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Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 18 of 33

Outdoor Shoot: Portraits with Flash

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

18. Outdoor Shoot: Portraits with Flash

Lesson Info

Outdoor Shoot: Portraits with Flash

So what I wanted to show you guys here is what it would be like realistically to photograph a bride and groom during the portrait session of their day when you don't have time to go somewhere miraculous not every wedding is going to give you two hours beforehand to go wandering through like gorgeous rolling fields or like forty five minutes at sunset to skip along the beach. What I end up with most of the time is something exactly like this, which is, hey, listen, we don't have a whole lot of time and now we have to go out in the courtyard and do all of our pictures here sometimes it's, because we planned to come out in the courtyard into our pictures here and I knew that this was going to happen ah lot of times it's because we plan to do something else and then the schedule fell apart say we're going to do the portrait's beforehand and we've got an hour plan to go somewhere else in the city and then hair and makeup run late and then something else runs late and then the next thing you...

know, you've got fifteen minutes with the bride and groom and you can't go anywhere on all you can do is go right outside we're in the exact same church that we shot the ceremony and the family formals in we're just now outside in the courtyard, we're on a city street there's a parking lot across the street there is traffic going up and back and it's really actually not all that pretty, but we have to make it work and most of the time, if I'm going to find myself in a situation like this, I'm not going to have a whole lot of time if we have done the portrait of the family during cocktail hour, that usually takes about twenty to thirty minutes of my time, which means that I've got about fifteen to twenty minutes tops with the bride and groom before I have to go back inside and photograph the reception room and get ready for the reception before they come in. This is kind of given me heart attacks out here actually it's it's pretty rough, the sun is pretty high in the sky, you can see how it's hitting my face, we don't have a whole lot of cover or shade and yet this is actually going to work really, really well for what I want to dio now when we're talking about photographs, bride and groom, the first thing that I need to do is get the safe shots now let's assume that when we were doing the family formals up on the altar at the end of the ceremony, I didn't get a picture of the bridegroom smiling at the camera or let's say I didn't get a picture of the bridegroom smiling at the camera but now I want to get another one because even though clients come to me for the artistic pictures that I shoot and for sort of the more creative work that I dio it is still very important to make sure that you've covered all your bases and given them some very camera wear photographs even if the bride and groom don't want it maybe her mother wants it may be his grandmother wants it it takes two seconds and it really rounds out the coverage of the day when I'm going to dio generally a camera aware smiling at the camera portrait I'm going to pull out my flash and use it to fill in their faces that's why it usually works really really well to do that at the end of the family formals whether we're indoors or outdoors because I'm already set up for it but a lot of times you know I'm still going to come out and still going to do this if we shot maybe a formal of them indoors they don't want to get another formal of them outdoors and I just want to show you my set up very quickly to grab it and come right back I've changed things up a little bit for those of you who were with us earlier and then for those of you who are joining us for the first time, my off camera flash set up is really very simple. I have a mono pod sits down for a second basic everyday mono pod is cheap as you want, I have a photo ticks strat o to multi receiver and bear in mind if you are going to go with a faux ticks or something like this. This one on it says for nikon, obviously do not buy for a nikon if you're hooking it onto a can and flash you know those smart things and I'm teaching you today so the photo screws directly into the mon upon and then the photo is also has a flash you on the top so that you can hope your flash right in I've been used sing icon flashes even when I was a cannon shooter because back when I first bought nikon flashes, they were the s p eight hundreds and the cannons that I were using is very complicated dial system to get to the different settings that I was looking for the s p eight hundred was just a push up push down button system very consistent, very solid, and they've just continued improving them on and on and on. This one right here is a speed light nine ten, but you can use any flash off camera no matter what camera system you're using if you're triggering it with a radio as you'll notice when I was in the church I was showing you how to do family formals with this stuff in omni bounce on top which is totally fine however what I've started doing more often than not lately I want to show you this is well my husband got ahold of some of these rogue flash benders and I had never tried them before and I you know, I thought the other it's pretty cool but it just seems kind of like maybe a gimmicky tool and I don't know how it could really help me and it's not really going to make that big of a difference and then I saw what he and other shooters were being able to do with them on I realized that maybe this was something that I really wanted to ad tio my arsenal and as you can see she's a very simple almost soft box type look like this and you put it right on your flash and a crouched down for just a second to do so just put your flash right in it and it just velcro is right on there it's not terrific ly sturdy but it is absolutely what I needed to dio so you just velcro it down nice and tight and then you're ready to go and as you can see when I put the flash in there it's sticking straight up it's just going to shoot right up into this kind of soft box looking thing here I took this stuff off of it because I don't need to defuse it from the stove in and then defuse it in this soft boxes