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Wedding Party

Lesson 51 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

51. Wedding Party

Next Lesson: Reception Events


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 Party

Hi, I'm Susan Stripling, and this is 30 days of wedding photography. If you're joining us for the first time today, you're here for quite a party because we're going to talk about photographing every aspect of the reception. If you've been with us so far, you'll know that in the reception already we photographed the introductions, the first dance, the toasts and the parent dances we've covered caught, tell our and shooting the reception room above and beyond that. In the days of the beginning of this 30 days, we've set up your business. We've marketed, we've branded, we've got your clients were managing their expectations, were shooting, shooting, shooting. And now here we are, finally at the party of Blair and Jeremy's wedding at the reception. Now, we don't have a video for you today for the same reason we haven't in a couple of the other segments. While I know that you would absolutely love to hear the same pumping music you hear every single Saturday, we don't have the rights to sh...

ow it, so we're not gonna show it to you. However, that doesn't mean that you're not gonna have a great experience today and learn an awful lot about reception shooting. So let's jump right into it, talking about receptions. The first thing that we're going to talk about his we're gonna recycle this good old gear slide and what you'll notice in what you've noticed with the consistency the entire way through is that I do work with a very similar set up for every portion of the wedding day. The D four with the 200 with the off camera flash, which we have discussed over and over and over again. It's set up and the use of it the D three us with the 24 to 70 millimeter. But now this one is slightly different, because while we've reached the party portion of the day, we're not just going to stick with that 24 to 70 millimeters now. There are a lot of reasons for that. First of all, I exercise, I'm in pretty good shape. I take pretty good care of myself. But that doesn't mean that at the end of an eight hour day or a nine hour day or a 12 hour day, that my arms aren't starting to get a little bit tired. So sometimes that 24 to 70 millimeter. While it's really fantastic, all realized that I have been on the dance floor for a really, really long time, and I have been sticking, sort of towards the 28 millimeter side of things where the 30 millimeter side of things and the 70 this 60 even the 50 millimeter side of that lens isn't getting used as often as it might through other portions of the day. So at that point in time, I'll switch over to my 28 millimeter lens or my 35 millimeter lens. And by my 35 millimeter lens, I don't mean my 35 I'm talking about my 35 to 0, I'm talking about that tiny little zippy bumble bee of a baby Lin's. That's one of my favorites in the bag. The 28 is small, it's light, it's sharp. The 35 is small and light and sharp, and when it's all dancing all the time, those final two hours of the reception when it's just everybody breaking it down on the dance floor. I don't need a 24 to 70. I'd like to give my arms a break. Now I'm not changing out my lends to the 28 or the because I'm lazy because I'm not strong enough to hold my cameras. It's because there's no need to continue to abuse my arms and neck and back. If I have a lighter Lin's, that's going to be justice, Sharp Justice Fast and Justus useful as my 24 to 70. So that's why we bring those other lenses into play. My D three s also has on camera flash, but my Day three s also has my photo radio transmitter on top of it. And we've talked about this before. The transmitter goes right on top in the hot shoe of my camera, and then my flash mounts right on top of that. The reason for that is, sometimes we take that off camera flash that we've been using for introductions and for toasts and first in parent dances, and we use that to help illuminate the dance floor. We're going to talk about that a great deal in today's our about receptions, so sometimes you can actually use natural light, and we've talked about when and how you can use natural light when you're shooting toasts when you're shooting first dances and parent dances. And when you're shooting introductions, just because you can shoot the light in the room doesn't mean you should shoot the light in the room. I've mentioned that your camera's pretty powerful. It can function pretty well in low light situations, but that doesn't mean that you should be shooting. The light of the quality of light is not there. However, if the natural light in the room or the ambient light in the room is of good quality and from a good direction to allow me to utilize that instead of a flash, I would be foolish if I didn't take advantage of it. For example, the sweating that I photographed in Charlotte, North Carolina, the light that you see on the bride and groom is not light from a flash, its lights that are on the stage that were set by the lighting designer of the actual event itself. It's pretty obvious to tell because I'm shooting it. I s 0 5000 I wouldn't normally shoot it. I s 0 5000 when I'm using a flash, because using the flash means that I could bring my I s o down I'm using the flash toe Light up my subjects And I don't need the power of I s 0 5000 with off camera flash It's coming from set up high You can see a little bit of flair in the top, right? And a little bit of flair in the top left of the image These are the lights that are set toe light the dance floor there the lights that are set toe light