Incredible Engagement Photography


Lesson Info

Shoot: Sparklers and Spray Bottle

Okay, so let's combine a couple things. What I wanna do is actually use the backlight, and I have a thought in my head. What if we used the backlight, sprayed some water in the air, backlit the water with an orange gel so it kinda matches the same color temperature of the sparklers, 'cause the sparklers are pretty dang orange, and we shot this again with that, with the light and stuff in the, like, it would look all epic. I don't know. I've never done this before. Let's just try it. Okay. Do I get a round of applause for, like, being ballsy on Creative Live? (applause and whoops) We're doing this live, guys. Okay. We'll put that light there. You got this thing pumping? Is it spraying, like, a mist? Yeah. Oh yeah. Let's get that. There we go. (man yelps) Sorry. It's gonna happen in a second anyway. Let's just... Okay. So I want it to go up and, like, I want it to be basically, like, over, like, this. Like, you're gonna do this, Jay. Kinda do this, like, so it's kinda over their heads, a...

nd let's not hit the camera in the back. That'd be bad. And let's just do a... Ooh, I actually got you with that last one, didn't I? Okay. Put this on. Are you guys as excited to see what this does as I am? I'm like a little kid right now. This is gonna be cool. Okay. Let's just do a... So let's get you guys in position. So close up against each other. Let's do the foreheads touching, 'cause that's simple and easy, and then... And scoot a little bit this way, guys. Right there. Perfect. And let me just see here... Let me see, you know what? That flash is gonna be a... We raised the flash, didn't we? That's what we did. I'm gonna lower it just a little bit so it sits behind him a little better. That's about right. Okay. Now I kinda wanna see if it's a little bit brighter, 'cause right now we still kept the same settings, which are fairly bright. I wanna see if I kind of like that, okay? So let's do a little bit of water spray. Ooh, I like that. Now spray. Ooh, I like that. Okay. Hold on. Where's my sparklers? Oh, there we go. (laughs) Feels so incredibly powerful when I pull every one of these out. Boom. Boom. (woman speaking off mic) Before we light. Before we light. So would those droplets show up if you didn't have the gel on them? Oh, that's what you guys were oohing about. Yeah, ooh. That was the boom. That's kinda cool. Oh, that was your boom. That was the boom! I thought it was 'cause I pulled out a sparkler. Sorry, what were you saying? If there was no gel... Yeah. ...would you not see those water droplets because it wouldn't be orange? If there was no gel, they would just be blue. Oh. But you'd still be able to see 'em. They'd just be blue. So I'm just, I'm matching. So this comes out with a very orange color temperature, so I'm leaving it orange so it kind of looks like everything's one cohesive orangeness, you know what I mean? Light it up, baby. (laughs) This room instantly becomes more fun when a sparkler's on. (audience laughs) It's incredible. All right, guys. This is a world's first right here. Okay, spray on. Relax. I got a shot in here that looks pretty cool, guys. You're gonna dig it. (high-pitched) What? What? Wow. What? One more time. Let's go a little wider. Let's get a little more of this action. You guys are gonna tell me when I'm getting too close to burning my lens, right? Everyone's, like, quiet and it's, like, stuck on my lens. (audience laughs) All right, guys. Hold that right there. And spray. That's freaking cool. Sometimes I impress myself. (audience laughs) Cool? So what's happening with the flash right now? You guys know? Why is it turning off on those? I'm gonna come touch people if you don't start answering my questions. (audience members speaking without mic) It's not recycling fast enough. All right, good. It's not recycling fast enough. So how can we fix that with keeping everything the same? I'm just gonna raise my ISO up to 100, I'm gonna bring my shutter speed up to one 200th of a second. I'm also going to now reduce the flash power to one sixteenth. Okay, we kept everything the same. The sparkler effect is gonna be a little bit more minimized because now our shutter speed's faster, right? So I'm just gonna shot a little bit more of the sparkler in the frame as I shoot it. Go ahead and spray. Keep the eyes closed, guys. Perfect. Relax. I wanna put it out, but then it's kind of a waste, right? So let's just let it burn. (audience laughs) No? Isn't that cool? And doesn't it look like these two effects now kinda work together, right? We just created two different effects that actually make a cohesive photograph. Yes. Pye now has a new nickname, which is Pye the pyro. (audience laughs) Pyro. Yes. I've never heard that before. I'm sure you haven't. That's a new one. I like it. As I spin around my flame wand. Ow, fudge! All right. Let's put this away now. (audience laughs) Got it. (applause) All right. Okay. Cool. We didn't catch anything on fire, which was awesome. I'm so happy about that. What have we got... Any questions so far? This is a good time for questions. Do you wanna, do you have a mic? How long do your sessions typically take? So we usually do... Our signature session is a three-hour portrait session. That's a great question, by the way. It's a three-hour portrait session. We build it into the pricing, so a three-hour portrait session with me would be anywhere between two and $ depending on how they want to stylize the shoot. I don't, like, when you are... When you get to a certain point, you choose the shoots that you wanna do. If they want a standard session and they come to us, they book an associate. If they want something kinda crazy, we just have something ready and available for them that they can go and book. So it's a three-hour session. The associate ones start around, like, 800. They go up to, like, 1500. And the partners, around 1500 to 3000. And then what that includes is basically, like, all the basic stylizing to get to whatever thing we're shooting, basically. Sometimes there's a little bit of stylizing, sometimes there's more, and that's what affects the price of it. But three hours is generally enough to shoot downtown or to shoot at the beach or to shoot at, you know, and get a few different places, like we're gonna shoot at, like, two, three different locations, maybe even do a wardrobe switch, get a bunch of great, like, regular kind of traditional shots, and then also work into, like, dynamic, really cool dramatic shots, and that's a good amount of time. We've found that the shorter sessions, like, we used to do one-hour sessions, and it was at the park, and it was just to get a couple photographs, and we couldn't really deliver the kinda style and thing that we wanted to with a shorter session. So average is three. I just did a six-hour one on Friday where we go to two major locations. We'll do double day sessions. We'll do four and four hours on each, like, following