Creative Composition

Lesson 1/2 - Creative Composition


Creative Composition


Lesson Info

Creative Composition

Susan photographed her first wedding in two thousand one. Since then she has photographed weddings around the world she's been published in numerous magazines, has one too many awards to mention and has translated her love of photography into the ability to really educate and help people around the world learned to produce the same kind of images that she has herself we are we've had her on creative life before we are very excited to welcome her back for creative composition. Susan strip how are you doing this morning? Very good I'm glad we are on air radio finally their on air we are ready for you so I'm gonna just let you take it away thanks hi how's everybody this morning were awake mostly still here all right so I don't know about you guys but it's almost october you were plowing through wedding season and I'm really tired I have fifty three weddings to shoot this year and I'm nowhere near done someone just smelled oh my god and that's pretty much right this is a point in time in t...

he year when I start kind of burning out just a little bit on dh when I do start to burn out I started panic a little bit because the last thing in the world that you want to do when you go to a client's letting is not be on your a game or worse start phoning it in which I think is really disrespectful so then you start working a little harder to stay fresh which means that you're a little more tired at the end of every day which means you have to work even harder means you're a little more tired and then it gets cold and we all get sick and everybody's tired and the end of the year just usually kind of crumbles down as we approached the holidays and what I'm hoping to do today is keep that from happening to you guys because I think out of those fifty three clients have hired me every single one of them deserves all of my attention and I need to be doing work in december that I'm also doing in march when I'm fresh and ready to go so the way I look at a wedding is my husband jokingly one time kind of made an analogy that of shooting a wedding is like playing a game of golf and part of what keeps you going at it over and over again is there's no such thing as a perfect game there's no such thing as a perfect wedding there are all of these elements that are thrown at you throughout the day different things keep happening things they're out of your control things that are in your control but might not exactly happen the way you and your client had planned it, too, and you have to adapt to every single one of those situations and be able to say, fresh, be ableto handle the lighting and the gear challenges and continue to make beautiful images for these people. So what I'm hoping to do today is not only talk you through the gear that I bring to a wedding, which is important, but take you through one wedding from beginning to end. So all of the images that you're going to see today are from one shoot just as I shot and it was a wedding that I shot this past labor day weekend, I'm going to talk you through the gear that I chose, the light that I use, the way I approach, dealing with my clients, the way I put the framing of the picture together to sort of show you one wedding from beginning to end. I can stand up here and show you the best of all day long, but I think it's a little bit, you know, maybe a little bit more relevant, maybe a little bit more helpful to do just one wedding, so that's, what we're going to dio hopefully creatively, as my title has promised before we even get started. I do think it's not all about the gear, however, to ignore the gear that I take to a wedding would also be a little foolhardy. I am a nikon shooter I've been an icon shooter since two thousand seven you would have to pry mine icons out of my cold dead hands it's just not going to happen and this is what I take with me too every single wedding, they say it's not the tools that make the photographer. However, having amazing tools in your bag doesn't exactly hurt, so I do have four cameras with me at all times the g seven hundred d three d three s t for as you can see, it is a linear progression of gear the g seven hundred eighty three or my backup cameras they're the ones that sort of stay in the bag all the time just in case and we joke about just in case, but a couple of weeks ago I dropped a camera at a wedding I dropped a d for with a seventy two, two hundred on it and I broke them both, then humorously enough about forty five minutes later, my d three stop working so you can never have too many backup cameras if you think oh no nothing's going to happen to me I'll leave one at home something's going to happen to you so the seven hundred great camera d three great camera, the two main cameras that I have on my body all day long, or the d three s and the d for miami to camera shooter the lenses that I carry, I have a million of them, one hundred five macro I used to use the sixty I upgraded to the one of five we're going talk about lindh's compression today and lends compression is kind of my favorite thing ever in the entire world, and if I liked issue my portrait, and if I like to shoot most of my day with a longer linds, why wouldn't I be treating my details the same way? So I upgraded to the one o five have a very strong policy that I don't buy gear unless it will help me make more money there's no sense in putting out the money if it's not going to improve my work enough, and I did feel like upgrading to the one of five was going to kick my detail images kind of up into the next level when I feel like being extra crazy, I put my converter my double converter on, and so then my one o five becomes a to ten, then I have amazing detail shots really fun eighty five one four twenty four to seventy two eight, which is my workhorse twenty four to seventy goes on my d three s at the start of the day stays there all day long, seventy two, two hundred, which is another one of my favorite lenses, and then I have a bunch of just other things in my bag, I have the thirty five millimeter, the one for anna to oh, I have a twenty eight millimeter to eight when your arms get tired at the end of the night when you've been shooting dancing for four straight hours. It's nice to take the twenty four to seventy off put the twenty eight on that's, generally the focal length that I tend to stick to on a really crowded dance floor if I can back up a little bit, all use the thirty five, but it takes a little bit of the way off of your arms and to really sharp really fast winds works really well in low light, and I have lots of flashes from the sb twenty four's that I bought a billion years ago all the way up through the eight hundred to nine hundred nine tens. I just tend to keep collecting them, and I carry all of them with me, because, again, you never know, you never know when you're one off camera flash isn't going to be enough of a reception, and you're gonna want to add to or the room is super super dark, and you want to put another one in the corner or one breaks and you need a backup, so we have a massive bag. We drag it with us everywhere. My assistant hates it because it's heavy, but we always have everything that we need with us, and then flash accessories will talk about it a little bit when we get to the reception portion, but I have the stuff in the ones that come with the flash to go on the top of it. I have the flash vendors from rogue, which were kind of the little so mystical soft box that I use for family formals. I have video lights and just all kinds of extra little things in the bag, down to chapstick and extra batteries in a checkbook and money in case I need to take a cab, but this is the majority of the gear that I used to make the images that I'm making on a wedding day. So to get started, these air, the things that I think about when I'm walking through a wedding day and I'm trying to stay creative. I'm thinking about my lynn selection, and when I used to sort of be a newer photographer, I've been doing this a z mentioned since two thousand one, which makes me feel ancient. But up until about you know, oh seven or eight I was really choosing the lenses that I was using on a wedding day based on how close I could stand in my clients right like the seventy two, two hundred was the thing that I put on in the church when I had to stand in the balcony and I had to be really far back and so I needed to get close up that's why I used to two hundred I never really started thinking about the relationship of what your limbs does to your subjects face what your limbs does to your foreground and background relationship and when all of those things started becoming considerations when I'm putting my gear together now I'm choosing the seventy two, two hundred because I want to compress my client at to hunt because I want to bring them off of that background or maybe I'm choosing my twenty eight because I wanted to make it look like they're far from their background or maybe I'm trying to do something wide angle so instead of just choosing gear just cause I'm making deliberate decisions on the lenses that I'm using because I want to create a specific look in the images lighting what are you doing? The light your images are you using window light when you're out inside? Are you popping a flash on people do use a reflector when you're outside all of those things are things that I'm considering throughout the entire day is the light in the room good enough for what I want it might be super super bright but if it isn't directional or is it it isn't good light do I need to step in and start altering it into something else client interaction imposing how comfortable are you talking to your clients how comfortable are you asking them to get ready in front of this window instead of in this corner how comfortable are you posing them when you're working with the families and the bride and groom together? These are other things that I consider is I'm stepping through the day how much do I want to have a hand in what's happening in front of me how much do I want to let the moment unfold but then how much do I as the maker of the images knowing that they need to be beautiful I want to manipulate the scene hopefully not ruining the moment so if is if lynn selection lighting is not enough to think about when you're going through the day then you have to talk about how you're actually interacting with your clients I don't want fake moments I'm not going to step in and say oh this was really really great and I love how you and your mom sobbed when you saw each other for the first time in your dress but I mean I didn't get it so can we do it again because this how can we do it again or the second they know I'm there the second their conscience of of what they're doing then you've lost the moment and I really don't believe in staging something just for the sake of staging it uh oh I just thought it's not it's not my damn at all reflections when I'm trying