Skip to main content

Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Lighting and Posing for Wedding Photographers

Caroline Tran

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I'm so excited to be here. I think what makes me really excited about this course is that I think what has made my photos really have a signature look, so to speak, is the lighting, the overall look of the photo. And actually, I want to put it back on you and I want you to think about like, so how many of you guys woke up this morning and grabbed your phone and started scrolling on Instagram? (laughing) So I want you to think about this morning or yesterday morning if you didn't do it this morning. When you were scrolling, was there an image that stopped you in your tracks? Like you're scrolling, and then all of a sudden like, oh. 'Cause usually we just scroll really quickly. So think about that image, that image that suddenly made you stop because you wanted to take another closer look. What made that photo magical? Like, what were some of the elements? And this is where I want you to answer. (laughing) Lighting's one of the things that, you know, makes me look and wow. Okay, so w...

hen a photo has like really amazing light. What else? Correct. The couple's interaction together. Yes. Tell me more, what about it? Like the emotional connection that I can feel. Yes, thank you. When it makes you feel something. And anyone else want to contribute? I guess just like the pose and how the photographer chose how to take the photo and how it was executed. Okay and I promise this, like this was all live, none of this was rehearsed, right? 'Cause I swear you guys said it in the exact same order I was thinking of it. So the first thing, 'cause that's the order that I look at things when I'm composing an image. The first thing I look at it is lighting. Like I think that makes or breaks an image. And I think, have you, when you're scrolling through your feed, have you seen photos where you instantly recognize which photographer took it? And for those who don't know, I have presets that I've launched out now. And so when I'm scrolling, I actually can recognize when someone's using my presets, and that makes me stop, too, 'cause it's a certain look to it, right? And so when you suddenly see a look and you can recognize it, then that person has an identifiable style. And so what I really wanna help you guys with today is how can you use lighting, posing, to create your own style, your own voice, so that when people are looking at your work and they're scrolling through their Instagram feed, they recognize it. So I think the number one thing that makes an image is lighting. The second thing was emotions. You guys are like nailing it, I love this. But yeah, like how the image makes you feel. Like when you're suddenly, when you stop, did it take your breath away? Or did it make you giggle 'cause it was so cute? Did it make you wish you were in that relationship or like want to hang out with that couple? Or if it's like a child, like how, does it make you feel like you wanna play with that child? Like what does that make you feel? I think that is a really important element. And then the third one, which is what you said, is how the photographer chose to put it all together. It's the composition of the photo, how you combine the posing, the lighting, and everything together to pull together a magical photo. And so, I go back to the, to the cover image that we used for the class. And I think this is a magical photo, to me, and I know I'm biased, 'cause I took it, but. (laughing) But I think it's a very strong image because you have really beautiful light happening here. You have this light that's coming through the back, wrapping around the couple, so there's dimension in this. The light is giving it dimension, there's this kind of magical feeling of being in this, between all these trees, like the little glistening of the leaves and stuff. You have a very, even though it was directed, it was a very natural moment of them, where he's guiding her through. It was not a clear path, and so he's checking to make sure that, are you okay? His brand new bride, brand new wife. And so I think that was like a really sincere moment the way he's looking back at her at that moment. And then compositionally it's strong. It follows the rule of thirds and you have triangles happening here. So even though this is not a composition class, so to speak, I think some of the posing, well, I'll kind of throw in little elements of that. But I do really want to focus today on how to nail the lighting in any situation, how you can see the light and nail it, and then how you can get your couples posed in a way that looks natural and authentic with emotions and composed in the frame properly. So I wanted to give you this example. This is like golden hour. I think the epitome of golden hour, what everyone dreams of, shooting right at sunset. Now, to me, I think these, like I love these images, 'cause it just feels like, ah, you know. But if you look at it, their pose? I don't think their pose is actually that interesting. But because the lighting is so amazing, it made it like a gorgeous photo. So that's why, to me, lighting is priority number one, because, I think, if you can get really good lighting, you could just have your client stand there and it will look like... (laughing) Literally, she's just standing there, right? I mean, I think I told