the ban But the bride and groom hopped up on stage We're doing a little dance with the band I was able to assess really quickly the way the light was falling on them and I was able to set my settings accordingly. I'm at 250th of a second. Now, I know you might be looking at this and you might be saying, Listen, if you if you brought your I s o down, maybe you could change your shutter speed. Maybe there's a more efficient way to do this. I needed 250th of a second there dancing. They're moving fast. I'm using my 24 to 70 but I need to make sure that I can freeze the motion of my clients without using the flash. When I have a flash. When the flash is filling in, I can shoot at, Ah, 40th of a 2nd 1/60 of a second, an 80th of a second, and the flash fire is going to freeze my subjects when I don't have a flash to freeze the subjects. When I'm at a situation like this, I need a faster shutter speed to compensate. I'm enough four because I want both of them would be pretty much in focus and about 24 millimeters, partly because I'm about three feet away from them, cause I didn't have any more room to get further back. But it was also a deliberate choice at 24 millimeters to show them to show the vastness of the space and to see the crowd behind them. So when you go into a reception room when you're looking at what the lighting is going to be like on the dance floor and enduring this portion of the day, take a look around and see if you might find an instance like this. Now the lighting in this situation is almost exactly the same as the lighting in the image prior its lights that were set by the lighting designer or the band to illuminate the stage so that you can see the band and you can see them performing. Marissa and Jesse jumped up on stage at the end of their wedding reception. They've got their sunglasses on, they're dancing, and I was able to really quickly tell that I wasn't going to need any additional light in order to make a perfectly composed, perfectly executed, technically image. Take a look at the shutter speed down at the bottom. It's 160th of a second. Now this is deliberate for two reasons. First of all, I'm at 100 and 60th of a second so that I can freeze the motion of my clients while they're dancing, because I'm not using the flash to freeze their motions. Second of all, I'm deliberately at 100 and 60th of a second, because the Onley ambient light that I want in the image is the light that is on Marissa and the light of is on Jesse. I want everything else to dim down in the background. So we've been talking about flash. And we've been talking about keeping your shutter speed as low as possible to utilize the ambient light in the room. Sometimes I don't want to utilize the ambient light in the room. Sometimes I want it to actually dark and down on the sides of the back. So the edges. So that was a very deliberate choice here, f four. So we've got both of them somewhat and focus. Although the focus is on Marissa here, I s 0 4000 It's a pretty dark room and 24 millimeters so that I can show them I can show the hands of the people cheering them on. I can show the band behind them and also because I'm right out in the fray in the middle of the dance floor and I had no opportunity to get back any further than that. Then you come to something like a sparkler exit. Now, for the most part, I'm going to be attempting to use an off camera flash for a sparkler exit. Usually it's not that bright outside. Usually you don't have the opportunity to go flash less for a sparkler exit and usually to be perfectly honest. By that point in the night, everybody is either tipsy or they've gone home, and the light from the sparklers with the people that are left at the party is not enough to illuminate the bride and groom. Now Helen and Peer, their reception was at the maritime park in Ah, the Jersey City area of New Jersey, and when it came time to do their sparkler exit, I had a little bit of a say so over where it happens. If you know that a sparkler exit is coming, I highly advise. Talking to the banner of the deejay isn't really going to help you out, because this isn't therefore today. But if you find the major D, if you find the coordinator at the venue, who's going to be helping make all of the events happen as they need to happen? Or if the bridegroom have an actual wedding coordinator who is coordinating the events of the day for them, be it an event coordinator who's been with them the whole time? We're just a day of coordinator. Find them. You should know by now if they're having a spark sparkler exit because you've talked about the timeline of the day because they've informed you, if anything interesting, that's happening generally because it's a line item on the actual timeline itself. And you can take that to the coordinator either before the event are on the day of. If you haven't had a chance to talk them and you can say, Hey, this sparkler exit, where exactly is this going to go down? And their answer here was, I don't know. Where do you want it to happen now? That doesn't always happen. Usually it's in front of the building or beside the building, or some venues have codes where if you're going to use fire, you need to be a certain distance away from the building. So in that instant, sometimes you have a great loss of control over where this happens. But I had the opportunity to pick my location on my location was chosen what you're seeing in the background at the very top. In the far background of this image, those air the lights of Manhattan across the river were on the Jersey side looking towards the city. There were enough guests there that we were able to utilize the lights off the sparkler as the lights on toe light up. My clients