Susan Stripling: Background, Stories, and Moments
Being aware of your background, please please be aware of your background horizons through head's heart, my soul beautiful composed images with some dude walking through the background like you've gotta look at everything, not just your subject, you ought to call the whole thing so for something like shooting a ring shot, which we're going to do ad nauseum in a very short amount of time I'm looking for a foreground I'm looking for a background in this inn instance, it is the sparkly bottom of her shoes held together like this to make a little light box or the bangles that she's wearing at the indian wedding it makes it relevant it makes it graphic and interesting and it helps push your eye right into that ring, which was insane that ring beautiful background awareness eighty five millimeter lens bizarro picture of puppies on the wall but I chose to not include the frame or anything else because I wanted to look like he was being looked at by we're dogs, so being aware of your backgroun...
d like so I'm not going to show you multiple pictures of horizons going through heads or branches growing out of people's heads or my personal favorite is people wearing lamp shade hats and getting ready rooms just look look at more than just your subject look at the background as well sometimes it's telling several stories at one time this is another one of those instances where I'm shooting into a room and I'm getting a reflection behind me. I'm shooting in it, the cake, which is well lit, the rest of the room is dark, so I'm getting the reflection of the building behind me. Two stories have the cake and have the building. I have the couple singing a hymn and her mother crying, I have the dress and I have the bride getting ready for me telling a story like this. This kind of keeps me going. How many stories can I get into one frame that all help the story that I'm telling move along? If I've got all of the bridesmaids in a picture, they all have to be doing something good. Look at everybody's face everybody's face is doing something wonderful. If you've got one person with their eyes closed or somebody's looking away, you've lost the image. I have two stories I have teresa getting her veil put on and her sister in the background fluffing her train it's a great moment with katie and her father, but when I opened up and I saw more, you get the reaction of the girl off to the left as well two stories going on at one time, the bridegroom dancing. The groom's little list daughter was lifting up her dress to flash the band. If I had been focusing on just the bride and groom, I would have lost this wonderful story happening down there is, well, the groom's mother getting her makeup done and the bride and her maid of honor laughing in the corner of the room both stories have to be strong stories are else why include them both? If this one's just sitting in the chair like doing nothing that doesn't help tell the story. This gives me a better scene. But sometimes instead of telling a million stories you want to tell one story the flower girl that realized that when she throws her dress up it's fantastic. She was performing for me for a really long time. And then I sat down on the ground and kind of propped up on an ottoman and just started watching her from behind my camera. And then she kind of forgot that I was there and stopped paying attention to me. And then her mom came in the door behind me she's not gonna look at me like that she's gonna look at her mom like that, so I'm waiting for one simple, powerful moment sometimes it's a simple is shooting down the flower girls twirling around and around on the dance floor. And then the three ants that say, did you get that? The flower girls are dancing and then the monsters did you get that? The flower girls, you're dancing, you're like, dude, I got it, I got like five hundred of them. I don't know what it is about flower girls on the dance floor, but everyone has to tell you that they're dancing simple ring shot it doesn't have to be about fancy foreground, fancy background sometimes it's about clean, honest, strong, simple picture simple, not fussy, not shot through anything, not overly contrived, easy or realizing that the image that you're looking to make isn't over by the water it's actually under the overpass where the dude sleeping on the ground but the shaft of light is coming through and it's fantastic, and when you put it right on your face, it looks like the sun is setting on her face simple, you know, sometimes it doesn't have to be overwrought are over thought, and sometimes if you overthink it, you lose the beauty and before we move on, this is my favorite part is moments, and I get very choked up during this section because this if you ask one thing like, what is the one thing that keeps you going and wedding photography when you're tired and you're burnt out and you just don't want to go to another one and you just want a day off and you see all these people going out on dates on saturdays and you and your husband are wearing black and you're about to both go shoot weddings what makes me like breathed fresh air you know, breath of fresh air and be happy to do it are the moments that I can capture when all of your gear comes together and all of your lenses and your equipment selections and you're lighting and putting your client's in the right scenario when they give you something to shoot it is an honor to see that and I don't mean to keep quoting cliff but he has many wonderful good one liners hey said one time a long time ago you're only as good as your clients and it's true if they don't let you into their lives and they don't let you into their emotions and their moments all the good light all of the good lenses aren't going to make pictures that air as impactful is something like this or like that where I got in trouble for sort of encouraging their you know yeah, go ahead, keep laughing keep laughing and you know the kids open up and they forget that you're there and they let you end or when you get to see the bride's little sister painting her ninety five year old grandmother's figure it out I'm gonna cry so ridiculous and then you get a note six months after the wedding that says that the grandmother's passed away and you gave them this this isn't about me and this isn't about winning photo contest this is about me giving this to eli's little sister that you will always remember this moment with her grandmother or when the bride gets the unexpected gift from her groom the second she opens it or the first look which I do not like but every once in a while it is beautiful