her to, like, I told her, it's the first sunset as a wife, as husband and wife, stand there and enjoy that sunset. So she is taking that moment. So when she looks back at this photo, she is feeling that again. But in terms of physically what she's doing it looks like she's just standing there. But because the light is so pretty, it makes a really gorgeous image. So then I wanted to give you another example of this one, so how many of you had a client, like, I really want to shoot in front of that fountain. Or, oh there's like this really gorgeous, I don't know, like, I always come back to the fountain. (laughing) But they really want, or like, the ceremony arch, can we shoot at the ceremony arch? And it's like, hot, blaring, splotchy light. So this is an example of that. My client really wanted to shoot in this specific spot. So what do you do in that case? Do you tell 'em no, like I'm not gonna shoot there? I think we straddle this fine line of being a creative but also a service as well. So for me, what I do is, I do try to accommodate them and then I try to do it better. But I don't want to be negative, so I don't want to say no. So if there's the time, if there's not time, then I will say, you know, we actually only have five minutes left to shoot, and I know a better spot. Then I'll be more assertive to do that. But sometimes I have been surprised by things that I didn't think would work, and it worked. So if there is time, I will try it. So with this situation, we had the time and I did think the trees looked pretty but I knew the light was not good. But I was like, let's try. So I got them in, I love the pose, I think the pose was like very fashion-forward and it looked great, but look at all this blotchy light that's on them. So what did I do? I did the best I could, which was, let me make sure the light stays off their faces, 'cause that part I can't really Photoshop. I can Photoshop this stuff out later, but the face will be much harder to recover. So for me, I was like, let me just try to get the faces shaded and then take the best photo that I could. After that was taken I told them, okay, so now can we rotate, so we rotated to the other side which I don't think is as texture-y, but the light was more even on the other side. So I moved them to the other side, I got them there. But I don't love the pose, and the reason why is because right when I got them in there, the girls were like, um, what's all that buzzing sound? (laughing) And we look up and there's a beehive right above them. So I was like, can you guys just hold still really quickly? Like, let me just get this shot. So I mean obviously they're not, there's no time to direct or pose. It was literally like, just stand there, and let me get this shot. So the point that I'm trying to make here is, the pose on its own without the lighting makes a mediocre photo. I mean, I think it's still a good image, like it's not so mediocre, but it's not magical. And then this one you have the better lighting, but the pose is like, eh, it's okay. So there's a magic combination of both that you need. You need to get the lighting and the combination of posing together. And then you can get something like that. So this one I love because you have the golden hour, the soft light coming through, coming through the veil and you can see the dimensions and the textures and all that. You have a very loving moment between them, like the look on their face, they look very in love, too. And then you have this imbalance, it's kind of like a triangle as well. So, strong compositionally speaking as well. So in this course, I have a couple lighting objectives that I want you to be able to do by the end of this course. So what you're gonna be able to do is see and identify the best available light for you. In any situation, when you walk in, I want you to be able to look, evaluate the light, and decide which angle is the best place to shoot from. The next one is troubleshoot common lighting situations. So like the photo of the girls in the trees like I was telling you about, like that, I had to troubleshoot that. That was a splotchy light situation, how do I salvage it and make it the best that I could? So I want you to be able to walk into a situation and figure out what's the best way to troubleshoot it, like whether it's rotating them, covering stuff, or reflecting. And then the last one is I want you to be able to shoot in natural light any time of day, even at high noon. I want you to not fear natural light, I think it's really beautiful and it's just all about how you use it, where you put your clients, how you expose for the image. And then, the second part of this class, we're gonna go through posing. And so within the posing objectives, what I want is for you to be able to create comfortable clients with genuine emotions, like how can you get your clients to feel so comfortable in front of you that they are giving you, like, I think the part that's like... For those who are familiar with my work, like I not only shoot weddings but I also shoot a lot of boudoir portraiture, like head shots and lifestyle. And a lot of my clients stay with me and they continue staying on with me. And I think the reason why is because I get them comfortable. So when they think about being in front of a camera, they don't want to be in front of a camera with anyone else because they have that rapport with me. The joke with me is that a lot of my clients have, my