and my clients had actually listened to me, which is something that I always try to advise them if you're going to buy sparklers by the long ones, not the short ones, because the saddest thing ever is to watch somebody attempt to do a sparkler exit Onley to have the front end of the sparklers burn out when they're halfway down the row. So I recommend they get the long ones instead of the baby ones. You'll have more time if they run down towards you and they want to run back and do it again. You've still got the sparklers burning during that time. Now I'm shooting at 1.8. I understand that this flies in the face of every single thing that I've told you about the f stop that you should be choosing when you're photographing two people together. But I had a decision to make. I mean, I s 0 6400 I'm using my 85 millimeter lens. I'm at 160th and 1/100 of a second to try to freeze their motion even though they're moving even though I'm outside and even though I'm not freezing them with my flash. But I had to decide now if I was going to shoot to eight or 35 or four. There was no way my camera was going to be able to handle those settings and still freeze them in action. My shutter speed was going to become so low that there would be blur. Then I was going to need to add in flash, which was going to kill the look that I was going for. So I went for 1.8. I understand that in the image on the left, because they're both on mostly the same plane. They're both very well and focused the image on the right Helen is in focus, and Pierre is a little off those air decisions that you have to make yourself. If you find yourself in this situation, it's an if then scenario. If I need to have my shutter speed high enough that I freeze them, I'm going to have to change my aperture toe 1.8. Do I want that? Well, if I don't want that, if I want F four than my shutters, who is going to be like an 80th of a second. I can't freeze them with that. So we need to add flash. This is where the entire time I've been talking about understanding your camera, understanding your gear, knowing your gear inside and out. This is where that knowledge comes together and let you make a decision like that. It lets you make a decision about lighting and composition and how this is going to happen. And when you're not thinking about your settings when you're not thinking about how am I going to do this, you're just doing it. Then you can focus on the emotion. Then you can focus on your composition, so keep at it and keep working. And when the opportunity presents itself toe, find an area that you can use the existing light. You will be able to do it continuing to talk about receptions, continuing to belabor this point, but it's very, very, very important. I will Onley use available light at night when the light is perfect. Just because you can shoot it doesn't mean you should shoot it. So let's deviate from that just a bit. And let's talk about on camera flash I've been talking to you excessively about off camera flash about the flash that my assistant holds on the mono pod. The only time so far today that we've even remotely touched about on camera flash is when we were talking about gripping grins during Cocktail Hour, which had gripping grins during cocktail hour. That's not exactly the best tutorial for on camera flash, so let's talk about it as to how it pertains to actually shooting a wedding reception. Oh my gosh, here is the list of gear yet again. But honestly, the equipment that you're bringing the Lin selections that you're making the gear that you're bringing to the table matters. It doesn't really really really matter, because the best quote that I heard about photography is the best camera is the one that you have with you, and I can't remember who said it heard it a while ago. It really stuck with me. You can make great images with a pinhole camera. I've made some pretty nice pictures with my IPhone, my INSTAGRAM account. Every single thing you see on my INSTAGRAM account is IPhone only. So I'm not saying that you have to have the latest gear or the greatest. Here are the newest camera body or the newest, you know, iteration of whatever lens you're looking at. Good gear helps. I saw a market improving the improvement in my work when I changed camera systems back in and seven. But at the end of the day, it just doesn't terrific Lee matter all that much. If you're able to get the results that you want with the gear that you're using, don't take out a loan and buy new stuff. Don't buy new gear just because you feel like you have to. This is just what I used to cover a wedding. This doesn't mean that you have to do the exact same thing. My d three s. We've talked about this the 24 to millimeter, the 28 millimeter and the 35 millimeter during the all dancing all the time portion of the evening. We talked about this shutter speed that we're going to use when we're approaching this, and my principles are that it needs to be fast enough to freeze the movement and slow enough to bring in the ambient light in the room. I'm almost always at F four. This image above facia at her reception F four. Let's make it the main part of my image in focus, still brings in some of it around the main part of the image and then lets the rest of it gently melt away in the background as it is not the focal point off the photograph. Then we have the sticky extra little part of when do you add off camera flash as well. So let's look at Blair and Jeremy's wedding here a little bit. And then let's look at other weddings that I photographed and let's look it on camera flash and when the on camera flash is good enough versus when you need to add in some off camera flashes. Well, now I know a lot of photographers