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Lighting Q&A

Lesson 6 from: Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

6. Lighting Q&A

Lesson Info

Lighting Q&A

Questions that I consort of illustrate some of these things all of these lighting principles now that I realize that I talked very, very, very fast and we have a little time left over from the audience, anything I can help you with? Yes, sir yu used t o or do you look when using flash when I'm using flash on camera? I'm using auto I used to use tt l I found that I got better results with the nikon flash on the nikon camera on auto when I was doing tl is blowing out a lot of whites, it was getting really confused by all of the black tux is and again, it's part of this is personal preference like if you're getting great results from tt l don't switch just because I use auto, but I find that I get a much more even light in a much more accurate output every time on auto when it is off camera, it is always on manual, and I know that there are devices that you can put on it now so that you can t tell from camera to camera or but we've got our system down and I guess I'm starting to just soun...

d old, you know why change again? Why buy a piece of gear if it's not going to do what I needed to do? I don't need to go t t l off camera so I don't, and I know a lot of people who do and do it beautifully. So yeah, you guys were looking at me just been lately, it's, like, I wish you guys could see it's just like I think you like me a lot more at nine in the morning. Yes, all of a sudden I've got a light bulb you said, pay attention your background and make it dark. What dog know what I get it it's these little things, and I feel like a lot of this learning is just so massive, and then you learn a tiny thing and you're like, oh, my god, like at a business w p I business class. A couple of years ago, somebody was a bunch of stuff I knew already, and then they were like, yeah, when a client emails, may I have all of these email signatures that I just pick a signature and send it back? And I'm like, email signature is like, holy, how did I never know that before? And it's just like a little thing that the little lightbulb in for a lot of people, the lightbulb is when you're shooting with the flat with the light outdoors directly behind your clients coming towards you that you have to be in the shade imagine looks you get when you're in them it's like a hundred degrees outside and your clients are sweating in the sun and you've got someone holding a shade over you you look like a total jerk but that's the only way you can do it I mean I've tried you try holding your hand over the linz or you know stuff like that but to me that was one of the big aha moments was that my clients needed to be in the sun and I needed to be out of the sun the other thing that was a big haha for me when using off camera flash on I can't even remember who said this to me but they said think of your off camera flashes a continuous beam of light I like where your assistant is standing and she's holding the flash imagine just imagine it like a video light like a constant stream of light and then every time you shoot that constant stream of light look at where it's going to land and for me that was just kind of a mental thing where I was like oh yeah right that's right and then don't have your assistant move that's revolutionary sheikhoun stay and I can move in the light stays the same that's great so if I want to come in if I want to go out fantastic so it's whatever triggers the little light bulb for everybody so in an image like megan's behind you um and I'm assuming I'm going to totally go on a limb here and say you threw the champagne glass or something no, okay, I live close so very close to something bubbly sort of were outside just based on the venue even though it's awesome they're standing in between two trees so like, if I make it and jason right here there's a tree kind of five feet above, like in front of them just a little off the side and then five feet behind them also off to the side and the trunks of the trees are wrapped in twinkle lights like christmas tree lights, so the ones here are the ones closest to my camera and then the ones in the background are the ones furthest away. I thought it was water, so this is it could also mention him easily. This is yeah, you're alive in a video like always a video online it was raining. What you can't see is like the guy over here holding the umbrella over them and the other guy over here holding the umbrella over him. It was one of the last shots of the night we didn't have an umbrella for my assistance, I make right, but it was awesome I was standing in the rain to whatever we went home right after and I made this picture I mean, it helps that they're incredible amazing people who are like, really sweet together this is one of my favorites I really like it thank you for blowing it up creative life it makes me happy other questions we're still my blazing through that section blazed a whole lot faster than I thought so yes sir your idea of a question I'm not gonna ask you to go back to it but the three p m sunlight summer show the light look incredibly soft to me wrapping around her arms and that's I feel like I have a different experience when I shoot mid afternoon in the summer house everything is sharp like they're creating shadows on themselves that have sharp lines on the harshness of the light right like whether or not it's a little like if there's a little cloud cover if there's if it's filtering through trees I believe what you're talking about kind of the gentle non harsh line of it they were in a forest and I think it was coming through a canopy of believes that might have been softening it up again but usually it is ah harsh like razor line right? Okay I don't feel like that books is beautiful that's what I saw your