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Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 13 of 33

Shoot: Getting Ready - The Dress

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

13. Shoot: Getting Ready - The Dress

Lesson Info

Shoot: Getting Ready - The Dress

A lot of the problems at weddings arise from um and I'm about to completely insult you people even though you've done nothing wrong to you whatsoever going in bridesmaids that have been in weddings before or I have spent way too much time on pinterest think that they're being helpful when they tried to tell you what to do and it is endlessly unhelpful they'll turn the lights on, they'll smile at you all the time like when you're trying to get a picture of the bride getting ready, they're just like as they do it and I just stay very cool about it I'm like, you know, thank you so much for the suggestion er you don't have to look at me look at her, you know, please you know, I have this moment together on dh there they're not being jerks they're just trying to be helpful, but they also generally don't know what I'm trying to accomplish every once in a while if they're really, really pushy about what they want me to dio I will take my camera and actually show them the back of it and be lik...

e, no, no it's gorgeous see and I'll turn it around and usually they're like, oh wow that's like that's really, really pretty and I'm like, yeah, I know it's cool, so we have our lovely cast of characters today and if she were actually at the stage that was talking about before, which is where she's got the dress kind of held up but it's not zip and we want to do sort of the last remnants of that I'm gonna bring you over here uh uh uh fight the window here I'm to get this chair out of the way if I can hand this over to some body so all you're going to do and this is exactly how I would talk to my client on the wedding day is that all you're gonna do is just come stand right here and you can look anywhere you want as long as it's not at me somebody get these things out of her way so that it's not there we go so she's gonna come up but just little bit a little bit more perfect and so then I'm gonna move the train out of the way because everyone panics about stomping on the train and clients don't understand they don't they don't know that if you step on there dress with a barefoot, you're not going to make it incredibly dirty and you also have to remember this is the first time they've done this and they're really, really nervous so I try to, you know, show my clients a little extra grace and respect at this point in time in the day because if they're going to be a big ball of nerves now is when they're going to be a big ball of nerves not after the ceremony, not at the reception when they're getting in their dress and they're getting ready to go so we have her mother who's going to help her get ready on a note about that I always ask, you know, moms and bridesmaids to get dressed before she gets ready it doesn't matter to me I think the pictures are beautiful either way, but the few times that I've let bridesmaids or mom's help them get ready when they weren't dressed themselves, they look back at the pictures and they're like, oh, I wish I'd been in my dress for those, so I'll give them a little bit of a warning like, hey, we're about to get her dressed in like, fifteen minutes do you want to go ahead and put your address on? And they're like, hey, let's, go do that. First of all, it kind of gets them away from the bride while she's kind of nervous and then when they help her get dressed they're like they're gorgeous. So what usually happens is that you're just gonna come in here and just pretend like you're zipping her up and, you know, playing with the three pleats that are going on in the back right there her mom's gonna come in and she's gonna help her and then I'm gonna grab one of the bridesmaids either of the bridesmaids and say, you know what? Just come over here and just talk to her because otherwise this poor girl is left staring at the wall and she's nervous and she has nobody to talk to so anybody either of you just come right where I am climb over the bed I'm just gonna talk to her like, hey, how are you doing? Just trying to keep her calm and then what inevitably happens is the bride's maid that that's left tries to help like this, right? Or she'll come over here next to her mom and be like this and I always tell them like, listen, if your buddies to me, I'm shooting your butt and they're like, oh my god, no and then they got to get out of the way and if they do start kind of because they're not conscious of mia's, they shouldn't be conscious of me. If they start sort of really moving out of position, my assistant will gently step in and put them back or I'll step in and put them back, but usually I'm crouched in a corner or on the other side of the bed or like smushed in a doorway and it's easier for me to look at sandra and be like and she'll come in and be like okay, can you? I'm so sorry do you mind? Can you just turn this way and we'll just kind of nudge them out of the way and then they're like, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry and they keep going to what they're doing sometimes you have clients that can't help but stare atyou because they just don't know any better they know that this is we're photographing this part of the day we must obviously look at her so they'll do something and then they look at you and then I'll do something. Hannah look at you and the bad part about that in this lighting is because it is so specific when they look at me, their faces completely in shadow first, but we don't want them to look at me and second of all, I don't like what the light does when they do look at me and this isn't about me. What I'm trying to do is I'm trying to set the scene and put them in the most beautiful light possible for them to have the moments on their own. So after I've put them here and I let them do their thing, I get I get the heck out of the way and just let them go, so if she's gonna cry, she'll cry, but if I'm right here, she's not going to emote because my cameras two seconds away from her face it's going to be very uncomfortable so I like long lenses because of the compression of the lens and when shooting a getting ready I'm going to be a long as I possibly can but part of it's because of the compression part of it's because I want to get out of there space so I've got the twenty four to seventy on leave it on for a couple of shots here we'll come right over here and just fuss with her and you have to talk to each other is fine can you come in behind her mom and you guys just you know her bridesmaids that she's also meeting for the first time it's a very perplexing wedding so don't even look at me you can just look right at her and you guys just talk to each other and have a