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Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 22 of 33

Shoot: Reception - Details

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

22. Shoot: Reception - Details

Lesson Info

Shoot: Reception - Details

All right, so I want to talk to you guys a little bit about covering our reception before we begin actually covering reception and as you can see what I've asked for here is I want a very unfancied ae reception not because we're making fun of anything not because we're you know being sarcastic or snarky or anything like that but if I'm going to stand up here and I'm going to teach you about shooting the high end wedding it's not applicable to most of you that are actually watching this I don't shoot all high end weddings I'm not at extraordinarily fancy venues every single week where they up like the walls and pin spot the tables ah long of times this looks like exactly what I'm shooting and first things first if you walk into a reception room like this I just want to make it very clear that don't judge your clients maybe the decor is not important to them maybe they didn't have a budget for that maybe they spent that budget on you. I know a lot of photographers you know will complain ...

about oh well, they don't value the photography or oh, they don't have a budget for it, but isn't it awfully, you know, humbling in an enormous honor when you show up at a reception to find out that they've cut back on other things so that they can have you there and part of why I know that a lot of my clients hire me is because they know that I could make their scenario is beautiful no matter what they are so what we're going to start off with first is how I would generally start shooting our reception room and by that I mean the decor of the room now I can approach that in one of several ways if we have done the client's portrait before the ceremony I have all of cocktail hour to shoot cocktail hour and the reception room I go about that usually as such my assistant takes my d three with the twenty four to seventy millimeter lens on it and a nice simple flash right on camera and she will spend about twenty minutes going over to cocktail hour and asking the little groups that kind of joined together a cocktail hour hey guys gonna get a picture of you kind of get a picture of you on all we're really looking for us people putting their arms around each other and smiling directly at the camera now caught tell our is really fantastic for that because first of all everyone standing up they're talking to groups of people that they know really well, you know they're generally congregating in these groups for the first time they're standing up usually with just a drink in one hand maybe a tiny plate of food in the other and for me that's vastly preferable to trying to shoot that during the actual reception when they're sitting at tables maybe they have half eaten food in front of them media they want a picture with somebody but that somebody went to the bar or the bathroom or they're on a dance floor can't tell ours great to get those pictures kind of out of the way now if my assistant has gone to shoot cocktail hour she's not going to spend the whole time out they're just doing the group's over and over and over again she's gonna get a really great couple dozen what we like to call griffin grins of the people as there are kind of mingling and interacting and you know, smiling directly at her and then she's going to come join me in the reception room because she's going to help me light the tables now if there's pin spotting on the tables if the clients have opted to hire a lighting designer and light the tables and up light the walls maybe I don't even need her at all if the lighting is already there for me I'm not going to add any additional lighting on top of that but if the lighting on the tables isn't great or it's just not really there at all or the room's very dark or kind of flat I'm gonna want her to come back to me and help me light the tables so while she's in the other room working, maybe I'm taking a quick break. Maybe I'm assessing everything in the bag and figuring out if something needs to be reconfigured for the reception, and maybe I'm working through like, maybe the tiny macro details that I can shoot on the tables with the tea lights or the candles that air there waiting for her to come back in and help me out if we're doing the portrait's during cocktail hour, if the bride and groom don't want to see each other before the ceremony and we're doing the family formals and then the pictures of the bride and groom together, usually that means I've got about ten minutes to shoot the reception room if we're in a situation like that because I do not work with the second shooter and we'll talk a bit more about second shooter's tomorrow because I don't work with the second shooter if I'm not there to cover cocktail hour nobody's there to cover cocktail hour. I need my assistant with me to help me light and organize the family formals so she's going to stay with me instead of going to cocktail hour to shoot that. What that usually means is that there is no coverage of cocktail hour, and the clients know that they know that if they don't want to add on a second shooter to any of my collections, that if we're going to do portrait's during caught tell our one of the pros and cons they need to consider is whether or not they mind not having coverage of cocktail hour. Now the second shooter thing in the ability of nobody to be able to cover cocktail hour has lost me a few weddings, but it hasn't lost me enough weddings that I'm willing to change the entire way that I do things and out on a second shooter for the most part, I don't need one for the few clients that really want when they have the option to hire one, and for the clients who are desperately insistent that I have one and why I will not give it