Assistant Q&A


30 Days of Wedding Photography


Lesson Info

Assistant Q&A

Any questions from you guys are from the internet about anything we've talked about so far? Absolutely I thought this was a great one for from kobe one two, three, four, five does sandra carry her own liability insurance or does susan cover sandra through susan's policy and if so, is susan liable for sandra? Should sandra make a mistake where a lawsuit might happen and that's something we kind of go back and forth on a lot because technically she is not an employee of mine, right? So technically she should have her own liability insurance because she is she's basically treated as a freelancer or contractor however, if she like if she takes pictures for me and the pictures don't come out that goes under the umbrella of my contract right like anything that she does photographically for me is under the umbrella of susan's tripling photography covered by my contract but if she were to fall and like hurt herself she's not I don't have like worker's comp for her because she is not an actual ...

employees. However, because she has been with me for so long my insurance is set to renew this year we've actually talked about it and I need to have yet another conversation with my lawyer, my accountant and my insurance company to see if there's anything that I could do to pull her under the umbrella of susan's tripling photography because she takes the train up to me she travels she rides in the car like and this isn't just once or twice a year that even though I'm not legally technically liable for her I'd like to find out if I can be without having to make her a full time employee so that's something that's a very tricky thing and it varies based on where you live so if you've got somebody working with you full time you need to talk to kind of the professionals that you work with legally insurance wise call your insurance company and say hey, this is the situation that I've got what are my options here and then take it over to your lawyer and your account and say what can I do with how this person because she can't be a full time employee with me because that's just not the nature of how we work so it is a really, really tricky thing that that needs to be answered by the professionals in your business it's a very good question yes and everyone is just loving I just have to say that everyone is loving having the actual sandra like she actually she's here and sandra is jerry on sandra is jerry says season is an amazing photographer and friend we consider her family now on dh it's just a highlight to work with her so it's fun to see I think everyone's also enjoying seeing you're jerry in the chatroom commenting on your on your president it's susan slade, photography ass for sandra, what advice would you give, tio, a new assistant thiss person is looking to hire someone new, and it would be nice to hear your perspective on what it's helpful to know helpful for the assistant like hurt isn't her job. Yeah, it was helpful information, starting out to educate the assistant on what to expect and really get to know the person I mean, I think that was the biggest thing was for me to figure out how you worked and part like personally, like just knowing how she reacted to certain situations and how I kind of had a habit like manager to say, like if she was starting to get panicky. Obviously I can't get panicky over something like when we've gotten lost somewhere. If she's starting to get aggravated, the last thing she needs is for you two get aggravated, so, you know, just quiet down a balance each other out and just learn how to read the person. I think that was a huge part of that was toe learn how to balance each other out, and I've really because you can learn how the day structures out. Right, like you could you could go to them and ask the questions like what do you expect for me? Oh, you expect me to help you like family formal so you expect me to do this for dancing? You expect this that or the other but then the more we work together, the more she realizes okay susan's propensity to leave lenses everywhere is something I need to be more vigilant about its like in any job when you're kind of realizing the things that make your boss different right like and how you khun handle those like things like when we go on car trips some people make their assistant dr I like to drive like that's just another one of the things that we've sort of worked out and I don't mind carrying the bad but I really hate putting the flash together like it's it's being willing to get to know and I think just just giving getting an understanding of what the person expects from you and starting out with the general expectation of this is this is what I'm expected to dio and lauren learn from it and eventually just as your your going on you start to realize okay, she she could probably use help doing this and you know that it would probably make her life easier if I could have this already ready not have to wait for her to say okay now I need my eighty five now I need the seventy two hundred like now I just know all right simon rants coming okay, that eighty five goes off seventy two hundred goes on it's already ready for she doesn't have to think and it's just something that wasn't expected of me but now I know it and and just took a while to do that exactly and another thing that could be really handy if you work with multiple assistance or you hire different assistance in different locations right? An assistant's handbook right on an employee manual of what you expect from them because it's a weird job you can't expect somebody to hit the ground running and know you inside and out it's gonna