who will bring a four light set up to a reception, a three light set up a to light. They'll put alien bees in the corner. They'll have pro photos bouncing off the ceilings. I'm very simple and how I approach my reception for several reasons. One of those reasons is I'm not trying to make the room look like anything other than what it ISS. I don't want a light it up like Monday Night Football. So the bride looks at the pictures later and says, Wow, these air really pretty. Was this our wedding because our wedding didn't really look like this? I'm trying to be true to the feel of the room. If there's ambient light in the room, I want to work with it. My job with the flashes to supplement what's there, not change it into something else? So with that said, Let's take a look at what we're dealing with here. If you take a look at this picture, if you're looking to find me, I'm the person wearing all black. I'm always the person wearing all black, not that guy in the black sport suit. I'm not this lady over here. I'm the tiny one, standing in a very awkward way, right under the chandelier, right under the led lights from the D. J. And if you're looking for where I place my assistant with the off camera flash in this sort of circumstance, just take your eye down to camera left in the bottom and you'll see Sandra standing there in her patterned black and white sweater. with her flash right there. You'll notice the difference between this and what we did in the family formals and that we've removed the rogue flash vendor and we've put the stove in omni balance on the front of the flash. The reason why we've done this, I'm not looking for it to feather out. I'm not looking for it to be a softer light source. I'm looking for it to be a more direct beam of light than it was during the family formals. So if you take the look back over here in my picture, here I am all the way over there. I'm shooting into the bride and groom hole. You'll see right in the middle of the dance floor, conveniently for me, dancing right in that speckled light. And then you'll see that my assistance flashes coming from behind them at an angle. So let's look at what some of that looks like in practice. Here we go. This is what it looks like with no additional flash. I'm an 80th of a second F 4 26 millimeter. I s 0 1600 I'm just working with the lights that are in the room. I'm adding 80th of a second. It's letting a pull in a little bit of the light going on in the background. Luckily from either not dancing under those deejay lights right now, but allows me to get a nice, clean exposure of some nice clean dancing at the same time, I'm also walking around the room. I'm not just solely focused on what's going on on the dance floor. I'm looking at what else is happening as well. I want to see who's sitting at the table and talking those people who don't get up and dance at all. During the reception. I want to see the people standing by the side of the dance floor. This is Jeremy's mother talking with someone on the edge of the dance floor and again the settings air still very similar. There's no need for me to add on any additional off camera flash here. Some of you might look at it and say that I do. I don't think I dio because I'm staying very true toe what the room itself actually looks like again no additional flash just because you can add on a second light just because you can out on 1/ light. If it's not broke, don't try to fix it. Sometimes are urged to overcompensate, sometimes are urged to overcomplicate and sometimes our urge to just bring as much equipment as we possibly can to the day really just muddies up the effort. I was very fortunate with this room and that they did have a blighting. They did have visual interest in the back of the room. They did have light and texture going on back there, so I didn't need an additional off camera flash to separate my subjects from the background. My white balance is set to flash at this point in time in the day, as we've talked about, I am on manual, both on my off camera flash when I use it and my camera settings itself. My on camera flash is set to auto, and it is tipped slightly behind me, bouncing a little bit, filling in a little bit and emulating the look of natural light as best I possibly can. So again, we tried with some off camera flash here. During this portion of the day, I took two or three test shots, realized the light in the room was doing just fine for me, and I wasn't going to need the additional. Off camera flash At 1/50 of a second at F four at High ISO's 1600 I was able to pick up the ambient light in the back of the room. I was able to freeze the movement of my subjects, and I was able to get a really nice, cleanly exposed photograph, capturing the emotion in the dancing, capturing the room exactly how it looked and then moving onwards. Talk about some other weddings on camera flash. No additional light again, no additional light. Sometimes it simply isn't necessary. Sometimes adding in an additional light just over complicates things. Sometimes the moment is great. Sometimes the moment on itself stands alone. Sometimes you don't need to go above and beyond and do more and do more and do more. So when I get to a reception, when I'm assessing the room, I'm looking at the lighting in the room. I'm looking at the size of the room. I'm looking at how high the ceilings are. I'm looking at how dark it's going to be. The room might have tremendous up lighting, but it might be a vast, cavernous space so that up lighting is way far in the distance, and I'm not picking it up on camera. You have no idea until you go in and you take a look at what the lighting in the room looks like are the lighting in the tent or