Skip to main content

Wedding Day Difficulties

Lesson 57 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Wedding Day Difficulties

Lesson 57 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

57. Wedding Day Difficulties


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Wedding Day Difficulties

Hi, I'm susan stripling and this is thirty days of wedding photography. If you've been with us so far, you know that we are more than halfway done. We have come a very, very, very long way. It seems like the days that we were talking about gear and setting up your business and marketing and booking your clients was like, way yesteryear, but in reality, it wasn't so far back because what just happened was we photographed and into higher wedding. We started with the engagement session through the details, getting ready first look, ceremony, family formals, everything you could possibly know about a reception, including nighttime portrait, and then we just photographed and talked about the post session after the wedding. So what? We're going to talk to you about today, deal there's a little bit about the wedding, not necessarily about blair and jeremy's wedding, but about weddings in general, we're going to talk about situations and solutions, the problems that we as wedding photographers...

face, and then the problems that we could never, ever, ever have seen coming. I feel so strongly about how you handle the adversity that comes against you in your business, that I actually wrote an entire section of my think book about situations, solutions and how to handle it, so to get started let's tell you some war stories everybody likes a good story, right? And I've been doing this for thirteen years and I'm appear teaching you and creative live hired me. I'm perfect, right? Like nothing ever, ever, ever happens to me at a wedding, right? No, let's, take just a couple of brief seconds and talk to you about a couple of things that have happened to me in the past few years. We got lost in boston, right? How do you get lost in boston? You might be saying, well, did you know that there are two, four seasons hotels in boston? Yeah, I didn't either, and when we were putting one in our gps, we're putting the other in our gps. All of a sudden we realize that we didn't take the right exit the next exit eight miles away, it was going to cut, take us twenty minutes to turn around and come back, and the bride and groom were waiting for us. What about the day that we had the wrong address today? That the bride gave us the wrong address for the hotel only showed up in a location that had no hotel there. What do you do there, let's talk about the day that glorious, beautiful fall day that we left every single battery that we owned at home? I know, I know that you're sitting there and you're thinking you left her double a's at home big deal I go to the cvs go to the wall by some double a's you're fine no, no, I don't mean our double a batteries we had those we just didn't have any batteries for our cameras. Big deal again you might be saying why don't you just go home and pick it up? Gonna be a little late no big deal that would have been awesome if we hadn't been two hours away from home. What do you d'oh? Well, luckily we had a d seven hundred that had a half dead battery in it I called home I had my husband call around see who might be available that day and I had to pay somebody to bring those batteries two hours out to cape may and help me out let's talk about the day that on the roof of a hotel while we're waiting for a first look I just dropped my camera. I'd like to tell you that something really amazing happened to me and I dropped it because I was being attacked by a shark or I saw a unicorn but I literally just opened my hand and let it go I was holding it by my side then the next thing I know her an ominous crunching sound and I looked down and down it is on the ground what do you do about that what do you do about the day that the second shooter takes your keys home on accident? Because she gave them to the valet to park the car in the valley gave them back to her and she accidentally put him in her person. She took him home and suddenly it's one o'clock in the morning and you're sitting in the bride's living room because you have no way to get home. What do you do about that? What do you about about shooting wedding when you have kidney stones or shingles or stop the wrote, what do you do about the day that you hurt yourself so badly? You're in a cast in december of this past year took a tumble down my stairs at home, and my hand happened to catch a screw that was sticking out of my stairs. This's this rant at hand right here took this part of my hand all the way down to the bone. I ended up in the hospital and I ended up on a wednesday afternoon having surgery on my hand with a wedding on a saturday, I was in a cast for a week. I had stitches in my hand and you know what I shot that letting I hired a second shooter to come with me, I had another primary shooter come with me. What do you do? You do it. Did you know that you can shoot a wedding one handed? Did you know that if you're a righty, you could shoot a wedding with your left hand without using your right hand at all? You can talk to you about that in just a second. We've had deaths in the family, I had my assistant, her beloved beloved mother in law passed away over a weekend, and she called me on a friday night and told me she wasn't gonna be able to make it to a wedding. I miss my own grandmother's funeral because she passed away and the funeral was on a saturday and I had a wedding and they couldn't go. Now listen, there is a point in time where you say clients forget it if my children are are devastatingly ill, if something were to happen to my husband, if anything were to happen to my immediate family, knock on that wood there. Of course I'm going to choose my family first. My family always comes first, but sometimes you miss things that you don't want to miss because you've taken the commitment of shooting a wedding talk about the day that had two flat tires on the same day. The day that the tire went flat the day that we put the spare tire on the car and then two seconds later that one went flat too let's talk about the time we missed the parent nance's we're sitting there with my videographer friend we're sitting with the wedding coordinators we're having our vendor meal because the parent answers were still thirty minutes away and the next thing you know like kramer from seinfeld the videographers assistant comes flying through the door screaming parent dances right now by the time we got downstairs by the time we got on the floor they were over talk about your heart just ending up in your throat what do you even do about that? The best part about that was the wedding planners brilliant solution to it was well we'll just tell the bride and groom they all just didn't get it and we're just going to do it again like no how about you tell the bride and groom the band did it without talking to anybody and we're going to just have them dance on the dance floor a little bit later wanted to throw us right on under the bus when you do about that what I do about the day that I lost my valet ticket and