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Lighting and Posing for Wedding Photographers

Lesson 6 of 16

Engagement Shoot: Assessing the Light

Caroline Tran

Lighting and Posing for Wedding Photographers

Caroline Tran

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Lesson Info

6. Engagement Shoot: Assessing the Light

Lesson Info

Engagement Shoot: Assessing the Light

I wanna now put into action what we've done, what we've learned, but in a very casual and lifestyle environment. So, we have our models. (laughs softly) Thank you so much for joining us. So, I'm just meeting them today. This is Toby and Cassia. And they are going to be our engagement couple today. So, the story that I put together, that I've created for you. (laughs) Nice. (laughs) Young, young couple just moved into a loft together. Mm-hmm. Yes, and it's (Cassia laughs) um, you guys are, like, artists, writers, right? Yeah. (laughs) And then, it is a weekend, a lazy weekend morning. Saturday morning, sleeping in, right? And just hanging around the house. Sounds about right. Yeah. (laughs) So, what I had them do, 'cause this was all like, planned virtually, I just had them bring a bunch of clothes from their closets and I picked something together for them. So, I went with something neutral. This is actually the clothes that he came in already. (Caroline laughs) (audi...

ence laughs) I had her pick something that was still loungey, that looks like she's hanging out at home, but also kind of goes with what he has, too, in that sense, and, but still put together. And I had them bring a bunch of things that they use around the house. Now, realistically, if this was a real engagement session happening at their house, this would already exist in their house. So, I literally would be walking around, looking at things, and seeing what they have and seeing what's relevant. So, I thought, maybe, if, why don't we just, like, dump everything out and... (laughs) So, do you knit? I don't. (Caroline and Cassia laugh) My mother is prolific, and it's kind of made it redundant for me. (Caroline and audience laugh) Okay. So, I love, like, I love this stuff. Like, I feel like it gives a story, it gives her something to do with her limbs, right? Like I was talking about? I love, I love props because it gives their hands something to do and it gives them something to focus on, and they're not so distracted. Like, like a good example is when I went to the chiropractor two weeks ago, like, I couldn't move my neck. Like, I literally, like, only that much, and he had to crack it, and I was like, "I can't, I can't." Like "Oh my God, the..." And while I was laying there, he's like, cross your legs. And while I was focusing on crossing the leg was when he (laughs) did it, you know. So, it's kind of the same idea. It's like, you want them to focus on something else so they're not so, like, uh, you know. "What do I do, like..." So, that's why I like, that's why I like props. I see that they like video games. (laughs) That's how we met. Aw, how cute! Yeah. (laughs) Like, tell me more, like, was it... Actually, when I was on OKCupid. Here's the mic. Yeah. Okay. Oh, and he, uh... So, Cassia had on her profile that fairy was the best Pokemon type. Which is true. And I strongly disagreed with that, so my opening line was, "Psychic is the best Pokemon type. "Fight me in real life." (Caroline and audience laugh) And I did. (laughs) Yes. Yeah. And since then, we've, you know, hashed that out through video games, repeatedly. Aww. (Cassia laughs) Isn't psychic and fairy type like, the opposites? Not opposites, but like, what you would use against, the good type for the other? I... Fairy is good against, like dark types. We're terrible at Pokemon. Okay. (everyone laughs) I played a long time ago, that's why. Yeah. (laughs) I don't quite remember now. All right, so, I think, for sure I want to use the knitting stuff. I think that would be fun. I love this, but there's no ball to go with it. Yeah. (laughs) So I think I'm gonna (laughs) but then, does this one have sticks? Oh, it's a crochet. It's a crochet, yeah. Okay. I think that's fine. Well, so, I'm gonna pick this because I like, I like the ball. I have some fun ideas with that. I'm gonna say no to this because it doesn't fit with the storyline, right? (audience softly laughs) If we were in a kitchen, it'd be great, but we're not in the kitchen. So, it doesn't make sense. So, if you're gonna use props, it has to make sense. You have to have a why, like why, why are they doing this, right? So, it makes sense to me that she would wake up and grab her ball of knitting. And then (stammers) do you guys like to paint? Yes. Yeah, actually. We're big Bob Ross fans. I love, I love the idea of this. I'm just not sure what they're painting on right now. They could paint each other. (laughs) So, but I think for now, I don't have anything for them to paint, so I'm gonna nix this for now, unless, unless there was like a big, I don't know. I think we'll stay focus and I'm just gonna keep it to what we have here, which would be like, the mugs, the gaming, and the knitting. So, just like I was saying regarding pickup points, like, this is what I do when I'm when I meet with a couple. I'm essentially like, when