Bridal Preparation


30 Days of Wedding Photography


Lesson Info

Bridal Preparation

So a few things to talk about before I show you the video that illustrates blair getting ready on her wedding day. The first thing that I want to mention is the gear that I'm bringing to this portion of the day. If you saw us yesterday when I photographed the details at the start of the day, you'll see that I start off with my hundred five millimeter on my d for that's so that I can photograph the details with the macro lens that I love ever so very, very much now, after that, my defore gets the eighty five millimeter, one point four on it, the eighty five one forest we've talked about already when we talked about gear and equipment and a little bit when we talked about vision and creativity. Eighty five one four is one of my workhorse lenses for the getting ready portion of the day it's a focal length of that I love it's, a really beautiful, sharp, crisp fast piece of glass it's long enough to give me some of the compression that I love, but I can't shoot a seventy two, two hundred mi...

llimeter in your average everyday getting ready room, so the eighty five really is my go to linz for that now I do carry two bodies with me when I'm photographing a wedding. I haven't set up the second body yet because I shoot all of my details with the d four and one hundred five millimeter macro when it's time to really get started documenting the people documenting the motion documenting the actual getting ready part of the day that defore the macro comes off and the eighty five millimeter one point four goes on and my d three s comes in to play by d three s has the twenty four to seventy millimeter on it that twenty four to seventy millimeter stays on the d three s throughout almost the entirety of the wedding day. The only time I will change that lens off is during the reception if I decide to go for a smaller lighter linds but we're not there yet, so you've got the twenty four to seventy on the d three s we've got the eighty five on the d for I don't have a flash on either camera because I'm photographing the getting ready either with all natural light, which is what happens ninety five percent of the time at the weddings that I shoot or if I'm in a very difficult space if there aren't any windows if the light is very limiting, I will have my assistant hold our ice light to mimic window light at no point in time in the last ten years have I put a flash on a camera for the getting ready portion of the wedding day itself so we have those two cameras we've got the lenses on them to get a little bit more into the technical details my defore which has two cards lots I do use both cards lots the first card slot is a sixty four gig card and I put my raw files on that I have a thirty two gig backup card in the backup card slot that I fire fine j pegs on too on the d three s it's the exact same principles but because the final sizes are a little smaller there's a thirty two gig card in the main card slot and a sixteen gig receiving those fine j pegs in the second slot for the most part for an entire wedding day I don't have to change the cards out of my camera at all. Now I know a lot of you might be gasping in shock and putting your hands to your mouth and saying, oh my gosh, you put all your eggs in one basket like that and I do it's because after thirteen years of looking at photographers online reading about photographers on message boards, hearing problems that people are having when I've noticed that a photographer has lost images it's been because they physically lost the card they lost their card wallet they fumbled when they were changing a card during an event and something got physically lost if there ever was data loss which I never have had happened cannot knock on enough wood for this one I do have that backup cards thought that backup card slot is always working so I don't carry a card wallet on me throughout the day I don't have anything on my belt for card I have a cross body bag across myself that holds my phone and it does have to back up cards in it just for just for any strange reason I do need to change one out we do not form at the cards until we start the day so the last thing that we do when we put the cart hammers together before we actually walk into the getting ready room we sink our date in time on both cameras so they're exactly the same and then we format both cards you'll see during the workflow section that when I get home at the end of the night, the only cards that I take out of the camera are the cards with the raw files on them the backup j pegs state in the camera and do not get reformatted until I'm right about to shoot the very next event as I've mentioned no flash, no video light unless absolutely extraordinarily necessary and buy necessary I mean maybe one time a year if even that one time every other year when you find yourself in a catering hall when you find yourself in a dark place literally not figuratively. When you find yourself in a dark place and you actually need to light it up, I will go with e ice light but that's an absolute last resort and shooting the getting ready on aperture priority there's not a whole lot of need for me to go over to manual. I'm generally an aperture priority shooter, not because I don't know how to set my settings, but it's because it's just simply the