girlfriends, too, have with me, is like oh you can't step into Caroline's house or studio without ending up being naked and upside down. (laughing) When I get to the posing part, you'll see what I'm talking about in terms of being upside down. But the point in that is a lot of these women do feel very comfortable in front of me and they open up. And I think that's the most amazing part, for me, is like, when they're able to be vulnerable and show me their emotions, 'cause how else are you gonna get, like, picture someone randomly walking up to you and asking you and your significant other to kiss. Like, would you kiss in front of a stranger? I mean, some do, some are really into PDA. But for the most part it's not gonna be that really profound kind of love that you get to witness unless you build that kind of trust. So I wanna give you some tools on how to do that, how to make your clients feel comfortable so that they can really open up and share some of these emotions with you. The next one is... Like how many of you have been overwhelmed with, like, oh my gosh, how do I get all these shots in? And how much do I need to shoot? When you show up to a shoot and just feel like, it's an hour shoot, how do I fill all this up? So for me, I want to show you how instead of treating it as one hour of shoot I see it as like four 15 minute shoots. So if you can break 'em up into mini stories, it's not like this long, drawn-out story now. Like when you talk to someone or when you're listening to a story, unless they're a really good storyteller, you probably only have the attention span for so long of a story. But you can listen to four stories. So when you're shooting, I want to show you how you can break your sessions into mini stories, even if it's like six 10 minute stories or four 15 minute stories. But once you do that, then it's not so overwhelming, and you're more focused and there's more of a why behind it, and it's not just random shots, because I feel like, how many of you have seen an image and it just doesn't move you? But when you look at it, there's nothing technically wrong with it. The lighting's right, the exposure's right, but for some reason, it just doesn't do anything. For me, the reason why that happens is 'cause there's no story and no emotion behind it. And so I think when you start shooting, it's kind of like being, I hate this analogy, but the chicken with the head cut off. You're just kind of running in circles in that sense. So if you don't have a clear direction of why you're shooting and what you're shooting, then I think the shoot kind of looks that way, too, where it's just, mm, you know. So if you can start having these mini, mini stories in place, then now you have strong, like a strong purpose. Like every image has a purpose. And then the last one is I wanted to give you pick up points. Like how many of you had, in the middle of a shoot, just creatively got stuck? Like I don't know what to do next. Like you're shooting and like, ah, I don't know what, right? So for me, I have what I call pick up points, which is, if I'm out of energy or out of creative energy for this, let me just jump onto a new starting point. So they're basically just different starting points and it's basically a new set of stories at that point. But I feel like having these kind of pick up points in your back pocket that you can pull out when you're stuck helps keep the flow going, 'cause you've built rapport up with your clients, they're finally having fun with the shoot, and then now you're like, ah, I don't know what to do next. It kind of like abruptly cuts it. So if you can have these pick up points to keep it going then that's how you can keep the energy going as well. And I think the energy between you and your clients are really important. So today, so once I show you all that, what we're gonna do is we're gonna apply it in real life. You're gonna get to see me do two live demos. One, I'm gonna show you how my technique works with casual, lifestyle, engagement shoot. It's gonna be shot in here, so we're gonna make it look like a couple in their loft studio, so very casual in that sense. But the techniques work, same concept with lighting, same concept with posing, just in a very casual environment. And then the next one is we're gonna do a formal wedding shoot. We're gonna have a couple in here in wedding dress, tux, bouquet, and we're gonna shoot this on a seamless and it's gonna be like a very formal shoot. And so I just wanna show you how any of these techniques you can put a spin on it, whether it's gonna be cutesy and casual, or fun and formal, and more like put together as well versus more lifestyle and candid-looking.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Posing Tips

Ratings and Reviews


I had such a great experience at Creative Live. Everyone was super nice. I flew from Los Angeles to Seattle for the first time and Mariangela was kind enough to help me with transportation, hotel, restaurants, things to do in Seattle. It was a fun continue education trip. Caroline Tran's class was amazing! I can't wait to go back for another class at Creative Live.


Enjoyed the class! Especially liked seeing how Caroline transitioned and shot the engagement shoot with the cute couple. The pick up points were great, love the analogy to piano since I'm pianist as well. I use her refined presets too and really like the outcome :) Would recommend that as well!

Student Work