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Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 10 of 33

Shoot: Getting Ready - Rings

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

10. Shoot: Getting Ready - Rings

Lesson Info

Shoot: Getting Ready - Rings

First things first one to show you guys this mean, obviously we're not in a hotel room we're in a hotel room set, but what I wanted them to set up for us was something that looked very, very much like what ninety percent of us would encounter when we actually go out and shoot a wedding now it's lovely when you can shoot it a ritz or four seasons or a bed and breakfast with beautiful eastern facing windows there florida ceiling with light cascading through but that rarely happens rarely for the most part, the weddings that I'm shooting are all getting ready and everyday hotel rooms sometimes the venue is wonderful, but the hotel that's kind of a nearby choice is maybe not the best, but they take it because it's convenient to their location or maybe this is the getting ready room that the venue has for them and it was easier for them to do that then get ready in a hotel so whatever it may be, sometimes you find yourself in places that are a little less than ideal and the first thing that...

you do is don't judge your client ever don't ever judge your client based on where they're getting ready where they're having their ceremony where they're having their reception, you have no idea anything about any of these people and if you walk in and you're like this room is awful it's disrespectful. And you should never be disrespectful to your clients ever when I walk into a room and it looks like this and I realized that it's it's going to be a huge challenge. I don't go. This is awful. I go. Okay, this is tough. What do I do to make this gorgeous? Because you have to remember that to your bride and to your groom. This is their wedding day. This isn't your creative photo shoot this is there a wedding? And you need to not disrespect that. So I don't want you to feel like we're making fun of anything or mocking anything or making a caricature of anything. I'm just trying to show you what riel average everyday lovely weddings look like. You know, without all the bells and whistles, that would be really nice. So what we have is usually a lot like this on dh. Humorously enough. This is actually about four times bigger than most new york hotel room, so I'm feeling pretty good to start with. We've got stuff laying out as it would be. We've got phenomenal suitcases getting in my way. We have some walls that don't necessarily great about six different white balance is going on in here at one time. And, you know, in the first couple of years of me being in business, I would walk in and think, my god, what in the world am I going to do in here? I don't know what to do, and the first thing that I would do would be to turn on every single light in the room. But nowadays, that's not necessarily what I want to do because the more light that you have that's not and necessarily a good thing, sometimes you don't want tons and tons of light. Sometimes you want a beautiful, delicate small amount of light as long as it's lovely as opposed to a huge gush of light that isn't really giving you what you want. So this kind the only way that I could actually make this room better for what I wanted, teo show you, is to paint all the walls black and listen, we don't ever go into rooms where all the walls were painted black, they're generally white or if you're at the beach there, teal or yellow, which is a color balancing joy is the good pale mint green room. Yeah, it's really awesome. So this is a lot of what we're looking at when we walk into a wedding day. And I'm going to show you how I shoot, but I also want to talk to you about how I approach it just a little bit beforehand, both as kind of an aesthetic approach, and then how I set up my gear when we come in to the wedding day at the very, very beginning, um, like I mentioned before, for those of you who caught us before you so sweetly indulged our set change, a lot of my clients have come to really like the way that I do detail shots, not just because I'm taking pictures of details just because, but because I'm trying to make them into beautiful art pieces all on their own, so they'll tend to do basically what's been done for me in the room here, which is to lay it all out in front of me. So I come in and I've got, you know, the bouquet is, which usually aren't laying on the bed there usually, uh, in the vase is soaking wet and take them out and hold them, and then we'll get all over the clothes, but we have bouquets, we have some invitations, a veil, a bunch of incredibly lovely average jewelry and address hanging in the window, so when I come in before I even start shooting, I say hi to the client we put our gear against the wall and I have no cameras on and I go in I find the bride and I say, hey, naomi, how are you doing? How is everything going? Usually she's in hair and makeup? Yes. You look lovely. Um and I just you know, how are things going? I just want to let you know I'm here let's start with all of your details a lot of time she'll be wearing her engagement ring. I'll ask if I can take it. I'll ask if she's got the bands or do one of the groomsmen have the bands and if we just have the engagement ring and it's really important for her to get pictures of all of the rings together all usually grab them later during the reception and take all of their rings and shoot them together then um but she's almost always got her engagement rings he takes it off and gives it to me. I never let the ring out of my sight. I know this might be photo one o one for some of you, but one of my biggest fears is to have something lost or stolen. One of the first really fancy weddings that I shot the bride had been gifted a rolex from the groom and it was stolen out of the