at f/5.0, ISO-400, 1/60th @ 64mm.

The best advice I got before this shoot was from Warren James who simply told me not to sweat the technical details and just relax and enjoy the couple and that will come though in the final result. I tried to put that advice into practice on the day and to some extent successfully managed to put the nerdy techie stuff into the back of my mind and made sure I interacted with the couple as much as possible.

Over all, I think I managed come away from this shoot with some really nice photographs and lesson's learned that will come in handy for next time. Thank you to Rudy and Sasha for the opportunity to make something special for you and thank you Charlene for all the help and inspiration.

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