to find a different way to see a scene because I'm always trying to be better than the last photographer who shot in that venue or that hotel or that ball room I need to do something to differentiate myself from everybody else because of a client is looking to hire a photographer for their wedding at the four seasons and they get online and they stop start searching I need to not be the photographer that just puts my clients on the stairs at the four seasons every single week there needs to be something about what I'm doing that makes a client go that's different and we have to remember the most clients aren't educated and photography they can't really put their finger on that it's the lighting that makes it different or the lin selection they just need to see that I'm doing something that other people aren't doing so I'm constantly looking for things like reflections and unusual angles and what my background is doing what's going on in my background all of those things are coming together to make the images that you're delivering to your clients sometimes we overcomplicate things and it's really about making things simpler it doesn't have to be fifty two video lights and sixteen speed life and hanging from you know a harness in the ceiling to get the perfect shot sometimes it's something very clean and very easy we're going to start with the wedding day and start walking through it and I'm going to touch on all of these things as we go through the day when I start a wedding with my clients generally the first thing that happens is I go into the room and they've set out their details for me this isn't something that I'm going to ask them to dio but I've said a really interesting precedent where apparently ring shot through my thing and it just started out because I really liked shooting the details of the rings and now my client has started asking for it like oh we had our ring cleaned and it's in the box is there on the bed and they're they're ready for you and I just think oh okay that's new and then it happens again the next week and the week after that and I realize that because I'm putting it out there people are seeing it and they want to see what I'm going to do with the rings on their wedding day so usually I show up and they've put their details together their shoes, their rings, a lot of times, their invitations, any other jewelry they're going to be wearing it's just kind of there for me, and if it's not, I'll ask them they know what before we get started with anything else, I'd love to have a picture of your rings for you, your shoes, your dress where is all of your stuff? Usually, though, then have a bridesmaid or their mom or someone like that point me to where they've put all of their stuff, it gives me a chance to ease into the room also, so I don't just walk into the room with cameras blazing and I'm up in their face and, you know, machine gunning like a crazy person, they need to get comfortable with me being in their space first. So that's, why I spent a little bit of time at the very beginning of the day photographing these details so they can see ok, well, there's, a photographer in the room, but she's chill and it's cool, and now we're comfortable, and by the time I move into shooting them, they're accustomed to me being in the space. So as I was mentioning before with gear, I go into the room ready to go my d three s has twenty four to seventy on it it stays on it all day long it's a very versatile winds for me, it's also in case my assistant needs to pick up the camera and take a quick picture of anything I work with an assistant not a second shooter, however she can shoot and if the moment really warrants it twenty four to seventy is a great linds for her to just pick up and grab a shot of whatever might be happening. So because I do start with the details about ninety five percent of the time I put one hundred five millimeter macro on my d for and that's what I start with now the first thing you need to remember when you're talking about macro photography is that it? I don't think about it the way I think about another lin's, so if I'm thinking about ok, I want my focus really sharp and then I want everything else to sort of melt away well with my eighty five I'm going to shoot that one for so with my mac or I would shoot that at what like two eight right? Absolutely totally dead wrong because of the magnification of your mac roland's your depth of field is very different from any of the other lenses that you're using on the wedding day, so when I start my ring shots, this one right here was it at thirteen so often start at nine f eleven thirteen sometimes all the way up to sixteen or even twenty two because you do have such a razor thin playing a focus. If you want your ring and all of the details in your ring to be in focus, you need to choose your settings accordingly. So what I do and I start with the ring shots is I'm looking for a very nice, very simple window light, nothing crazy, nothing fancy if there are no windows whatsoever in the room, when you try to find a room where I could find a window or will bring out my video light, which is the ice light, and we'll just put it on a nice low setting and hold it back to emulate window like again, I'm not looking for anything completely crazy you can see on the ring, the light is just very gentle coming from behind me, and then I'm going to try to introduce some sort of compositional element into the frame to give it some context. I mean, obviously, you take a look at this and you've got the red, you've got the gold, you've got the fabric. This is either an indian wedding or a chinese wedding or there's something it's obviously, like a sorry or or address of some kind. You'll be able to see the dress that I set this on in the next image, but all I did here was I took the dress late it gently over the chair arrange the sort of netting on the side so that had a little pocket for the ring to sit in. I sat the ring in the pocket, I pushed the little pocket back as you can see, the ring is bright but it's dark behind it because I wanted to make a little shadow cave so that the ring would really stand out so that by the time I got my exposure correct on my ring, everything else was very dark behind it and dark in the rest of the frame, so at thirteen shutter speed can be nice and low because it's not a moving subject, I'm basically shooting a still life I'm not doing this with a tripod, and I also have to make sure because I am an aperture priority shooter when my camera looks at this scene is going to see the bright bright ring and the dark dark everything else and it's going to try to equalize it. So if I'm not mindful of my camera settings the first frame that I shoot if I let my camera think for itself smart though it may be is the ring will be way too bright and everything else will be way too bright so I know that as an aperture priority shooter, I have to dial my exposure compensation down about a stop to a stop and a half for a scene like this so that the ring is exposed correctly and everything else darkens down the way I want. So this is generally how I start the day I'll play around with it here and there, maybe I'll move it into a couple of different scenes until I get it exactly where I want it, but usually based on the typical wedding schedule that I'm looking at, I really only have no more than three till maybe seven minutes to make this picture. So I need to think a nice and fast that's where having an assistant that I work with every single week, weekend and week out who was watching high sandra, she actually watches these, which is hilarious because she's at home and she's, you know, at work with me right now at the same time, but having her who has worked with me for almost five years now, she knows what I'm looking for. So if I have to start with something else that I have to take a picture of the dress on the hanger or the bride immediately wants a picture of something else, I can say, help me set up a ring shot. And she'll go around the room and she knows that I'm looking for I like sparkly purses I like things that are shiny I like things with texture and dimension I like something like this where I could have a nice start background but it's got a little glitter and shine to it something that helps tell the story of where we're at she can also help me find those things and then when it's time for me to actually take the ring shot, I can say, ok, I want that I want that I want that so moving onwards, we're talking about the twenty four to seventy as we're stepping through the day shoot the rings and when I got the macro on, I'll try to get the other little details down you know, do you have any jewelry that's important to you? Any hearings? Are you putting a pin on your bouquet? That was your grandmother's? You know, tell me about the small things that you have here that are important. I checked the insides of the rings for engravings, things like that and because once I have moved on from that and I take the macro off, I'm going to put the eighty five on and I don't want to have to switch the macro back on again, but in the meantime I almost always try to take a picture of the dress this wedding without the hotel dupont which is in wilmington, delaware and they had very graciously provided the bride are very large room to get ready and what that really meant was we were in a conference room without a table right like think of an enormous like bedroom just with no bed and it was just a big room and so the little room that we had there was like a big room and in the hallway and in a little room and the little room that we had to hang the dress and there was really nowhere to put it there wasn't a beautiful drapery treatment it was very simple so they had hung the dress on the kind of chandelier in there and I tried to shoot and I tried to shoot and tried to shoot it from bunch of different angles and I didn't like the dimension of the light and then I realized that she had this other dress that she was going to be wearing for the tea ceremony so this dress is hanging on the chandelier thing I took the other dress and hung it behind me in the doorway that was leading out to the hallway and I tried to shoot that well then I realized that when I got the exposure of for one dress right, the exposure for the other dress was wrong because the dress hanging in the hallway was in a very dark space well, some photographers would shoot that and say, you know what? Whatever, I'll just get kind of a nice middling exposure and they'll fix it in post. I don't want to fix it in post, I don't believe in fixing it in post I don't crop in post, I don't dramatically change an image I'm trying to get it as close to perfect in camera as I possibly can, so what we opted to do there was take the ice flight back out of the bag and you can't see my assistant but she's actually standing just to the side of the door frame. We've got the light on a nice low power, so it's not really obvious and she's lighting up the dress that you can see