way that feels the best to me, I would rather control my exposure compensation, then change my settings one is not wrong, one is not right, it's just simply the way that I like to work. For the most part, my white balance is either going to be on auto or it's going to be on cloudy if I have any natural light that I'm working with it all be bright sunlight or indirect light coming in through a window. I'm generally going to set my nikon onto cloudy white balance now when I used to be a cannon shooter, I couldn't use cloudy white balance it made the images skew more towards a magenta sort of color cast so I would shoot on auto, but the nikon cloudy white balance brings a warmth to the image that I really like and is very much a hallmark of the type of work that I do if the light in the room is difficult, if it's two fluorescent or if there's too many light sources and mixing, if I have window light mixing with a different light source in the room, I will go on auto, which gives us a nice neutral so that we can choose how to color balance it better in post production. I'm always trying to get my white balance as close as I possibly can at the time that I'm shooting so that we don't have to make adjustments later, but yeah, sometimes you do have to do things like that. There simply isn't a way to color balance for ten different light sources in one room, so we do the best that we can, and in terms of how I meet her, I my camera is set to matrix meter, but I don't use it like I don't there's no way to say this that that that doesn't promote anything other than the fact that you really need experience and time shooting to be able to choose your settings on the fly, you could turn my camera to spot metering. You could turn it to however you wanted it to meet her, and I'm not paying any attention to what my camera is telling me I'm meeting by what my eyes seeing. I know whether I need to increase or decrease my exposure compensation simply by looking at the scene and that's not something that I could do on the fly thirteen years ago thirteen years ago I carried a light meter with me there's no problems with that if that's what you need to do do it you know, nine years ago I could sort of do the settings in my head but I had to think about it for a little bit and now because of the experience because of the number of years that I've been doing it I can assess the scene and I can automatically tell you whether I'm going to need toe overexposed or under exposed or changes setting here or change of setting there. So when asked how I meet her I don't meet her in my camera I made her in my head so with that said we have a video for you of a very condensed version of blair getting ready it hit all of the highlights you get to see me working in several different scenarios in situations all the way from her in the makeup chair through her getting her dress on so take a look at the video enjoy and we'll see you on the other side when I started photographing blair getting ready I realize that her chair was too close to the window and the light on her face was unflattering and bright is there anyway, if I move this chair behind you can we scooped her back? Just a hair, will it screw you up, light wise? Okay, wait from here, I was able to change my angle on by changing on li mei I s o left the rest of my settings the same I was able to capture the light falling on her face in a different and more interesting fashion. Sandra, you look in the hall and see if there's anywhere cool to put the dress. And I think that this is basically that here is the spot to be this's. Just trim it yet because it's, just the whole way I don't think there's any light in the hallway or anything. Okay, when photographing the details in the room, one of the things we always focus on is the dress. The reason why I asked sandra if there was another place to put the dress is because I wasn't entirely thrilled with its current location. Sometimes, however, there just isn't another place to put it, and you have to work with what you have at the end of the day. It's not about spending a ton of time making detail images, but doing the best you can with the time that you have, and then moving on to other matters at hand it's nice that such light from here I moved to the other side of the table and picked up a champagne glass toe hold in front of my lens. My goal here was to obscure the makeup artist leaving blair and the dress the final only subjects of the photograph like balancing two things at one time, you know, because I don't know where it when it's in the right spot there we go, I'm just trying to blow out this s o I just shoved it right up on my lens thanks trying to fill the glass up a little bit more there will love that hope so I don't normally stop and show my clients the back of my camera, but since the bridesmaids expressed curiosity about what I was doing between the first shot and the second, I saw on a reason to not stop and show them what I was up to after documenting a bit more of the getting ready process, I realized that it had been a few hours since I'd eaten, so I stepped into the hallway for a quick snack, but if I don't eat, I get angry and I get dizzy and I get frustrated we try to stay on top of that with snacks you have to duck out in the hallway for five minutes, shovel down a snack I can keep going from there a couple of