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Creative Composition

Lesson 1 of 2

Creative Composition

Susan Stripling

Creative Composition

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

1. Creative Composition

Lesson Info

Creative Composition

Susan photographed her first wedding in 2001. 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 learn to produce the same kind of images that she has herself. We are. We've had her own creative live before. We are very excited to welcome her back for creative composition. Susan, Strip way are on here. Finally, we're on air. We are ready for you. So I'm gonna just let you take it away. Thanks. Hi, everybody. This morning we're 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. Um, I have 53 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 the point in time in the year when I start kind of burning out just a li...

ttle bit on. But 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 leading 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 between you have to work even harder, which 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 53 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, uh, kind of made a analogy that 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 is no such thing as a perfect game. There's no such thing as the perfect wedding. There are all of these elements that are thrown at you throughout the day. Different things keep happening. Things there are out of your control, things that are in your control but might not exactly happen the way you and your clients had planned it to. 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 it. It was a wedding that I shot this past Labor Day weekend. I want 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 so I can stand up here and show you the best off all day long. But I think it's a little bit 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 have been a Nikon shooter since 2000 and 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 D 700 d three d three SD four. As you can see, it is a linear progression of gear, the D 700 D 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 four with a 72 200 on it, and I broke them both. Then, humorously enough, about 45 minutes later, my d three stop working so you can never have too many backup cameras. If you think Oh, no, nothing's gonna happen to me. I'll leave one at home. Something's going to happen to you So D 700 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 1,000,000 of them 105 macro. I used to use the 60 I upgraded to the 105 We're gonna talk about Lindh's compression today and lends compression is kind of my favorite thing ever in the entire world. And if I like to shoot 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 105 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 on. I did feel like upgrading to the 105 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, um, my double converter on. And so then my 105 becomes the to 10. Then I have amazing detail shots really fun. 85 14 24 to 72 8 which is my workhorse 24 to 70 goes on my D three s at the start of the day. Stays there all day long. 72 which is another one of my favorite lenses. And then I have a bunch of just other things in my bag. I have the 35 millimeter, the one for Anna to Oh, I have a 28 millimeter to eight when your arms get tired at the end of the night, when even shooting, dancing for four straight hours, it's nice to take the to 70 off. Put the 28 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, I'll use the 35. But it takes a little bit of the weight off of your arms and to really sharp, really fast. Lens works really well in low light, and I have lots of flashes from the S B 20 fours that I bought a 1,000,000, years ago, all the way up through the 809 100 the 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 then you want to put another one in the corner or one breaks and you need a back up, 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 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 in just all kinds of extra little things in the bag, down to chapstick and extra batteries and 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 were 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 Lind selection, and when I used to sort of be a newer photographer. I've been doing this as you mentioned since 2001 which makes me feel ancient. But up until about, you know, 07 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 client's right. Like the 72 200 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 200. I never really started thinking about the relationship of what you're Lin's does to your subject's 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 72 200 because I want to compress my client at 200 because I want to bring them off of that background. Or maybe I'm choosing my 28 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 you 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 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 bridegroom 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 moments unfold? But then how much do I as the maker of the images, knowing that they need to be beautiful want to manipulate the scene? Hopefully not ruining the moment. So if if Lin 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 can't we do it again or the second they know I'm there, the second their conscience 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, I just thought, it's not. It's not my jam 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 ballroom. 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 that most clients aren't educated in 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 were 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 52 video lights in 16 speed lights and hanging from, you know, harness in the ceiling to get the perfect shot. Sometimes it's something very clean and very easy So we're gonna start with the wedding day and start walking through it on. I'm gonna 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 set a really interesting precedent where apparently ring shots or my thing. And it just started out because I really liked shooting the details of the rings and now my clients 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, I realized 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 therefore me. And if it's not all asked, um, so you 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 they didn't have a bridesmaid or their mom or someone like that point me to where they 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 spend a little bit of time at the very beginning of the day photographing these details so they can see Okay, 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 24 to 70 on it. It stays on it all day long. It's a very versatile lens for me. It's also in case my assistant needs to pick up the camera and take a quick picture of anything. I worked with an assistant, not a second shooter, however, she can shoot. And if the moment really warrants it, 24 to 70 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 95% of the time, I put the 105 millimeter macro on my d four, 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 lens. So if I'm thinking about okay, I want my focus really sharp. And then I want everything else to sort of melt away. Well, with my 85 I'm gonna shoot that at 14 So with my Mac or I would shoot that it what, like 28 right? Absolutely, totally dead wrong because of the magnification of your Mac. Rowland'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 F 13. So often start at F nine F 11 F 13 sometimes all the way up to 16 or even 22 because you do have such a razor thin playing a focus. If you want your ring and all of the detail in your ring to be in focus, you need