to them for free, they're going to find somebody else who works with a second shooter as a regular team and that's fine, you cannot please all of your clients, and you can't be everything to everybody, so sometimes you have to be okay to let things go if you're not willing to compromise on it, like bringing a second shooter when I don't normally, if I only have about ten minutes to shoot the reception room. Instead of being really meticulous and getting all of the details, we'll just come in, we'll shoot a couple of the tables, will shoot the cake, will try to get a wide angle of the room, and then we'll move on because they're generally going to be opening the room, then for guests to come in. If I haven't been able to cover cocktail hour when the guests are coming into the room that's usually a really good opportunity to hey, can I get a picture of you guys? Because a lot of times a woman's gonna walk in with her husband or two girlfriends from college, you're going to come in together and they're gonna be looking for their seats, and that gives you an opportunity to do those. Also, if we haven't covered caught, tell our I will try to make sure during the reception that I get a lot of good camera where pictures from the guest to round out the coverage, and if I know that that might become problematic. I do have a photo booth that I'll bring two weddings, and I'll suggest that clients up for the photo booth package because then they can go in and get a lot of grim grins of them together but we're going to assume that we've got some time to shoot this phenomenal upscale hi interception room and I'm going to show you what I would do in a scenario exactly like this to make the best pictures possible so without further ado let me talk to you about how I'm going to be set up let's assume that my assistant isn't caught tell our basically saying over and over and over again hey can I get a picture of you guys get a picture of you guys and I'm in here working through the reception room by myself I am going to shoot this exactly the same way that I would if she were in here with me on ly understanding that I have to shoot things that I can light the way that I want without her here so then we're going to assume that she's done with her duties and she's going to come in and help me out I have my seventy two two hundred as close to two hundred as possible on my defore now I understand that a seventy two two hundred is not necessarily something that a lot of people would think of as a camera that you're going to shoot a reception room with but I really like shooting reception rooms with it especially a room like this because I'm gonna try to use it to establish a sense of kind of grace and intimacy in the room and the compression of roland's is going to help me do that now, when I'm shooting a bridegroom together with a seventy two, two hundred, if I'm doing a ceremony or if I'm doing anything that has moving parts, I need to be very mindful of my shutter speed, but when I come into a reception room and I'm shooting things that aren't moving, I have an opportunity to bring my shutter speed down just a little bit so that my I s oh, khun, stay a little bit lower. I don't use a tripod for something like this, but I can't hand hold fairly low on an image like such as, I don't have to worry about a floral arrangement getting up and walking away. That would be weird. So could anybody you europe? All right, so I have a new assistant today. What I'm going to do is show you exactly how I would like the tables so silly bumped my ice light on and left it on for a really, really, really long time. So if we run out of battery, I have my other video light, but what I'm gonna have him do is turn this on at full power, and I'm going to show him exactly where I wanted. My assistant I have worked together long enough that she knows exactly where I'm gonna want the light to come from but every once in a while she can't come to a wedding with me so I have to rely on an assistant that I don't work with as much in that case I'll just tell her exactly where I need her to be so what? I want you to turn this on love this and you're just going to come right like that with it so you can already see with your naked eye the difference between no light and the difference with light to turn it off to turn it on just hold the button down for a couple of seconds to just wait for just a minute now just a note about shooting into the tables I'm gonna shoot this flower arrangement that's on the table right when I shoot this flower arrangement that's on the table I don't really like that there's water glass is all over the place and the huge bane of my existence we were actually laughing about earlier is those little pats of butter on those little teeny plates that show up in all of my pictures so I will actually rearrange the table just a little bit if I have tio bearing in mind that I always want to put it back I don't want to be the photographer that's ruined the table set up and that makes the planner or that the venue really really mad at me back to rule number one don't be a jerk all right so I'm gonna come in here and I'm just gonna grab these water glasses and just screw him out of the way thankfully creative live did not torture me with many little butters on many little plates so you go ahead and throw that light up on that flower arrangement and I'm gonna come down here that's absolutely perfect right there and I'm gonna get down nice and low good because there is a strong light on it I am goingto under expose or role my exposure compensation down by nearly a stop to compensate for the brightness of the light I'm gonna fire one time we're gonna take a look at what I've done and see if it looks any good so we take a look at this picture right now you know it's pretty okay however you look at the quite flowers in the floral arrangement and you can realize that I've blown that out just a little