photo I mean sometimes it's incredibly like when you're outside at one o'clock in the summertime and you're like oh my god it's like a big beam of just right on what do you do with the exact same thing okay and understanding that putting my client's between like the path of the sun and myself is the sun that's literally it like that yeah it's still not great I mean if I'm outside at noon I'll still put them out in the sun but a lot of times at noon I'll try to take them inside no I again I can shoot at noon but I'm not stupid I don't want to shoot forty five minutes of portrait it's at noon on a lot of that sometimes is talking to your clients like listen guys I know you want to go outside at noon and you wanted to your first look on this roof deck but you know it's going to be really bright you going big under eye circles and unless I rent like a generator to power my flash I'm not gonna be able to overpower what the sun is doing at noon right so all suggest doing it somewhere else or maybe if if you want to do your first look um and we do some portrait's of you guys can I borrow you again for ten minutes during cocktail hour and do some more portrait says the sun is setting so I'm not going to just let my clients throw me out at noon all the time unless there's no way of avoiding it and if something like this you know for out and they another one of those things and again it's like kind of a situations and solution sort of think bookie thing what happens if there's no light at all and the clients are like we really like your pictures with like the backlight and its release that we're really excited to get those and it's like raining or it's so overcast it's muddy I mean you could you khun use flash to sort of emulate that life but it's not gonna look the same? You know what do you do there, sam? Sorry, guys, I'm sorry it's raining you know, you might want to consider a post session if you really want to get those images but I could make some beautiful things for you inside we were inside it sucks sucks. How is the internet feeling? We had another question regarding three p m yashin from lnk uh they meant asked if you use some fill the transition from light to dark seem very smooth none whatsoever. Ok, I know for it for those things where we were talking through the different times of the days no reflector phil no flash ville okay, none whatsoever and hopefully seattle you will give me some sun tomorrow seattle please so I can shoot outside please don't rain on me please don't be overcast, so if anybody could arrange that, that was probably work on that with you, if you could help me with that last production, yeah, can you write me a son tomorrow? Okay, way have another question about kind of related to what you were just talking about with, you know, sometimes it's raining or sometimes you're in a room where there is no light, we have a viewer who wants to know, do you educate your client's in advance when you're learning kind of where their menu is going to be? Do you tell them, um, prepare them for where they might choose the best locations? Or I will a lot of times on dh that's kind of unanswered with a simple but complicated question with a simple but complicated and sure for me, a lot of times the client will be like, you know, so we're our weddings at this catering hall, and they've got a bride's getting ready room, so I'm just gonna get ready there and I'm like, well, you know, I just want to let you know, like, I think that's really great that they've got a place on site for you to get ready, but there aren't any windows and it's really kind of cramp, I mean, I'm sure you're staying at a hotel the night of your wedding would we be able to do hair and make up in your hotel room? You'd have a lot more room we'd have some beautiful light and a lot of times they're like, oh, I didn't think about that yeah, we'll totally do that and sometimes they say no, we're just going to get ready on site and you're stuck in a room with no windows if we're stuck in a room with no windows and I have nowhere else to go, I'll bust out the eye flight and hold it up where I would want a window to be and light my client that life great and kind of related question pro photographer how do you decide what angle to position the off camera flash at? Unfortunately that's a hard one because it really depends on the situation ah lot of the times if we're talking about toasts, dances things like that I wanted to come in a very gentle angle from the side, same with family formals same with portrait's of the bride and groom together. However, once you understand how that works, you have the ability to use it as your main light coming straight onto your client or behind them to create like a rim of light around them or as a harsh side toe light them kind of from the side and let the rest fall away so how do I decide I decide on the spot how I want to but it's sir analyzing the room and analysing the space and figuring out what would be the most flattering so again and I I don't want to say I can't tell you now you have to watch tomorrow but I do feel like actually seeing okay here's my thought process about this reception removed but ourselves in this is where I would put the light this is where I'm coming from I'm not talking to about hypothetical weddings that you weren't actually at you're actually seeing it happen so I will show you those things tomorrow please come back chat room person good okay um so you talked about what if there's no light what if there's too much flat land beach no dark background oh no now what first cry well for example there is a venue in new jersey by the beach that's incredible and it's got floor to ceiling windows in the getting ready room and there are no curtains and everyone's like there's light everywhere and it's amazing and I'm like sure is white everywhere isn't there there's nothing I can do like