the lighting outside, or lack there of. And until you can assess the space, you can't make a decision about whether or not you want to add in another light or not. Now, some of you, as I've mentioned, might have multi light setups that you bring to every single event, regardless of the event, and you like them all in the exact same way. And that's great. Far be it from me to tell you that what you're doing is wrong. This is simply the way I approach the day. This is simply the way I get it done, and it works very well for me. It makes my clients happy, and it serves our needs really well. So again, here's another example of 50th of a second at F four. 24 millimeters. My arms haven't given out from under me so that I need a smaller lens just yet. And I s 0 12 50 picking up the ambient light, freezing the movement and freeing me up to concentrate on the emotion of what's happening in front of me. Now let's talk about some additional flash. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes the room is dark. Sometimes the up lighting is too far away. Sometimes the lighting is too one dimensional. Sometimes I'm just not liking the look that I'm getting from my only on camera flash. That's when I'll make a decision to bring in the additional off camera flash, to illuminate the rest of the space, to help separate my subjects from the background and to help given additional dimension to the images that it was lacking beforehand. Here at Marissa and Jessie's wedding, we had some pretty okay light in the room, but there wasn't a ton of it. There was a lot going on, and I really felt like the additional light was going to help me out. If you remember back to the slide, the very beginning, where we talked about where I'm standing and where Sandra is standing. If I'm right here and those people in that photograph or right there If they're my my water cup now, you can see that the light is coming from off camera. That way I try to position my assistant on the opposite side of the dance floor for me at one of the corners. She holds the light up nice and high, so that's out of my plane. A vision and it's coming down onto and into the dance floor. Usually whatever setting we've got the flash at for the first dances, parent dances, introductions and toasts, we're going to take that and increase the power. So if I have used an eighth power for all of those things that I just mentioned will switch over to quarter power so that I get a little bit more light coming out on the dance floor. The reason for that is I want it to be a little brighter. I wanted to be a little more noticeable, but I also I am generally having my assistant a little further away from the action. Then she would be during an introduction or first dance or a toast. So if we shot the intros to Marissa and Jessie's wedding at eight power, if we shot the toast in the first dance in the parent Dances at eighth Power. We're going to go to quarter power when she starts lighting the dance floor forming The great thing about having my assistant with her off camera flash means that I have the option on my 24 to 70 on my day three us to either use my flash on camera or not. So sometimes when I'm photographing a scene, I've got her with the light, the lights coming in from the side of the dance floor I really realized that my on camera flash was actually distracting from the scene. Great thing about having the photo transmitter right there on that d three s means that all I have to do is reach up, Turn off my own flash and the click of my shut er is still firing my off camera flash. So in an instance like this, when Zach is singing with his friends from college, which was really fantastic, I was on one corner of the dance floor. Here is I'm going to use my water glass again here. Zach and his friends, I was over here off this diagonal. Sandra was over here off to this diagonal. What I was attempting to do is have her light give me dimension from this side. 1/4 power on I was going to shoot from this side using my flash on camera also help fill in my side of the image which, if the light is coming from there, my side of the image becomes the shadow side. I thought that to make this a compelling photograph I needed on camera flash to fill in that shadow side. But when I took a look at it, I took a couple of test shots and I was like, It's just way too much light. So I reached up on without changing any of my settings. Still, at 1/60 of a second. Still at F four, I've got my 28 millimeter on there. Still a I s 0 I simply reached up, turned off my flash, and the next time I clicked my shutter it fired on Lee the off camera flash using that as my only light source So you can constantly turn on and off your flash. You can reach up. You can turn on and off your radio if you want her to stop her flash. It's much harder for she and I to signal to each other across the dance floor when there are a 1,000,000,000 people on the dance floor. So if I need her to stop using her flash and I cant kit her attention with my wild wave ings, I'll just reach up and turn off My photo exit will still allow me to fire my on camera flash. That is in the radio transmitters Hot shoe. It just means that when I click the shutter, I'm no longer firing off her flash as well. So, uh, dealing with the day lighting interception lighting packages, this is I mean, this could be an hour in and of itself. I have seen this four years on and off, in and out. But over the past two or three years, it has become a nightmarish client decision that really makes the day incredibly hard was actually so incredibly hard that it spurred the idea for one of these episodes of the 30 days, which is entitled difficulties, the things that you face on the