to choose your settings accordingly. So what I do when I start with the ring shot 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 going to try to find a room where I can 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 light 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 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 sari 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, laid it gently over the chair, arranged 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 F 13 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, it's 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 1/2 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 nice and fast. That's where having an assistant that I work with every single week, weekend and week out who is watching? Hi, Sandra. She actually watches these, which is holier, is 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 a 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 what I'm looking for. I like sparkly persons. I like things that are shiny. I like things with texture and dimension. I like something like this where I can have a nice start background, that 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 onward we were talking about the 24 to 70. As we're stepping through the day, shoot the rings and what I've 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 earrings? 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 inside of the rings for engravings, things like that. And because once I've moved on from that and I take the macro off, I'm going to put the 85 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 was at the Hotel du Pont, which is in Wilmington, Delaware, and they had very graciously provided the bride are very large room to get ready in 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 in it. 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 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 then I'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 24 to 70 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 24 I am 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 on. 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. Go in and remove it, and then you've got a cleaner space toe 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 bouquets. 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 air really fresh. They're quite so as soon as they start, the 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 it 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 about ground 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 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 a water bottle kind of a dark, uh, like the water bottles that you have now. But it was kind of grayish 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 85 millimeter at 14 85. So I have just a little bit of compression, that 1.4 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 on 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 it 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 your I even mawr straight to the flowers. So these were 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 subject stand out? Well, here I can do it with the lighting, with the Lin selection and the aperture that I'm using and putting an element in to vignette 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, and I thought the gold heels and the gold with the red of the dress really stood out well together. I chose to use my 85 instead of my macro for this because I wanted to shoot it at 14 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 1.4. If I brought some of that glitter fabric around in front of it, it would almost look like twinkle lights. It would be kind of these indistinct little balls of gold, so it's 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 judging 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 apartment. I wanted to be a vertical because I want there to be more of the fabric in it, and I see it as an up 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 the shoe. So I adjust issue 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 shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting Hope that somewhere in there you kind of get something because I guarantee if that's the way you're gonna go at it, you're gonna 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 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 is much more calming around the clients to hear a deliberate shutter clicks instead of No, we're not gonna 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 is really in hair and 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 no, what I'm gonna 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's simply sitting in a chair in front of one of those sort of tall mirrors that kind of bins 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 toe look at. But third of all isn't weird just for the sake of being weird, right? I'm not gonna set up like this elaborate scenario where I shoot through something in 800 different things are happening to get to the bride stays. 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 85 14 at 14 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 1.4. If you're going to shoot at 1.4, be very careful about focusing and re composing because your depth of field and your your plane of focus is so small. At 1.4, if you focus and recompose. Even the tiniest amount you've tossed your main focal point. All focus. So if I'm going to shoot at 1.4, 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 I that speaking out so all literally, you know, some had my little red dot right on top of her, I so that I know when I depressed the shutter, that's what's going to be in focus. And even even if I focused on that, I and kicked it over half an inch, you're gonna lose that I at 14 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 curves 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 toe 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 gonna come over to the other side of the mirror and shoot into her face again. 1.4 with your focal points, making sure it is literally red box, right on top of I done that's gonna be in focus. Everything else is going to blow her away in that beautiful thing. That 1.4 guys, If you take a look at the light backing up one step, the window is still off to the side. She's still being sidel it 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 thing right up against the bride's hair. And over here the bride's 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 1.4. I love it. I think it's a very intimate lens, especially at 1.4 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 51.2 I don't have a 50 somewhere. I don't use it like ever. It's actually my least favorite lens. I don't think it's incredibly flattering when you get right up on people's faces on. I think a lot of people abuse that 1.2. Just because you can 1.4 with your 85 doesn't mean you need to 1.4 all day long with your 85 it does go to other settings other than 1.4. So if I'm going to shoot it at one for its for a very deliberate effect, so don't get caught up in. If you're Lin's goes to 1.2 thinking you have to 1. it all day long, nobody's gonna make you do that. In fact, please don't do that. Please so again, the 85 14 Sometimes I'm not going to shoot it at 14 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 lens, which I like, and I up it from 1.4 to 4 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. Um, 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 1.4 to 4.0, so that they're much more in focus 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 in the backup singers. Then maybe I'll switch back over the 1.4, 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 1.4 when she opens his gift, which is a bracelet. So you're back over here, you're at 4.0, everybody's in focus. Everybody's part of the scene. She opens the gift. I go back to 1.4 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, 1.4 is exactly what I need on in 85 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 gonna 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 beige wall beige wall Daschle. 