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30 Days of Wedding Photography

Lesson 44 of 76

Different Traditions and Faiths


30 Days of Wedding Photography

Lesson 44 of 76

Different Traditions and Faiths


Lesson Info

Different Traditions and Faiths

Another thing that's really important that you need to do when you're looking at shooting a ceremony is to learn about the ceremony. And I'm not just talking about how many brides maid you have or how many groomsmen you have or how long the ceremony is or the importance of the person that's marrying you. I'm talking about the faith that comes into the ceremony. I'm talking about their religion. I'm talking about their cultures. I'm talking about their traditions. Until I moved to New York, I never photographed a Jewish wedding. I had no idea. And when I moved up to New York photographing a Jewish wedding, I had to learn about all of the traditions and customs that came with it. And then I learned that there are all different types of Jewish. Redding's ranging from what my husband and I like to call Jew ish, which means that you really just stomp a glass at the end of the ceremony indoor horror. And that's about the extent off the religion that you've brought to your day all the way to ...

traditional Orthodox weddings where the men and women are not only separated during the day, they're separated for the dancing. They're separated for the duration, and I cannot photograph them in because I am female. I need to know these things. I learned that before the ceremony. They're going to sign a tuba. I did not know that before, not because I'm ignorant, but because where I was living in Florida, there wasn't a whole lot of opportunity to shoot a lot of incredibly different weddings. So I had to educate myself on exactly what the different cultures were, what the customs were. And now being in New York, I've shot a little bit of everything, from Indian weddings to Jewish weddings to Greek Orthodox to Russian Orthodox and everything in between and everything under the sun. And it's fascinating to learn about these things. It is fascinating to learn about other religions on other customs and the emotion that that brings to the table. If you did not know how important the actual signing of the cartoon Bo Waas, that in a Jewish wedding, in their culture, in their religion, this is when they're married, this is when they become husband and wife. So this is an incredibly important part of the day. The people in the room with them when they are signing. The co tuba is not all of the people from the ceremony. It's their family. It's their closest friends. It's their witnesses. So you know that everyone in that room is important and they need to be documented accordingly. You need to know if they're going to sign a tuba. Are they going to veil the bride? Are they going to sing the groom into the room? Are they all going to come and greet the bride? You need to know the extent of each of these traditions that they're doing, and then you need to photograph them accordingly. I'm treating occur tuba, signing the same way that I'm treating an actual ceremony because it is a ceremony. I'm treating it with the reverence, and I'm treating it with respect. I'm sure doing my best to not shoot Flash. I'm doing my best to not move around a lot. Ah, lot of times during a coup tuba signing, I will leave my assistant in the other room because it's so small and it's so intimate and she doesn't have anywhere to be. That isn't kind of in the way or obtrusive offset her outside of the room. So I make even a lower profile for myself and being observant of everyone else around you while they're signing the CA tuba from the grandmother to the witnesses as they sign opening up and seeing the entire scene in front of you. It's the bride and the groom. It's her parents holding the co tuba. It's his parents clapping. It's their witnesses and their family and their friends and their rabbi and everybody around them celebrating with them. In some instances, you have a say so over where they sign their Catawba. In this instance that Marissa and Jessie's wedding there was the tuba and it was sitting on a table and I saw the sun streaming in through the window and I turned it around. I put the tuba in the right place, and when they came in, I said, Hey, guys, do you mind when you do this? Do you mind sitting on this side of the table? And they said, Sure, and I was able to use the light in the way that I wanted. Now this doesn't happen for you all the time. And if you have to use a flash. If the light is just so dark that you have to pop in a little something, there's nothing wrong with that at all. I simply do my best not to, and I'm staying with the moment. I'm looking at different ways to see the scene. I'm watching the moments unfold. I'm understanding that after they sign the CA tuba, they're going to display it during the ceremony. That's an important thing to know. It's important to know that the groom will hand it to the bride during the ceremony. It's important to know that they will be standing under a Koopa and what exactly that means to them. It's important to know that when the groom comes down the aisle, he will more often than not be escorted by both of his parents and that she will be escorted by both of her parents and his parents, and her parents will stand with them