when her whole face just falls apart when she hears them coming or when her dad sees her for the first time crap we got two cars all ready when she is praying with her bridesmaids when dad see daughters for the first time kills me dad, especially when one moment leads into another moment when the whole family is watching the ceremony, her mother, her father, her grandfather and her sister sometimes it's not about crying but it's about the joy that they're feeling and they just let it out and you're right there to see it or when he realizes oh god, this thing is never coming off and the bride in her mother after the ceremony he was so excited to put that over her head and get the ceremony going in the rabbi was like not yet not yet or when the bride's mother who had been very ill technically shouldn't even be here today and she's here and she's fine and her grandfather gets choked up and again it's not about the crying it's about the funny things they do that you get to see when you're right up close to them and they don't even care and the moment between her and her mother and her and her father are so powerful and you get to witness it are you two see joy like that with her and her dad or her and her sister or her and the dog beautiful it's a joy we have about ten minutes told some questions if you guys can not cry for a minute so you catch a perfect moment but it's an imperfect picture maybe a little soft like that you should it's a little soft I'll show it if it's a lot soft, I'll have to bennett like if it's just technically bad it's got to go even if it's a good moment the question was sort of along the same lines your your focus is incredible like everything is really, really share a bond I was going through a wedding of mine a week or two ago even photos that I thought were sharp and maybe it was just because I got the so pretty high but yeah what what your trick on that couple of different ones one is being mindful of focusing and re composing with whatever f stop I've chosen like I mentioned before with one point for not focusing and re composing trying to be very careful if I met kind of one, four, one, eight, two o two, eight using my focal points instead of because I'm a very fast focus and recompose er, some of it is making sure that my shutter speed correlates correctly with the lens and I'm using like, if I'm using my seventy two, two hundred, I try to not go below four hundredth of a second because I don't want to get shake and that was something that kind of took some getting used to sometimes you might just be shaky sometimes I have a lot of friends who are just kind of pazzi with the camera and things airsoft, maybe honestly and this might be very simple, maybe you're lindsay needs to go back and be recalibrated, you know, maybe it's and I've got my twenty four to seventy is getting a little bit I'm having a little problem with it being a little soft and I know it's, not me, it needs to go back in and get kind of tightened up, so if you explore all of the like technical things that it could be an it's still soft, you don't wanna get it looked at yes, ma'am managing expectations and timelines like how much input do you have for example, you've got a few where the dad sees her for the first time do you guys talk about that spacing it out we try to I tried teo and again that's a huge like business day thing but yeah for the most part I tried to most clients we at least email about the timeline I talked to a lot of people on the phone about it and I meet clients about their timeline also and I try to get a sense of what's important to them like are your parents gonna be there when you're getting ready like do you want a moment when your dad sees you for the first time things like that and it's again thirteen years of knowing what questions to ask the things that go wrong all the time, which is actually what sparked me to start writing think books was the first one I did with situations and solutions that earlier this year with the stuff that I kept running into over and over again there have been problems for me for so long what were the things that I could do to kind of get past those things but it's still hard like I still I'm not perfect I make mistakes all the time if you're one of my clients you're watching this I never screwed anything up ever I'm always right. No, I make mistakes and all realized that oh, god, we talked about the time line, but we didn't talk about this thing that now you're throwing in here that totally screws everything up. I noticed that you wanted to do the first look at two ten and you're getting dressed it like one thirty, but then now there's a twenty minute drive and I didn't realise there's a twenty minute drive in between the two locations and oh, god, what do I do? Just learning to think faster on your feet with stuff like that and never letting this you look nervous. Other questions, you've got a beautiful ten minutes to take questions about anything you'd like. Yes, sir, so is that? Do you have a criteria where you decide whether you goingto the final images will be black and white or color or I kind of see a pattern, but I'm trying to say and again, like I can answer that, but that would be a really good question for you to ask them on sunday, because when the stuff goes into post production, I don't choose my black and whites sidecar chooses what's going to black and white forms, but when I'm editing a wedding myself, which I do sometimes like I shot eleven wedding's in june and sidecar looked at me and they're like yeah right we could take a couple like we could take like nine of them but you have to take two of them back I was goingto like murder there you would have had any images that it naomi ever but I had to take a couple back myself sometimes it's are the colors in the image, distracting from the moment like, is there a great moment going on but some idiot and a red striped shirts walking through the background or there's like a safety cone in the background that I didn't see or that I couldn't move you know is the moment mohr impactful if I go black and white is the color balance simply un color balance a ball like do I have six different color balances? And if I make the clients right, the room is bluer. If I make the room right, the clients or blue or if I do them both, they just look weird black and white amen it's a little soft and focus if, as he said before, if the moment is there but the picture is technically not there, you do it too don't look at me, you all do it tell me any of you have never tried to color balance a picture and just been like that aiken white horse you have questions from our friends