hotel room and I was terrified that anyone would ever think it was me of course it's not mate we're not going to steal your rolex the fastest thing I could do to be put out of business is to steal your things so I'm not going to do that but if we have the rings and were shooting them, the rings are either in my hand or they're in my assistant's hand if we haven't shot them right away and we're going to shoot some other stuff and then we're going to get to the rings she is going to hold them were putting them on our hands terrified of losing them so we collect the details we say hi to the mother we talk to the bride usually get introduced to the bridesmaids how's everybody doing and then it's time to shoot we take the gear and try to store it is out of the way as possible without being out of the room um sometimes we'll hide him in a bathroom sometimes they go in a closet but I wanted to be where I can get out at all points time and I have my gear here with me you can look at my bag if you want but it's not going to tell you much about an actual wedding day because traveling here I just brought the things that I knew that I would need for shooting here it's a very minimal kit I don't have extensive backup cameras because I know that we have backups here if I need them so I traveled with a very light rig if I am going to be flying to a wedding I will put all of my gear in a small bag and I will put the rest of my gear in another small bag and my assistant will carry it we don't ever check our gear ever um which is partly why I don't shoot a lot of destination weddings anymore because I don't want to worry about the hassle of traveling with all of my things so when we get into the room we have already gotten set up we usually set up in the hallway or we set up in the lobby of wherever we're going to be get our gear set up so we walk into the room and we already have two cameras on our shoulders I'm only working with one camera today because of the tethering I didn't want to make this two incredibly hard for them um this is my d for usually I start off the day with the macro on my deformed so we're going to do that I always have the lens hood on my macro partly because I like it some partly because it protects the linds for me in case it bumps into anything so we've got that I'm notoriously bad about just doing things like this and then walking away from my lenses so my assistant has to run around after me and pick up the stuff that I put down, which is partly why I have an assistant, so we walk in with the macro on the d for and usually the twenty four to seventy on the d three s, and we're set to go. I am not ever going to use a flash during a getting ready. I cannot even remember the last time I shot a flash during a getting ready so the flash is air in the bag. Um, the video light is easily accessible and just for the purposes in here, I have my forty dollars video light off of amazon dot com I would like to note that the front is broken and the back is missing the battery cover, so you can tell they take really good care of this thing. This is sort of my go to light for little details because it is just tiny and easy. I'm not gonna bust out something like the ice light to shoot a detail like this, I just simply don't need that much light. I just need a little and I'm done so we walk in to recap the macro, which is my hundred five millimeter macro is on my d four by twenty four to seventy is on my d three s and to talk a little bit about the set up of how I actually have everything when I am shooting with my d fore you know it really help if I put a compact flash card in it so let's do that right now see, I told you I make mistakes what I have is my flash cards are just in a little bag the reason being for those of you who might not have caught that earlier um I only shoot one card all day long in each camera can you find your sixty four gig do you mind? Thank you. Not my assistant. The the reason being when you usually hear about somebody who has had a catastrophic failure at a wedding it's because they've lost a card I've got the d for which has a backup card slot I've got the three s which has a back up car ds lott if anything were to ever happen to my primary cards I'm shooting j peg backups on my backup cards raw on the main card j peg fine on the second card I almost never take the second card out even when I download I leave the backup card in the camera this way when I'm done at the end of the day I just packed my cameras up and walk away if you just find a thirty two that's okay too okay thank you so let's form at these so I don't format until the very start of each wedding, and the reason is because it anything happens to the images that I'm editing during the week. I want to go back and be able to reference those compact flash cards, same with the backup card, I just wanted their until I absolutely needed again, I have a huge bag full of cards I usually let them go a cz long as I possibly can before having to use them again, but sandra, my assistant, I, we sit out in the hallway and we form at the cards. We compare the date and time on both of our cameras to make sure that the date in time are the same, because over time, my deformed by d three s tend to sort of get off by about three or four seconds per wedding day, and if I leave that to long than when I'm editing the images later and I sort by capture time, they're a little out of order. So we always think that up, starting off in a getting ready room like this, and I'm adjusting my I s o sensitivity settings. The reason why I'm adjusting my iesus sensitivity settings is because I am an aperture priority shooter on I'm allowing my camera to do auto eso so what I have told my camera before I even get started is that with this hundred five millimeter macro um I want let's just say for the sake of argument I'm going to shoot at an eightieth of a second and any time I need to go under an eightieth