good time can you step a little closer in tow her just like a little keep feeling can it stop perfect and as you'll notice as she stepped a little closer to the edge of the curtain, the light became a little bit brighter on her face and a note about outside it's not crazy sonny it's a little overcast we don't have gusts of sunshine coming in through but it still works because it's nice and bright outside or it's brighter outside than it is in here sort of take a look at what just happened and I'm gonna talk to you briefly about my settings, so I'm shooting this I am at one hundred sixty eighth of a second at two point eight I had under exposed the image a rolled my exposure compensation down by a stop thinking that that would be enough to bring the exposure of the image down and let that light really stand out on her faith. However it's not enough I would shoot something like this five years ago and be like, you know, that's good, but it's just not maybe as dramatic as I would've liked, so I'll shoot a few frames with my twenty four to seventy just as I wass and then I'll reach for my other camera. I'm switching lenses, but I usually have two different camera bodies. I only have one because as I said before, I'm shooting tethered, then I'm going to go toe like one point eight and I'm going to focus mostly on the bride so just and again her mom keeps looking at me, go ahead and look at her on and you can get can actually come in a little closer to her, yeah, and just messed with the back of her dress, so now I'm going to focus mostly on the bride and the lovely bridesmaid that she's talking to and her mother ha ha ha ha ha! All right, you're good you can take a break on that one for a second and so you can see even though I've changed lenses I haven't changed my settings at all I think I actually bumped my exposure compensation down like a quarter of a stop I get a twitchy thumb and sometimes I knock it without even paying attention but it's the same light it's the same quality of light it's hitting them in exactly the same way it's the same concept of exposure whether you're at one eight whether you're f four whether you're with a twenty four to seventy whether you're all the way down the hall shooting through the open door with the seventy two, two hundred my philosophy behind the lighting and the settings stays the same are these pictures good? Yeah, they're fine you were they what I would deliver to the clients, of course are they phenomenal competition? Were the images? No, but not every image you take is going to be a competition where the image and not every getting ready issued is going to be the best getting ready you've ever shot, but for a room that looks like this in a space like this, I feel like that's a pretty solid, pretty solid out take on we're talking about all of these things talking about my settings talking about white balance a little bit I'm actually on cloudy white balance right now as a nikon shooter when the light is mainly natural light, I'm generally almost always on cloudy even outside during a sunny day if you are a cannon shooter, if you try to shoot on cloudy, it generally tends to render a little redder or a little more magenta so you might want to experiment with your other settings a little bit and see which one kind of helps you warm the image up a little bit. My image is also ah get a little extra love and you'll get to see ah lot of the images that I'm shooting today if you come back on sunday, I outsource my raw files to a team called sidecar post and they're going to pull a lot of the images that you see me shooting throughout the day and take you through the workflow of how we give them, you know, a little extra loving to make them the final image that I delivered to my client, but honestly, what you see on the screen of the three of these women together is very, very close to the final image that I will deliver to my client because when I'm striving to do all day long is get it as right as absolutely possible in the camera, so before we move on with any, how are we feeling we have a number please, of meaning from what if you're in a room with no natural light so that's a big that exceptionally fun before we answer some questions you three could take a break, you can take a break too, but you're coming back in just a second, so you don't have to just stand there and stare at me although that's very much like a wedding day it's really fantastic when you try to take a break to think about something and you see that everybody is looking at you a little bit unnerve ng so if I have a room with absolutely no natural light in it whatsoever for the most part during the makeup phase of the day during the hair phase of the day, maybe I'll use a little video light to emulate some window light and I'll hold it exactly where I would want the window to be. I know I mentioned yesterday and I'll work with it a little bit later today and the reception section my video light is the ice light, and the reason why I picked the ice light is because it does emulate window light very, very well. However, no matter how good your video light it's not going to look like a window, so when it reaches the point where she's getting ready, I'll ask if I could take her somewhere else any worlds like, if we were in this room and there were no windows at all, I would let her get to the point where she was just now, I would even probably let her zip it up, and then I would go find another room like, do you mind if we go too over by the front door? Do you mind if we go into the library of the church that has a window like, can we even maybe step outside if it's a possibility to do the last little portions so that I could just make it a little more photogenic? And again, this isn't for me, I'm not trying to make these amazing because I want to be like, pleased with myself as a photographer, I want the clients to be thrilled with their images, and I know they really liked the getting ready pictures that I take, and I want to make them as beautiful as possible for them, so if you can, if you get there and you realize that you're getting ready, room is really not what you want. Take a second and go scout the rest of the space or ask your assistant to go sow the rest of the space if your assistant has worked with you for a while as mine has, she knows what I'm looking for, so she'll go, forcing out another spot you just answered the follow up question. What was how do you provide variety in a room? You know, if there's low light, if there's exactly, we try to move to another room. And I also have to remember the getting ready portion of the day is only a small fragment of the day. So I'm not going to go totally crazy trying to make a million different images in here because I know that we're going to move on to many, many, many more things during the day. Any additional questions we have anybody of you