in the mirror so then I can stand back. I can use that twenty four to seventy part of the reason why I love it so much, there's very, very little distortion around the edges, so you don't have that creepy, wide angle warped look to your images, even at twenty four, and I'm able to include both dresses in here now looking at this picture, if I were going to find tune this later because he knew you always look at your stuff and, you see off I could go back I would have done x y z well there are some pictures from later in the series where I got smart and came in here and took that picture off the wall it's just those little things those little things that take a great picture up to being like a super great picture and I think this is really nice but when I look at it my eye it goes straight to that picture on the wall behind the dress to go in and remove it and then you've got a cleaner space to work with so continuing through the beginning of the day and I don't want to belabor the beginning of the day it all we have a lot more to talk about but the bouquets arrived the florist arrived brought the bouquet is everyone was very excited about them on I wanted to take a picture of the bride's bouquet when it's early in the day the flowers are really fresh they're quite so as soon as they start to kind of lose their freshness they get a little brown on the edges and I wanted to get it right away so we were moving the veil around we put the veil over a chair and I brought the bouquet into the room and just sat on the chair. The only thing that's going on here is a very simple window light off to the right of the frame, no flash, no video light, nothing else. I tried to get as dark a background as I possibly could, so that that window light would be very prominent on the subject, but the walls are light beige, so I did the best I could. What I did in that situation was I moved to the bouquet even closer to the window, so the light was even brighter on the bouquet, so that when I adjusted my exposure so that the flowers were perfectly exposed, the background darkened down as well, so that the flowers your I went to them much quicker, and then I decided that what I really needed on this was a vignette, but because I don't really like to rely on doing anything in post I wanted to, then yet it myself, so in front of me is I'm holding uh, water bottle kind of a dark, like the water bottles that you have now, but it was kind of great ish, full of liquid, so you could kind of see through it, but you couldn't over here to the right of the frame. I'm simply holding that up in the edge of the frame, so I'm shooting my eighty five millimeter at one for the eighty five, so I have just a little bit of compression that one point four, so that just the very forefront of the bouquet is in focus and everything else melts away into the background but also so when I hold an element up into the edge of the frame it's a very indistinct blur you can't tell what's going on over there is that someone kind of standing in front of me is it? Am I holding something? Is it just the darkness of the rest of the room? But I'm trying to put in a vignette to push her I even mohr straight to the flowers so these are the things I'm thinking about what I'm trying to stay creative with my composition how can I get my eye to my subject faster? How can I make my subjects stand out? Well here I can do it with the lighting with the lint selection and the aperture that I'm using and putting an element in two then yet you straight into your subject. So then moving onwards, I realize I've got an extra couple of minutes she's still doing hair and makeup kind of taking a while there's a bunch of bridesmaids so I grabbed her shoes I hoist my chair back out, put that dress back on the chair and I start trying to take a picture of the shoes my favorite part of the shoes were the gold heels on I thought the gold heels and the gold with the red of the dress really stood out well together. I chose to use my eighty five instead of my macro for this because I wanted to shoot it at one four because I wanted just that kind of sharp gold tip of the shoes to be very prominent and everything else to be indistinct. And I knew that at one point for if I brought some of that glitter fabric around in front of it, it would almost like twinkle lights. It would be kind of these indistinct little balls of gold, so it was very deliberate, and this is the first shot that I took and it's ok, but sometimes you need to stay with the scene a little longer and work it a little bit better for me. The thing that really helped me compositionally when I was working a scene was to start entering print competitions and then go to said print competitions and watch the live judge sing because to hear the judges talk about the tiny little minute things that take a good picture to being a competition winner. I see all of those things in my head when I'm shooting on a wedding day. So when I start with something like this, I realized that it doesn't really work as a horizontal as a horizontal shot pardon me, I wanted to be a vertical because I want there to be more of the fabric in it, and I see it as a down story instead of a left right story. So then I just simply adjust, and then I realized that I really need to see a little bit more of this you so I adjust the shoe on the left to kick out a little bit so that you see some of the sparkle. Then I also took and it's a very tiny thing the little sequined edge of gold and brought it even maura cross in the image on the right, so I'm thinking in my head as quickly as I can, how can I find tunis and tweak it a little bit more and a little bit more on a little bit more it's a little bit easier to do when you're dealing with something like a detail because you're not trying to tweak a person, but just an extra second of kicking that shoe out, you get to see a little bit more of what it is you get to see more of the sparkle that drew the bride to purchasing it, and I feel like you've got a better. Composed image in the end, so don't be afraid to, you know, work your image a little bit and what I am absolutely not advocating that you do is spray and pray where you just shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and hope that somewhere in there you kind of get something because I guarantee if that's the way you're going to go at it, you're going to miss it, right? Because as your hysterically like a machine gunning, you're not waiting for a moment to develop. You're not really looking at the scene to make it better. You're just kind of hysterically, you know, running through the day like a crazy person with your arms waving, and we don't want to do that like too much. So I tend to like to think about something recomposed and take a shot or to think about something recomposed take a shot or two so that my movements are very deliberate. I also think that it's much more calming around the clients to hear a deliberate shutter clicks instead of tea, and no, we're not going to do that. So again, little tiny tweaks here and there to make your composition even more compelling finding your angle moving on through the day now, she's really inherent makeup on, I'm able to come in and start working on the scene she's been in hair and makeup this whole time, but I don't want to be in her face all day long, you know, there's only so many pictures I can take of her getting her hair curled before she starts to feel kind of creepy about me being up in her face about it. So I'm deliberately looking at the scene before I go in and start shooting it because I want to sort of know what I'm going to do before I start doing it, and I don't want the client to see me uncertain, so I want to go in knowing where I'm heading so what's going on here, she simply sitting in a chair in front of one of those sort of tall mirrors that kind of been in and out like with the wood frames around it, the freestanding mirrors she's sitting in front of that, her hair and makeup person standing right behind her to the right of this frame is the rest of the room and to the left is just too windows with the curtains open. So when I'm looking to find my angle, I want to do something that, first of all pushes your eye straight to your subject second of all, is creatively interesting to look at, but third of all isn't weird just for the sake of being weird. Right, I'm not going to set up like this elaborate scenario where I shoot through something in eight hundred different things are happening to get to the bride's face when once you get to the bride's face there's not really a story going on. I want to be creatively interesting, but I also want to please my clients when I'm shooting, I'm my goal is to take care of them, it's not to impress other photographers with sort of how weird I can be. So I come in here and she's getting her hair and makeup done, the lights coming in from the side, I'm using my eighty five one four at one four because the room is a little bit cluttered there's kind of a lot going on, and I want you to go straight to the bride with that one. Point four if you're going to shoot at one point for be very careful about focusing and re composing because your depth of field and your your plane of focus is so small at one point four if you focus and recompose even the tiniest amount, you've tossed your main focal point off focus. So if I'm going to shoot at one point four, I'm going to make sure that before I actually click the shutter, my focal point is directly on top of what I want to focus in this instance that one eye that speaking out so literally, you know, some had my little red dot right on top of her eye so that I know when I depressed the shutter, that's, what's going to be in focus, and even even if I'm focused on that I and kicked it over half an inch, you're going to lose that eye at one four, so just be very careful with that. So I come in and I kind of start the scene here I'm shooting through her back and into her because everything to me is leading to her in this image. You've got this element over here to the left, which curve you up, her dark hair on her shoulder, bring you into her face. The line of the chair that she's sitting in brings you over to her face, and I'm watching the hairdresser's hands as she's working on her hair because I want whatever her hands are doing tow also bring you back down into her face, same exact scene approaching it from the other side of the mirror. Instead of what we were doing before, which was sort of shooting into the reflection in the mirror that I'm going to come over to the other side of the mirror and shoot into her face again one point four with your focal points making sure it is literally red box right on top of I done that's going to be in focus, everything else is going to blow her away in that beautiful thing that one point four does if you take a look at the light backing up one step, the window is still off to the side she's still being side lit here and here, it's just a very different look to the final image