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 have made sure that the drapes were kind of nice and open. I'll make sure that I open or close the drapes as needed if I'm trying to narrow or broaden the scope of the light that's coming through. But in this instance, it's just nice. Open drapes shares down the soften 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 an empty space, I don't want her to feel lost in 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 to minimize the distracting ambient light in the room. So if you've got a fluorescent can up over her head and you've got two table lamps 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 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, nah thing on her cheek. But the bride is lit and the girl behind her isn't so. I'm going to continue toe 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 like and 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. Your lighting is also important in the composition of an image. So then we keep working this scene because she's got a course it back is taking for ever 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 those days, that 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 towards your subject. Even better. And this is, I mean, it's OK. It's kind of a vignette of sorts. It's fine. These are 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 was 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 24 to 70. The compression isn't really doing what I wanted Teoh. So then I turned the chair, even mawr to this image and shot through it instead of alongside it. And to me, this is a much better framing element than 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 the vignette 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 85 14 at 14 onto the actual back of the dress. They're both in good light because the light is coming from the same side so forth reflections. So again, course it back takes, I don't know, 90 minutes. So 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 I shoot and shoot and I shoot and 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 him in the chair. I 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 24 to 70 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 were 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 tohave, you know, variations not only in Lynn 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 give something robust to the client. But then sometimes all of these shooting through and shooting around and finding this to then yet 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 up some weird way up the banister? I just want to let it be what it iss 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. And to 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 90 minutes. I can't teach it to you in three days, and I can teach it to you in 30 days. It's taken me 13 years to get to where I am right now. And honestly, my eye is nowhere near what I wanted to be like. I I think I have 13 more years of learning and in 13 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 mawr, it more robust, visually compelling shooter than I need to just stop because you're not to me, you're never They're gonna always be getting better So in developing my eye in the past 13 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 with like the Woop Woop lights. And like the phone King techno at Like Noon, Um, and the full bar, which is weird. But then it's got those ceilings 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 weird 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 bits 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 13 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 1,000,000 different times and ways and means in which you can push yourself. So if you're frustrated with how you are seeing, stop looking at wedding photography. You know when I get stuck, 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 all the Watch of Madmen episode, because the lighting is amazing or I'll go read a book or I'll just get out and go walk around outside. I'll do something else. I'll go Teoh, 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 gonna be angry or 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 lies. One of the gentleman who was one of the wedding photographers at my wedding. His name is Daniel Cuda. 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 20 minutes, and the way he sees is extraordinary. I just think when this guy's got 13 years behind him, he's gonna own the world. They're they're that good and some people are born with the I, And whether you are or you aren't, you should constantly be working on improving it. So this is me telling you to get up 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 weddings all day long, back toe, 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've 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 dependent 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 leads 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 Aha, 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 then 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 sun. It was very cloudy day. It kept kind of coming and going when the cloud went over the sun, this incredibly strong light coming through the window or 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 of 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, um, 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 okay, 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. And now you kind of have that vibe of Okay, we need Teoh. Let's keep this day or rolling. So then we move on, and by the time we got to the portrait of the day, my Defour generally has my 200 on it. And that is where I stay for the most part for the rest of the day D three s with the 24 to Defour with a 72 200 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 200 so much is because it is so extraordinarily versatile. 70 is still not incredibly using me. That's it's pretty OK, but 200 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 72 200. Go outside. Put somebody against a background and shoot them at 70 then scope out and shoot them at 200. You'll see that it 200. 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 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 200 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 200. However, when I'm shooting people with my 200 I'm almost always at F four or 45 again, that crazy notion that everybody should be in focus on a lot of people mistake the out of focus background at 200 of being like 85 14 out one for, But it's not because there's a difference between you know what the background does at 1.4 and what the background does it. 200 millimeters. It's not the same concept, so yes, so what I'm doing with this 72 200 all the way out at 200 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 200 at 200 at F four is doing this to the background. It's pulling the back ground up on her, yes, but the background is extraordinarily far away, and it's very deliberately chosen because its dappled with light. So by the time that 200 does its magic and pulled that background up, it looks like she's standing against kind of a pale green watercolor. That's not the same as getting in her face with a 50 millimeter at 1.2. 