bit it's a little bit too bright it's a little bit more than what I want so I'm going to try that shot one more time I'm going to bring my exposure compensation down another half to two thirds of a stop and see what I've got moving tables and chairs all over the place good that light's perfect thank you we'll take a quick look, see what we've got, see if I was able to actually improve the exposure and as you can see, I was able to improve the exposure much better, much more detail in the whites now talking about the settings I have kept it at two point eight the reason being I really don't want to emphasize the background because you can actually just dial it offer just second thank you. The background is just a wall, it's nothing fancy it's not an element that means anything to the bride and groom it's nothing that I really desperately need thio havin the image it's actually something that I kind of like to detract from in the it's it's detracting from what I'm trying to dio so the combination of my seventy two, two hundred as long as I possibly can the light on the flowers, which emphasize the flowers and diminishes the background and the compression of the long lens and the two point eight, as I've mentioned before, helps your I go directly to those flowers and then when I'm done the second I'm done, the water glasses go back exactly where they were and I move away we have on ly broken one thing one time, and it was because I was trying teo scoot a floral arrangement out of the way a little bit to a table shot that I've been asked to do and I didn't realize that the large centerpiece was really just a pillar with a bowl sitting on it not attached to it in any way so when we tried to move it you can imagine whatever you can imagine happened is exactly what happened and that went really really well so if you're going to try to move a centerpiece or you're going to try to pick something up we're going to try to touch something make sure you're not gonna break it on I highly highly highly recommend you don't try to move the cake so we are however going to shoot the cake so if I were shooting my way through the room I've shot this table right here I don't need to shoot that table two it looks exactly like this table however if I want to give you a sense of you know what it's like to be in the room maybe we want to stack the tables on top of each other and shoot them together not literally so what I'm going to do in a situation like that? Can I borrow you with my light again if you don't mind I'm just going to scoot this one gently out of the way that's hot water which is really bizarre gonna light it from right here I'm gonna move my tether I'm gonna come right here so when you do is I'm going to make sure that I positioned myself so that I can see that table and a smidgen of the table behind it. So I come over here and I realized my water glass is once again in my way, so I'm gonna scoot this just a little bit. I could have shot it without moving the water glass, but then I wouldn't have really been able to see the floral arrangement behind because I was trying to crop it out. So here we go and fire and lovely take a look at the exposure it's still dead on because I'm using the exact same exposure that I was using from the image before, where the lighting was exactly the same. Now what I was talking about with linds compression yesterday, how it makes you feel like your background is write up on you when you're working in a reception room where the tables are pretty far apart, it's a really nice strict to make it seem like the tables are more intimately close together, which is a very nice thing. So then we're gonna move on to shoot something like the cake when you shoot a couple different things, actually so let's dio whom I gotta think about it for a second actually have an idea. We'll see if it's a very good idea or not so we're going to assume that the bride and groom spent a lot of money and a lot of time finding these tasting flutes so where you take a picture of them and I'm going to actually come over here but I'm gonna come over there by going this way because what's really interesting over here is that there is a lovely set of doors over there okay and light so what I'm gonna have him do with this don't come over here come on, you would too don't look at me like that gonna hold it right here like this like so so I'm going to get the light in the glass but I want it coming from a little bit of an angle and I'm gonna come over here haven't fallen down yet in these tethers so we're good with that lean across the table here if I can get close enough can you bring the light a little closer in like closer to it? Yeah perfect thank you good oh there it is lovely let's see how that looks that's beautiful. However, if I'm going to be super duper mega mega picky as I am, I'm not pleased with this take a look at that image and I realized that what I would really people used with would be if they were both in that door and as I was talking about yesterday being very aware of your background, I'm bothered that one of them is perfectly in the middle of that stain glass door, and one of them isn't now I understand there are actually two pictures to be made here. One is putting them against the staying last door like so little bit again a little bit closer. Yeah, that's absolutely perfect, thank you very much like this one image where I've moved the glass so that they're both a little bit more in the centre of what's going on or if I actually step over to the side and put a different background behind it, I just want to show the difference between the two images very, very, very different the images air actually in exactly the same spot I haven't moved the glasses at all. I've simply changed what my background is, and what I want you to see here too is that when I changed my background to attempt to make it darker, I needed to change my exposure as well. Let's put