hours totally it's a really good job you see everyone elmo that's you right there right there and there when photographing children during the getting ready process I have to do a combination of backing off so that they act naturally but engaging so that they don't see me as a stranger come on oh you like oh my gosh apparently monkeys don't dance do our shoes we turn music I feel great shooting a two year old dancing at two point eight were issued sure nor was he faking a monkey around I was photographing the little girl dancing at two point eight which meant that I had to make sure that a focal point was over her face at all times or else the image would quickly fall out of focus that child is a hoot you I then went around blair to try to find an interesting angle between the stylists hands and the hairspray but it ended up not working quite a cz well as I'd hoped I abandoned my own picture there that looks um it's not really raining but it's kind of unpredictable uh um I think had a house square is gonna be perfect because yeah, because nothing's nothing's going on there today that's way too wet to go to the park like it's just gross um but it's not so wet that head how square wouldn't work right like it's not really raining under on it's pretty exactly so do you do you want to have two ways we can do this do you want to see him here or do you want us to wow that's really pretty you move like one hair and all of sudden it says you're awesome so we'll go downstairs in like sin sandra down in like ten minutes and I'll tell him where to go and he can just well transportation be here she just cabin over there twenty till so we can have it run him over there and then come back and get you it's easy we'll just kind of play it by ear a little bit we know we've got transportation here we're not that far away from there all right so he texted who did he text he texted somebody so he's coming here is he on his way here now? Okay yeah he can come here and hang out downstairs for a little bit and then we'll just toss him into a cab yeah, well just throw him in a cab and send him over to head house square and have him wait for her it'll be really easy it's nothing it's that far away that's what he said he's like I could do that we had to keep discussing our plans throughout the day as the weather continued to change and shift while I know that it seems we just spent an excessive amount of time talking about getting from one place to another I find that in situations like this over planning and over discussing usually ends up in a much simpler final execution. When we get there, you'll go into stella to get him, so just tell him to take off. That'll give transportation enough time to take him there and then come back. Note was an exposure nightmare in here. As the rain started and stopped and the clouds opened and closed, the exposure in the room kept changing over and over. This made it incredibly difficult to achieve a consistent exposure. Ah, so more power from further back. Yeah, that might do it. Yes. Thank you. While there was technically nothing wrong with what I was trying to accomplish, I had sandra hold our ice light at half power so that the light would strike the sequins and create a brighter, more vivid effect in the corner of the photograph. I want this darker. We're getting too much light from it, so I will hang liberating the sock monkey. Will you hold this? Thank you. Can you hold this? You could jump at your ready. I'm putting a sippy cup here about the sippy cup with the champagne. Seems, you know, seems fitting, and then that one can stay open, that other one over there is fine, they're, uh, angel singing when it was time for blair to get ready, I was glad that I closed the window shades this was forcing the light to exactly where I wanted it to go very don't look at the rain it's fine, I'm not worried don't be worried because you're yeah that's good way lost one already and as soon as she gets it tied we'll just put you right here looking will you come over here? Well, she re titans it's working really well? Yeah, I actually like this better like this? No. Can you pull your daughter back? One step towards you into the room. Beautiful. You know, they're so that's a huge and you're so tiny you could just hoist it up for just a second to get a good focus on you. You see this so cute? Hang on, justice. I love that you had the forethought to bring them, has it like a meringue just yeah, stand up and move so we don't run you over a little a little more. There you go. Perfect. Yeah, it's really pretty so someone has something to give her from someone e wait after a few final getting ready photographs, it was time to pack our gear, get on the bus and get ready for blair and jeremy to see each other for the first time welcome back. Thank you so much for sitting through the video and coming with v, albeit virtually to watch the getting ready process of the wedding day. First and foremost, I want to stop and think blair, for letting us in the room with her. This is a very private part of the day. This is a part that you don't normally allow students in to watch your photographer working. She was very gracious and very kind to let us there. And for that, I really, truly, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for letting us be there.

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.