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Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 9 of 33

Background, Stories, and Moments

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

9. Background, Stories, and Moments

Lesson Info

Background, Stories, and Moments

Being aware of your background, please please be aware of your background horizons through heads hurt my soul, beautiful composed images with some dude walking through the background like you've gotta look at everything, not just your subjects you also put the whole thing so for something like shooting a ring shot, which we're going to do ad nauseum in a very short amount of time, I'm looking for a foreground. I'm looking for a background in this inn instance, it is the sparkly bottom of her shoes held together like this to make a little light box or the bangles that she's wearing at the indian wedding. It makes it relevant, it makes it graphic and interesting, and it helps push your eye right into that ring, which was insane that ring beautiful background awareness eighty five millimeter lens bizarro picture of puppies on the wall but I chose to not include the frame or anything else because I wanted to look like he was being looked at by we're dogs, so being aware of your background ...

like so I'm not going to show you multiple pictures of horizons going through heads or branches growing out of people's heads or my personal favorite is people wearing lamp shade hats and getting ready rooms just look, look at more than just your subject look at the background as well sometimes it's telling several stories at one time this is another one of those instances where I'm shooting into a room and I'm getting a reflection behind me. I'm shooting in it, the cake, which is well lit, the rest of the room is dark, so I'm getting the reflection of the building behind me. Two stories have the cake and have the building. I have the couple singing a hymn and her mother crying, I have the dress and I have the bride getting ready for me telling a story like this. This kind of keeps me going. How many stories can I get into one frame that all help the story that I'm telling move along? If I've got all of the bridesmaids in a picture, they all have to be doing something good. Look at everybody's face everybody's face is doing something wonderful. If you've got one person with their eyes closed or somebody's looking away, you've lost the image. I have two stories I have teresa getting her veil put on and her sister in the background fluffing her train it's a great moment with katie and her father, but when I opened up and I saw more, you get the reaction of the girl off to the left as well two stories going on at one time, the bridegroom dancing. The groom's little list daughter was lifting up her dress to flash the band. If I had been focusing on just the bride and groom, I would have lost this wonderful story happening down there is, well, the groom's mother getting her makeup done and the bride and her maid of honor laughing in the corner of the room. Both stories have to be strong stories or else why include them both? If they're if this one's just sitting in the chair like doing nothing that doesn't help tell the story, this gives me a better scene, but sometimes instead of telling a million stories, you want to tell one story the flower girl that realized that when she throws her dress up it's fantastic, she was performing for me for a really long time, and then I sat down on the ground and kind of propped up on an ottoman and just started watching her from behind my camera, and then she kind of forgot that I was there and stopped paying attention to me, and then her mom came in the door behind me, she's not going to look at me like that she's gonna look at her mom like that, so I'm waiting for one simple, powerful moment sometimes it's a simple is shooting down the flower girl is twirling around and around on the dance floor. And then the three ants that say, did you get that? The flower girls are dancing and then the monsters did you get that? The flower girls were dancing? You're like, dude, I got it. I got like five hundred of them. I don't know what it is about flower girls on the dance floor, but everyone has to tell you that they're dancing simple ring shot it doesn't have to be about fancy foreground, fancy background sometimes it's about clean, honest, strong, simple picture simple, not fussy, not shot through anything, not overly contrived, easy or realizing that the image that you're looking to make isn't over by the water. It's actually under the overpass where the dude sleeping on the ground but the shaft of light is coming through and it's fantastic, and when you put it right on her face, it looks like the sun is setting on her face simple, you know, sometimes it doesn't have to be overwrought are over thought, and sometimes if you overthink it, you lose the beauty and before we move on, this is my favorite part is moments, and I get very choked up during this section because this, if you ask one thing like, what is the one thing that keeps you going and wedding photography when you're tired? And you're burned out and you just don't want to go to another one and you just want a day off and you see all these people going out on dates on saturdays and you and your husband are wearing black and you're about to both go shoot weddings what makes me like breathed fresh air you know breath of fresh air and be happy to do it are the moments that I can capture when all of your gear comes together and all of your lenses and your equipment selections and you're lighting and putting your client's in the right scenario when they give you something to shoot it is an honor to see that and I don't mean to keep quoting cliff but he has many wonderful good one liners hey said one time a long time ago you're only as good as your clients and it's true if they don't let you into their lives and they don't let you into their emotions and their moments all the good light on all of the good lenses aren't going to make pictures that are as impactful is something like this or like that where I got in trouble for sort of encouraging their you know yeah go ahead keep laughing keep laughing and you know the kids open up and they forget that you're there and they let you end or when you get to see the bride's little sister painting her ninety five year old grandmother's figure it out, I'm gonna cry so ridiculous and then you get a note six months after the wedding that says that the grandmother's passed away and you gave them this. This isn't about me, and this isn't about winning photo contest. This is about me giving this to eli's little sister that you will always remember this moment with her grandmother, or when the bride gets the unexpected gift from her