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Lighting and Posing for Wedding Photographers

Lesson 9 of 16

Wedding Shoot: Bride and Groom Look #1

Caroline Tran

Lighting and Posing for Wedding Photographers

Caroline Tran

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Lesson Info

9. Wedding Shoot: Bride and Groom Look #1

Lesson Info

Wedding Shoot: Bride and Groom Look #1

Let's bring out a bride and groom. And again, it is your every day person, not like trained, professional models or anything like that. They are a real couple so that means I know I can make them kiss if I wanted. They are dating. They are not married or engaged, so just to give you a little fill-in background about that. So given that information, I'm trying to put together this shoot for them. So I wanna go for something that's very... a little more elevated classic. And I wanted to go for something a little bit more formal as well since we did the engagement shoot which was very relaxed already. So we have a seamless from Thank you to them for providing this lovely backdrop for us. We also... I had Creative Live just pull together some furniture that was in their storage. So nothing... We didn't go fancy rentals or anything like that. So I just wanted to show you what you can put together with some basic pieces. So based on the pick up points that I have, you can...

predict that I'm gonna be doing some standing ones. I brought the chair and the lounge so that we can have some options for the cuddle up or sitting. It's gonna look a little bit different 'cause they're more formal. It's not gonna be like the bed or a pillow fight, but this one... We'll play around and see what kind of different positions we can get her in. And then we also have a chair. And then we have these lovely flowers here by Pink and Posey. Thank you so much. And she's actually here with us today in studio. Thank you, thank you for joining us. She's done flowers for me before, and you have to check out her work if you haven't. She does these gorgeous paper flowers. Today she made a fresh flower arrangement for me. And so we are going to play around with accessories provided by Twigs and Honey. Thank you to Myra from Twigs and Honey for that. And I think just to give you some variety and options of how to play with brides. We're gonna play with one short veil and one long veil. And then you can have a sense of the different things you can do with that. So with that, let's welcome our bride and groom. (clapping) Ah, you guys look so cute. Okay, so this whole ensemble is by Twigs and Honey by the way. Dress, veil, and accessories. So I think the first thing that I typically do is I usually have the bride first. So let's pretend we're in a hotel room and she just finished getting ready. So let's see the light. And for sure, I'm predicting that I'm gonna need a reflector. And I'll need a camera. So thank you. So let's take a look and play around, play around with this first. Would someone else like to? Yeah. So you could just leave it on the floor relaxed for right now. Save your energy. Okay, so let me have you just stand on the seamless for right now, and we'll play around with some different options. So let me have you look that way. Gorgeous. So I'm just starting out. What I'm doing right now is just warming up, getting my settings together, getting her warmed up to being in front of the camera, and then also I'm trying to find her angles right now. These are just a bunch of different test shoots. Gorgeous. And then let me have you... Actually, no I love how you're... Chin down. And then look that way. And then let's have you turn that way. Full turn? Yeah, and then look back. Actually, do that again. That was really pretty. And close your eyes. Roll your shoulders back. There you go. And then relax your lower jaw. A gentle part in your lip and close your eyes. And let's try the other way again. Yeah. And then try just a gentle part in your lip. Really beautiful. So I like her facing that way between the two. I think between the lighting and... There seemed to be a comfort level as well. So let's play around with... I'm loving the details in this. Eventually I want to get her on a chair, but for right now, while she's standing, I wanna play around with options with this first. And then we can get her on a chair and do some different ones next. Beautiful. So just look that way again. And I think just equivalent to how I was saying sometimes I'll just leave a couple of in slow dance or on nose to nose for them to get warmed up while I'm figuring out what I'm doing. It's kind of the same thing. I think that just "look that way" takes the pressure off of me. She's probably just starting to daydream and thinking about other stuff. And then I have time to figure out what I'm doing without feeling the pressure of, "Oh, my gosh!" So beautiful. Close your eyes. Love, love, love. And I love having details like this 'cause what I'll sometimes do is focus on these details. And since I'm so shallow, her face will be soft-focused. So let's get some of these gorgeous flowers in here, these petals in here. So pretty. And then look this way and close your eyes. Beautiful. And then leave everything like that and just eyes here. Gorgeous. And close your eyes again. Beautiful. Okay, so I really wanna play with her on a chair, but