I couldn't remember where I parked the car and it was two o'clock in the morning and I was walking around tribeca crying trying to find my car that was awesome. Let's talk about the time the bride and groom were about to go see each other for the first time and a fire alarm went off in the hotel and we had to evacuate let's talk about the time we got stranded in a hurricane. And the funny part about that is I used to live in florida and we used to live in fear of hurricane season because we were terrified of what it was going to do to the weddings that we were shooting. Well, you know what happened when I moved up to new york and I went back to florida to shoot a wedding? Yeah, there was a hurricane in new york and our flights got canceled and we got stuck in the happiest place on earth disney world. But even that gets a little boring after a couple of days, and we had to drive home also got stranded in a blizzard where I was in fort lauderdale and all of the airports in new york shut down. I had to drive home, and it took me an entire day. But I did it. But you know what? That day that I had two flat tires the day that I had a flat tire, and then my spare had a flat tire, you know how late I was to this wedding, about three minutes because my assistant and I always planned enough time on the day that that meal that we've mentioned a couple of times how we sit down we have a bite to eat before the wedding this day we were going out to colts neck, new jersey we had planned to get there about an hour and a half early to get a bite to eat and we were already running a little bit early, so we're gonna be about an hour and forty five minutes early we'll win this flat happen and when that second flat happened and we had to take my car to the auto body shop, we had an hour and forty five minute buffer in that time my assistant called her parents they got in their car, they came out to us and if we hadn't had my car towed in and I hadn't gotten the tires changed on that car, we wouldn't have been able to make it so in that instance her parents were ready and willing to drive us to the actual wedding. So having that buffer of time having that person that I could call in case of emergency meant that I was dead on on time and was I flustered, I wass and was I panicking the entire time I wass but you know what? When you got the wedding when my assistant and I were at the wedding were at work and I don't care what's happening in my personal life and I don't care what's going on in the world and none of it matters shooting a wedding when I know a hurricane is coming and I know that there's no way that I'm going to be ableto make it home and I'm just waiting for that email that my flight is canceled I know I'm going to have to drive twenty four hours to get back home do you know how much that matters to me while I'm shooting a wedding? Not at all it doesn't matter at all because the second I got to christy and andrew's wedding I forgot all about it I was there to work so developing a thick skin thes things that have happened to me these things that have happened and will happen to you if nothing bad has happened to you on a wedding day it is only a matter of time and I'm not saying that to frighten you it's just that life happens and we make mistakes and no matter how long you've been in business you're going to make a mistake but it's how you handle those mistakes that I really believe separates the professional from the amateur that day that I had a cast on my hand and I had to shoot a wedding I made a picture that I absolutely love you know I made that picture I made that picture one handed you know your camera that little button on the bottom so that when you go vertical, you can shoot it that way did you know that if you have a hand in a cast, you can hold your camera that way and trigger that button with that finger while you sort of hold it like that? Also was I fast on that wedding day? No, not at all, which is why I hired a second shooter, which is why I brought an extra assistant, which is why I went around looking for a primary shooter and was I lucky that my husband wasn't booked that day and he could come with me? Of course I wass and for those of you out there who are saying well, of course you took your husband to work with you, your husband's wedding photographer to what if he'd been booked that day? What if he had had a wedding that day? I was very fortunate that he wasn't, but if cliff had been working that way I would have that day I would have hired another primary photographer to come with me. I would have found somebody to help me out the great thing about our industry we can be competitive, we can be catty, we could be angry on the internet, we can treat it like it's high school and you know that people d'oh but when something happens to a wedding photographer, the way the community rallies around them is really extraordinary and if you make friends in the industry and something happens to you and you need help and you say guys, I need help someone help me people will help you they don't legitimately want to see you fail so when I reached out and I reached out the blonde who second chute two second shot for me and I reached out to drew who came an assisted cliff and when I reached out to cliff and I said, honey, I need some help are you booked? Can you help me? These people helped me and if you have friends in the industry, they will help you too, and if you don't even know people in the industry, they're going to help you also it's been really impressive the number of times I've seen people reach out to help virtual strangers just because they're in need that day that we were in boston that he caught lost and we couldn't find our way you know how late we were? We weren't because we had but built in the buffer and we had the time and by the time I pulled up in front of theresa's house I was there, I was ready to go and we got down to business what do you do when it's memorial day in manhattan and everyone and their brother is in the city being a tourist and you are clients say, do you know where we really want to go for our portrait? We want to go on the high line. Oh my gosh, the highline on memorial day was wall to wall people, shoulder to shoulder. I don't care the widest lens possible. I was three inches away from my clients at all point in time, but it was my responsibility to make something for them. So what I did was I went and looked where the people weren't. Ashley and her husband had rented this vintage taxi to take a ride around in, and it was parked down next to the high line, so I had them go out. I had them stand next to the vintage taxi, I had them snuggle up together, and I found a way to shoot that eliminated the distractions. I found that if I climbed up on the steps to the high line and I shot through that corrugated metal, that was the barrier of the steps that I would be able to block out the distractions of the other people block out the fact that it's a hundred degrees outside and I am pouring sweat everywhere block out the fact that tourists are knocking me out of the way is there coming up and down the steps? And still keep my calm and make something beautiful for my clients. I'm not saying these things to brag I'm not