because in this image here I've got the makeup and hair persons dark shirt kind of tunic sing right up against the bride's hair and over here the bride skin is up against skin, so you've got kind of a different dramatic look just changing sort of that background element that's right up next to the client but again the use of one point four I love it, I think it's a very intimate linds, especially at one point four pushes your focus exactly where you want it to go, but you do have to be very careful with it. I know a lot of people say that their favorite lenses the fifty one point two I don't have a fifty somewhere I don't use it like ever it's actually my least favorite lands, I don't think it's incredibly flattering when you get right up on people's faces, and I think a lot of people abuse that one point two just because you can one point four with your eighty five doesn't mean you need to one point for all day long with your eighty five it does go to other settings other than one point four, so if I'm going to shoot it at one for it's for a very deliberate effect, so don't get caught up in if you're lin's goes to one point two thinking you have to one point to it all day long, you know what he's going to make you do that in fact, please don't do that, please. So again, eighty five one four sometimes I'm not going to shoot it at one for so the brightest still in exactly the same situation that she was in before only the makeup artist has come out. Her bridesmaids have come in, and they've given her the letter that the groom is written for her. So I've got my light coming in from the side, which I like, I've got my limbs, which I like and I up it from one point four to four point, oh because I know in this day and age this might be a very maverick like wedding photographer way of thinking, but I actually like all of my images like I like my subjects and focus like all of them. So while the focus is on the bride, I do want you to be able to distinctly see the expressions on the women behind her. So I make that deliberate decision to go from one point four to four point oh, so that they're much more focused. Now, if the bride's crying, if she's having a very wonderful moment and I want the girls in the background to sort of fade into backup singers, then maybe all switch back over the one point four, and then the focus goes much more strongly onto the bride. So just be very conscious of these things when you are choosing your settings that the settings that you're choosing or changing the look of the image that you're making. So again, same set up that we've got going on, and then we go back to one point four when she opens his gift, which is a bracelet, so you're back over here you're at four point oh everybody's in focus everybody's part of the scene, she opens the gift, I go back to one point four focal point right on that diamond that's closest to me because that's all I want you to see I don't want you to see this girl that standing off to the right I don't really want you to see you her arm and and her robe that she's wearing I want all of that to be white noise in the background I want you to see the bracelet so yes, part of composition is gear and it's how you use your gear and it's the settings that you choose and in this scenario one point four is exactly what I need on an eighty five to take your eye straight to your subject so then she goes to get ready and we're back in that room that's really tough for me because it's very bright and the walls are very bright and if I'm trying to do some directional light on her face it's a little difficult to do in that scenario. So I went into the room and I looked around and I realized that my best course of action is to shoot into the shadowed corner of the room. So when you're looking at this image here specifically we're not going talk about what's going on in the left just yet, but what she's doing is she's standing in the corner of the room the direction that the bride is looking there's a big window right next to her there there are no other windows in the room it's just baseball baseball days well, no furniture, nothing else window over there. So I put her near the window so that that rim of light on her face is caught from the window. I pulled the shears down so that it softens it up just a little bit, but I've made sure that the drapes are kind of nice and open. I'll make sure that I open or closed the drapes as needed if I'm trying to narrow or broaden the scope of the like that's coming through. But in this instance, it's just nice open drapes shares down this off in it it's coming through and you can very clearly see how it's hitting the bride's face because it's putting that beautiful room right on her face, I've deliberately put her head in front of the shadow corner of the room because I know that's the darkest background that I confined and the light on her face is going to be much more prominent when it's against a dark background. So that's what I've got going on here and because the rest of the room is really just a kn empty space, I don't want her to feel lost in the empty space I want your eye to go straight to her and to the light on her face, so I've chosen to step out into the hallway. And the element over here that's dark to the side is the door in the hallway, the open room door. I've turned off the lights in the hallway so that it's very dark so that the door becomes even darker, and I've actually turned off all of the rest of the lights in the room, which is a small trick that I picked up from my husband, too. Minimize the distracting ambient light in the room says you've got a fluorescent can up over her head and you've got to cable lamb's going on and then light coming from the hallway and then light coming from the window. First of all, you've got a color balancing nightmare, and second of all, you've got light coming from places that you don't need it. So we shut off the rest of the lights. We have just the light coming in from the window, it's lighting the bride's face in the way that I want. And then I have this sort of dark and down element over here that just shoves your eye straight over to the bride. However, when we're talking about tweaking these things and making them perfect, if you look at her bridesmaid who's behind her, helping her lace the dress. There's no light on her face there's kind of a weird, more nasty thing on her cheek, but the bride is lit and the girl behind her isn't so I'm going to continue to work that scene until the girl behind her steps back a little bit it's kind of her hair away from her face a bit so that the light can come in and hit her as well. So you go from something like this, which is a great picture of the bride. We've got a great expression on the woman behind her. I love it, it's fantastic, but she's not lit as well as she is here when she steps back in the light hits her as well. So again, we're talking about your gear is important when you're composing an image you're lighting is also important in the composition of an image. So then we keep working this scene because she's got a course that back it's taking forever to lace it up. I have the time in the luxury to work the scene a little bit more so there's a chair in the corner of the room and it's just one of the basic kind of chivalry type chairs with the different slats in the back, so I pull it out in front of me and I shoot through it. To try to see if there's anything that I can do to make the scene more interesting and to push your eye toward your subject even better I mean it's okay it's kind of a vignette of sorts it's fine these air all images that I'm proving to the client I liked it enough to give it to them but I like this with its sort of indistinct framing better than what I tried next which was this where you can see too much of the chair so if I'm trying to use something as a framing element the first thing I did as you can see I just sort of turned it on an angle and shot through it thinking maybe the slaps on the back of the chair would sort of compressed themselves but I was using the twenty four to seventy the compression isn't really doing what I wanted tio so then I turn the chair even more to this image and shot through it instead of alongside it and to me this is a much better framing element in this in this I get distracted in the chair in this my I go straight to my subject and again that light sometimes to frame your subject all you have to do is put beautiful light on their face and they then yet of the rest of the image around them the darkness of everything else once you've exposed correctly for that light on their face and everything else darkens down, you've literally framed your subject with light and darkness and then you have you know the image straight into the bride's maid helping her lace up and then you go over her shoulder eighty five one four at one four onto the actual back of the dress they're both in good light because the light is coming from the same side, so fourth reflections so again course it back takes I don't know ninety minutes the lace up I'm not joking, but you know when when when this part of the day is going on something that takes three minutes can feel like feel like takes like the whole entire day so shooting a shooting I shoot and then I'm thinking, what else can I do to make this interesting? And I realize there's kind of some mirrors propped up against the wall, so I take the mirrors and I set them in the chair. I've got one laying on the seat of the chair, one leaning on the back of the chair and I kind of get myself down and put my twenty four to seventy pretty much level with the mirror that's on the chair and shoot into that so then we have the bride reflected three ways is this going to win me any grand awards in print competition? No well, the clients like it, yeah, they will. And is it a slightly different way of seeing the room that I was seeing it two minutes ago? Yes, it is, because all of these images are going to come together to make a full kind of a richer take on the day because I don't want my gallery to be all one note the whole way through, I wanted to have, you know, variations not only inland selection in black and white versus color in all of these things, but I don't just want to shoot the same thing from the same angle all day long because that's boring, so I'm trying to switch up not only my settings with my gear, the lenses that I'm using, but also the way I'm seeing the scene to try to get something robust to the client. But then sometimes all of these shooting through and shooting around and finding this vignette that and so on and so forth. Sometimes all of that goes out the window in favor of simplicity, because when something's about to happen like the groom's about to see the bride for the first time, she's coming down the stairs I've got the light coming from you can see in the image on the right it's coming from a sconce on the wall. And it's just lighting her face from that. I don't want to try to do anything different. I want the