wedding day that are just really, really hard and what you do about them deejay lighting is the worst. If you're a D. J, you're lighting is the worst. If you are a band and you were doing this, you're lighting is the worst. Please stop. We're not in Miami. It's not a nightclub. I don't need my clients to look like they're being followed by snipers, and they are in varying degrees of horribleness. There's the washes of light on the dance floor, which pretty much stink, but I can deal with it. There is what's going on here on poor Helen, which looks like she's being slashed in half by a violent light of green. And then there's my personal favorite, which are the pin spots, which looks like someone is taking little laser pointers and pointing them all over people. Um, I very passionate about this. Yes, I am. Do I think it looks stupid? Yes, I dio and I don't think it only looks stupid from me and for my sake. But I see it bothering clients on the dance floor. I see them kind of dancing, and then the deejay light sweet by, and they blind everybody in the face. It does not serve anybody's purposes, and they're always way too bright. Sometimes they're on dimmers. Sometimes you can get them to dim them down. Sometimes you can get them to hit on Lee the walls and not the ceiling. I do my best to educate my clients as to what this decision will mean for them in their photography. But if this is what they want, if they want it to look like it's New Year's Eve in South Beach, then this is what I'm going to have to deal with. We're going to talk about this extensively in the episode about difficulties, but in this instance, you only have a couple of choice is the only thing that you can do to combat this light that's continually shining in their face is to get your shutter speed high enough that your overwhelming that light, the problem is is that you get your shutter speed high enough that you can deal with that light and then you've murdered all of the ambient light in the rest of the room. It's a difficult situation. I cannot find a win win every single time. It makes me terribly sad, so let's just not talk about it today, and we'll hit it another day. Oh, good. There it is again. That's awesome. Let's look at this one more time now. This was not pleasant light for anybody involved. It was constantly getting in the client's fit in clients eyes. It was getting in my eyes. It was all over the place. And the only problem with it was it was just too bright. And this was one of the few light sources that I just couldn't conquer. By the time I got my shutter speed fast enough that I could correctly illuminate my subjects, it looked like they were dancing in a black pit because the ambient light was gone the second I attempted to introduce ambient light. Then you had ghosting because there was too much light coming from the deejay. My only solution in this instance was to simply not shoot that three square feet right under that chandelier, where all of that light waas This didn't hamper my ability to cover the reception. I did just fine. I was able to make great images and everybody was happy, but it was a very difficult portion of the dance floor that made it very hard for me to continue coverage in that area. Now, stepping back away from light that makes me sad and going back to light. That makes me incredibly happy. Let's talk a little bit more about some off camera flash during the reception, with additional flash from my assistant Kimberly's Wedding, we had shot the introductions, first dances, parent dances and toasts at an eighth power on the off camera flash. So when it was time to light up the dance floor, we switched over to quarter power. Sandra is often back behind the clients. I'm using my flash on camera to fill in their faces. I'm using her flash off camera to separate the clients from the background. Same thing here. My light is lighting up his face. My light is illuminating him. Her light off camera left is providing dimension to the image. Same thing right here. My light at 1/50 of a 2nd 3. 70 millimeters, my on camera flashes set toe auto. It's bouncing just a little bit behind me. I'm using it to fill in the side of Helen's face that is closest to the camera, and then my assistant, who is to the left and behind is using our off camera flash at quarter power to create that halo of light around Helen's head and around the heads of the people around her. Just Mawr. Examples of using on and off camera light at the same time at a reception for maximum effect. Here is a really strong, very clear example of what's going on. My flash on camera is popping in, and it's lighting up the clients just a bit. Sanders flash off camera is coming from over the bride shoulder and hitting her stepdaughter square in the face were at quarter power. Take a look at the settings. They remain consistent all the way through. All we've done is combined everything that I know about on camera flash and everything that I know off camera flash and doing it at the same time. Same girl dancing with her dad. The only addition to this is my friend Brett Cult, the videographer who found the same thing and just shot it from another angle. So we've got him documented in this as well, but you can clearly see, based on how the shadows are falling, based on how the light is hitting Peter's daughters face where Sandra is Light is coming from and my light is just adding a little bit of Phil to brighten this up so that it isn't so dramatic so that I don't lose the entire scene. How long do I stay? And how much dancing do I shoot? I don't know. It really depends How long I stay is up to the client. We've talked about the timeline. We've talked about managing client expectations, and in