well and I'm always on full power when I'm outside unless it's later in the day unless the sun's starting to come down in the sky unless it's you know maybe if it nighttime and we're outside but if we're outside at oh lord I'm still on east coast time what is it one o'clock phenomenal thank you guys so much one o'clock it is definitely gonna have to be full power because you're gonna have a lot of sun to be overpowering so the one thing that I want to make certain of if I'm going to use this flash bender is I need to have my setting on the flash said to exactly what I wanted to and see I just bumped it said to exactly what I wanted to before I put the flash bender on it because after that it's just a little complicated to busted off and change if you do you something like a pocket wizard or a radio system that will let you control your off camera flash from the camera that you're using then you can make those adjustments yourself but because my assistant and I don't do that no reason why not we just don't um we want to have our setting set before we're ready to go, so can I borrow anyone? Come to sandra. Somebody give you this? You look lovely. You're a little under dressed for a wedding, but that's okay, you're gonna head on over there. And can we get our bridegroom as I desperately try to get some air on my neck? I understand seattle promised me lovely weather. This feels an awful lot like summer in the north. A little warm out here. And also the son you can tell based on where it's hitting me on the face is almost directly right overhead, you can see the shadows on the ground. I'm not casting a very long shadow. So it's, pretty high up now you guys can actually go over there and hang out in the shade for just second gonna meet you over there. Um, I want to talk to you first about when I would use shade outside. I'm on ly going to put my clients in shade. Typically if I'm attempting to use my off camera flash toe light either the bride and groom together or a family formal outside in the sun, we're going to start off working with just the bride and the groom um, I sort of have a very limited area of shade over here. If I were going to have to do the family formals I would not do them here I understand that this is the courtyard and this is great this is where we're set up to shoot but if I had the whole families and I needed to be doing them out here I would have to find a bigger patch of shade there are bigger patches of shade on the street but for the interest of not making this entire crew moved down the street I'm just gonna work with the bride and groom but the principles are exactly the same thing to tell you what I'm going to dio and then we're going to move and I'm going to do it the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to put my clients in the shade which I know goes a little bit against everything that I was telling you yesterday about how I like to put my clients in the sun but I'm going to put them in the shade and the reason I'm going to do that is because I want a nice flat even light on their face that I convince enhance with my off camera flash I'm also going to be looking for somewhere where my background is graphically interesting I would prefer you know an interesting looking building some dappled sunlight in the trees something not too distracting for example here I wouldn't want cars going by in the background or power lines going through people's heads so I'm looking at all of these things when I'm trying to pick a family formal location outdoors. Usually I have worked with the bride and groom to determine this location before the day even takes place, so we're gonna come on over here, you gonna grab my camera as I go? Should I guess I'll go this one? So what? I'm going to dio as I'm going to put my bride and groom in this shaded area, you guys gonna put your backs to that house over that way? And you're gonna face me this way kind of scoot over a little bit that way, come in nice and close to her a little bit closer to her. There we go. What I'm trying to do in this situation is I'm trying to make sure that there is no dappled light on the client's faces, okay? So I'm taking the light meter reading off of their faces and then I'm under exposing it by two stops there's a reason for this? If I were going to shoot this image with absolutely no on camera flash at all, turn off my own on camera flash and pretend she's not there at all stretch out a little further, thank you guys for indulging me coming over here in the shade a little bit. I want to show you what it would look like if I shot them in the shade with no additional off camera light just straight on in the shade nice and easy nothing crazy so when you take a look at what's going on I mean it's ok it's not terrible there in focus they're really cute. They look really happy but there's not a whole lot going on here. The background is really bright. And even when you expose their faces correctly it's still kind of dark, so what we're gonna do is we're gonna add in some light on their faces so if you can come and stand kind of right there move my tether you can yeah, exactly. And you're gonna go up nice and high with it and angle it towards them like this way like kind of like so perfection okay, and what? You guys are going to contain a little step backwards because there's a little dappled light coming through it's tough toe work next to trees or shrubbery, especially as the light changes in the day because I'm it pushes the dappled over on top of them is the light travels across the sky which could be really, really frustrating. So what you guys gonna do, put your inside arms around each other's waists and then have both have you been to prom you know, the prom pose? Like when you're getting your picture taken, how you just kind of hold hands in the middle like all sweet. Exactly. This is all I'm looking for this is to make somebody's great grandmother extraordinarily happy you're gonna lean your heads in nice and close. Exactly. And now there's dappled light on used to come a little towards may keep walking your purpose. All right, so then I'm gonna come back over here, and I understand that my camera, my flash pardon me is on full power. My camera needs to be on manual. So if I take a reading off of what this should be and I'm on I s o four hundred. Just for fun. My camera tells me without any flash at all. I should be at like a five hundredth of