I think I'm gonna add him in for some first before we start moving furniture around. So let's have you come in with her. I have a question. Do you ever work with an assistant on the wedding day or either in the engagement session as well? Or are you doing it by yourself? For sure on a wedding day, I'm usually a team of three: a second shooter and an assistant. On an engagement shoot, it's usually just me. If it's a commercial shoot, then I'll bring along an assistant to roll film and just make sure that I don't lose any of my rolls of film because I literally will just leave my camera like this and go do something. And so their job is to just make sure that I don't leave lenses laying around. But on an engagement shoot, it's usually just me and the couple. In terms of for the reflector, I usually don't need it. But if I really need it, I feel like I haven't needed it as much on an engagement shoot. But usually if there's someone around and I have... If I anticipate needing a reflector, I'll bring it and bring someone with me for that. Or if they are bringing a friend, that's always convenient. We've got another question. Typically, on a wedding day, how much time are you leaving for the couple photos? Are they usually doing a first look as a traditional? How much time does it take you to achieve what you've got? I can give you my timeline. It's pretty methodical, I guess. Usually, it's one hour getting ready, one hour first look plus couple portraits, and then it's one hour for both wedding party photos and immediate family photos. Again, these are all over-padded because I don't need an hour to do the wedding party and the family, but chances are the getting ready runs late and the first look runs late. So at least that pushes into... And it usually gets cut down into half an hour, but at least I have some wiggle room to move around. And just like I was saying with pick up points, I like breaking everything down so even on a wedding day. And especially when I'm shooting film, I have to budget how much film to pack. I break it up into how much film do I need for this section, this section, this section versus for an eight-hour wedding day, how much film do I need. I think that's kind of overwhelming so I break it up into individual little days. And then I bring what lenses I need and equipment I need for that segment, and then everything else stays in my bag. At each segment, my assistants know how to help me switch those out. I usually give a half hour break. This all wraps up half an hour before the ceremony starts 'cause typically that's when guests start to arrive so the bride goes to hide. Ceremony, cocktail hour, and then couple hours of reception. If they don't do a first look, then that one can go in several different options. Sometimes they'll want to do, "Can we shoot just the girls and the bridesmaids? "Can we do just the guys?" Then we'll do that separately. Then we might do immediate families separately. That one to me is a little bit more of a pain because you have to redo all those shots again but then combine them. So it's easier when they're all together, I feel, 'cause you can just quickly, "Okay, now bride step out. "Bride step in, groom step out." So I feel like it's more efficient in that way. It kind of takes longer, but you also don't have as much time for couple photos 'cause it's all happening during cocktail hour. So in the end, it doesn't take more time. You just get less time. So yeah, within that hour, you just have to knock out all the pictures of them together. But most of my couples, I don't make the decisions for them. I just tell them what it will look like. "So if you don't want to do a first look, "we'll probably have about 30 minutes to do couple photos. "If you want to do a first look, "we can allot up to an hour or however many. "If you do a first look, we can shoot "in this and this and this location. "If you don't do a first look, "then we will do your couple portraits here. "So you decide." And for the most part, they choose to do the first look. And the other thing I tell them is it doesn't take away from the moment. I think a lot of the fear is like, "Oh, but it takes away from that moment "you walk down the aisle, and it's not the first time." And I was like, "That's a whole other thing. "When you see each other for the first time privately, "you can share emotions. "There's not all these eyeballs on you at the moment. "And you can really make that moment yours. "And okay, so now he knows what your dress looks like, "but when you walk down the aisle, "that one is like that moment of like, "'She's gonna be my wife.' "That's a whole other different emotion. "Who cares what she's wearing at that point?" So big deal if he's already seen the dress. That's not what he's thinking about anyway. So usually that convinces them. And they're like, "Okay." I was like, "So in a way, you get two first looks." All right, we're good to go. Cool. All right, thanks for your patience. Let's try just the very stiff photo because they're already doing this anyway. So let me see if I can even fit them on here. Okay, it powered down. Pretty. So I'm not liking this. I do like that laugh though. So cute. Okay, let me have... Try holding his hand behind his arm. Let go, and then Audrey, go behind his arm. Yeah. Try that instead, and then get