be awkward for a while and we still you know, for a long time I was like and now we need to do this and now his hands wanting their while there was a lot of handholding beginning yeah, you can't expect to just be able to have that relationship with someone they're going to know it's everybody's different I mean, I could turn around like I've I've helped her husband and his the way he works his day it's so completely different to me at least the way susan works her day so it's kind of like I still I still kind of get hand held with him like for the few times that I've helped temp but I mean, it's very different for everybody, and likewise, I've worked with my husband's assistant a couple of times and he'll come to me and he'll be like, okay, are you ready for this? And I'm like, what? Oh, that's, what you do for cliff no, I don't need you to do that for me. That's fine it's everyone has a different thing that they need from their assistant, and it is largely personal, so above and beyond knowing what the job entails, knowing physically what you're going to be expected to do. That's why we that's one of the reasons why we have lunch before almost every angle wedding we shoot, we sit down, we go over the timeline, we talk about the people we talk about, you know, and this is going to be coming, and I'm going to need you to remember that we're going to need to do this at this time, it's almost like a pregame meeting, and then we just sort of it's like, getting into the pool really slowly, you know, we kind of ease into the day so that by the time we go in, we've known well, everyone's names we knew who's got siblings, I've also made her a user on my shoe q account so at any point in time that she needs to get in there and look around to look at but dates or anything like that she can but she was with me for a few years before I set her up is a user she's with me for five years and now she has a susan's rippling credit card shopping for me but for all the times that she's needed to pay for a valet or get herself a train ticket it helps that she has the capabilities to just do it on our own but that's not something that I would have done right away at all that's that's evolutionary with any employees that you're going to have in any aspect of life any other questions yes from for sandra what do you schooled susan for when we release gold I call you about when your face starts to get she started I mean she gets flustered but when you when you had to repeat yourself it's like sometimes it's like working with toddlers it really is as come on no you have to look at the guys look at me look at me look at me over here and then I just kind of just go like this and I go calm down and then I go okay everyone you need to back off and in front of me I just layer is the face I just know the face and I don't I mean don't skold, but just leaving just leaving the gears, the gear like sometimes she'll give me anxiety shall leave it just like sitting on the edge of the stage and I'm like it's kind of a bull I don't want it to fall like like no, no, I just assume that you're behind me and I put it down and I walk away yeah, yeah, we're yeah, you're just on the dance floor really? On the dance floor here and before the horrors getting ready to start my god, my gosh, with horace starts unlike him to put down the seventy two, two hundred guests are trampling over and she's like, are you serious? But yeah, I mean, but I think those are the two things I call you out for I but it's just more just for your sake. I don't want people looking at her and going susan really just had this attitude all day. It's usually it's a strategy tude, it's because my facial expression, especially when I get in anyway flustered, just looks really furious and I would have never called her out on that the first oh, god, first year I ever helped her, it was once I actually knew you want like a that's friend personal level that I'm like, you've got the lock you need to eat well back and like but you also tell you you tried me about how I keep the bag like if I just fling stuff in the bag as I do sometimes and we can't find things she'll open the bag and she'll be like are you serious like stuffs rolling around all over the place and I don't I keep the bag in a certain order because it's just easy I know I know exactly clear now isn't on her bag I just know where the things that I could just stick my hand that back and I can pull it out without even looking and also not go in there and I either look at her and go what did you do or who helped you last it's one of the two and the person incident of two thousand eleven as she put it chris elkhart that was grocer cristante that you that thing was like six months old by the time you pull that thing and it was just it was dust we I was like what did you do to the bag was so gross but I really think kind of makes or breaks an assistant in the period of time that you work with them is how you handle a crisis together not how I handle a crisis and how she supports me like the really awful day I mentioned this in one of the creative lives that when I way arrived in cape may, new jersey, to shoot a wedding. I opened the trunk. I turned around and looked at sandra and I was like, hey, I didn't bring the batteries and she's like the double a's. I was like the camera batteries. Any of them I don't pack up the bag to go. She packs up the bag to go because I charge all the batteries and I always in the medium. Father said that one was on. Yeah, no, it was totally my fault, but it was she was able to look at me and be like, oh, my god, this is bad like this. It just isn't kind of bad. This is really bad and she and how do we solve this problem