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 lens compression thing. So, you know, sometimes surprises people when I say, Oh, no, this was like 45 or four. It's not 14 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 200 I'm not just gonna 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 vignettes. And yes, you know, it's nice when the dress you see it all in, it's beautiful, but this darkness at the bottom pushes my eye up to the light, which pushes my eye up to her face. So because I like the store 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 and image to the sun came out. So when the sun is not out Because I love the sun 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 is 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 horror that are still compelling. And then when the sun came out of the bride and groom, start take a walk 72 200 still but 70 instead of 200 because I want to show them sort of smaller in a big space. I'm not always wanting to compress 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 off the door don't need to, like, cut through faces or chop off bodies or anything like that. All I did was push 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 we tell them, Hey, guys, just take a walk out there and when I shout, Stop, just stop and give each other some love And that's all the instruction I gave them and they went off and they took a walk. The 72 200 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 OK, 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. Teoh like a crazy person, so they feel like the moment is a little bit more. There's 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 art growing out of their heads again, being very aware of your background on what your background is doing. So then the sun's kind of coming and kind of going, 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 gonna 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. We're going to 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 wear, smiling at me in the environment. I can stand up here 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, 3/4 and close up or else her mom is gonna find me and murder me. And I'm gonna you know, I love the artistic stuff. I love pictures of my husband and I smiling at the camera. I like, um, it's a nice thing. Toe have. It's something that you want to put on your piano and passed on 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 then 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, 8% 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, your framed right in their 72 200 as close to 200 as possible. But now that there's two people in the frame, I've probably moved over to 45 or 56 so that they're both in focus. But the lens 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 gonna bring a reflector. I'm not gonna 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 have 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 want it to look like this. So then we move on and we were still keeping it simple, but nodding toe all of the things that I've talked about already. Your 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? Young? 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. 72 at 200. Now I've chosen to go to 2.8 because all I want in focus is the groom's I 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 loss of it in the background while still wanting the lens compression of the 200 millimeter. So that's why the 28 Chou 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, I 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 lift 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 300 degrees, but just have a nice moment on. I just leave her out there and let her just kind of breathe by herself. And if they don't know what to do with their hands, if they're having trouble holding their hands together or playing with their veil, I will put their flowers back in their hands so that they've got something to dio f 40 not 12 as I've been saying so on and so forth. This is Linds compression, not a 51 to out 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 has deliberately chosen, because by the time I exposed for her face, 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 want it. The clients are 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 tweak from here, Teoh 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 light. 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 on. I want them on a dark background so that they are 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 your compositional element is your lighting. Sometimes it's everything with your lighting. They're sitting at their table. They're holding on to each other. The ice latest sitting in their laps pointed up. So you said you're gonna lean your foreheads together and you're gonna snuggle. Close your eyes. I'm about to, you know, like the sun up from your laps. I turn it on, set in their laps. It's coming up on their faces, which are Benton together on. 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 52 I slights and 16 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 1.4, and using your 85 millimeter at 14 to focus only on those eyelashes, and it's simple. And then we move through the day and we're still using that 85 14 at one for when she changes into her dress to go to her tea ceremony. And sometimes I like to use the light toe 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 with the light behind you that's also interesting back to the 85 14 at 14 for the effect of the 14 shooting down into her hands that are holding the bracelet that she was given makes the dress that kind of, ah, lovely, sparkly watercolor background. So then we move on, and this is more about Lynn selection when you're in a church and you can't use lighting and you can't Papa flash on the processional, 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 72. 200 is close to as 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 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 72 200 at 200 at probably a 445 very easy 7200 millimeter for details. It's my go to detail lends at a reception. I will shoot the 72 200 at somewhere between 28 and 40 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 in big. And, you know, when the bride goes to her reception, it's this intimate party and you know everything is toe her. It's everything is warm and snuggly, even if everything is well spaced out on. I wanted to feel warm and struggling and the pictures also, so I'll use that 200 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 are 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 30 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 in 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 over toe 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 200 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 1/ sometimes the fourth if the room is really huge, but were 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 72. 200 is close to 200 as possible, using faux ticks, F p H o T T I X radio transmitters to have my flashes 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 90 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 90 minutes. Although I am desperately trying when we move into shooting first dances again, my compositional choices my 200 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 Teoh, she's trying to move and I'm trying to move and she's trying to anticipate what I want. So one and so forth. Then it's just gonna be a jumbled meth of light flying everywhere. If she stands in one spot, I know where the light is coming from. You 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 talk to 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 30 seconds or five seconds. Are they just gonna hold each other for a second? And they're gonna invite everybody else out? Or are they going to dance the entire like nine minutes of stairway to heaven like 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. 