close. Close like? Uh-huh, yep, yep, yep. And then Colburn, try your other hand in your pants pocket. This pocket? Yeah, yep. Very nice. And then, Audrey, try both hands holding low. Yeah, that's cute. Super cute. Let's have... What if you go under the veil with her? And go nose to nose with each other. Ah, that's cute. See I think they look more comfortable like this now. Adorable. And then how about just Audrey look at me? Beautiful. Love it. And then how about both of you look at me? And let your faces touch. Gorgeous. Love it. And close your eyes, both of you. Leave everything like that. Colburn, kiss her on the temple or whatever you reach. I didn't mean it that way; I'm sorry. (laughing) I meant like whatever you touch. When you turn, whatever you touch. Let's have... I'm gonna pull up the chair, Colburn. Have a seat for a moment, relax. You sit here. I'm gonna try playing around with her on this and see. My legs don't bend in these pants, but something like that and let's see how that works out. You want my foot on the chair? Yeah, turn that way. Let me see more... Let's play around with this. Oh, I like that, yeah. I'm sitting on my veil. Yeah, we want the veil out. We want the dress out. Try switching legs. Yeah, I like switching like that better. Gorgeous. Yeah, love it. This time, let's have the veil... Love. Or how about looking out the window? That looks good. And then look here. Actually look straight again. Gorgeous. Let's have... Try sitting with both legs down this time. And then, actually, that's kind of sitting pretty. And just sit up tall. Gorgeous. What if... Is the back of the chair the right height where if you were to turn around and like rest on the... Like if we rotated the chair. If we rotated it so... Maybe more like this way. Am I sidesaddle here? Yeah. That's pretty. Close your eyes and relax. So I did that right now because she was doing that a little bit, so I had her close her eyes to relax the forehead. So close your eyes. Just relax. And then leave everything like that and just eyes here. Relax your forehead. Beautiful. I love it. And then let's have... Cute. And then look out that way. So pretty. I'm loving the light on her right now and the colors. Let's try... Let me see. Try only one arm, like relax the other arm. Turn my knee in? Uh-huh, yeah. And then look out the window again. Close your eyes. And then eyes here. Gorgeous. Okay, let's take the chair out. And let's do one portrait of you just like this. Looking down? Gorgeous. And look down, like chin down. And then look that way. Turn your head that way. Gorgeous; close your eyes. Beautiful. Let's have... I think I want to play with... Hold on. While you're still standing, let's do the flowers. That's kind of fun. Okay. Do we have a paper towel? Yes, it'll just be a second. Yeah. Here are your paper towels. So often times at a wedding, I do have to dry off the bouquet for the bride and bridesmaids. Sometimes the florist will deliver with a lot of water in it. So then we usually just get the hotel towels and start to wipe it down for them. So pretty. So for this one, I'm gonna do like just a portrait of the bouquet first. So nice and low. Beautiful. I'm just loving these colors. Close your eyes. Gorgeous. Love, love, love, love. I'm trying a horizontal one 'cause this bouquet is wide. So with the flowers, I usually try to find one that I really want to focus on. And then the other ones kind of go soft-focus from there. But this one has so many pretty ones. Let's see. What if... Stand that way. That's pretty. And then rotate the bouquet towards me just slightly. The other way. Yeah. And then nice and low. Gorgeous. Close your eyes. Gentle part in your lip. Gorgeous. So pretty. Let's try to get this tulip here. Love it, and I love this. Is this one a... The one that I just took, is that one a daffodil? Is it a daffodil? Yeah, okay. So turn... Actually, just look at me. Actually, rotate toward me maybe slightly. Beautiful. Love it, love it. Close your eyes. Beautiful. Love. And then what if... Turn towards me again. And what if you held the bouquet over your face? Love. So right now, I'm stepping super far back 'cause I don't want to cut off any of the flowers and they go really far out. Do you like it like that? So what I did is I rotated so it wasn't so horizontal of a flower. And now it's a little diagonal. So close your eyes. So this one, I'm gonna focus on the flowers and she's gonna be more soft-focused. And then eyes here. Gorgeous. And then now, what if you kept the flowers like that but you turned sideways? Yeah. Gorgeous. Love it. Close your eyes. When I have the flower in focus and her out of focus, I feel like the closing eyes is usually a better option 'cause... And then look here now. 'Cause I feel like if you see the eyes, you want to try to... You want to look at her eyes. And so this one, I'm trying to get just her lips in it. I like how her lips match the tulips. Gorgeous. Love it. And then... Let's have... Let's try switching it to this one. And then... Sure. I think I'm gonna pull this closer to the backdrop a little bit. Perfect. So let me have you try sitting here. And usually I'll try it first 'cause sometimes you have something in your head and they do it and it's like they don't know what they're... It feels awkward. So I usually try it first to just kind of compare. But she's a lot taller than me so who knows. She might be way up here when she sits down. But let's try it and see what happens. Yeah. I'm gonna actually rotate this 'cause this one... I don't have enough room to shoot it from that way. So let's try... Actually, let's just try straight on. And I'm gonna go back this way because... 