together under the hookah. It's important to know if they're going to be continuing the tradition of circling each other. Is she going to circle him three times or seven times? Is he going to circle her? Are they going to circle each other together, These things are important to know not because if I don't know them, I'm not going to be able to capture them. But because if I know they're coming, I can be better prepared for them. And then the inevitable breaking of the glass. I need to be ready for it. Ah, lot of times before this happens, the rabbi will go into the explanation of why we break the glass off, what it means of what it means to him or them or the synagogue that they are a member of and be ready for it the second they put that little bundle down on the ground. You need to know that things are about to happen really fast. He's gonna stomp. They're going to scream Masal tov! They're going to kiss on a lot of times after that, they will continue to embrace their families. So if you aren't being observant, if you haven't educated yourself about what's going to happen, these air moments that you might be missing and we don't want to miss moment Indian weddings, another beautiful, beautiful opportunity to make something different, to be aware of the jewelry that she's wearing and what that means to her to have an opportunity to take her American engagement ring and photograph it against the Bangles that her family brought her from India to know if they're having a Mindy party. Are you documenting that for them the night before? How are you pricing for an event that takes place over two days? How long are you going to need to be with them on the wedding day? These are things that you need to know. A lot of times we have to talk about Indian ceremonies and Indian weddings. Are we doing simply an Indian wedding? Will there be a Christian ceremony? Because every once in a while you're thrown a curve and you're doing portrait of your clients in their attire for the Indian ceremony. Just like so you get a chance to photograph them in these outfits, and then sometimes they throw you a wrinkle that they're doing a Christian ceremony as well on the exact same day. And if you don't know these things and you aren't prepared for them, they will definitely catch you. Ah, little bit unawares. What is she wearing? Just like your wedding gown in in a Western ceremony is important. Why is what she's wearing here? Important? Is it from her family? Did you purchase it with her mother? Did they bring it over from India? Was her mother married in this? Tell me the significance of the Bangles. Are these family heirlooms? These are things to know and you'll learn these things if you ask these questions as you go on through the pre wedding process and you will also learn these things if you're observant on the wedding day itself, the ceremony, the ceremony is extraordinary. How many different traditions will they be doing during the ceremony? How will it all break down being observant? Moving around watching is the water pours from hand, a hand watching as the offerings were made over the flames and the incense watching as the bride processes in towards the groom and his family. The moments are thousandfold during these ceremonies. Often they usually last long, an hour, an hour and 1/2 sometimes even beyond knowing that when the bride processes into the groom, she is followed by her attendance. Now, some of you may be watching this and saying, this isn't how the Indian weddings that I've shot have gone Where's the elephants? Or I am from India and we do not do it this way. I'm simply showing you what I've seen in the things that I've been made aware of in the weddings that I have been photographing, being observant, keeping your eyes open, watching the emotion that unfolds in front of you. We have talked about the gear that we bring to the ceremony. We have talked about what you do when that year doesn't work because the lights are too low. We've talked about other options for gear during the ceremony. We've talked about toe flash or not, the flash and when it is appropriate and when it is not. We've talked about how to handle difficult lighting during a ceremony. We have talked about how to handle all of the emotions and all of the things that you can observe and all of the things that are happening during a ceremony. We've talked about different traditions and different cultures and the respect that you bring to the table. Hopefully, I have taught you something today that might help your plan of attack during a ceremony run a little bit smoother. Reduce your stress a little bit less. Make the technical aspects a little bit more in eight for you, so that you can really concentrate on documenting the moments in front of you and maybe make your life a little bit easier as best I could. Thank you so much for sitting with me for an hour and talking about ceremonies. Talking about this was longer than most of the ceremonies that we shoot, but hopefully you found it helpful to you. Thank you for being with me today and I'll see you all again tomorrow.

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.


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


Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


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.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.