talking about the timeline and managing your client expectations, I figured out how long their reception is. So let's say your reception your cocktail hours from 6 to 7 and your reception is from 7 to 11. Now you can do it one of a couple of ways you can have me stay until 11 if you've got something going on at the end of their reception. If you've got something else we're gonna photograph at the end, or if you just want coverage for the entire thing, I will stay all the way up to 11 oclock. What if you only have eight hours in your contract? And what if you don't really want to add on any overtime and you really want to keep it at eight hours, and you really want to start me it too well, I can stop it. 10 All stopping at 10 means is that we need to talk about the timeline. We need to make sure that any formalities that are going to happen are going to happen before 10 o'clock. And if I am ever set to stop before the event is over, I'm always going to check in with the client before I leave. If you're reception runs till 11 and you have me there until 10 at 9 45 either myself or my assistant are going to come up to you and say, Hey, Blair, it's 9 45 We're about to head out at 10 o'clock. Listen, if you want us to stay till 11 were totally glad to Otherwise, we just wanted to know if there's anything else that we can do for you in the next 15 minutes before we head out. Sometimes that means they just want to get a couple people together for a picture. Sometimes it means that they say, Oh my gosh, no, it's fine. Head on out. Sometimes they say, Oh my gosh, It's 9 45 already. The party is awesome. Can you stay till 11? Of course I can. I've already planted in my client's heads the knowledge that they can add on overtime on the wedding day. At any point in time, they don't have to pull out a checkbook on the dance floor. They don't have to hand me a credit card while they're partying. I'll invoice them after the event for the overtime. The overtime is on my price list. We've talked about it. We've talked about it as a possibility. Even if they're having me stop at 10 o'clock, I still reiterate the price of the overtime. I still reiterate that it's something that's available for them, so if they decide they want me to stay, they've been educated about it. How much dancing do I shoot? Well, I shoot as much as as interesting had I know that that's a little bit vague as well. If you have me at your for our reception, which has three hours of dancing and you have 50 guests, imagine how fast your guests are going to get bored of me out on the dance floor with them, so it really comes into the experience thing that I've been talking about, how you learn to take the pulse of an event. So sometimes I'll go out and I'll make a 10 minute circuit around the dance floor and then I'll go take a bathroom break or I'll go eat half of a sandwich or I'll go outside with the tripod that I had before it got stolen. I know I keep talking about it, but I'm incredibly better. I'll go outside with the tripod and I'll take a timed exposure of the building or all borrow the bride and groom's rings and I'll take a ring shot of all of them together because I didn't get to do it beforehand. I can't be out on the dance world constantly the entire time. First of all, notice respect. There's just not that much to shoot. When you've got the same people doing the same thing over and over and over again, you have to pace yourself. Sometimes I have other things that I want to shoot. So all interspersed a tour around the dance floor with something else that I need to do if I've done everything else that I need to Dio. Sometimes it's just simply being present. Sometimes it's standing on the side of the dance were with my camera at the ready, waiting for something different to happen. Sometimes it's me taking a minute tour around the dance floor and then sitting down and resting my back for 10 minutes While Sandra takes a tour around for a few minutes, it's gauging every single wedding, learning to understand the pace and figuring out how much you need to be out there to do a great, respectful, fantastic full job for them without burning them out on you. Because imagine how awful it would be if you were on a dance floor for four hours and there was a photographer two inches from your face the entire time. You have to be careful. You don't want to irritate the guests. So taking the tone of the event, figuring out how much I need to be out there, getting out there and getting what I need and telling the full story, you just have to learn to read the tempo of the event itself. Do I eat it? Receptions? Oh yeah, of course. I eat at receptions, usually by the time of reception is rolled around. I've been with the clients for five hours, six hours, seven hours, Sometimes Mawr and I'm starving. I get what we like to call hang gri, which is where if I get, you know, in the least bit hungry, I get kind of irrationally dizzy and frustrated and furious and sloppy. I start making mistakes so we make sure, my assistant Ni, that we always bring food with us in varying degrees of healthiness. Ah, lot of times we bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That's nice and quick. It's easy. You can eat it on the fly and we bring 31 for her, one for me and one in case things get dire and we get super super extra hungry. I bring protein shakes with me because it's something that I can down in the car really quick in between a ceremony and reception, or I can kind of drink it while I'm shooting the reception room. We tend to bring Twizzlers, which were not exactly healthy, but they're really, really good on that. We try to have water, we try to have drinks. We just try to make sure that we stay