saying these things to say, well, look at me and the hard things that I've handled, I'm saying these things to tell you that bad things are gonna happen to you and accidents are going to happen to you, and no matter how much you practice and plan, you're going to do something dumb like I did, and you're going to forget all of your batteries at home. It is human nature, it is what it is. It is how you handle these things that I think really makes you a professional. You might find yourself in a location where there is nowhere to go except a bathroom, and you might find beautiful light in that bathroom and still be able to make a picture. You might make the best picture that you've made that entire year on a rainy, rainy, rainy day in pittsfield, vermont, when the bride, her bridesmaids are wearing shoes that don't even belong to them because you have the forethought, the steak home and stay cool and look at the scene around you and assess it and make a beautiful photograph even in the face of difficulty it was pouring and rainy and miserable mud was sliding everywhere the rain was coming down sideways. And I made a beautiful ring shot for them I made beautiful other photographs as well for them but if you look at this picture of this ring you would have no idea what was going on outside you know what else was going on on this day? I had one hundred and four fever and I was burning up from strep throat and do you know what I did and just did it? I took advil cold and sinus I took advil mixed with tylenol I took a bunch of nyquil at the end of the night I burst into tears the second the wedding was over I ended up in the hospital following morning ending in getting antibiotics and the attendant at the e r said, why didn't you come in yesterday? And I said I couldn't come in and I couldn't it was just strep throat it was just a fever I wasn't dying I could still do it we don't have the luxury and our jobs to just I'm sick and not goto work you have to suck it up and you've got to get going remember when I talk to you about the fire alarm going off jen this absolutely wonderful fantastic woman was in the final stages of getting ready she was getting ready to go see her husband to be for the very first time on their wedding day and the fire alarm went off everybody had to evacuate the hotel, she was really upset, as she had every right to be. This is not exactly how she saw her wedding day going down, but I had the opportunity to help take control of this situation and turn it into something good. We got outside, calmed her down a little bit, we didn't have a plan or helping us out, but because my assistant I stayed calm and stayed cool in a difficult situation, we were also able to calm our clients down, and their first look was no less magical because something difficult had happened and the portrait's that we made for them later throughout that day were no less impactful because we just run from the run from the hotel is the fire alarm with screaming? Luckily, everything was fine, and when we were done with the portrait session, we were able to go back inside and it was business as usual. But if you're in a situation that is stressful and if you were in a situation that you can tell us stressing out your clients, if you can stay calm and your assistant can stay calm, you're putting a calming vibe into the situation that will also help calm your clients down if you're frazzled if you're stressed out, if you're running around that's not exactly going to calm down the people around you so let's, talk about other difficulties that you might encounter when it comes to weddings? Maybe not necessarily the catastrophic ones that I opened up with. Not all of us are going to have to go shoot a wedding with shingles, but some of these things will happen to you inevitably throughout your career. And if I could tell you anything today, that will help you handle them with grace and taking the high road and being a professional, I'm glad if I can help that out. Let's talk about pricing pushback. This is one of my personal favorites is when a client looks atyou, either in a meeting are on the phone. And we talked about this a little bit when we were talking about pricing and booking the client and they listen to your prices and they say, it's, how much like are you kidding? Luxury is out. I've noticed luxury really isn't a thing anymore. People are not investing in their wedding photographer because of the bragging rights there used to be a time when when buying a luxury item was a really big thing, and it was kind of a point of pride, how much you spent on things? Oh, I hired a photographer that was ten million dollars. It was a bragging right now hiring a photographer for ten million dollars, with the economy being what it is with things being how they are with the government being where it is and the whole shutdown that happened last year and everything that swirling in the economy, people are changing their way that they're thinking about purchases and luxury is out. Investment is in. We talked about this a little bit the other day when we were talking about selling yourself to your clients. I have noticed that in the past few years, especially if I stop harping on the parts of it that are like, curious. Oh, it is the top of the line album. Oh, it is this luxurious leather. Now I'm saying this is a strong investment because this album company is the absolute best at what they do, and they're creating an heirloom that is going to last forever and into generations to come. That's how I'm selling things nowadays you're investing in the photography it isn't a frivolous luxury purchase. It is a smart use of your money words like investment words like history, words like legacy. Those are the new selling points for clients now, so when I'm getting pushback on my pricing, when I'm getting people who are saying well, I find somebody who will do it for thirty five hundred dollars, or I found a friend will do it for free, or I found someone who will do it for fifteen hundred dollars. I talk about the investment aspect of it and it's an investment in their future it's an investment in a tangible product that will be their legacy for generations to come. And that's been a really good way to get around that pricing pushback. Now you're not going to be able to get every single client who's not willing to spend that money to spend it with you just by using the word investment. But I have been able to turn around some leads that I didn't think we're going to turn into bookings into actual bookings when I was able to present the higher price tact of them as an investment instead of a frivolous purchase let's talk about another common situation that you find yourself in, which is being a little bit burned out. Oh, no, not here again. Here I am at the same country club again. Here I am at the same hotel that I worked at last weekend here I am in the same venue that I've worked at five hundred times last year, what do you do? To keep it fresh when you're in the same venue over and over and over again. Well, I want to take the opportunity to show you what I've been able to dio I used to shoot a lot of weddings in colombia at the hotel santa clara, which was one of my favorite places to work