together? Because when something goes south on me, it goes south on us together. The day that I was shooting a first look on a rooftop and I dropped my deform my seventy two, two hundred and they broke. I was able to literally hand that camera and lens to her and say, take a look at this, see if you can figure it out, see if there are any rental shops open and at bottom if nothing else happens. Text our friend jeff see if he's in the city with the cameron elin's I could have been fine without them that it just made me super nervous she was able to take that in trouble shoot the entire situation while I put in eighty five on my other camera and kept on going and then stop the day I didn't and you can't let you know those those situations affect your your work with the client during the day either you can't sit there and have a complete breakdown in front of the client cause that's just what he wants to find an assistant that can help you all day long when everything is excellent but it's when things go bad real fast that I just don't see that what makes or breaks the relationship if she made like if I panicked and she panicked and it made things worse it would be difficult or if we move it when we both got irritated we got irritated with each other that would make it worse but we don't do that now now I know what you get now when you get irritated at the situation in general, I just kind of know that to stay quiet and you do the same thing kind of like if I'm getting stressed out about something she kind of stays quiet she looks okay, okay, yeah sometimes there were very silent car very silent for like an hour to and then also it and one of us some sort of shows and then we'll see you on the dance I was gonna say song and dance starts breaking out somewhere, working our way through the broadway hit musicals generally they have to have to lead so that it's evenly split. She does more of the singing. I take speaking roles so we're waiting in the car that would be my new video tutorial is how to do a two person performance in book of mormon way really need to go for on the dash way do not need to go pro on thed like jerry seinfeld's comedians in cars getting coffee I don't think we would be good if you could only be funny to us anyhow anything, anything else before you move on and talk about lighting a little bit, I think only to say that I think that I want to add that below point to my job description for hiring an assistant must sing and dance it's fine it's so much fun I your day can be complete without a little bit singing uh oh let's, go let's, go internet, please. So at the time that you had sander come on board as an assistant, how did that correlates with the amount of money that we're charging per wedding really had nothing to do with it because when I very first started out and I was charging, you know, when I first started bringing along an assistant I was charging like twenty, five hundred dollars and I paid my assistant a hundred dollars it was also based on where I lived and you know, cost of living in all of that and as my prices but I also expected very little from that assistant for the hundred dollars I didn't expect them to be like a crisis management expert in the way that they were, but as I started charging more and was able to put more like more requirements upon the assistant the pay rate also enough it went from one to one fifty and then it jumped from one fifty two fifty and when you first started with me it was three hundred and now we're at three fifty and then I also pay more for overtime but did that allow you to charge more? I feel like it does yes, okay because I was able to out on us that light I was able to change the look of the images I was able to give better customer service to the client on the day of the wedding because I had an additional person with me and we're very clear to people that she's not a second shooter very, very, very clear that she's not that she's just there to help and I say that she is a jack of all trades she can do a little bit of everything there are certain parts of the day that she will photograph but she's not a second shooter you do cocktail hour for me to get a picture of you guys get a picture of you guys can get a picture of you guys but that's I can't say second shooter because if I ever need her during cocktail hour they can't have the expectation that she's going to be shooting something so as the job paid better it had more responsibilities but it also allowed me to make better images which allowed me to charge more if I were charging fifteen hundred dollars for a wedding photography it would be stupid to pay an assistant three hundred fifty dollars like that just doesn't make any sense at all and if you're in the middle of nowhere in your cost of living is really low and you don't charge that much money you don't why would you pay your assistant that much money? I feel like it's pretty well in line within its tits for an eight hour day if the day is longer if the day involves travel if the day is especially brutal she gets paid more and if we get a tip on a wedding day we split it just fifty fifty straight up mostly, we generally stuff in the bag and forget about it. Just stuff it and use it for something is true. We'll forget about yesterday. How often do you get tips? Twice a year, three times a year, never, usually with korean weddings with chinese weddings, it's more of a cultural customs tip. Yeah, but not I mean, not that often. Every once in a while, it's, a nice surprise. We is it's, very few and far between it's been various it's, very sweet, and we always I mean, we just split it. Sometimes I just give it to our depends on how hard the day is.