eating throughout the day so that we don't get depleted or dehydrated or angry as it goes on. I'm not saying that we take our breaks here and there to have these leisurely lunches. But as I'm driving from the ceremony to the reception, I can drink a protein shake and eat half of a sandwich. And while we're waiting for everybody to congregate for family formals, I can take a quick break, have a bathroom break and get down some cheese and crackers. I start to figure out how I can work it into the day. Those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I mentioned. Ah, lot of the times you do half before the ceremony and half after the ceremony, and it keeps us going. I do not want to be very, very, very clear about this. I do not have a hot meal clause in my contract, and I truly no disrespect intended to those who do believe you're a little bit of a diva if you dio, it is not up to you to have your client seed you. If you work a 9 to 5 job, does your employer bring you lunch? No, Of course they don't. It's up to you to take care of yourself. And if my client is going to feed me, I think that's wonderful. But it's not their responsibility to make sure that I'm hydrated and, you know, staying full throughout the day. And besides, what are you going to do if you don't get that hot meal? They give you a vendor meal. If they give you a cold sandwich or if they forget about you, are you gonna complain? Are you going to go to your client in the middle of a reception and complain that you didn't get food? Really, I would never in a 1,000,000 years ever do something like that. So I feel like putting a hot meal clause in your contract is really just setting yourself up for a really awkward instance. If you don't get it, what do you do about it? Vendor meals. I think they're wonderful. I think that it's fantastic that my client has taken the time to think about me and think about my well being, an attempt to provide for me. However, I found that a lot of times the client has no idea what the vendor meal is they don't know for being fed pasta. They don't know if we're getting, you know, a rap. They don't know that what were generally getting is a box. In that box is a dented apple, a sad brownie, a container of chips and a sandwich that was made that morning. I'm a little picky about food. I'm not that picky, but I don't like sandwiches. And I don't like deli meat. And I would rather make sure that that I'm taking care of that. I have brought provisions for myself instead of complaining when they don't bring me food, that sort of suits my fancy. So yes, Um, I up a little bit on a soap box about this. I am. But I've seen so many photographers lose their minds over the hot meal thing. And I've actually seen a videographer pitch a fit in the middle of a reception because he didn't get its stake. And between you and me, I don't want a steak at your wedding. I don't want you to feed me surf and turf, because what's gonna happen when I sit down and eat your surf and turf? I'm gonna need a nap, and I would rather get up and get back out to your wedding. And I don't want to eat a steak at 11 o'clock at night. So instead of being a diva about food instead of being difficult about food instead of being any type of anything other than an absolute pleasure toe work with, we bring our own food always. So when do I eat during cocktail hour? If they invite me to eat the food, it makes me very, very uncomfortable to eat food in front of guests, even if I've been invited, even if denying the food would be being rude to the clients, if there's so insistent that we eat at cocktail hour, I'll get something and I'll take it to another room. I don't want the guests to be like, Wow, that photographer is really hitting the buffet pretty hard. The buffet is my arch nemesis when I have no other option but to go through the buffet and they're going to be offended. If I don't go through the buffet, I just feel like all eyes are on me. Paul. I'm doing its will. Try to avoid it, and when do I eat a little before the ceremony. I eat a little after the ceremony. I eat when I'm hungry. I'm not sitting down to a four course meal, but I am making sure that I'm taking care of myself throughout the day because these days are long, and if you don't stay on top of it, you can get really hungry. You could get really dehydrated really fast. Do I work on the reception timeline with the clients? No. Oftentimes I don't by the time their reception rolls around. If I know your reception is from 7 to 11. Ah, lot of times the timeline wrangling during that part of the day is handled by the band or the deejay or the coordinator or the coordinator the venue, Because it's really not up to me at that portion of the day. Whether you do your introductions into your first dance or whether you to your introductions into your toasts, are how will the flow of all of that goes? Ah, lot of times when I get that timeline, it doesn't come from the clients. It actually comes from the band or the deejay. I always, always, always take that timeline to the band or the deejay or the maitre d or all of the above at the very start of the reception and say, Hey, guys, this is the timeline I've got. Just want to make sure it's staying the same and there are no last minute changes because I can help you with the time line all the way up through the reception. But at that point in time, usually someone else takes over because the timing of the reception is a little more important to the bandits, a little more important to the venue than it is to me specifically.

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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.

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