composition of the image to be clean so that your eye goes straight to the moment that's happening I don't want to shoot through the staircase are you know, up some weird way up the banister, I just want to let it be what it is. So sometimes there is there is a lot to be said for stripping it all down and being simple and to me that's kind of a problem because I want to make things visually beautiful into me. Visually beautiful is visually complicated, but sometimes it's not so I have to step back and back it all off, but don't make it all crazy again, which is okay developing your eye, which is something that I can't teach you in ninety minutes and I can teach it to you in three days and I can teach it to you in thirty days. It's taken me thirteen years to get to where I am right now and honestly, my eye is nowhere near what I wanted to be like. I think I have thirteen more years of learning and in thirteen more years after that, it is something that you can always be improving, so if I ever stop trying to see things more creatively trying to become more technically proficient trying to be a more it more robust you know, visually compelling shooter then I need to just stop because you know to me you're never they're gonna always be getting better so in developing my eye in the past thirteen years I'm just always trying to see everything in a scene everything the light, the angles, the textures on the wall, the reflections everywhere the reflection on the ceiling in the limousine those cheesy like party bus limos right was like the woop woop lights and like the funky techno at like noon and the full bar which is weird but then he's got those feelings right? I find that if I can sit on the floor like all the way down which just motion sickness in a car is the worst ever but if I can sit on the floor instead of on a seat, I get this reflection up in the ceiling and I can work with that and again I don't want to be we're just for the sake of being weird but when I see the groom reflected in the ceiling I need to make sure that I've got his eye his mouth discernible parts it needs to be kind of visually well put together it's not just new ceiling click and then move on you have to work the bit within that feeling oddly enough and so if you're a year into being in business and you're frustrated with the fact that you don't feel like you're seeing creatively enough good, you're not even doing this for a year or if you've been doing this for four years it's still not enough again thirteen years and I feel like I'm only scratching the surface of the shooter that I'll be able to be, which is why weddings are amazing because every time you go out there are a million different times and ways and scenes in which you can push yourself. So if you're frustrated with how you're seeing stopped looking at wedding photography, you know when I get stock, I don't go look at what other wedding photographers are doing because it will make me even angrier. I will watch a movie or watching tv on all the watch of madmen episode because the lighting is amazing or other read a book I'll just get out and go walk around outside I'll do something else I'll go teo neiman marcus and look at all of the mannequins and how they're styled and how the makeup people are packaging their things and I'll creatively stimulate myself some other way because if I'm stuck with photography and I'm looking at other photographers, I'm just going to be angrier about my own ability so this was me telling you to go to the mall to fix your creativity apparently but again developing your eyes something that takes a very, very, very long time and some people are born with ridiculous eyes one of the gentleman who was one of the wedding photographers at my wedding his name is daniel kudisch she's part of davina and daniel out of canada, and if you don't know them, you should look them up right now they've been in business for like twenty minutes and the way he sees is extraordinary. I just think when this guy's got thirteen years behind him he's going to own the world, they're they're that good and some people are born with the eye and whether you are or you aren't, you should constantly be working on improving it. So this is me telling you to get out and go to the movies and take, you know, yoga for photographers tomorrow and go walk through the park and see something other than a wedding and to me that's that's more sort of creatively stimulating than staring at wedding with all day long backto working the scene and again, I don't want to belabor this point, but when you're working on your composition it's about the fine tuning kind of aspect of it so that you can tell a more compelling story so she's about to get out of the car we stopped at the location, we're going to do the portrait and they've opened the back door I've waited for them to open the back door first and foremost because I need the light that comes in from outside because I want the light to come in and light her face then when I've correctly exposed for her face I've darkened everything else down you see her face you see her face in the ceiling you see the really cool sort of purple light on the wall that lead you straight into her face but this is not a picture because nothing is happening it's a bride looking out a door and if I stopped here and I was like ha ha look how clever I am I got good light and I got a reflection in the ceiling well, maybe there's something better to be made so that I wait and then the groom comes over to get her out of the car and he starts talking to her and they start having a nice moment in that now she's laughing ok, now we're two pictures in and is already better than where I started because now I actually have a moment it's not just a person looking out a window but then I realized if I wait on it a little bit more adjust myself a little bit better so that I can see what's going on outside and then I waited for a cloud to go over the son because it's, very cloudy day cup, kind of coming and going. When the cloud went over the sun this incredibly strong light coming through the window are the door. Pardon me to hit her face became a softer light. It was still illuminating her from outside. But it was not quite so bright that when I got a correct exposure on her face, I lost everything else with the dimness of the light. When I got the correct exposure on her face, I can also now see what's going on outside as well. So maybe you're doing this and it's not working. And there's no cloud to go over the sun for you, there's. Nothing wrong with your assistant going outside, holding up a reflector to block the light for you or a scrim to soften the light for you. But to me working the scene, all of the images that led up to this one. This is where I kind of feel like it's the money shot at the end, especially because by the time I got the reflection in the ceiling, then I was able to put that line on the ceiling. Looks like the dress goes right into the bride. All of the elements came together, but if you stop with something that is already creatively compelling maybe a couple shots down the road there's something even more creatively compelling if you work the scene a little bit more I'm not going to work the scene sort of to distraction right like I don't want to work this so incredibly hard that I either lose the attention of my clients or I start taking the moment or anything like that and you'll start to get a sense of ok I'm done here like we need to move on and again that's just experience when I was younger I would work it way too hard on for way too long on dh now you kind of have that vibe of ok we need tio let's keep this day or rolling so then we move on and by the time we've got to the portrait of the day my defore generally has my seventy two two hundred on it and that is where I stayed for the most part for the rest of the day d three us with the twenty four to seventy d four with a seventy to two hundred that will get me through ceremony that will get me through the reception I am set for the rest of the night the reason why I love my seventy two two hundred so much is because it is so extraordinarily versatile seventy is still not incredibly using me that's that's pretty ok but two hundred millimeters is my happy place it's flattering to people it pulls your background up into your scene so you have a very intimate foreground background relationship and if you're not sure what I mean by that take your seventy two two hundred go outside, put somebody against a background and shoot them at seventy then scope out and shoot them at two hundred you'll see that it two hundred it looks like their background is coming closer up behind them I like that but I have to be careful with that myself because I'm telling it standing up here telling you to not be one note I need to make sure that I'm not one note with the way I'm shooting I can't shoot everything at two hundred because then that becomes my one note so yeah, I know she's like rats so I have to make sure every once in a while that when I'm shooting portrait there is another focal length other than two hundred however when I'm shooting people with my seventy two two hundred I'm almost always at four or four five again that crazy notion that everybody should be in focus on a lot of people mistake the out of focus background at two hundred of being like eighty five one four dot one four but it's not because there's a difference between you know what the background does at one point four and what the background does it two hundred millimeters it's not the same concept so yes so what I'm doing with this seventy two, two hundred, all the way out at two hundred, is creating foreground background relationships that are compelling when it comes to my composition. So when I'm shooting the bride alone and I'm doing kind of your basic compositional element of framing her in between these two doors, my choice of the seventy two, two hundred at two hundred at four is doing this to the background, it's pulling the background up on her. Yes, but the background is extraordinarily far away and it's very deliberately chosen because it's dappled with light. So by the time that two hundred does its magic and pulls that background up, it looks like she's standing against kind of a pale green water color that's not the same as getting in her face with a fifty millimeter at one point. Two that's not going to produce the same look. So when photographers email me and ask, you know, how do you get your background blurry? They think it's a depth of field thing instead of a linds compression thing. So, you know, sometimes surprises people when I say, oh, no, this was like four, five or four it's not one for and for me, just that very simple distinction between those two things really helped sort of kick my work up to another level and even, you know, while we're shooting at two hundred, I'm not just going to shoot this and walk away. I'm gonna continue to work the scene a little bit compositionally I like it as a vertical, and when