Class Description

Success as a wedding photographer requires more than just raw talent and the desire to be a professional photographer. To survive in this highly competitive industry, you need strong business skills and a deep understanding of your craft. In this documentary wedding photography experience, Susan Stripling will teach you how to launch and sustain a successful wedding photography business.

During 30 days of step-by-step instruction, Susan will show you how to:

  • Develop your business — everything from honing your creative vision to marketing tactics to studio management
  • Fundamental shooting techniques for every possible wedding scenario by inviting you along to an engagement session and wedding day and with real-life clients — not models! 
  • Post production workflow
  • Marketing and sales
  • Album design
During the start-to-finish documentary coverage of the wedding day, Susan will teach you how she handles each part of the experience, from photographic technique to client care, all with zero re-takes or re-shoots. Susan will wrap up the 30 days with detailed instruction on post-production workflow, post-wedding marketing, album design, post-wedding sales, and much, much more.

By the end of this course, you will have accompanied Susan through every step of a wedding and will have the skills, mindset, and tools needed to make a living — and a name for yourself — as a wedding photographer.


1Introduction 2Evolution of Susan's Style 3Branding and Identity 4Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned 1Introduction to Gear & Equipment 2Lenses Part 1 3Lenses Part 2 4Lighting 1Seeing the Scene 2Seeing the Scene Q&A 3Rhythm and Repetition 4Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds 5Rule of Odds and Double Exposures 1Intro to Business 1Financing Your Business 1Q&A Days 1-4 1Pricing Calculator 1Package Pricing 1Marketing 1Vendor Relationships & Referrals 1Marketing w Social Media 1Booking the Client 1The Pricing Conversation 1Turn A Call Into a Meeting 1In Person Meeting 1Wedding Planning 1Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down 1Engagement Session Details 1Engagement Session On Location 1Wedding Details & Tips 1Detail Photos Reviewed 1Bridal Preparation 1Bridal Preparation Photo Review 1Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios 1Q&A Days 5-11 1First Look Demo 1First Look Examples 1Portraits of the Bride 1Portraits of the Bride and Groom 2Family Portraits Demo 3Family Formal Examples 4Wedding Ceremony Demo 1Wedding Ceremony Examples 2Different Traditions and Faiths 3Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo 4Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples 5Wedding Introductions 6First Dance 7Wedding Toasts 8Parent Dances 9Wedding Party 10Reception Events 11Nighttime Portraits 12Nighttime Portraits with Found Light 13Post Wedding Session Demo 14Post Wedding Session Critique 15Wedding Day Difficulties 16Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure 17Post Workflow - Culling Shots 18Post Workflow - Outsourcing 19Q&A Days 12-23 20Post Workflow - Gear 21Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing 22Managing Your Studio 23Post Wedding Marketing 24Client Care 25Pricing for Add-Ons 26The Album Process 27Balancing Your Business with Life 28Post Wedding Problems 29Parent Complaints 30Unhappy Customers 31Working with an Assistant 32Assistant Q&A 33Lighting with an Assistant 34Q&A Days 24-30



All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.

Tammy Hoherz

I am actually a HS science teacher, but also have a small wedding photography business. I bought this class because I looked at her work. I won't buy a class on CL unless the instructor has beautiful work. Of course that doesn't mean a person is a good instructor. Well IMO, Susan is a very good instructor. She doesn't get off on too many tangents and sticks pretty much to the point. As a student, that is key. I also have Roberto Valenzuela's course, and his approach is different. Both of these photographers are great. But Susan's approach to business and shooting and work flow is a nice contrast. I appreciate her information about outsourcing work. This was very helpful to me. Kudos to Susan and her teaching abilities.