a second enough for okay, I'm gonna switch over to manual. I'm gonna goto four point five just to make sure that you could hold her veil down a little bit like that just to make sure that it's all in focus. And so I'm going to take a shot of it with the flash at five hundredth of a second at four point five and see what that looks like just to give you guys an ideal now. I'm going to screw this up intentionally and then fix it so lena nice and close together and the dappled light is hit you so come for a little a little more right there perfection car going by and fire okay, so we're going to take a look at what this looks like so uh it looks pretty okay I need to explain I need to adjust this just a little bit, so I'm going to step back a little bit further just a hair and if you'll take a look at the picture, what is what's going on here? I've got a line going through their arms I've got that distracting white element in the background, which is the street but then I've got a beautiful dark background it's not being utilised, so I'm going to crouch down a little bit you guys continue to look like you're going to prom all cute and sweet good heads together good you're looking right this way way that looks really good and just having to wait for cars to go by there we go nice and clean I'm trying to see on the monitor from a distance if you'll notice the vast difference between the picture before and this picture now well, I've adjusted my exposure accordingly toe let the flash really sing without being overwhelming the bounce of the rogue flash bender softens that light out feathers it out makes it nice and beautiful and even on the two of them and dropping down and shooting into the darker background instead of into the white street gives me a very dramatic background toe work within thank you guys very much you take a break for a second the reason why I'm using again to reiterate all of my settings the reason why I have started using this flash bender on the flash is because if I had just been using the stuff in it would have softened out the light but it wouldn't have spread it out in the beautiful way that it would shooting through that white flash bender the way it just did I'm on full power because the sun out here is you can see on me right now is so incredibly strong that even when they're in the shade I need full power of my flash to illuminate their faces even though my assistant wasn't even all that far away from them we still needed all of that power on the single flash I put them in the shade so that I could control the light that was falling on their faces and then I put them against a beautiful graphic background so that number one it would darken down when I adjusted my exposure so that I could use the flash on their faces and too so that the clients would be able to stand off of the background I also chose to use my two hundred millimeter lens at about one hundred sixty millimeters, which, as you can see, compresses them beautifully off of the background. What you guys can't see here is that they're a sidewalk, eh? Four lane road, another sidewalk and a yard away fromthe house that's behind them in the photograph that's the magic of the compression of a long limbs, a long lenses also extraordinarily flattering to the face, which is why I liked use it. So we're going to move on to something that makes me a little happier, which involves breaking down the flash, not using it anymore and showing what I would do with natural light outside in this circumstance. But before we go on before we stop with the flash, do you have any questions from the students about what you just saw? Yes, it's spread light enough for large portrait there, just like small groupings. I mean, it depends on if you're inside or outside inside, I noticed that it kind of does, but again, as we were talking about the family formals on the altar, I'm still going to if they're that big my assistant still going to be directly behind me she's not with a flash bender going be able to stand way off to the side, it will be a little more forgiving but not as forgiving as you would like it to be um outside it was a really nice job spreading the light out. It helps. It also helps that when we were out here, we've got a really kind of bright issue ground balance is a little bit of light backup for us, not a ton, but you also have to remember that I'm not relying on natural light to fill in their faces when I am working with something like a flash outdoors in this scenario, other questions about this and I was talking about the dappled light over there if we're working in the shade of a tree or something like that, yeah, sometimes we do occasionally have to move the group up our back, the group back just because the you know the trees are moving or the light is working its way across the sky, especially if it's later in the day and the sun is starting to come down nice and fast, the shadows they're changing really fast, and sometimes you have to move a little bit more. Other questions about the off camera flash for a family formal outdoors feelingood does the internet have any questions and I can help them with before we move on? Um, we had one person michelle lang wonder about if you could talk a little bit more about your high speed sync about my high speed sync yeah, I mean, I could talk about high speed sank sure, I e I just try to be very careful that I'm not screwing around with that, too. I'm terribly much I don't want to get into going in and like changing my sink settings in my camera. Um, I realized that, you know, I pushed it kind of up to four hundred, which is a little above and beyond what it should be. For the most part, if I realize that I was going to be shooting at four hundred, I was just shooting one example so it's a little bit different, I'm going to be shooting all of them. I'm going to bring my shutter speed back down a little bit lower and drop my I s so so that I can do that so that I'm not messing with any weird settings like that. Um, but yeah, usually again, you know, if I had shot this once and realized that the settings were like this, if I was at a four hundredth of a second for something like this, I would take my I s o from four hundred back down to two hundred are down to one hundred so that I could bring my shutter speed back down, so I wouldn't have to worry about any of that great

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.