groom the second she opens it, or the first look, which I do not like, but every once in a while it is beautiful when her whole face just falls apart when she hears them coming, or when her dad sees her for the first time. Crap, we got two cars all ready when she is praying with her bridesmaids when dad see daughters for the first time kills me, dad, especially when one moment leads into another moment or when the whole family is watching the ceremony. Her mother, her father, her grandfather and her sister sometimes it's not about crying, but it's about the joy that they're feeling and they just let it out and you're right there to see it or when he realizes, oh god, this thing is never coming off and the bride in her mother after the ceremony. He was so excited to put that over her head and get the ceremony going in the rabbi was like not yet not yet or when the bride's mother who had been very ill technically shouldn't even be here today and she's here and she's fine and her grandfather gets choked up and again it's not about the crying it's about the funny things they do that you get to see when you're right up close to them and they don't even care and the moment between her and her mother and her and her father are so powerful and you get to witness it are you two see joy like that with her and her dad or her and her sister or her and the dog beautiful it's a joy we have about ten minutes well, some questions if you guys can not cry for a minute so you catch a perfect moment but it's an imperfect picture maybe a little soft like that you should yeah if it's a little soft, I'll show it if it's a lot soft, I'll have to bennett like if it's just technically bad it's got to go even if it's a good moment, the question was sort of along the same lines your your focus is incredible like everything is really, really share a bond I was going through a wedding of mine a week or two ago even photos that I thought were sharp and maybe it was just because I got the so pretty high but yeah, what what what's your trick on that couple of different ones one is being mindful of focusing and re composing with whatever f stop I've chosen like I mentioned before with one point for not focusing and re composing trying to be very careful if I met kind of one four, one, eight two o two eight using my focal points instead of because I'm a very fast focus and recompose er some of it is making sure that my shutter speed correlates correctly with the lens and I'm using like if I'm using my seventy two, two hundred, I try to not go below four hundredth of a second because I don't want to get shake and that was something that kind of took some getting used to sometimes you might just be shaky sometimes I have a lot of friends who are just kind of spazz e with the camera and things airsoft maybe honestly and this might be very simple maybe you're linds needs to go back in and be recalibrated, you know, maybe it's and I've got my twenty four to seventy is getting a little bit I'm having a little problem with it being a little soft and they know it's not me it needs to go back in and get kind of tightened up. So if you explore all of the like technical things that it could be in it's still soft, you don't wanna get it looked at yes, ma'am, um, managing expectations and timelines. Like how much input do you have? For example, you've got a few where the dad sees her for the first time. Do you guys talk about that? Spacing it out? We try to I tried teo and again that's a huge, like business day thing, but yeah, for the most part, I tried to most clients we at least email about the timeline. I talked to a lot of people on the phone about it, and I meet clients about their timeline also, and I try to get a sense of what's important to them, like, are your parents gonna be there when you're getting ready? Like, do you want a moment when your dad sees you for the first time, things like that and it's again thirteen years of knowing what questions to ask the things that go wrong all the time, which is actually what sparked me to start writing think books. It was the first one I did with situations and solutions that earlier this year was the stuff that I kept running into over and over again, there have been problems for me for so long what were the things that I could do to kind of get past those things? Um, but it's still hard, like I still I'm not perfect. I make mistakes all the time if you're one of my clients, you're watching this, I never shoot anything up ever I'm always right no, I mean, I make mistakes and all realized that oh god, we talked about the time line, but we didn't talk about this thing that now you're throwing in here that totally screws everything up, or I noticed that you wanted to do the first look at two ten and you're getting dressed it like one thirty, but then now there's a twenty minute drive and I didn't realise there's a twenty minute drive in between the two locations and oh god, what do I do? It's just learning to think faster on your feet with stuff like that and never letting them see you look nervous. Other questions you've got a beautiful ten minutes to take questions about anything you'd like. Yes, sir. So do you have a criteria where you decide whether going toe the final images will be black and white or color or I kind of see a pattern, but I'm trying and again, like I can answer that, but that would be a really good question for you to ask them on sunday because when the stuff goes into post production, I don't choose my black and whites sidecar chooses what's going to black and white for me but when I'm editing a wedding myself, which I do sometimes like I shot eleven wedding's in june and sidecar looked at me and they're like yeah right we can take a couple like we could take like nine of them but you have to take two of them back I was goingto like murder there in you wouldn't have had any images edited naomi ever but I had to take a couple back myself and sometimes it's are the colors in the image distracting from the moment like is there a great moment going on but some idiot and a red striped shirts walking through the background or there's like a safety cone in the background that I didn't see or that I couldn't move you know is the moment mohr impactful if I go black and white is the color balance simply un color balance a ball like do I have six different color balances? And if I make the clients right, the room is bluer. If I make the room right the clients or blue or if I do them both they just look weird black and white amen if it's a little soft and focus if as he said before, if the moment is there but the picture is technically not, they're black you do it too don't look at me you all do it tell me any of you have never tried to color balance a picture and just been like that I can why do you have