of a second my camera's going to bump me up to my next eso I can set my own eso myself I don't rely on auto I s o because I need it my cameras just very good at it so it's a tool that I'm fine trusting I also tell it that the maximum I s so that I wanted to go to is ten thousand I don't want it to go to twelve eight because as I mentioned before, if I blow my exposure and under exposed it a little bit at twelve eight and we need to bring it up again, it's just simply too high an esso for me to be comfortable with raising the exposure on it in post everything that I shoot is wrong unless it's going into my backup card slot and then that's a fine j peg also in a room like this if there are all of the lights on or multiple lights on and I'm shooting with mold, people lights on I'm going to be shooting on auto white balance, but the second I shut off the overhead lights, which I know you can't really see him in here, but they're fluorescent they're horrible. I'm just going to kill them and bear in mind that when you go into a room and you go to shut the lights off, the first thing that's gonna happen is someone going to turn them back on because they're gonna assume that was a mistake, and then you're going to shut them off again and then someone's gonna say, but it's so dark and all you have to do is say, yeah, but it's, exactly what I'm looking for don't worry about it sometimes, like if the bride's mom is trying to do up the back of her dress or what not, I'll have to pop the light back on a little bit so that she can see what she's doing, but then we'll turn it right back off again, and I'm not saying go into the getting ready room immediately turn the lights off and leave them off the entire time because usually there's makeup artist working and things that are happening and you can't really control it like that, but when we reach this portion of you know what I'm doing on a lot of times, if we're in a suite, if the bride's in one room getting hair and makeup done and I'm doing details in the other room, I could do whatever I want with the lights in the room that nobody is in so to start off with what we're doing, the first thing that I want to do is adjust my light as best I can so what that's going to mean before anything else is going to mean turning this light off and the reason I'm doing this is for several reasons one it removes the incredibly annoying white balance of that awful little light second it's not going to be a focal point in the room to draw your focus away from what you're trying to take a picture off um third it's just ugly so what my assistant generally does at the start of every single day is to go around and get rid of his many lamps as possible which usually involves picking them up and putting them on the ground. Um I tend to be a little oblivious sometime and give people land like lamp shade hats haul in shooting which is so unattractive but if I'm going to start working my way through these details I don't need this blazing light going on over here. However I do want light coming in from this window scoop the dress over for a little bit I've never actually shovel actual clients dressed like that, but I can um so now we have some sort of unobstructed light coming in through here and I know that you will be shocked to hear this as we are in seattle but it is overcast today um but we've still got light coming in through the window so it doesn't have to be twelve noon or a perfect light like cascading through the windows as long as I've got something coming in I'm pretty good to go however for me sexually a little bit too much light coming in through these windows so I'm going to kill this window right here all and all I'm gonna do is just come over gently move their stuff out of my way and then close this down the reason why I'm doing this is because all I want is a light coming through this window this light over here is not helping me make the picture it's actually distracting from what I'm about to dio so then I just sort of take stock of my situation and what I want to dio usually I'm going to start off with the rings so I look at everything that I have in the room at my disposal to make a ring shot what I've got in here I've got some invitations like so um could I just callously threw down I have these which could be very useful um got shoes okay I got a basket of plastic apples with the mosque night we have and we have a candle like so so all of these things kind of on their owners somewhat unspent tacular but I can put them together to make something really great so um I would like you to bear in mind that we did not dress this set three weeks ago so that I could plot out all of these shots when we were on break I saw the set for the very first time dressed like it wass on I'm making decisions about what I'm going to do well in tow talking to you right now so this is my serious face which means I'm dying a little bit inside come on amir can I shanks here that I took off of the wall I'm gonna put it on the bed like so because as I mentioned before reflective surfaces are sort of my jam I like them so what can I do with a mirror on the bed um so first I'm gonna look at it and realize that I don't like my background no matter which way I'm going to shoot so if I'm gonna come down here and I'm going to shoot naomi's my background or if I'm gonna shoot into this way the bed's my background however considering my light source from the window as it comes in this way I don't want to shoot into this way because the light is coming from here I want to shoot with the light of my bag from the angle it this way and put it here and then I'm going to look and see sort of what's at my disposal to help me make something interesting and sad to say not a whole lot going on here so what? I'm gonna dio plastic candle stuff someone take some of these from over here and anything that I'm gonna use and move around I'm gonna end up putting back