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Love Stories {by Dana Schulte Whitley}

One day, Dana Schulte Whitley (who graduated from our Enthusiast Photography Course and Advanced Photography Course just this year!!), announced in our graduates group that she loved shooting couple’s portraits so much she had decided to make this genre the focus of her business.

I’d loved all of Dana’s work, but her couples portraits in particular always stopped me in my tracks.

So for me it was a no brainer… in fact I remember I read that post, nodded and simply said “yep. You so gotta do that.”

So naturally I’ve been chasing after Dana to let us feature one of her sessions. Any one of them.

They’re all so consistently good, I could just spin around blind folded and pin the tail on any one of them and it would be amazing. So, here it is… the story of Justin and Miranda and Dana and her camera.

AND Dana shares some tips on how to shoot to achieve such authentic and beautiful images…

get out of auto mode


“This was such a special session for me! They were my first clients that were not friends or family, and I was so nervous!

They love the outdoors so I scouted a gorgeous conservation park and found this stunning patch of pine trees and fields of tall grass.

The weather was calling for rain so I was ready to cover my camera and embrace it, but the sun came out just in time for this gorgeous couple!

manual settings on dslr

I strive to capture authentic moments for couples, so I never strictly pose them or ask them to look at the camera.

For me, it is all about capturing their love for each other. I will ask them questions, play little ice breaker games, and just chat to make sure they are comfortable enough to be vulnerable in front of the camera.

It is so unnatural to have a camera following you around, so I plan for extra time so there is no pressure and we can take our time.

We shot this session during the golden hour (my favorite!), and even though the sun slipped away sooner than I wanted it to, we had some great moments! I love to backlight my subjects for really dramatic and romantic lighting.

learn manual mode on dslr

I shot with my Nikon d7200 and a 17-55mm 2.8 lens that I rented from a local camera shop.

A few tips for shooting lifestyle portraits:

  • Use a higher shutter speed. I try to keep them moving, and never have my shutter speed below 250!

  • Use a shallow depth of field. It really makes your subject pop from the background! I typically shoot between 1.8 – 2.8. I dream of a 1.4 lens though!

  • After asking a question or prompting your couple, just observe and snap away! A lot of times the moments following their reactions are really sweet and genuine.

  • Practice! I photograph every day. Even if I am stuck at home and nothing is going on, I photograph objects around my house. Moving them into different lighting, changing angles, experimenting with settings, etc.

  • Find a community to support you, local or international. It is SO important to be able to share your work, receive feedback, trade tips and ideas, etc.

  • Photograph what speaks to your soul!!! Don’t worry about what other photographers are doing or what is trending in photography. Your work will be so much more moving to your audience if it is something that moves you!”

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Crazy beautiful!!

Amiright? If you’re a person and you’re in love with another person, and you want that love captured in Dana’s gorgeous way, she works out of the St. Louis area in the US.

Get in touch with her on Facebook or over on Instagram.


If you’re ready to learn the skills it takes to capture photos like this, you can read all about our photography courses over here.




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