'Cause I'm foreseeing some over here, and I wanna make sure that the backdrop has enough room for that. All right, so let's try that again. So pretty. And look out the window. Maybe try arms more like... Yeah. Really gorgeous. Colburn, let's have you stand on this side and maybe resting on the... Yeah. That's cute. This is probably where I should switch to my wide lens so that I'm not in the back of the other room. Thanks. So cute, you guys. Love it. And look at each other again. Love. Can you sit with here, maybe behind? Up on a knee? Or maybe on this side. Actually, when there's a bench like this, I actually love having one person come from the back that way 'cause I think you can get a lot closer. So pull... So that you're not sitting on her veil. So come in really close to her. Gorgeous. And then maybe put this arm around him and snuggle up real close. That looks good. So drop the other arm. Yeah, this time I just want you to try to get real into each other. Colburn, come closer. Scoot back more into me. And get in. Super cute, you guys. I love it. Super cute. We can even add the bouquet into this. Adorable. And nose to nose with each other again. One thing to notice about composition is you choose to either include her feet or crop out her feet completely. If I come in close, I come in really close. Avoid cropping at a joint. So if you're gonna crop, it's gonna be somewhere like here. Not here and not right at the ankle. And if you're gonna include her feet, then you wanna make sure that you give enough room so that there's not edge tension. You don't want her feet to be just like about to be cut off. So either make it part of the scene or take it out completely. So I'm gonna go long again. Thank you. Wow, you guys are so cute. Snuggle up and giggles like that again. Love. And keep everything like that and just eyes at each other. Ah, have you seen each other that up close before? (laughing) Love. And then, Audrey, try using your hand to hold onto his face. Yeah. Cute. Go nose to nose with each other. Love. And if they were engaged, this could be a good ring shot opportunity. Look at me and giggle like that again. Cute. Keep everything like that. Colburn, kiss her on the temple. Close your eyes when you kiss. And just, Audrey, look here and giggle. Cute. Cute. I love it. So what you probably didn't... I don't know if you were able to see from where you were, but to get the reactions from her I was actually doing it myself too. When I wanted her to do that, I would do that with her. If I wanted her to scrunch her nose, I would scrunch my nose too. So the funny part is when I'm shooting candids, let's say I'm actually not interacting. I do that too. So if I want them laughing, I'm back here like, "Come on!" And no one's paying attention to me. I love it. So let's... Let me see if there's anything else. Actually, Colburn, step out for a moment. I just want to get a few more portraits of her now that she's not so much taller than me. So let me have you sit more in the middle. Gorgeous. Actually, try slightly sideways a little bit. Beautiful. Let's... There it is. It was probably one of the jewels. Beautiful. So gorgeous. And look that way. Actually, just look straight out. Straight out? Out, mm-hmm. And look down. Yeah. Pretty. I wanna play around with a different veil after this. So I wanna make sure that I shoot as much of this one as I can and get the details. So like.. If this was a real bride, she spent a lot of time picking this out so she notices all the details that are on here. So I wanna make sure I get those details for her. So look that way again. So pretty. Close your eyes. Actually, turn your body more towards... Yeah. I'm loving all the details here. Try... Try sitting on your knees for me on there. You okay? Squishy. You know what? Try lifting the dress up first, completely up. And then on your knees so that way... Yeah, perfect. So usually with shots like these, I want the feet to peek out 'cause otherwise I don't want it to look like she's that short. (laughing) So I want it to be obvious that she's on her knees. And I think it's that whole concept too, like include it or exclude it completely. So let me have you just look straight out that way again. Gorgeous. And look, now I'm the same height as her. Close your eyes. Colburn, come this way now. And I want to... I might have you scoot forward a little bit more, but I was picturing you like leaning. You guys are having a conversation. That's cute. Get real close again. Aw. How about Audrey look at me and let him kiss you? So pretty. And then what if both of you are under the veil again and nose to nose with each other? And, Audrey, you can scoot forward if... Depending what feels natural or comfortable to you. Gorgeous smile. Love, love, love. And you guys go for a kiss. Love. Love that smile, that you see his smile. Pretty. How about... Can we switch out her veil? And then I'll do some of Colburn on his own.

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!