exactly where I got it and even my assistant who kind of knows what I'm doing still looks at me like I'm a crazy person somebody get rid of these kind of iridescent looking ones and bring out the clear ones in the front and usually I'm doing this thinking oh god, I have just like two seconds and I have to do this right now I have to get in she's doing stuff in the other room and everybody's looking at me like I'm weird through the cluster this together looks pretty all right um apparently this bride today has three engagement rings baby bear mama bear papa bear like this one we're gonna go with this one we're gonna put it here so what I'm looking at what I'm trying to do this oh, I like it actually I get a lot I am on to something and what you're going to see me shooting today is exactly how I would shoot on a client's wedding day mistakes and all and when I under expose it, you'll get to see it if I below the exposure you don't get to see it you're so lucky however, the images that I shoot today will also on sunday the edited by sidecar post and there were some questions is we were in the break about a few twitter questions that we're asking what sidecar post and there the postproduction house that edits all of my raw files and we're gonna talk on saturday about the relationship that you have with whoever edits your files even if it's just yourself and how that feedback loop can be really helpful in improving your image is because they can tell me hey, listen, you just gotta d four and all of a sudden, like all of your images are like half a stop under exposed you might want to take a look at your lcd screen I look at it, I realize it's dial down so had doing that sort of helps me improve every single wedding I shoot this is a classy and over here, so I'll set something up and I'll look at it it's not terrible, actually if you need something else, sometimes I try too hard but it's hard when you've kind of raised the bar for your clients and they want something really spectacular from you and then you show up and it's just kind of not spectacular, okay, I'm down let's go so pile of moss a candle um some little beady things and I hope in a dream what you have to make sure that you have to kind of look at the diamond that you're going to be shooting and when you put it into the light if it's catching the light the wrong way it's gonna really reflect back and sort of the best als it will end up looking like an opaque kind of flat thing so I'll adjust it so that it doesn't look like that and I'm going to start off in f eleven see what that looks like some liken eightieth of a second it f eleven is going to be a so ten thousand take a look see what we got here this has to come off a little lower down oh hey I like you come back out so I'm gonna move the candle alex I want to be a little warmer and I almost always am going teo put focal point right on one of the bezels and then probably under expose a bit and fire so we got so usually the first shot is a test shot and we nailed it bam bam just like that one shot but then I look at it I realize ah the angle that I'm at I can't really see the reflection so then I'm going to re sort of configure my little glass bt things here get back down in it again focal point right on top of the side of the setting but then I realized that this the stone is so big you know it's a problem that all of us have that I actually had f eleven can't get it all in time to try a thirteen see what we got going on here focal point right on the edge and with your macro a lot of times your mackerel likes to hunt and pack you have to sort of sometimes I'll switch it over to manual and manually focus sometimes I just get so angry that I paid money for glass and I wanted to focus on its own so I will mumble under my breath focus focus focus it doesn't always listen when I tried to make a go auto today there we go let's see what we got think maybe we got a reflection this time and we did so you can see I've got my dark background because when I expose for the ring it's got some light on it so everything else goes dark everything that's in the foreground in background the little beads that are in the front or about two inches away the beads in the back or about four inches away it gives me a graphic element in the front a graphic element in the back I put the moss on top to block if I decided to go a little higher it'll block naomi from the black ground so that you won't see the person sitting on the other side of it and there's ring shot number one it was very hard if you'll notice I actually notice in the top left there's kind of a really blown out spot. The facets of this diamond are really hard to get in and try one more. We don't always have this luxury on the wedding day to be able to change the bride's other ring, but just to show you and if something like that happens, if I've got one part that no matter where I angle it it's still flat, maybe I'll fix it in post, maybe I'll just bring the highlights down, maybe all pull that vessel from the other side and pasted on top, but I try to get it in camera as absolute best as I can. So when we switched to another ring, just a show in the same scenario single shot, so we got there you go as you'll notice I am at f thirteen, but you still have your out of focus foreground and you're out of focus background because you're shooting with a macro and into another ring shot set up, get rid of my moth, get rid of the hilarious ness that I'm making. I'm sort of doing kind of ah getter job of cleaning up, but if this were the client's room, I would clean this meticulously and by I I mean my assistant, so sometimes I'll just grab stuff and move it around and I'll see if there's any way that what I'm grabbing might work, maybe it will maybe it won't maybe it'll look really stupid what I d'oh so I've got this again this sort of high end candle here you know flickering on and off which is gonna be really