and I haven't been back in a long time, and I miss it dearly, but I want to show you how just a difference of three years between two weddings made me reassess several different situations in the exact same location. So let's, talk about this wedding back in two thousand six when I'm trying to figure out how to photograph the dress, all I did was I put it in the window and I've got some distracting elements. I've got the lamp over there, I've got you know, I should have turned the lamp off there's something kind of camera, right that's, a little distracting, and I'm not showing you these photographs to make fun of them. Do I still stand behind this wedding from two thousand six? Yes, I do and do I still care about those clients? Yes, I do very much. What they got in two thousand six from me was in line with my pricing at the time and it was in line with the ability that I had at the time. Is my ability better now yeah I mean I'm better I like to think I'm better now than I was in two thousand six but that doesn't mean that I in any way deceived or or did something bad to my client you know six they got the work that I promised them I'm still proud to put my name on it and I'm proud to show it to you today however the difference of three years in the exact same hotel helped me figure out how to photograph it differently how to use the light to introduce the bride into the portrait of the dress how to instead of shooting down on the ring with a thirty five millimeter at one hundred twenty fifth of a second at f three point five how I was able to make a much better more compelling photograph of rings in the same room with a better lin selection ah better understanding of the aperture that I was using and a better understanding of how to put together a compellingly composed photograph how I photographed the getting ready in that room I love this picture here because I'm starting to understand the light the way julie turned towards the window when she was getting ready I could see the light coming through I could see it hitting her face and I knew that I liked it but I didn't know how to manage it but when I went back to jordan's wedding a few years later, I was able to manage the light coming in through the windows same space, same venue, better understanding of equipment. Better understanding of light allowed me to make a mork compelling, more interesting photograph simply understanding how to deal with your clients. When julie got ready at her wedding in oh six, that was back when I was still afraid to talk to my clients. That was back when I was afraid to tell a client to get ready and somewhere other than where she was getting ready where my client's chose to put their dress on was just where I shot them putting their dress on and julie got ready over by this wardrobe and I shot are getting ready over by this wardrobe. I was making a few technical mistakes. Why was I shooting this at a thirtieth of a second? I was getting a little bit of blur. Is this picture bad? Of course it's not. But when I went back three years later and I was no longer afraid to talk to my client when I was no longer afraid to say, hey, jordan, do you mind getting ready over here by this window? When I knew that I needed a faster shutter speed to freeze my movement, it just made me freer. It made me more capable of producing different results in the same room when I photographed the headshot of julie and I still love this head shot, I think she's beautiful, I photographed it with a fifty millimeter, I photographed it and slightly dappled light, and then I improved upon what I was doing three years later, and I don't want to say what is good and what is bad one is more refined. I was using my eighty five and the image on the right I was shooting at one point four I had a better handle of the lighting that I was using shooting the family formals at julie's wedding. I'm shooting them with a vertical thirty five millimeter I'm shooting them with flash on camera, I'm shooting when with not a lot of consideration to the background there, right up on those plants there, right up on the wall, you can see the shadow fall off behind them and is this a fine picture? Of course it is, and my glad to put my name on it. Of course I am, but I'm also glad that three years of experience taught me how to use a two hundred millimeter instead taught me how to shoot it it five point six taught me howto work with an off camera flash this is the exact same room I'm standing there facing jordan and javi air if I looked to my left I'd see the exact same wall that I photographed. Julian jose's images. I simply had a better understanding in two thousand eight how to approach the room. You see this arch right here? The light was coming through clearly I see the light clearly. I understand the light. You can see it pouring through behind julie. I've exposed correctly for her face, but I don't quite understand how to harness the dimension of that light. And then I did the on ly difference between these two photographs is instead of shooting directly into it, I shot it from the side. So if I had simply gone to the side of julie, I would have been standing in the exact same location as where I shot jordan three years later. Same light, same place, different understanding of camera angles walking down the street in two thousand and five with an eighty five one eight in two thousand and eight. You see this image right here, the one we were just looking at. You see this doorway slightly off to camera, right that's this doorway la bruschetta in the center of this image, I was able to go to the same street in the same scene in front of the same building and find a better compositional opportunity in two thousand five when I was still really, really struggling with how to do silhouettes the problem here which you will know right away if you've been watching me for these thirty days so far is that there's not enough exposure difference between my subject and my background so when I'm attempting to darken down julie and I'm attempting to darken down jose to make them that dark, crisp underexposed silhouette the sky has now darkened down so much that it's starting to look muddy my problem here time of day absolute same location, same wall, same menu, same city, better understanding of exposure, better selection of time of day the other thing that I was also doing better, better lin's selection understanding that I could shoot the scene at fifty five millimeters you see look, take a very good look at where they're standing look at those trees behind them get a good sense of the foreground and background relationship between those trees and then take a look at that two hundred millimeters one is not better then the other this is one hundred and sixty millimeters but you get my point one isn't good one isn't bad, they're both compelling but having the technical ability meant that I could make one and then make the other and then also look at the scene in a completely different way and instead of straight ing shooting straight on into the sunset I was able to find something graphically different, more compositionally interesting in the same scene so literally looking at them side by side three years apart simply shows the