I shoot it as a vertical, we've still got the same foreground background relationship going on. I just chose to bring in sort of the shrubbery that I was shooting through into the bottom of the frame to sort of then yet you up into your subjects, I'm all about trying to find natural, then yet and yes, you know it's nice when the dress you see it all and it's beautiful, but this darkness that the bottom pushes my eye up to the light, which pushes my eye up to her face. So because I like this door and I like the creative, like compositional framing with the door, the next thing that we did is we had the clients take a walk and you can clearly see between image one an image to the sun came out, so when the sun is not out because I love the son and I love working with the sun, if I'm have that element taken away from me of that dramatic lighting, I have to do what I can compositionally creatively with lynn selection with aperture with framing because all I've got his flat light unless I want to start making light, which I don't really like to do outside, I like to work with the natural light as best I can, so I took the opportunity when the sun went behind the clouds, you know, kind of gently to make these nice, lovely, flat, even portrait of her that are still compelling. And then when the sun came out, the bride and groom start take a walk seventy two, two hundred still but it's seventy instead of two hundred because I want to show them sort of smaller in a big space. I'm not always wanting to compressed them off of their background, and then I'll let the scene develop. I let them take a walk, I closed the door a little bit and I start shooting through the door, being very mindful that the elements of the door don't need toe, like cut through faces or chop off bodies or anything like that. All I did was pushed that gate a little bit and start shooting through it, and I put the bride and groom in this sort of heart shape that you can see towards the bottom of the first frame, and I'm just letting them interact. I'm being very careful to not over pose the moment there are a little uncomfortable in front of the camera most people are, so I told them, hey guys, just take a walk out there and when I shout stop just stop and give each other's in love and that's all the instruction I gave them and they went off and they took a walk the seventy two two hundred also has the added magic of the fact that you're not up in their faces you're back from them so they don't feel like you're intruding in upon their moments, so they're more apt to when I say okay, stop and give her some love it's a lot easier to give somebody love when there's not somebody two feet from their face did you did you like a crazy person? So they have they feel like the moment is a little bit more theirs, so again, it doesn't all have to be a vertical it doesn't all have to be a horizontal. We're still telling the story. I've got the great lovely black and white vertical from before and I simply flip it on its side shoot a horizontal still through the door still using the door to frame now, bringing in the shrubbery on the side to push your eye over to the clients and being very careful that I try to keep their heads in that arch so that they don't have an arch growing out of their heads again, being very aware of your background and what your background is doing. So then the sun kind of coming and kind of going come, coming and going, and I need to do a formal I need to get a nice formal picture of the bride and groom. Now, this is going to be a little bit different because I know that later, after the ceremony, we're going to put them on the altar with their families, and we're all gonna line up all that put our arms around each other, and I'm going to use an off camera flash to fill in their faces. This is different. I want to make sure that I have something of them camera where smiling at me in the environment. I can stand up there all day long and tell you that I'm here to be artistic, but I still have to kind of nod to the formal aspects of the day. I have to have a picture of the bridegroom smiling at me, I have to have it full length, three quarters and close up or else her mom is gonna find me and murder me, and I'm going, you know, I love the artistic stuff I love pictures of my husband and I smiling at the camera. I like them it's a nice thing to have it something that you want to put on your piano and passed down to your children and I don't want to ignore this but I do want to make it good so we go back over to this kind of gate we've walked down and now we're walking back and I put them right in the gate and I'm very careful of the symmetry right? I don't want it to be a little off center for some reason I have this mental block and I told all of my images like eight percent on the on the flip a little bit I don't know why so I will come in and level it out imposed if I have to because I do not want one wonky tilt for no reason whatsoever but again this is very simple you're framed right in their seventy two two hundred as close to two hundred is possible but now that there's two people in the frame I've probably moved over two four, five or five six so that they're both in focus but the linds compression is still helping make the background and interesting component in the image without being overwhelming and because the light was nice and soft because it wasn't too incredibly crazy you've got a little directional light on them but it's not nuts I'm not going to bring a reflector I'm not going to pop a flash if I could it would probably look very nice but this is what I wanted to look like I know that you've lost some of your background I'm doing it deliberately I'm not doing it because I don't know how to use a flash or anything like that I'm doing it because I wanted to look like this so then we move on and we we're still keeping it simple but nodding to all of the things that I've talked about already you're lin selection with your compression the light that you're choosing it's coming through it's hitting the groom on the side I'm careful with the symmetry of the columns in the background I'm working the scene and letting them interact you know I sit them out there and I say guys just find him really funny and they look at me like I'm not and I'm like what you think he's funny and then they just start laughing and I'm like I'm not video I'm photo like I have no clue what you're talking about just talk about the weather talk about your feet like I don't care just find each other funny and then they find the absurdity of the situation funny and then they start laughing at each other then they start telling your mama jokes and then it's just all downhill from there but anything that I can do to just start to get them laughing at each other I will do it so again we keep working the scene the light coming through in the images before becomes the light that I used to light the groom's face by himself seventy two, two hundred at two hundred now I've chosen to go to two point eight because all I want in focus is the groom's eye closest to me you know a little bit of the rest of his face which will still get it to eight but then I want the rest of it to sort of be lost a bit in the background while still wanting the linds compression of the two hundred millimeter so that's, why the two eight choosing to put him against the bright background so that your I go straight to this bright side instead of the dark side putting him on the dark side would have created a very, very, very different look to the portrait and this guy is light and he's fun he's fantastic and I wanted it to be ah bright portrait of him because then I want to balance it with using light in a more sort of don't want to say somber way because weddings aren't somber, but I need to bring it down a little bit so I find another patch of light out there and I put the bride out into the light and I tell her, listen, you'll know you're in the right spot when you're blind but please don't stare into the sun because I don't want to burn out your retinas. Just come over here and just close your eyes and with your face up to the sun and just enjoy yourself for a few minutes. You know the mosquitoes are biting you. I know it's three hundred degrees, but just have a nice moment on. I just leave her out there and letter just kind of breathe by herself, and if they don't know what to do with their hands, if they're having trouble, you know, holding their hands together or playing with their veil, I will put their flowers back in her hands so that they've got something to dio at four o not one too, as I've been saying, so on and so forth. This is linds compression, not a fifty one to out one too. But once I found a scenario that's working for me, light wise for their portrait, the light is coming in, exposing properly for her face. She's well lit everything else around her is deliberately chosen because by the time I exposed for her faith, everything else becomes dark. Your I go straight to her face, and then we let the groom come out, and then they start hugging each other. And then I want to start working the scene and perfecting things a little bit more the light is where I wanted the clients or where I want them I've told them to just love up on each other kiss if you want give each other a hug just take a few minutes together because we're about to go to your ceremony and you know you're about to have no time together at all for the rest of the day I let them hold each other but then we we perfect it because the flowers are distracting so I take them away so now she's hugging him but now she's got leaves in front of her arms and that's kind of distracting me so I adjust myself and again tweaking just a little tweet from here to here getting this tree branch out of the way and the leaves off of her arm over here now the subject is them clearly with no distractions so we move on throughout the day we go over to the ceremony and we do a few more images and that's why I bring out my video life and I'm using my video light in the exact same way that I would be using sunlight where we outside I want the sun to create an image like this to come from high and behind them and I want them on a dark background so that they're very strongly off of the background the light becomes very prominent when you put them against the dark source so I deliberately have cut the rest of the lights in the room except the one light that's lighting their escort table and used my ice light from behind to fill in that little room light on their faces and again creative composition sometimes you're compositional element is your lighting sometimes it's everything with your lighting there sitting at their table they're holding on to each other the isolated sitting in their laps pointed up so I said you're gonna lean your four heads together and you're going to snuggle close your eyes I'm about to you know like the sun up from your laps I turn it on said in their laps it's coming up on their faces which are bent in