in the chat ruiz or do the test will have friends in the chat room? We have a lot of friends way and they're going crazy with questions and great comments so exciting a number of questions that are kind of similar similarly related, but netta is asking how do you build relationships with your clients in order to capture those kinds of candid shots and help them feel really comfortable in front of the camera? That's a beautiful question actually some people will never be comfortable in front of you no matter how hard you try and sometimes you have a lot of people realize it's not you some people are just very reserved they don't sometimes it's cultural sometimes it's emotional they don't want you to see like the depth of their feelings or the depth of their feeling is just simply very stoic ah lot of it is the lenses that I use a lot of it is staying back out of their space. If you're up in someone's face with a thirty five, they're going to feel a little intruded upon, which is why I not only do I like the look of a longer linds I like not being in their personal space like that, I do approach my I'm very friendly with my client, I'm very please call me whenever you need anything email me with anything you need help with even if it's not necessarily wedding related when I said you know if you're having trouble picking which bridesmaid's dress would look better in pictures like I'll be with that I can absolutely help you with that I said before they don't try to make friends with my clients but that doesn't mean that I don't want their customer service experience to be fantastic and then I'm very open and friendly just kind of being real with them you know it showing up on the wedding day and being nice to them and being complimentary and I don't chit chat them up but I'm not dead silent either and if to something beautiful is happening I cry like they see me cry you know it's just try to just be very chileans in and it's kind of like working with a puppy no fast movements you know what I mean just being very calm and when a moment starts developing boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom don't that like they'll hear that I um a lot of the times I put my camera on quiet mode I had never wanted to do that before because anybody in the room who knows anything about photography when you put it on quiet mode it sounds like your shutter is too slow I kind of look at you like what are you doing but it dampens down the power of the chunky like knife on shutter clicks which I really love that could be very intrusive, but if I can back off and let them kind of forget that I'm there if they're going to a motel a moat if they're not the type of people to a moat I can't make them do it and I won't push them to do it either and then in order to get that moment we have a couple people asking, how do you get how do you capture those moments and get that tension? Is there anything that you do yourself to ensure that you're going to watch you watch the way watch and again I mentioned earlier I made a crack about how my my four year theater degree is basically useless but it's not because I spent four years learning how to manufacture moments like how do you emotionally build a moment so that the payoff on stages strong it's the same thing in real life see watching something build just watch it just observe if you're all so god when's it gonna happen was gonna happen when's it gonna happen? Do you just breathe like chill? And if you miss the moment okay, so you missed the moment you'll get the next one you know don't beat yourself up about the shop see ms lots of medication thie champagne bottle you're shooting through was getting don't forget it I just told everyone that I'm talking about a great no it it's don't get stressed out don't get caught up in worrying about what you're going to miss because there are a thousand moments that are gonna happen on the wedding day and if you're not cool you're over you know you will over think yourself you don't want to do that and we were questioned yes from laura birth who says hello oh my god it was a high school with her years it hasn't actually more than we're going to count up and say out loud but yeah it's not going to talk about that sometimes she's a photographer as well yes facebook yes so says her question that's all the question is versus a statement you do such an amazing job of doing that storytelling and have you ever had client requests and that you could just tell that their vision you couldn't work with their vision and how do you handle clients this is gonna matter whether you find it out before they book you were after they book you sometimes it's before they book you and you can tell you just know that you are not a style match and usually it's they like my images they just don't like them for themselves like right or they don't there are times seeing themselves in what I do and it is a very very very hard thing to tell somebody I would love to work with you, and I will work with you if you would like, but I truly want you to continue your research and keep looking because I might not be the photographer for you, and I don't want you to spend the money and I don't want you to hire me, and I don't want you to regret it later, so I'll encourage them to keep looking if I think that they're unsure every once in a while, someone hires me, I'm exactly what they're looking for, and then I show up on the wedding day and I have no control. Take a picture of this take a picture of this picture of this take picture of us doing this picture of us taking this moment take a picture of this to which I say, okay, if that's what you want, I'll do that for you that's fine, and then I go home and think you break out the champagne, I go home and I lay down next my husband, I'm like I don't I didn't want anything that I wanted to do, and then they get the images and you know what, it's what they want, and again I said it before this's, none of this is about me, this is not about. How many photographers can I impress or howmany workshops? Can I fill our books? Can I sell all of that can go away tomorrow as long as you can guarantee me that I will still have fifty, happy clients every single year, and if they want to smile at me and every single picture, and I realized that on the wedding day, smile on me all you want, I'm here for you, cliff, and I call it surrendering on sometimes, it's, how fast does it happen on the wedding day? Okay, and here we get, sometimes it's, right away, sometimes it's. Later, when your like, you know, I should've ended about two hours in, but I'm still gonna make my client's happy, so whatever you want.