refinement of my technique, the refinement of my ability, the refinement of the gear that I brought and the settings that I brought to the table to make compelling images. This next one is one of my personal favorites. I still love this image. I love the image of julian jose walking down the street. We were headed over to the wall to take some photographs, and I was fascinated and intrigued by this light that you see on the wall off the camera, right? I didn't know what to do with it. I knew that it was good, and I knew that I liked it, but I didn't understand how to use it. But then when I went back in two thousand eight, I understood exactly how to use it. I was afraid back in two thousand five, two really dark and down the scene because I thought that darkening down the scene to work with that light meant that I was under exposing the scene, but now I understand that it was perfectly exposing the scene, so this staircase that they're sitting on here, I struggled with this, and I wondered about this, and I saw the light pouring through from that window above them, and I saw the really wonderful steps leading up, and then they lead up to a second floor and I was working with and I I loved it, but I knew that there could have been mohr and there was more. It was just how I chose to approach the scene instead of shooting up at an eighty five millimeter and limiting myself like that, I realized that the scene was really shooting down with a twenty four millimeter bringing in the light, bringing in the reflection on the wall, bringing in those light fixtures up above you get more of a sense of time and place in the image on the right. Do I still like the image on the left? I do, but I also like the image on the right, so let's, take just a brief second and talk about managing winter weddings. Now we've talked about this a little bit. We've talked about bad weather in portrait. We've talked about what to do in the winter in terms of timing, sometimes a winter wedding, all it really means is that it's just kind of them outside, and if it's just kind of dumb outside will do something like we did at lauren's wedding. You have seen this location before if you've been with us for the thirty days, if you take a second, you look at it. And go back to the engagement session day you'll see that this is the exact same scene at the top of the philadelphia art museum steps that we took blair and jeremy at the very end of their engagement session. This is a great place to illustrate what I could do in a winter wedding because if you look at the light on lauren and her husband, you'll see that it's flat light the sun is not out it's, nice and dim. However, to me, this is still a visually incredibly compelling photograph because I'm able to introduce other elements in that have nothing to do with the light I can work with my rule of thirds I can work with the compression of my two hundred millimeter linz and I can still make a beautiful and compelling photograph of the bride and groom even if I don't have light even if it's about to rain a little bit even if it's straight up raining uh it started to rain on aly and her husband you can see look at the image on the right you can see the rain drops on his shoulders no there's, no light here could I have put a video light on it? I could have could I have popped a flash on it? I could have would it have changed the look of the day? Yes, it would have so sometimes I will opt for a natural light even if it's flat light even if it's non dimensional light because it's truly representing what it felt like to be there on the day of the wedding when the sky is super dramatic, I'm going to introduce the sky into the photograph. I'm going to capitalize on those elements that are making the day difficult and use them tow work to my advantage kate's wedding! Just a few short months ago, we went to central park to take photographs after the ceremony, and there was not even one speck of light to be found, but we've talked about what I'll do in a situation like this. If you look, you can see the shadow of the bridge above their heads on the ground, you can also see that they're not standing in the shadow. You can see that I have very deliberately filled the top of the frame, the sides of the frame and the bottom with dark elements, the dark foliage, the dark trees. I've put them just out of the shadow area, even on an overcast day, you have areas that are brighter than others, so I'll set them deliberately outside a shadowed area. So what will almost emulate the look of natural light? If you look at this image, it very well could have been sunny outside, but it wasn't it's just an attempt to trick the eye to believe that there's more light there than there really is some days you get lucky some days it's snowing and it's marvellous and it's wonderful and you get a client like angela who's willing to go out and forgo the umbrella for just a few moments to get a beautiful sunny at sonny ha ha ha pun intended snowy image sometimes you have clients that are so extraordinarily brave that they'll go outside during their reception even when it's pouring down rain under an umbrella to allow you to make a photograph of them the way jamie did this was the last shot that we did at her wedding because while she was under an umbrella my assistant was not putting sandra under an umbrella would admit that there was another umbrella in the frame so she toughed it out she took one for the team she helped me supplement that light coming from that street lamp and then we were soaking wet and we went home just because it's raining outside doesn't mean that you can't make something beautiful and just because it's cold and dark outside doesn't mean that you forget all of the same principles that we've talked about when it comes to portraiture and when it comes to lighting we're standing literally right inside the door of the chapel in which they were married and using the light coming through the door tto light their face is it raining outside? Is it snowing outside? Is it full on? Son? You don't know because the light coming in is still beautiful. We've talked about first looks and what you do for a first look when it is impossible to go outside here's another example, I shot this wedding at the very beginning of january, it had been pouring down snow, and the client had actually expressed a desire tohave snow in her images. Luckily for her, this thing we like to call the polar vortex happened shoving us inside because it was about twenty two degrees outside, and jennifer and brian had to see each other for the first time in the hallway of the western hotel, which you can clearly see he did not affect them all that much. It was so lovely, and we were still able to make beautiful and compelling photograph for them. However, they were also brave enough teo to brave the weather for us, and we were able to go outside, and I was able to take the same principles of lighting and exposure and working with my clients that we've talked about the entire time to make some very, very beautiful, very compelling photographs of them using the light in the exact same way that we've been talking about using light, using my settings in the exact same way that we've been talking about