questions from our friends in the chat room? We sure do they still have friends in the chat room we have a lot of weight and they're going crazy with questions and great comments so exciting um a number of questions that are kind of similar similarly related but netta is asking how do you build relationships with your clients in order to capture those kinds of candid shots and help them feel really comfortable in front of the camera that's a beautiful question actually some people will never be comfortable in front of you no matter how hard you try and sometimes you have a lot of people realize it's not you some people are just very reserved they don't sometimes it's cultural sometimes it's emotional they don't want you to see like the depth of their feeling or the depth of their feeling is just simply very stoic ah lot of it is the lenses that I use a lot of it is staying back out of their space um if you're up in someone's face with a thirty five they're going to feel a little intruded upon which is why I not only do I like the look of a longer linds I like not being in there personal space like that? Um, I do approach my I'm very friendly with my clients. I'm very please call me whenever you need anything email me with anything you need help with, even if it's not necessarily wedding related when I said, you know, if you're having trouble picking which bridesmaid's dress would look better in pictures like I'll be with that, I can absolutely help you with that I said before, they don't try to make friends with my clients, but that doesn't mean that I don't want their customer service experience to be fantastic and that I'm very open and friendly um, just kind of being real with them, you know, it showing up on the wedding day and being nice to them and being complimentary and I don't chit chat them up, but I'm not dead silent either and if to something beautiful is happening, I cry like they see me cry you know, it's just try to just be very chileans in and it's kind of like working with a puppy, no fast movements, you know what I mean? Just being very calm and when a moment starts developing boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! Don't eat that like they'll hear that I, um ah lot of the times I put my camera on quiet mode I had never wanted to do that before because anybody in the room who knows anything about photography when you put it on quiet mode it sounds like your shutter is too slow and I kind of look at you like what are you doing? But it it dampens down the power of the chunky like nikon shutter clicks which I really love that could be very intrusive but if I can back off and let them kind of forget that I'm there if they're going to a motel a moat if they're not the type of people to a moat I can't make them do it and I won't push them to do it either and then in order to get that moment we have a couple people asking how do you get how do you capture those moments and get that tension? Is there anything that you do yourself to ensure that you're going to watch you watch the way watch and again I mentioned earlier I made a crack about how my my four year theater degree is basically useless but it's not because I spent four years learning how to manufacture moments like how do you emotionally build a moment so that the payoff on stage is strong it's the same thing in real life see watching something build just watch it just observe if you're all so god when's it gonna happen when's it gonna happen when's it gonna happen do you just breathe like chill and if you miss the moment okay, so you missed the moment you'll get the next one you know don't beat yourself up about the shops you miss lots of medication thie champagne bottle you're shooting through was getting don't forget it, I just told everyone they could try to get a wedding great, no it's it's don't get stressed out don't get caught up in worrying about what you're going to miss because there are a thousand moments that are gonna happen on the wedding day and if you're not cool, you'll you'll over you know you will over think yourself, you don't want to do that and we have a question yes, from laura births who says hello? Oh my god, I want a high school with her that's also been years, it hasn't actually more than we're going to count up and say out loud, but yeah, he's not gonna talk about that sometimes she's a photographer as well yeah, it says facebook that yes, so says her question that's also a question for a question is versus a statement you do such an amazing job of doing that storytelling and have you ever had client requests and that you could just tell that their vision you couldn't work with their vision and how do you handle clients? This is gonna matter whether you find it out before they book you were after they book you sometimes it's before they book you and you can tell you just know that you are not a style match and usually it's they like my images, they just don't like them for themselves like right or they don't there are times seeing themselves on what I do and it is a very, very, very hard thing to tell somebody I would love to work with you and I will work with you if you would like, but I truly want you to continue your research and keep looking because I might not be the photographer for you and I don't want you to spend the money and I don't want you to hire me and I don't want you to regret it later, so I'll encourage them to keep looking if I think that they're unsure every once in a while some hires me, I'm exactly what they're looking for and then I show up on the wedding day and I have no control. Take a picture of this take a picture of this take a picture of this take a picture of us doing this take a picture of us taking this moment take a picture of this to which I say, okay, if that's what you want, I'll do that for you that's fine and then I go home and thank you. Break out the champagne, go home and I lay down next my husband, I'm like, I don't know. I didn't want anything that I wanted to do and then they get the images. And you know what, it's what they want. And again I said it before. But this is none of this is about me. This is not about how many photographers can I impress or howmany workshops? Can I fill our books? Can I sell all of that can go away tomorrow as long as you can guarantee me that I will still have fifty happy clients every single year. And if they want to smile at me and every single picture and I realized that on the wedding day smile on me all you want. I'm here for you, cliff, and I call it surrendering on sometimes it's, how fast does it happen on the wedding day? Okay, and here we get sometimes it's right away. Sometimes it's. Later, when your like, you know, I should've ended about two hours in, but I'm still gonna make my client's happy, so whatever you want.