have or more from paul thomas. He would like to know, um, how you control this kind of lighting situation in these rooms when working with videographers. Maybe who have a different vision for the light that they would like, you know, that's, a hot topic. I like how he politely said different vision provisions, just like the really polite way of saying is a total jerk with lights from monday night football, huh? Okay, there is the answer that I can give you and then there's the answer that actually happens in the heat of the moment. Um, are you literally just broke me out into a cold sweat this early in the morning, for the most part, it's? Partly starts with managing your client expectations, right? So as we're talking about the day as we're talking about the planning of the day and even usually is we're talking very early on in the process. I asked, are you considering videography for your wedding day? And if you are of you booked a videographer already, and usually they say no, because most of the time they've booked the photographer before the videographer unless they're working with, like a really high end videographer or somebody like really, really in demand, and there are three or four a video teams that sometimes they'll get booked before I am, which is partly helpful because, you know, ok, they've already booked adam of penny lane in new york, I know his start price, I know that will probably be pretty comparable, and I also know that adam and I work very, very, very well together, but what happens more often than not is they don't hire a videographer and they don't think they're going to, and then it gets toe like six weeks before the wedding and their mom for their future mother in law or somebody says they really need video, so they're like, well, we just hired this team for fifteen hundred dollars, but don't worry, they said they'll stay out of your way of course they said they're going to stay out of my way they said that so that you'd hire them they have no intention of staying out of my way whatsoever and there are some teams that are extraordinarily respectful and they work hand in hand with you very very well but for the most part it's like they're nice to you until you get started and then it's every man for themselves and I never understand that vendor power play it doesn't make any sense at all like were all there to make a final product for the clients why are you trying to one up me what are you going to get out of that at all so I'll try to talk to them about okay well you know your videographer you know if you haven't hired one yet this is how I recommend you go looking for one you know make sure that you asked him the same questions you're asking me even though you know photography and videography or a different medium you need to see if they're going to approach the day the same way you need to see if they're going to start lighting up your rooms you know these are questions that I recommend that you ask them if it does one of those last minute things where they hire the cheap videographer that I've never heard of before I'll just say it well who are you going to be working with and then I'll reach out to them and be like, hi, I'm susan, I'm the photographer for the day, you know, before we start shooting, I you know, I'd love to get to know you a little bit. I'd like to hear a little bit about your approach so that I can make sure that we're you know, we're on the same page, and even if you do all of those things and all best laid plans happen and before she gets ready, this is my favorite, they always turn the lights on. I'm like, hey, can we just you know, can we turn the lights back off? Are they pop on a huge video light? And I'm like guys could be, like, dialled this down and they're like, no, we need this much light for our cameras. I'm thinking, first of all, your professional, why do you need this much light for your camera? And second of all, this is totally going to change the look of the images that I'm doing so all then first ask what can we get a couple of seconds with what you need? And then can we cut them off so that I can get what I need? And most of the time, they're like, oh my gosh, yeah, sure. So well, kind of go back and forth between them, turning the light on in getting what they need and me getting what I need. And when they turn the light, I'll try to figure out how I can use it to my advantage. If it really becomes a problem where there insistent on a light in every corner of the room and it's really going to change things, I'll have to go to the bride. And I understand that if I go to the bride, I have effectively torpedoed my relationship with that videographer and it's over for, like the rest of the day, because I just flung them right under the bus. But I have to be able to deliver what I'm going to deliver. So I'll go to the bride and I'll say, hey, listen, like, I need the light the way it is for you, getting ready. And there they've got all these lights up. I asked if they could turn them down, they really need them. Can you ask them to turn them down? And usually if they've hired me and spent what they're spending on me, and then they're spending fifteen hundred dollars or one thousand five hundred dollars on a videographer? I'm their priority. So the worst thing you could do with your relationship with the videographer is tohave the bride go, can you shut those off? Susan needs the light like this and then it's kind of like they think it's game on and we're just gonna fight for the rest of the day. I've had a videographer asked me if I wanted to take it outside before and I was like, really were going like rumble in the parking lot, but I give them every opportunity to be able to get what they want, and it is the absolute last ditch effort to have to talk to the client about them, which is horrible, and I hate doing it, but I'm not gonna let my images suffer under the bus. What am I going to do that have the client come back with the images and be like these really don't look like anything else you shot, I say, well, your videographer turned on all the lights. Like I don't care, I still wanted what I wanted you to shoot, so I have to protect my best interests. I'm tryingto, you know, preserve my relationships first, because we always joke that my assistant night, we have a couple of rules with wedding photography and rule number one is, don't be a jerk. It is, do not be a jerk to anybody, ever when the caterer comes out and they give you a rap for your meal that they made yesterday, and all you want to do is like, get up in a huff and throw it against the wall you go, thank you so much, thank you. And then when they leave, you throw it out. You pull out the peanut butter sandwich you brought with you, and you eat it, like will be dark it's, never, ever, ever going to serve you well, ever.

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.