using settings and creating something really interesting really beautiful for them and thinking them for being willing to brave the weather for us so you have to be honest about timing and I've talked about this before but it really bears mentioning again be honest about timing don't push your client's past their comfort zone they'll hate that you made them miserable more than the love the amazing picture you made while they were miserable you need to manage expectations we've talked about this I just wanted to reiterate it yet one more time now let's talk about about a really awesome thing that we all love like super super very much guests with cameras what do you do about uncle bob what do you do about the person who shoves that camera in the aisle what do you do about that very well meaning of noxious little guest no I'm just kidding she's actually really adorable that won't stop taking pictures all day long now far be it from me to just complain for the point of complaining but guest with cameras actually do pose really specific issues people look at them instead of you and taking family formals they block the bride coming down the aisle they blocked the couple coming back up the aisle they stand on the side of the dance floor and they get in the way all of these things drive me crazy what do you do about it? Well you just deal with it right? You just make the best of what you can in the situation that you have guest standing next to you during the family formals making the eyeballs go in all of these different directions how frustrating is that you've got your camera up you take a picture of the bride and her mother and her sister and her new husband and you'd look at the back of your camera and you realize only one person is looking at you one person's looking at uncle bob you standing over here one person's looking at the bride's maid with the cell phone over here one person looking at the dude in the balcony who's got the camera what do you do about that? I'm a little passive aggressive I'm from the south we know how to do it up right so what I do is a little bit of something like this I say you know what? Hey guys everybody with the camera if you don't mind if you could just put down your camera for like two seconds let me get my shot and I'll let you get your shot so I take the pictures that I need and then I turn around I say okay everybody else go right ahead do you know how many times you're gonna have to do that before the bride says oh my god uncle brian stop taking pictures that's what susan's here for about two times I don't want to be the jerk that shuts down the guest. I don't want to be the jerk that makes aunt may put her camera down and makes her really upset, but I also don't want to derail what I'm doing if I get a couple shots in and the bride doesn't step in to shut it all down, I'll turn around, I'll say, guys, I'm so sorry, we're really running out of time. We're really pressed for time. I really need to get these photographs for the bride and groom. I know that you want them completely, I understand why you want them. They're gonna be online after the wedding, and I'm sure jennifer and brian wouldn't mind sharing them with you. So if you could let me get my job done, I promise you in the reception rolls around, you could go crazy and when the reception does roll around, they can go crazy and I don't care guess with camera at the risk guests with cameras at the reception don't bother me unless they're physically standing in front of me, and the chances of that happening are pretty darn minimal, so you just deal with it, what do you do in the time line falls apart? We've talked about this and other days, what do you do in things? Start running late what do you do when twenty minutes behind becomes thirty minutes behind becomes forty minutes behind becomes an hour and a half behind. I've shot weddings where the bride and groom were ninety minutes late getting there, and I was sitting in the lobby playing candy creche, hoping that somebody was going to show up. I've shot weddings where the time line has derailed in ways that make me cry, but there's nothing that you can do about that short of doing everything that you can to get the timeline moving, you can't make people move when they're not going to move. We have talked about this, you're not there coordinator, you're not their mother do the best you can to keep them on track, do the best you can to keep them going, but when things fall apart and they fall apart beyond your control, the only thing that you can do is keep your cool stay calm. Don't overreact if you're frustrated, don't show it on your face if you need to step out of the room for two seconds and take a bathroom break and scream into a pillow, do it, but don't let your client see sweat. What do you do when a prospective client insists that you can't possibly do your job without a second shooter? Well, I mean, all of the other photographers that we talked to like they all have second shooter's in their package why don't you have a second shooter in your package? There's no way that you can shoot a wedding all by yourself. I have a very simple response to that and over the years that I have been in business, all of these problems that we're talking about I have developed very simple responses whether I email it to them or whether I pick up the phone and I called them and I say say these specific responses to them, my response to the fact that I can't do a job without a second shooter is very simple. I say you know what? I totally understand where you're coming from and there are really great husband wife teams, they're really great primary secondary shooter teams there are really great teams that have two primary shooter is it do a wonderful job covering a wedding? However I've been doing this for thirteen years, I've always done this by myself. I've never had a second shooter with me you are more than welcome to go to my proofing gallery take a look at all of the featured galleries there all open for viewing and all of those galleries were shot by just me now if you take a look through the galleries, let me know what you think is missing if you find that we really do need to out on a second shooter to your day, we can talk about it, but I would really love for you to look at those galleries first and tell me what you think that I missed by shooting it by myself, and a lot of times that really gets them to go look at those galleries, gets them to look at my work harder, and it gets them to realise that the things that they were afraid that I couldn't cover, that I can cover now, I know some primary secondary shooters and some photographers who have second shooters who really talk down about primary shooters there are on ly a primary shooter operation where they say they're going to tell you they can do it by themselves, but they can't do it. I don't believe in making my clients afraid. I don't ever want to tell them that the way that I do it is the only way to do that, and I especially don't want to tell them that the way another photographer does it is wrong, I can say yes, I absolutely understand that there are other shooters who have different methods about this. This is the way I approach the day. Please take