a little bit more light in there, that's perfect, thank you. So I'm going to take my exposure compensation and roll it down almost two and a half stops and fire and see what we've got well, there we go. So you can see very, very, very clearly the difference between the first shot against that wall and the second shot against that wall is simply a matter of correcting your exposure and all that's going on here if you can see over there it's not even a black wall it's kind of ah six sort of beige color but it's still too, really fantastic when you pushed that light in from behind and you could see exact where he's standing he's not standing terribly far away. You can actually now that I see it up close, you can see the ice light in it a little bit. Um, I could always have him back off just a hair. If that really bothered me, I think it looks a bit like a catch light, so I sort of like it, but it's exactly the same spot I was standing in exactly the same area yet it's much more dramatic in the image on the right because I adjusted my exposure and got it right. We're going to move on and do one more thing before we actually let people come to their party. This's exactly what I would actually be doing on a wedding day. I just wouldn't be telling it to you while I was doing it so let's try and make a really interesting picture of a cake shall we say the answer is yes we totally shall thank you helpful okay, so let's say you take some champagne and I'm gonna bring it over here well that's gonna be pretty sweet I'm moving the plate because absolutely no food is on it whatsoever if there was a salad on it I would of course never pick it up and put it on a chair like that but I have absolutely no problem in coming in here and moving some chargers around if I can then put them back when I'm done so because I'm gonna be shooting through here directly into this cake can you come over here and at full power hold the ice lie about right there like straight up and down your master do you feel a little like a jet I like a little it's it's true I hear you laughing but you would be doing it too if you had one so then I'm gonna come over here drag my little leash with me I'm gonna take a look through these glasses that I have set up here and adjust my angle and see if this is going to give me what I'm looking for which it might or it might not there's only one way to find out let's take a look go actually a little closer with the light if you don't mind like really really really there we go good yeah yeah yeah this is a difficult room, my friends preferably I'd have some tea lights that I could also work with here, which would be pretty sweet. They're a little lower to the table, but again, all I'm doing with something like this is I'm attempting to block out some of the background that might not necessarily be the best. We've basically just got a sheet hanging from the wall here, which is not entirely dissimilar from the backdrop of a lot of sweetheart tables, but I always try to make sure if I'm shooting something a little, maybe a little funky, I want to get my nice, clear shot as well, so I'm going to have you stand right here and just like the cake some using my seventy two hundred trying to get eye level with the table instead of shooting down into it, I'm going to try to get cake level student just a hair closer there you go, perfect, no crazy exposure, nothing fancy, just a nice clean picture of a cake cake the end all I'm trying to do here is make a clean exposure I am neither compensating up nor compensating down because I balanced my light closely enough with that what's actually going on that I could just shoot it straight up as it is, and this is basically how I would cover shooting a room the only thing that I would do at the very end if I absolutely had the chance would be to clear everybody out of the room and get a wide angle lens and simply shoot into the room now if I shoot into the room I'm not going to use any supplemental lighting because that one light is really only gonna light one table and I don't want to light one table if everything else is is going teo be lit differently you can have a seat thank you very much before we move on before we bring people in and actually start our two o'clock in the afternoon party any questions from the viewers here oh boy yes ma'am yes sir uh do you shoot the place settings sure if there are some okay yeah like what if it was a simple is this if it's a simple is this no okay I mean there's no it's not a picture you know there's there's nothing to shoot if it's just a charger on the table like this I can tell it's probably not really a huge priority of theirs so I'm not going to shoot it unless it has like a menu laying on it and then I'll use the light in the same way that I was using it tio shoot them in you but if it's something a little bit more elaborate I'll stand up on the chair and I'll actually shoot down onto the table to get, you know, if there's a charger and then a plate, and then an invitation or than a menu, and then of this and that, and that I'll get up and I'll look down onto it so that I could shoot the whole thing. Michelle, um so what would you do let's say, you had colored up lighting and, like the I slight or any kind of video light is very blue? Or what would you do anything about that? Are you okay with that? Usually, and I'm on auto white balance right now what I'm going to do because I am going to take over all of the room, even if it isn't the most artistic one, I'm going to take it on auto so that I can show my post production team was that I could use is a reference at home what the room really looked like, so if they're looking at my eye slit thing and everything is kind of funky colored in the background, and then they look at my overall and they're like, okay, those lights are meant to be purple, then great, the worst ones, or the ones that change, right, right, and there's, just not