if it's going if the whole room is lit up like it's monday night football I just shoot it like it is if I can change it great if I can't I just have to roll with what's there if you're on the beach and it's flat and there's, you know, there's nowhere that you can, like juxtaposed them against a good background or the sun is setting but it's not setting in the direction that you want. All you can do is what you khun dio like. If it's flat on the beach, I'll try the other tricks that I have to make it look good, like all a lot of people don't use a long lens on the beach, so I'll put my seventy two, two hundred on I'll put the tele converter on to give it the four hundred, and that gives the image something a little different, like that super super compression from far away, or I'll try to put them against the sky and make a silhouette if I can or sometimes you again, you're just doing what you could do well, go put them in the beach grass, shoot through the beach grass, try to make that look really interesting, or I'll just try to shoot on the beach really quickly and then try to find somewhere else to go it's all right, is it really loved the very serious look on my face that she knows means I'm panicking inside. Usually the quieter and quieter I get, the more there's a hysterical storm e I never let my client see me sweat. Ever if we try something that doesn't work if we're in a location that's not working uh I'll try it for a few minutes and then I have absolutely no problem saying you know what guys? This isn't really doing what I wanted it to do let's go over here and they're like ok, no big deal right? Try something if it doesn't work, try something else if you start panicking and being like um can you just like can you give me just like a second? They're gonna be like do decent help so don't don't do that please don't do that yes you talked about auto so yeah a little bit okay struggle with that? I've tried it a couple times and so I guess I want to know do you shoot auto so the whole time? No okay, I should auto so when I'm on africa priority when I switch over to manual because I manually controlling everything I want to manually control my I s oas well, it completely freaks out my camera, okay? If I try it otherwise so like if you're shooting cause I tried an aperture priority to like, if you know like for nikon, you click it and then you're you're maybe meet a ring or focused and stuff it misses that up, so I mean do you have a maximum I know you said there was a minimum or for for isa are so I'll let it go load up load a high eye capita katmai defore at ten thousand I don't wanna go to twelve eight okay just cause if I could go to twelve eight I will and that's just a little too much if I nailed the exposure at twelve eight great if I'm a little under and they have to bring it up it's not if I screw it up there's no saving it and twelve eight um but if auto eso is it's just not driving for you believes it you play with a little bit more again you show you what I'm doing with it tomorrow but I mean if aperture party doesn't work in manual works better shoot manual you know if you don't like auto so don't do it if I show you these flash technique techniques tomorrow and you're like that dumb I don't like it don't do it it's okay I won't get my feelings hurt how's the internet feeling today the internet is feeling great today wait are really loving this what can I help them with? Well let's see ezra from istanbul, turkey wants to know I know fantastic right uh do you ever bracket when it's hard to meet of the light and jesse and related question wants to know do you ever use a light meter for the proper exposures are actually excellent questions I do not do either in my first couple of years of being in business I did use a light meter when now my light meter is inside my head bolin I couldn't just make these decisions on the spot I would absolutely like meat or something no problem with that whatsoever whatever you need to get to your exposure bracketing again not so much because I kind of figured it out in my head but if you need to bracket to get to where you're going do it just don't spray and pray again upside the head absolutely literally find you and get very angry with you do not mess with susan b o uh we were pushing kind of client management know first look from stacy rename photography face let's talk yes how do you encourage a bride and groom who don't want to see each other before the ceremony but their wedding is in november at five thirty p m in central time don't do it don't see each other okay please don't see each other if you I feel like this is where they should bring out of that box and I should actually stand on it there are a few things that I feel very, very, very passionately about and making your clients doing do something that they don't want to do because it will benefit you is not cool if they don't want it to a first look, do not make them do a first look if they're gonna if their wedding is at five o'clock and this happens to me all the time in the winter, they don't want to see each other before the times they want to do their pictures during cocktail hour, we will do the family formals with flash like we always would, and then I will video like the two of them together, or we'll go outside and look for a street light or the light off the water or the light from the venue as it comes outside or we'll go outside and use the video light, but they're not dumb. They know that if they're doing, they're portrait's in the dark, you can't make it look like it's three o'clock in the afternoon, I had a client very angry with me one time that the portrait that I shot of them in december did not look like the portrait that I did in june. I had to explain seasons it was very actually hard, amusingly enough, but if they're willing to go outside when it's cold, I made one of my favorite