a look at these galleries let me know if you think anything is missing on we can talk about the need that you may or may not have for a second shooter on your day very easy way to handle it ha ha! Here we go again. Can you take these shots that I found on pinterest? I mean, I know another photographer took them, but I want them so can you do them for me? So what? Let me get this straight so on your wedding day, me the photographer that you hired for your wedding you want me to re create another shot that another photographer did? Well, my obnoxious knee jerk response is, why didn't you just hire that other photographer then? But I understand that that clients have desires and the bride's want these images for a reason, and I need to not be a jerk. I need to not be disrespectful. I need to find a way to give her what she wants without kind of compromising the work that I'm going to do because if I follow a shot list for her all day long, I'm not going to be doing my work, so I respond to fold first of all, I totally understand why you love these pictures on pinterest I love them too I think they're fantastic however, if I copy these pictures that another photographer shot, then all I'm doing is copying something that somebody has done before, wouldn't you rather I make something for you that other people are going to want to pin in the future? That's all they want, they want to be the one that other brides who want to be they wantto have those pictures that other brides covet, and they're afraid that if they let you go on your own, that you're not going to make something is unique is the thing that they found on pinteresque, but you will, and you need to get them to trust you, and you need to get them to understand that you're going to respect their day and treat it with the utmost of sincerity and that you're going to make something beautiful for them. My other response to this is, hey, listen, listen, I I absolutely understand understand why you love these images. These are beautiful, but if you've given me this shot listo work from I'm glad to do it for you. If that's what you really want but that's all I'm going to be able to do for you. During the portrait session, if I'm recreating these images with again, I'll do for you if you want, I won't have a chance to be able to do any of the things that you've seen in my portfolio and any of the things that I specialize in and then you put it back on them and you let them make the decision ultimate lately, at the end of the day, it is my clients choice, they want me to recreate a shot list that they have made up, I guess we'll do it to the best of my ability, but it's my responsibility to let them know what that shot list will do to their coverage and how it will limit it being at war with the video team that's another thing that none of us want to do, and we've talked about this before. What do you do if the video team is so belligerent they won't get out of your way, they won't get out of the client's way one time at a wedding a few years ago, the video team covered the entire event by standing at the end of the aisle, about three feet from the bride and groom both of them, and didn't move. Not only could I not see the ceremony. They were in every single one of my images. They blocked the view of the ceremony from every single person in the congregation. It was blindingly obnoxious. I don't care how you shoot. I don't care what lindsay used their do not need to be two of you standing side by side with the thirty five millimeter, especially when you're blocking the view of the precious marriage ceremony from everybody else that's out there. Well, I did the best I could. I kind of got up close behind them. I tried to shoot around them a little bit. I got tried to get to either side. I was trying to be really helpful. In the middle of the ceremony I stood in the middle of the island. I took a picture with my twenty four to seventy to show exactly where they were standing. I needed an insurance policy. If the bride came back to me and said, why is the coverage of our ceremony really limited? I needed to be able to say, hey, listen, like this is where your videographers planted themselves. The good news is you're going to have an extraordinary video from your ceremony. The bad news is your thes air, the pictures that I was able to get well, the second videographer in the team saw me taking this picture. He made eye contact with me after the ceremony and I am not making this up he came up to me he said you have a problem with me thie guests were walking by people were still in the room and I was like excuse me what are you talking about when he raises his voice do you have a problem with me and people turn around and they look at us and I was like no dude everything's cool seriously it's fine like we're good now I don't have a problem with you I saw you taking a picture of me and I was like I was taking a wide angle shot of the ceremony space you guys were in the front I wasn't taking a picture of you I was taking a picture and you were in it and he said and I do not joke do you wanna go outside and talk about this seriously you want to fight me like hana wedding day you want to go outside like scrap it out of course I don't want to go outside with you and talk this out and what I said to him was like, hey, I don't understand why you're so upset we are both here to take care of the bride and groom you've got to do what you've got to do I've got to do what I've got to do I'm trying really hard to get around what you're doing so that I can do what the clients need, it was really difficult to get around where you were at the ceremony don't worry about it, I made it work, but no, I'm not trying to fight you, and I just smiled and kind of patted him on the arm and I kept on going, so needless to say you do the best you can when the client did, unfortunately inevitably come back to me and ask me why there were limited photographs from limited viewpoints from her ceremony, I had to tell her what happened, I had to show her the picture. I don't like doing that. I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but I'm not gonna let the client be mad at me when I've done everything that I can. This is why it's important to talk to the video team beforehand. This is why it's important to pick up the phone and call them or drop them email just to make sure that even if this isn't, if you don't document the day in the exact same way that you are at least on the same page and that you respect each other enough as professionals for him to let you get what you need and you let her get what she needs and that you can work together to please the client because this isn't a power play. And at risk of putting high school musical we really are all in this together and we should be working together to make our clients happy so let's talk briefly about no one will look at me what do you do when you're trying to shoot the family formals and nobody is going to look at you and then alternately what do you do when they won't stop looking at you during the wedding day that's really frustrating when no one will look at me during the family formals? Unfortunately I just have to get louder guys hey! Hi. Hi. Right over here. Guys, listen, I