days back to back. So the cool thing about it is that when you guys are creating, you know, we teach you all these things because when you're creating images that look like something unique and different, a client's gonna come to you and say, I'm willing to not only pay the extra, but then I wanna have that experience. I wanna go out and shoot. And so when we say it's a three-hour session, then it books. And we don't, we actually, what we do in our wedding sessions is we build in the engagement shoot into our wedding packages, and so with a wedding package, the price is built-in. If they subtract it out, we only give them around a $500 credit. The reason why is because we want them to leave it in because it leads to better wedding photos. If they already know foundation posing, they've had three hours of practice and experience in front of the camera, all that kinda stuff, it leads to much better wedding photos, 'cause on the wedding day, we have 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, to get our photographs of the bride and groom, and imagine if they just have no posing experience. They're not, like, a Danielle and Travis that have posed a ton and they just don't know what to do. So your time gets really cut short. And so we tell our clients, if you remove it, you only get 500 bucks back, but it's a $1500 to $2000 value that we're giving you, basically. And that makes 'em always keep it in the package. Thank you. Yes. How 'bout a couple more questions on what we were just doing? Cool. So question from Susan B. Would you get pretty much the same effect if the couple was backlit by the sun and you sprayed water? Yeah. The difference is, notice that we have a background that's actually fairly dark, right? This room is pretty bright still. We're exposing it to be dark. The problem is if they're backlit by the sun, then generally your background is the sky, right? Unless you place them in a scenario where they're backlit by the sun by maybe there's a wall behind them, or maybe there's dark bushes behind them, or maybe there's something dark behind them. Because if you imagine if the sky was white, if the sky was bright, these beads that you're lighting up would just be white against a white sky. You can't really see it. So the only thing that you need to make it work is you need some sort of background element to darken down the scene so that your beads of light actually show. But I figure this is kind of a cool trick for Seattle 'cause it happens to rain quite a bit in Seattle. (audience members speaking off mic) V-flat... Absolutely. for the background? Would work perfectly. Black V-flat. You can use a gray. Like, this wall, if you imagine, this wall could have a ton of light on it. We just need to darken it down more with our ambient exposure, add more flash pattern, you know what I mean? So all we just do is just darken down, so you could use a white seamless as long as you're darkening it down enough that it looks dark. But the sky is much, much brighter than a white canvas in your studio. That's the problem. And one more question. Princecon says, can the effect be used, can the effect with the gels and flash be used with continuous light? No. The effect with the gels and the flash be used with continuous light. No, the, what's making this effect work, you could do it if your continuous light, if your shutter speed is fast enough. So if your shutter speed's at one 200th of a second, yeah, you'd get a similar effect. But the shutter, if you were to... We haven't really talked about this. This is in Lighting 101, but I don't mind jumping in a little bit into this. Those flashes have essentially a shutter speed attached to them, okay? It's not called shutter speed. It's called flash duration. Now, the flash duration on a flash like that is probably, at that power setting, one ten-thousandth of a second. So to freeze light the way that that would, how much light would you need to get in this room to get your camera up to, like, one 8000th of a second, even? We're at one 200th of a second, one 100th of a second to get enough. So it's very difficult to do with constant light. You gotta get those big, giant HMIs and do it that way. Very easy with the small ones. So can I get someone to fly the table over to maybe this side? And I will take the tether off. If there are any other questions, too, let me know. Yeah, I can do a question while you guys are moving everything. So just to recap what we were, what you were teaching before, the question was, so you expose for the ambient light before you add the off-camera flash. Is that correct? Expose for the ambient, yes. So that's how we started. And that's... We started first by getting the wall the way we wanted it, then getting our flash, the back flash the way we wanted it. We added one element over the other. Great. And so we would do the same way, I always talk about, how many of us have tried, I've tried this a billion times. You go and you, like, set up four flash stands, and, like, all of 'em are on, and you're like, okay, now let's get the right light, and, like, you have four flashes firing with each other. You're like, what's going on? Where's one doing one thing? So, like, start with one. Start with your ambient light first. Get that where you want it. Maybe you want it pitch black. Get it pitch black. That's fine. Add one light, then modify that light. If it's not enough, add your second light, then modify that light, get it into the right position, then add your third light and so forth. Don't try and do more than one effect, more than one light at a time. Same thing goes with effects and everything.

Couples want to capture their commitment to each other in high-quality, creatively shot photographs. They also expect their bliss to appear natural and evocative. Photographers who are trying to build their engagement photography portfolio need to be able to juggle both technical and creative expectations. Pye Jirsa’s 
Incredible Engagement Photography will teach students how to strike this balance with basic equipment.

In this course, you’ll discover how to:

  • Use simple on- and off-camera flash lighting
  • Communicate effectively to devise creative, meaningful poses
  • Develop post-processing and overall workflow 
Drawing on lessons taught in Pye’s other courses (Photography 101, Lighting 101, and Lighting 201), you will learn how to adapt to a variety of different lighting situations – indoor and outdoor, natural and urban. You’ll also gain a sense of the importance of storytelling and of developing a disarming interaction style for putting couples at ease during a shoot. 

Conducting an engagement photography shoot requires a delicate mix of technical and interpersonal skills – but not an abundance of expensive, demanding equipment.



  • I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)
  • This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!
  • This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.