much you can do, except just pick the color balance that looks pretty or black and white was getting, you know, I don't black and white my reception shots like like these because obviously I'm trying to show off what the color of this space looks like. Yes, ma'am, you have a systematic approach like you come in and you say, okay, big shot, little shot or does he just kind of really usually it's okay, let see what's going on if they've got a lot going on, we'll go macro first, then we'll go seventy two, two hundred bigshots, always the last one, and those locations where you have, you know, a lot of brides are doing where there's, mma, jillion things in the one table like, you know, uh, do you, like, photographed each single detail in every table? If I have time, I will. And if they have indicated that it's incredibly important to them, I will if not, I'll just for photograph, maybe a couple and then the whole thing together, yes. So speaking of large shots, like a room shot let's say you wanted to do something that would feature the venue, as well as all the details that they put into it. I've had situations where family started trickling in already or the elderly were already seated. You know, what do you do? Honestly, if people have already come in and they've started sitting down or I can't clear the wait staff out or I can't do anything about it, I'll shoot it anyhow, mostly to just show the clients that I shot it, but then I'll go back later, and I'll do like a long exposure off the room with everybody dancing on all of the tables lit up, and then that kind of accomplishes the same thing, just in a different sort of take questions from our friends on the internet. We have so many my body okay already, so we're going to start back at the workflow level. Are all these shots taken before people are in the room? And what do you do if it's in a very crowded room, the only way you can really shoot what I was just showing you as if there aren't many people in the room like it's going to be really hard to shoot a picture of a centerpiece if the table is already full and I will shoot weddings were like the ceremony and the reception or like cocktail hour in the reception or in the same room. And then obviously, you can't shoot things like this, but that's something that you need to communicate to your client's beforehand if you're having cocktail hour in the room that your reception is going to be in it's going to be really hard for me to get any shots of your tables without people at them, okay? Yeah, and we've got a question from sarah, eh? Hey, um, do you use your isolate when you're working with candle centerpieces, which you seem to do a lot says if if the candle centerpieces are minuscule, yes, because I'll need it to help, you know, I needed to help light up the whole thing, but if the candles are enough that they're lighting the table on their own that I will not. Okay? And what is your thought processes for finding the right lighting to balance the entire scene with the candle centerpieces, anything more than what you just know how much, exactly just what I'm doing, okay, you know, a lot of times with candle centerpieces, you know, maybe if we're using the isolate, it won't be so close it might be backed off a little bit to let the candles kind of saying I'm not trying to overdo them, but unless there are enough candles using only the candle is still going to make the image very dark. Okay and one more quest of course it please okay so from andy uh do you ever use filters to adopt the color temperature of the late no okay and why or why not? Because I just don't I mean to be perfectly honest I know a lot of people who do and they like it it's just not something that I ever felt very comfortable with and not because I didn't know how to use them thank you very much but because I was just I just never really liked the look it always looked a little filtered to me so I'm always trying to do my best to balance in camera and adjust as necessary and post I feel like adjusting your color balance in post is not quite the same thing is totally blowing an exposure and then fixing it in post it's kind of a different animal altogether so I mean this room is a white balance joy right now like this is there is a whole lot going on in here at the moment so you know hopefully some of these images will be pulled back on sunday bye sidecar so that they can show you howto accurately represent the room okay input and one more question on and then we're going to bring in the party yes and we don't want to stop the party how that's a party going on here is a very mild party I'm just letting you know um villas if there's no fancy ice late what would you use any ideas? Can I show you yes please and I understand you know the ice light is a little bit of an investment and it's not necessarily an investment that everybody wants to make sure that everybody can make and I am begging you please don't pull out your credit card to buy a nice light if you can't afford it save your money until you can you can do really exciting things like go on the internet and googled cheap video light and you'll end up with something like this showed it to you guys yesterday I got it on amazon dot com not not real great it's crickets cracked first of all um the battery uh compartment fell off the back it was also thirty nine ninety nine there you go but honestly you're going to get light from it it's just not quite going to be the same color temperature as the other light but you know what if you've got thirty nine, ninety nine and you don't mind spending an extra second color balancing there's nothing wrong with this this this fine totally fine is the ice light better sure I mean I think it is I think it's worth the additional investment but if you don't have the money, why not? And if I break this or lose it, I don't feel quite as bad exactly

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.