there's props, the props are kind of like, my pickup points. So, I've already pre-planned, broken up my shoot into at least three segments at this point. So, there's gonna be a mini-story about knitting. There's gonna be a mini-story about the video game somehow, and there's gonna be something involving the mug. So, for sure, something on this bed. So, but I don't want the entire shoot to happen on the bed, so, I think I'm gonna probably have them chill. I just really like these doors. I might have them sit on the floor, or sit on the floor, or something, right? Just to kind of change up the, change up the look a little bit. So, I think those are how you can use like, that concept of pickup points as well. Like I said, you know, it's, you decide what your four to six things are gonna be, right? So, for this one, I have one, two, three. The games, the knitting, the mug, and those are, like, the mug for example, is not a full pickup point, but it's kind of a, like, a supplement. The bed. And the floor. So, that kind of gives me, I know that's like five stories that I'm gonna kind of move them through. And then, within each story, I can now have my posing pickup points within it as well, right? So, I think, let me just clear some of this out. I usually have a reflector when I shoot indoors because you might need to bounce light back, although I feel like light in here is so good that I might not need to. So, when I walk into a room, so now that I know what I want to shoot, the next thing is like, how the light is responding, and which angle to shoot from, right? So, one thing that I do is, I literally just take my hand and like, walk around and see how the light is changing as I'm doing that. So, over here, like, the hand is really dark. So, I know that I may either need to reflect back, or just expose for the shadow and blow out the windows. So, that is an option. But, I am curious to see... (reflector crinkles) (reflector snaps open) Okay. (laughs) Making sure this doesn't hit me in the face. (laughs) Okay, so, if you can see my hand right now, like, or you can try it with your own hand, too. Did you see the difference when I put this, right? Without the reflector, and then with the reflector. Here, Cassia, let me have you stand here, and you can see. So, if you look at her face right now, just as is. And then, versus this bouncing it back up again, right? So, the people who was asking about back lighting and how do you get details, like this is how you get details. So, if you do this right now, there's kind of, not much dimension, I guess? You know, 'cause it's like, flat lighting on her face right now. But now, if I add this, there's more, some more highlights coming in to her now. So, a point is I think I will use a reflector for some of the, coming this way. Anyone want to help me hold it later? Okay. So, I'll let you know when I, when I am ready for that. And then now, let's see. If we have... So, stand back here again. So, if you see, like her face. So, right now, you can see the sha- Do you see the shadows, right? So, if I'm gonna shoot her from this angle, then I know that I would probably want to bounce. Do you see how that totally evened out the light, right? Without the reflector, and then with the reflector. So, if you're looking for, like a very evenly lit portrait, then you would wanna bounce this back. So, let me have you, like, slowly turn. Again. And I'm just looking at how the light is changing on her face. So. (laughs) So, I think for sure, we know. Thank you. (laughs) So, for sure we know if we are going to do side, side-lighting on her, that we need this to bounce back on her. If we're not doing side-lighting, if she's looking straight here, I think I can even get away without, without it. The nice thing is that the bed sheets are all white, so as long as they are on the bed, I probably won't even need this, because the bedsheets are gonna bounce light back on her.

Class Description

Capturing the special moments for your wedding clients is a big responsibility. You only have one chance to evaluate and make sure the couple is posed in the best possible light for each image. Caroline Tran is a well-known wedding and portrait photographer recognized for creating images that reflect the emotions of her clients through lighting and posing. In her class you’ll learn how to:

  • Evaluate the light you’re seeing and place your clients in the best place to capture it
  • Work with natural light and determine what additional equipment you might need
  • Understand Caroline’s system of using the 6 pick-up points of posing so you won’t miss any of the key poses that your clients will want to see
  • Use the proper cues to get the couple in the right posing position
  • Cull and edit your images so to provide the best product for your clients

Wedding days go by so quickly for couples, it’s important give them images that preserve the special moments and memories they’ll treasure forever. Caroline will help you to understand the lighting and posing techniques to capture the unique details of every couple. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Posing Tips

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



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!