portrait earlier this year, it had to have been twenty degrees, the wind was tearing off the water at the lighthouse at chelsea piers in new york, and the science went outside she's like whatever it takes, so I used the video like toe light them outside is gorgeous, but I will never, ever, ever in a million years advocate a first look if the clients don't want it, I actually don't like the first look for a lot of different reasons, part of which is, if you're going to do their pictures during cocktail hour, you will always get caught tell our to do them. There is always an hour between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. If you're going to do there portrait's beforehand, you're at the mercy of everything if they run late with hair and makeup, if anything takes too long, if all of these things just start eating into your portrait time and then you end up, we thought you had two hours, you'll end up with thirty minutes. I can't control that there's nothing I can do about that more and more, the first look is becoming a very contrived thing, which makes me very unhappy. Um, I have shot first looks that are extraordinary, and I have shot first looks that did not even remotely diminish the power of him seeing her come down the aisle later or her seeing him as she comes down the aisle later, but then I shot first looks. Where the groom looked like he was terrified and the bride fake cried, and they're trying to make it look like the first look picture that they saw on pinterest and that's not authentic, so if they want to do it, I will absolutely do it for them. If they are on the fence about it, I will lay out the pros and the cons and then let them decide. And if they don't want to do it, we're not going to do it, even if it makes things harder for me. Yeah, what did you do it? Your wedding? Weii did not do a first look, not there was it was not even an option. I didn't want teo like it for us was absolutely the best decision with when I came around the corner and I saw him. It was I mean, four months later, it's I just still can't see his face and it's it was just decimating. It was amazing and if we done a first look, it would have felt really just set up for us. But I have shot first looks where people were overwhelmed with how they felt for each other and then overwhelmed again. When they came down the aisle and that's beautiful so they really have to look it pros and cons of each and then go with whether I mean again I can't believe I'm making a little heart but do what your heart tells you to do we had our portrait the day after because way didn't want to see each other beforehand but we also want to go to cocktail hour so we're that special kind of jerk gave our photographer thirty seconds and the are poor long suffering photography team I felt really bad for them it was like you guys got like five minutes you got five minutes and I was like, oh god and then we did the next day and then to make things even worse for our poor photographers we shot at our own posession two way shot each other so no but seriously if you don't want to do a first look, don't do it and if your photographer pushes you for it, push him right back so I love that element of service coming through again and again and again and again but I feel like if my skills are such that I can shoot in any scenario if I like for example if they want to do their portrait at noon and I know that the light is going to be really terrible it's my job is a professional to tell them that and give them the pros and cons of doing that, but if they still want to do it at noon we're going outside at noon ok it's at the at the end of the day it is not about me this is not my shoot it's not about my ego and me making pictures for myself I'm here to do what they want as best I can hopefully as best I can hopefully without catastrophic results but there have not been catastrophic results yet so I have not seen me on that screen today I'm showing you I mean, I've been in very difficult scenarios and I've let my clients put me in bad places before, but at the end of the day they're going to remember the bad customer service experience that they had with me more than they're goingto like the really good pictures that I took for them because I shoved them to get my way oh great well, these pictures that sunset were great but she was really, really, really pushy about making us do x y and z to get there. I don't want them to feel that at all, so whatever you guys want to do it for you, no problem yes, sir, so the example of, like, a winter wedding and, uh, you know, five, six o'clock with her after the wedding, so and I'm just trying to get into psychology so you don't plan the wedding, so you don't go to visit the winning side early, but at that point when cocktail hour and you're going to shoot those pictures, do you already know? Hey, where you want to place them or you just completely gone by this of your pants? Just saying my pants, let's go outside, guys, let's see what we see five years ago, I would have scope that side out known exactly where I was going, but now I find that if I've scoped the side out and planned locations, I feel like I'm just working off of a checklist that I gave myself. I'd rather just go outside and see what I see that's what we're gonna do tomorrow. I mean, I saw the courtyard, but I didn't see it at the right time of day or the right light. We're just gonna go out there and I'm going to do what I do when I see it for the first time, but I couldn't have done that five years ago at all. I could not have made any of these snap decisions, I would have had to have pre thought it and there's no problem with that at all.

Class Materials

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Gear List.pdf
Susan Stripling Presentation Slides

Ratings and Reviews


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.

Student Work