together and I'm actually shooting into the mirrors across the room so the clients I'm actually sitting I'm sitting down here on the floor shooting away from them into the florida ceiling mirrors on the other side of the room so when you walk into a room when you're looking at the scene you have to look at everything in the scene and how can you use that to stay creative but then sometimes it's not about fifty two I slights and sixteen speed lights and shooting into windows and mirrors and craziness sometimes it's simply sitting a bride on the floor in front of a window at one point four and using your eighty five millimeter at one four to focus only on those eyelashes and it's simple, and then we move through the day and we're still using that eighty five one four out one for when she changes into her dress to go to her teeth ceremony, and sometimes I like to use the light to literally blast right into the frame instead of putting them against a dark background and having everything be sort of ah, vibrant shard of light on their face. Sometimes I want a massive wash of light coming straight into the camera like a neon blast of craziness, and to me, this is almost like the heavens opening up behind them, so shooting into the light instead of shooting sideways or or with the light behind you that's also interesting back to the eighty five one four at one four for the effect of the one four shooting down into her hands that are holding the bracelet that she was given makes the dress that kind of ah lovely sparkly water color background. So then we move on, and this is more about lindh's selection when you're in a church and you can't use lighting and you can't pop a flash on the professional and you can't do anything during the ceremony lighting wise, all you can do is make smart choices with your lenses. And for me, it's the seventy two, two hundred is close to two hundred is possible because you can see over here on the left of the frame, you get really nice compression of the pews as they're coming in or you get nice compression of them off of the rest of the background as the scene develops around you at the end of the ceremony. So I like with the seventy, two hundred does here you've got the compression of the pews, you've got them off of this sort of organ in the background and it's a flattering focal length for people which you can also see here. It's simply flattering. No flash, no nothing else. Just the seventy two, two hundred at two hundred at probably a four, four, five very easy from new tuner, millimeter for details it's my go to detail, and at a reception I will shoot the seventy two, two hundred at two hundred somewhere between two, eight and four o to shoot my reception details, because I'm trying to make the room feel intimate and nothing's worse than kind of a massive reception room where everything just sort of feels isolated and big and, you know, when the bride goes to her reception, it's this intimate party and you know everything is tow her it's everything is warm and snuggly even if everything is well spaced out and I wanted to feel warm and suddenly in the pictures also, so I'll use that two hundred millimeter to pull the elements of the reception room together like so so the tables look very close together, so everything sort of looks like it's, right on top of each other that's my go to start, linds for reception. Sometimes my assistant will follow me around with a nice light, as in this image here, toe light up the details if there no pin spots on the tables, but if there are candles on the tables, I'm letting the candles like the space themselves. I'll spend anywhere from five minutes to thirty minutes shooting a room, depending on how much time I have, but if I'm going to be compositionally creative in the room, it's going to be to create that sense of intimacy or to come back to this cake to shoot through some candles, shooting through the candles and using the orbs in the candles or the water glass and all of the sparkles on the water glass, I'll use that as an element in the edge of my frame so that when I shoot through that it pushes your eye overto what you want, which is the cake, but it also introduces a little extra element that kind of gives a little sparkle. Or just a little visual appeal and then the bride and groom come into the room and then adding into my compositional elements are my off camera flash. So now I'm shooting introductions and I'm shooting first dances, parent dances and toasts with my seventy two two hundred millimeter with no flash on camera. My flash off camera is being held by my assistant it's on manual power, usually somewhere between an eighth and sixteenth, sometimes the fourth if the room is really huge, but we're simply using that as one single off camera source, so in the image on the left you can clearly see that my assistant is off to the right of the frame. You can see the shadows, it hits the wall behind them. I'm using my seventy two two hundred is close to two hundred is possible using faux ticks, phot I x radio transmitters to have my flash is talking to each other and she's just using her flash to fill in my subjects. I know this is an awful lot of information to sort of barrel through in ninety minutes if you are interested. This is no way an infomercial for myself, but I have think books that I write that are sort of informational books for photographers they're on sale this week, so if you hit up my website and you want the susan stripling compendium go to town there therefore you're taking and it will detail all of these things in massive detail with shot settings with diagrams more than I can possibly give you in ninety minutes although I am desperately trying when we move into shooting first dances again my compositional choices my seventy two two hundred millimeter and you can see in this image on the right my assistant is standing practically right next to me because the light very much does look like it's on camera flash I put her in one spot she stays in one spot on the dance floor on the edge of the dance where I should rather and I'm the one that moves because if we're trying tio she's trying to move and I'm trying to move and she's trying to anticipate what I wanted so on and so forth then it's just going to be a jumbled mess of light flying everywhere if she stands in one spot I know where the light is coming from I know that is going to be at the same strength every single time because we're not changing that manual setting I know that as long as I'm in the range that my camera could talkto hers no matter where all go in the room I'll be getting the same light from her so I start off next to her because I don't know if the first dance is going to be five minutes or thirty seconds or five seconds are they just gonna hold each other for a second and they're going to invite everybody else out or they're going to dance the entire like nine minutes of stairway to heaven like I just I don't know so I have to get my safe shot first so first I'm going to position myself next to my assistant seventy two, two hundred vertical or horizontal take your pick and I get a nice two or three really good safe shots so if nothing else happens, at least my bases are covered and then I move on where I can start to become a little more creative and again the creativity in my composition here is simply with my seventy two, two hundred because that's not something that a lot of photographers use for dancing shots one bonus to that is that keeps me off the dance floor. I hate it when I'm out there and I'm pulling focus from my clients this lets me stay on the side and give them the respect that they deserve and let them have the floor to themselves. It also lets me, you know, bring the crowd on the edge of the dance floor into the frame because of the compression of the two hundred millimeters the bridal party that's standing behind them appear is much closer as they actually are, so it creates a much better relationship in the actual frame itself I put mica subjects over here on the left very deliberately so that over here on the right all of the people we're looking at them your eyes brought straight to them and as you can see, the light on this gentleman's face here is coming from the other side of him and slightly off to the left of the frame my assistant again hasn't moved I'm the one that's moved I know where I need to be on the other side of the dance floor to catch the light hitting his face that way and then it becomes a waiting game because when they put their backs to me and I shoot the lights not going to hit them in the right way and if her face is blocking his the light's not going to hit him at all so as you practice this technique you'll become more comfortable as the groom or the bride rotates around. You'll know exactly where you need to be and your assistant needs to be for that beam of light to smack them right in the face and then you have to wait for it because I guarantee you if you machine gun this moment, not only will you burn out your flash you're definitely not gonna get it and then I get just wait for the bride to come around same spot same lin's probably at about an eightieth of a second at four nice and easy I understand that I'll need to bump up my eyes so I know that it needs to go up to sixteen hundred eighty two thousand but with the cameras that I'm using I'm really comfortable with that and I'll bring the same philosophy into the parent dances and again that seventy two, two hundred trying to be sure that when I'm composing these images I'm not cropping off the tops of his head's I'm not you know I don't have somebody wandering through the background like a waiter that's putting a tray down I'm aware of not only what's going on here with him and his mother but if every single thing that's going on behind the scenes as well because I need to be very observant of you know it's somebody holding a camera up to their faces and they're making a weird facial expression or somebody walking through or do I have a centerpiece growing out of someone's head you have to be aware of what your background is doing so what if I haven't layered enough on top of you your gear your light are you going to tell your clients what to do or not how are you going to frame the scene what are you going to introduce into this scene now you have to not only be you know observing of what your subjects are doing it for the observant of your background as well it is on almost overwhelming amount of things to stay on top of and all of those things happening over and over and over again in a million different moments fifty three times a year. It's why, literally, my brain shuts down at the end of december, and I go into, like a photo coma for a while, but that's also, why keep going at it as hard as I do? Because as I developed things as I get my system down better as I continually evolve as a shooter, I can roll with all of these punches aa lot more easily. So again, same situation, same limbs, same settings, same settings for everything I