72 200 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 72 200 because that's not something that a lot of photographers use for dancing shots. One bonus to that is it 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 200 millimeters, The bridal party that standing behind them appears much closer as they actually are so it creates a much better relationship in the actual frame itself. I put my cut subjects over here on the left very deliberately so that over here on the right, all of the people were looking at them. Your eye has 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 gonna hit them in the right way. And if her face is blocking his the lights, not going to hit him at all. So as you practiced 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 could just wait for the bride to come around. Same spot, same lens, probably at about an 80th of a second at F four. Nice and easy. I understand that. I'll need to bump up my I s. So I know that it needs to go up to maybe 2000 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 72 200 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 of 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 is 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 is 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 observed of what your subjects were doing after 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 1,000,000 different moments 53 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 I keep going at it as hard as I dio, 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 a lot more easily. So again, same situation, same lens, 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, I'm 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 toasts. If I'm shooting you guys, if you 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 are subject to 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 as a 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 at 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 there. Emanuel. 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 hall. The moment develops because everything that I'm doing technically has become innate 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, hate cutting, same lighting set up 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 gonna 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 200. It's 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 Linz. And then we move into dancing very simply before I move into taking questions were over. Now to the 24 to 70 my 72 200 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 20 minutes to four more hours, just don't know. So what's going on here is I've gone back over to my beloved 24 to 70. 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 all 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 on 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 and like 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 puts your eye directly on the bride. So before we take some questions, I'm gonna 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 by them, if you want or don't you don't have Teoh. I don't mind. Um you can sense a theme here. My Twitter name is Susan Stripling. 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 Stripling photography. So I do Facebook and blawg. Um I Facebook every single wedding that I shoot. I'm way behind on 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 90 minutes. I'm sure there are no questions at all. No nailed. It has a single question. There's nothing. And there's no one in the chat rooms right No, no way. Have plenty of places. 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. Start with you. Yes. With your using any kind of ah, light modifier. I am not well, not extravagantly at the stove in that comes with it. That's pretty much the only thing that I have on there every once in a while. If the room is really, really dark and I need to spread out my light even further, that's what I'll put the road flash bender on it, which just softens it up and spread that out a little bit more on. We had to do that this past weekend. We had a very dark room, but for the most time, just those little on the balances that come with it Do the job. Uh, jump in real quick. We've got photos by Mindy Lee. Hey, are you stopping the bride and asking her to move to where the light is best? For example, when the bright is getting dressed will 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 put her back as we dio eso. I'm like, I feel like all my cake shots, Aaron corners like, yeah, you. That was so nice. Like your cake is right. Little room makes it really are usually in corner. And then there's, like, you know, 16 Children that are 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 write like its best case scenario that I can use my 72 200. But sometimes you can't get the people off of your face, and you just have to use your 24 to 70. But in that instance, I'll put the 24 to 70 on the camera with the photos in the off camera light. I'll still be shooting light wise the same way I'll just changed lenses. But a lot of times that can sort of 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 on the dance floor or you talk to the band and you say, Hey, when you announce the cake cutting, can you also asked 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, tackle, help and then sort of related them. 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 8 to 9 feet, okay? And I try to make sure if I'm sweet shoes. Battle? No, my mom actually rather tall, but she's not back way. Have it on a mono 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 delay speaker. I feel like getting people off of your face with Susan Stripling would be an amazing works up. Get out of my face. Seasons tripling Very applicability all. I think we've got time for maybe one more from here. I've got one online. We've got Nikki Miami. Who says, Have you ever run into a situation? Probably the bride has address hanging on a very unattractive hanger. And when you're dealing with these details, do you ever like will you switch them out around? What do you do in the Sure if it's hanging on like one of those he like dry cleaning, 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 the wire hanger when I shoot the dress, I'll make sure that I crop almost like it. The top of the dress So you barely see the hangar Fantastic ways. The hangar in Photoshopped I do not like ever. One more. Why do you use auto flash instead of TT? Oh, I simply I just find that the results were 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 in black talks is, and I know what it's trying to do just in a wedding scenario, it's not necessarily like its best stage. To shine on an auto for me seems to be consistent mawr every single time. That's just with the Nikon flashes that I use. I get reliable on auto almost every single time on DTI. TL is great. Just when you start throwing dance lights on there, it's like trying to let your aperture priority think for itself. It's like I don't understand what happening in front of me, and it just, 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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Equipment List.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



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.

a Creativelive Student

Susan is amazing! I swear, she speaks the language of photography in the most clear and concise terms. I love it! I learned so much from this class! Thank you for your generosity CreativeLive and Susan Stripling!

Amanda Tesanovic

some good tidbits in this one.