awesome when I try to expose that one and then I just put the brides garter in front of it and the reason the garter is in front of it is I want to have a textural element in the background I want the light to peek through just a little bit but I have to pull the ring off of the background the reason why I want to show this to you if I put the ring really close to the background at f thirteen and I shoot it like so you get down here focus focus. Okay, so take a look at the closest of the background to the actual image. Understanding of course. Yes it's under exposed I do see that but I'm just trying to show you that you can really see the lace even f thirteen because it's practically write upon it so I'm gonna pull it out off of the bat drop, adjust my exposure accordingly go back to the other one that's really shiny I like the relation anyone okay so then I've pulled it almost a foot off of the background. We're gonna have the same problem that we had before where the, um, without one little basil is going to be a little insane because this client had way too much money and bought way too fancy a ring and it's got way too many facets in it. So then once you pull it off of your background, you have something like such let's see how I did with fixing the exposure there? There you go, the difference in relationship between the background there in the background in the prior image, I have simply pulled it three inches away from the background, but you have a completely different foreground background relationship even at f thirteen and I can come in like this switch to the other one will just keep trading them out. I'll pull a nice, tiny sweet one right here, but this is lovely again come in on it because I'm shooting a vertical I'm going to move my censor, my focus point um so that the focus point goes directly on top of the prongs that's holding the diamond in place because even at f thirteen, if you focus and recomposed too much using a macro, you're goingto lose focus on what you've got, we're gonna sit here and let the macro think about it for a second before it decides that I need to focus it there we go nice and clean fix the exposure just right let's see what we've got here lovely and perfectly in focus I pulled the ring even further away from the brat ground so you can see that the lace in the background becomes a completely you know indeterminant shape the further that it goes back now if you want to do something like that but you want more of a foreground element let's take this why don't we shoot through this? This is literally just it's like a five dollar garter it's crazy but I'm gonna stack it up to make like a shape that I can shoot through leaving that candle there see if I like this when you go back to my stack of you know what I'm gonna put this here in the interest of time to give myself something going on back there come here lacey thing here we go sometimes I have twenty minutes to play with the ring sometimes have an hour sometimes at five minutes and everything in between there we go sometimes my assistant has to help me hold things so one and so forth so let's see what we've got here go a little macro go at f thirteen still an eightieth of a second see what that looks like huh? There you go so as you can see there's no major like crazy trick that I'm doing to get these ring shots you can see exactly what's happening right here the background has a light texture because of the veil the foreground has an interesting element that is out of focus because even it f thirteen with a macro it's going to be out of focus and you can see the ring is like three inches from the garter which is five six inches from the veil nice and clean and simple very easy so that's how I would kind of get through the rings I'll shoot her ring by itself I'll shoot all the rings stacked up if I have a second to put them all together um that's what? I will always start with the ring because I want to get it right back into her hand as fast as I possibly can questions about these you guys are feeling good how's the internet feeling dinner not happy yes, the internet is very happy is internet have any questions for me there? You know, asking a lot about love focus but I think you know if you wantto keep going, teo, whatever you're comfortable with and I can continue talking about focus a little bit um because it I mean it is a major major thing when it comes to ring shot um like I said half the time I'll let my camera do auto focus half the time it can't find the prongs or something to focus on and it tries to focus inside the stone of the ring if it does that it irritates me I'll switch it over to manual it's not the fault of the linds it's just the scenario in the thing that you're shooting there are all these dazzling facets especially when I started working with glitter then it kind of loses its mind so I'll switch it over to manual and let it manually focus um again at f thirteen f sixteen your diamond is going to be focused all the way through we're feeling good were they feeling good I think so I think okay that helps I know it's always such a trick with the ring shots where eggs exactly to focus it really is and so I'll move the focal point around so that it's literally on like the prongs that holds the diamond into the ring and as if you're at two point eight three four you're gonna have the prawn and focus and nothing else because of the magnification of the macro I usually started f nine eleven if this stone is bigger f sixteen if maybe not the stone is huge but there's a lot going on like their side stones and so forth um and then you just adjust is needed there is no harm in chipping and zooming in to see of what you're getting is what you need

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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Gear List.pdf

Susan Stripling Presentation Slides

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.