have simply changed the angle at which I'm approaching how my flash it's the subject so instead of standing next to my assistant like I was here and standing at an angle, so instead of us being here now she's over there and her light is coming dimensionally towards the groom, it is the exact same set up for the toast if I'm shooting you guys a few guys on the couch, right? There are the ones being toasted, and I'm the one that's toasting you, my assistant is going to be over there, and I'm going to be over there, we make kind of a triangle with our subject being the point. So that I know that when I shoot into my subject from my part across the dance floor, her light is coming from the other side of the dance floor same settings of the first dance, same settings is parent dance nice and easy I can turn around and I can shoot straight into the scene and it's still the same quality of light, or I can shoot at it from an angle and it's the same quality of light it's coming out of the same power because everything is all manual that frees me up to be creative with how I'm going to compose the image without continually thinking of my settings over and over and over again their manual they're consistent I know where she is I know that as long as she doesn't move the light output is the same, then I'm free to do things like find a mirror across the room that I can shoot into or sit with the moment while the moment develops because everything that I'm doing technically has become in eight to me and I'm not thinking about it anymore I'm thinking about the scene and the people and their interactions toast parent dances, cake cutting same lighting setup nice and easy my assistant is literally standing over on the other side of the cake slightly behind it, which you can see from the shadow of the groom's arm across his chest same settings as before unless something has changed like they've brought up the room lights for the cake cutting we're going to be on the exact same settings because we're in the exact same room and I'm simply shooting into the scene as close to two hundred is possible now they're in the middle of a huge dance floor huge but it seems like the people behind them are right up behind them because of my choice of lin's and then we move into dancing very simply before I move into taking questions were over now to the twenty four to seventy my seventy two two hundred is pretty much done for the night because this is all dancing all the time everybody on the dance floor booking it down for anywhere from twenty minutes to four more hours just don't know so what's going on here is I've gone back over to my beloved twenty four to seventy I have a flash on camera pointed slightly backwards with the stuff in on it gives you a little balance but you're still getting a little kick forward it is on auto I run my flashes on auto instead of t t l because I feel like the output is more consistent my assistant is across the room with our flash still off camera so now we're using two flashes I'm using her flash off camera to give me a little extra light on their faces I don't want to wash the dance floor I don't want to do anything crazy just a little directional light coming from off the dance floor again she's staying in one spot and I'm using my flash on camera to gently fill in the subject's faces now sometimes I'll actually dial back my flash on camera because I want her flash from across the room to be the only flash that's really lighting the scene as you can see here but sometimes I wanted to be a little bit more even just with a kicker so I'll let my flash on camera come in and play allen auto and then I'll let her flash from across the room come in and give that additional light on the groom's face like so and like so unlike so so these are all of the things that I consider when I'm shooting the dancing it can get a little bit hard compositionally to focus on just the bride on a very, very crowded dance floor so adding that extra little pop of light from across the room put your eye directly on the bride. So before we take some questions I'm going to throw up my contact information for you guys here in case you were interested in finding me on the web in any way my website is susan stripling dot com as I've mentioned before, I am having a book sale this week so buy them if you want or don't you don't have teo, I don't mind you can sense a theme here. My twitter name is susan strip playing? I'm susan stripling on instagram. If you have any questions for me throughout the day, feel free to hit me up and facebook susan's tripling photography so I do facebook and blawg I facebook every single wedding that I shoot I'm way behind and blogging, but they will all eventually get up there as well. My instagram links directly to my facebook just come hang with me online, which is cool so we have a few minutes since I basically tried to distill weeks of information into ninety minutes. I'm sure there are no questions at all. I know nobody has single question there's nothing and there's, no one in the chat rooms right now, of course knew way have plenty of questions. I would love to take some from online, but I would love to know if there's any one in the room who has a question right here with you with your off camera flash. You're using any kind of ah light modifier. I am not that well, not extravagantly at this stuff in that comes with it that's pretty much the only thing that I have on their every once in a while if the room is really really dark and I need to spread out my light even further that's when I'll put the rogue flash bender on it which just softens it up and spread it out a little bit more we had to do that this past weekend we had a very dark room but for the most time just those little army balances that come with it do the job uh I mean jump in real quick we've got photos by mindy league hey are you stopping the bride and asking her to move to where the light is fest for example when the bright is getting dressed well you move the chair yes I will I will absolutely move if I can but that's just me trying to put them in the best scene for what's going to happen to actually happen so I'll say hey do you mind getting ready over here by the window and I'll gently put her over there but then she just gets to do whatever she's going to do from there on out unless you start wandering away from the window and then I will gently but her back as we dio very nice it's going man s o I am like I feel like all my cake shots are in corners like yeah, you that that was so nice like your cake is right now, though the room makes it really are usually important and then there's like, you know, sixteen children that air crowded around in the front of it. How do you how do you deal with if you're trying to shoot with a long lens? How do you deal with the people trying to walk in front of you? Well, you have your long lens. First of all, sometimes you just can't right like its best case scenario that I can use my seventy two, two hundred, but sometimes you can't get the people off of your face and you just have to use you're twenty four to seventy, but in that instance, I'll put the twenty four to seventy on the camera with the folks in the off camera light and I'll still be shooting like why is the same way I'll just change lenses, but a lot of times that consorted be alleviated if earlier on you talk to the major d or whoever is in charge and you ask them hey, for the cake cutting, can we bring it out on the dance floor or you talk to the band and you say, hey, when you announce the cake cutting, can you also ask them to just be mindful of your professional photographer? And sometimes that helps sometimes it doesn't you literally have to be throwing elbows and getting in there like with everybody else but you know, sometimes just asking them to move or asking them to stay back wall help and then sort of related than when you're when it's like dancing it's really crowded is your assistant like holding the flash up then pretty high then so that way you're getting the direction of about eight to nine feet okay? And I try to make sure if I'm sweet she's battle no, my heart is actually rather tall but she's not that I know we just we have it on amman a pod so we stretch it out way and she hate hold it up really high and I throw elbows onto the dance floor she doesn't come out on the dance floor with me because I think that's just a recipe for disaster she stays usually right next to the speaker I feel like getting people off of your face with susan's tripling would be an amazing work get out of my face with feelings rippling very applicability I think I've got time for maybe one more from you here I've got one online we've got nikki miami who says have you ever run into a situation? Probably the bride has addressed hanging on a very unattractive hangar and when you're dealing with these details, do you ever like will you switch them out? Will you move him around? What do you do in those? Sure if it's hanging on like one of those key like, you know christ wire hangers or whatnot, although in the hotel closet, see if I can find something a little bit better, you know, or the venue closet or the bride's own closet, even a good wooden hanger is even better, but if I can't, if I'm literally stuck with a wire hanger when I shoot the dress, I'll make sure that I crop almost like a the top of the dress. So you barely see the hangar fantastic leaves the hangar in photos. I do not like ever one more. Why do you use auto flash instead of teo? I simply I just find it. The results are more consistent with t t l I feel like the flashes thinking too hard and it gets really confused by all the white dress dresses and black tux is and I know what it's trying to d'oh. Just in a wedding scenario. It's not necessarily like its best stage to shine on an auto for me seems to be consistent. Mohr every single time that's just with the nikon flashes that I use, I get reliable on auto almost every single time. Andi tl is great. Just when you start throwing dance lights on there, it's like trying to let your average your priority. Think for itself, it's, like, I don't understand what's happening in front of me, and it just passes. Um, so that's, my very scientific neck. Technical reason for auto.

Class Description

Successful wedding photographers know how to think fast — and creatively — on their feet to capture beautiful shots that reflect the emotion of the day. In this 90-minute workshop, award-winning wedding photographer Susan Stripling will teach you exactly how to overcome tired techniques and stay fresh and creative.

Susan will walk through an entire wedding day, showing you how to know when to wait and when to shoot. Whether you’re a beginning wedding photographer or a working pro, this workshop will infuse new life into your mindset and business.



Love this course! It was so nice to see how Susan would take an amazing image and make it more creative and inviting. So ready to start looking at things with a different eye to tell the story.