Class Description

Join award-winning wedding photographer Susan Stripling for a 3-day journey through the world of artistic, compelling, and financially successful creative wedding photography.

Throughout this course, you’ll explore lighting, posing, capturing detail, and much more. Susan will simplify the potentially daunting process of selecting the right equipment for every wedding’s needs. You’ll learn about transforming poorly-lit or visually uninteresting wedding settings into picturesque images.

Susan will also guide you through the workflow she uses, and explain the composition principles that result in dynamic images. You’ll explore concrete, on-the-fly troubleshooting strategies for unexpected wedding events.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the tools you need to think on your feet while photographing every phase of a wedding, with jaw-dropping results.



Outstanding, one of the best courses on Creative Live. Wow! The delivery is sharp, on point, and focused. I've learned tons. There are so many gems I've watched this video many times and have now purchased more videos from Susan Stripling. Outstanding presenter. My photography has already improved greatly by implementing some of the techniques shown.

a Creativelive Student

The content of the course was perfectly taught at a "real" level. Susan's work clearly, speaks for itself, but her willingness to be so generous with her knowledge is fantastic. She has become an instant favorite of mine and her style is truly special and unique. The course was reasonably priced and I am beyond thrilled that I have taken the time to learn from one of the best in the industry. INCREDIBLE course in every way!!


I Loved this course. I would definitely take another course by Susan Stripling. Her images are beautiful. She has the posing, timing, lighting, mood, etc. all down perfectly and makes amazing, beautiful pictures. She is an excellent communicator as a teacher too.