know you're having a great time if I want to get you to your party, I know you want to get to your party, but if you don't look at me, we're gonna be here and even longer. So if I could just have thirty seconds of your undivided attention, I promise you will get to cocktail hour even faster works like a charm, but you do and they won't stop looking at you and I'm not talking about family formals people that won't stop looking at you at family formals is not exactly a problem tohave, but what do you do with that bridesmaid that won't stop staring at you all day long? Or the client who thinks that candid means smile at you all day long you gently try to remain remind them that they don't have to look at you all day long that it really is ok don't look at me this isn't interesting you guys just enjoy the day I'm just here documenting but after a certain point you can only say that so many times before you just have to accept that that person's gonna be the person that smiles at you all day long and you do it sometimes you encounter a bride and groom when you start doing their portrait session you realize that they want to be more camera wear than what you're normally doing during that time of the day but if that's something that they want if they want to smile at me and a lot of their pictures of them together by all means smile at me all you want I have no problems with that whatsoever. Oh my led lights and reception lights now we've talked about this okay? We have discussed this and the led lights are incredibly difficult because when your color correcting them it's very hard to find a true white it makes the image look like this. Now this is what their ceremony looked like. This is exactly what it looked like this is exactly what elissa wanted and this represents exactly what it was like to be there and while this is really beautiful, I don't want the entire reception toe look like this so it's a very difficult thing to color correct through. If your clients are considering led lights, it might be helpful to know that beforehand and talk to them and see if there's anything that you can do to make it a light source. It's a little easier toe work with this light, which you can see slashing its way across helen and pierre is becoming more and more and more prevalent in reception, lighting, djs, air bringing it is part of their package bands are bringing it as part of their package, and it is a photographic nightmare because by the time you speed your shutter speed up enough to combat the arctic blast of that light, you've eliminated any ambient light in the rest of the room. And then when you try to reduce your shutter speed or change or s o tow, let in the ambient light, you're getting all kinds of crazy ghosting from the fact that the light source on the clients is so bright. The only thing that you khun dio about this is continually attempt to educate your clients. I'm never going to say, oh, these djs have crappy lighting or oh, these bands are going to ruin your day, but it's it's important to ask them, are you considering having a lighting designer at your event? Now are they lighting your tables? Are they just lighting the dancefloor? Ok, if they're lighting the dance floor, let me give you a piece of advice ah lot of times they like to put washes or speckles or spots of of lights on the floor and it's great it's not it makes it look a little bit like a club that makes it look really festive it doesn't be nice guys seriously don't ever diss another vendor so yeah, it makes it look like a club it makes it feel really great it makes it really festive everybody wants to get dancing, but unfortunately what it's going to do? Not only is it gonna kind of hit your eyes and blind you a little bit, you're gonna have those slashes of light in your photographs there really isn't much of anything I can do about it, so you might want to talk to your band, have a chat with your deejay, see if they could wash it on the lock on the walls instead or if they could spread it over above head level maybe do it up on the ceiling. Listen, they might not do that, they might say, you know what? This is how we do it and this is the only way we're going to do it, but you know, I've actually had success in this I've had them dim their lights for me I've had them readjust their lights, and when I take these images of what can happen with bad lighting at our reception and I show it to coordinators and I show it to planners, then they start to understand oh my gosh, I thought that looked cool, that actually does not look cool, we need to do that in a different way, so when you're educating the people that you're working with without being disrespectful, it can help you all get the results that you're looking for. So we've talked about a lot of situations and their solutions, and the one over our king thing that all of these situations have, and the solutions to them are that you need to keep your cool it's, not personal, it's just business, keep breathing, have backup plans, have backup plans to your backup plans and to not crumple under pressure. And I know that that's really easy to say when I was newly in my business, every single difficulty, every single problem, everything that broke reduced me to a puddle of tears and ruined my life for days, that terrible day that I told you that we didn't have a single battery to shoot with, and all I had was a half dead battery into d seven hundred I open the trunk, I looked in the car and I said, oh, god we don't have our batteries. Sandra collapsed to the ground, she totally lost it but I said, you know what? I'm going to make a phone call, I'll be right back and then I handled the problem the day that I had shingles and I had to go shoot a wedding. I picked up the phone I hired somebody took a bunch of advil, went to an event it's, it's all in how you handle the problems that are in front of you and this is a business principle it's also a life principle don't let it get you down and to quote my incredible husband, just deal with it above and beyond all of that always be respectful always have your client's best interests at heart and always understand that you might shoot fifty weddings a year. You might have shot five hundred weddings in your career, but to your clients this is it for them and you need to bring your game to your client's event like it's, the only wedding you've ever shot the only wedding you ever will shoot in your entire life. If you do that and you keep your cool, I promise you will be able to get above and beyond and around any situation that the wedding day throws at you hopefully I was able to give you maybe a tip today or even a war story. That will help you out, even if all that means is you laminate, a sign that says, don't forget your batteries and stick it to the in spite of her door. I hope something I said today helped you out in some ways. Thank you for being here with us so far in these thirty days, we still have so much to come, and we'll see you again soon.

Class Materials

bonus material

Quicksheet Inside Guide (one large PDF file)
Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
Pricing Calculator

Ratings and Reviews

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.

Student Work