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Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors

Lesson 22 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors

Lesson 22 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

22. Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors


Class Trailer



Class Introduction


The Gear That Will Save You in Tough Situations


How Lenses Shape the Image and Help Tell Your Story


Light Modifiers for Your Survival Kit


Gear to Spice Up Bland Images: Prisms, Mist and More


Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue


Why Each Room Works and Why It Doesn't


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Dress


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Rings


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Shoes


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in Difficult Scenarios


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Dark Hallway


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Doorway


Portraits of the Bride in a Small Room


Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait


Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space


How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait


Photographing Guys, Complaining Brides and "Helpful" Bridesmaids




Portraits of Bride and Groom: Ideal Situations


Portraits of Bride and Groom: When Things Go Wrong


Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors


Bride and Groom Portraits: How to Pose an Awkward Couple


Family Formals: How to Achieve Your Ideal Situations


Family Formals: When Things are Less Than Ideal


Family Formals in an Awful Space


Family Formals Recap and Questions


Photographing the Reception


Reception Q&A


What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Business?


Contracts Q&A


Dealing with Social Media as a Wedding Photographer


What if Advertising Isn't Working?


What to do When Everyone Just Wants More


When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive


When You Hate Your Job as a Wedding Photographer


Lesson Info

Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors

So my ideal is brilliant bright light outside what you doing that isn't possible right what what if you can't go outside what do you do when you're stuck inside can you find some light inside so maybe you're stuck inside because it's raining maybe you're stuck inside because it's so incredibly hot your clients or miserable being outside and again a huge principle of how I work is if it's going to make my clients and happy I'm not going to do it even if it's going to make a great picture if it is one hundred degrees outside and I want to take them outside and they don't want to go outside we're not going outside I'll convey to them guys I would love to have you outside for five minutes the light is really beautiful I think we could make some really interesting amazing pictures out there if their response to me is I really don't want to go outside it's really hot my response to them is going to be okay because it's not going to be worth it so when you're stuck inside the first thing I'm ...

going to do a fine stuck inside is try to find existing light in the space because we as we talked about yesterday if I confined natural light in the space that's amazing I don't have to make it so let's take a look at the venue that we found yesterday and see if we can find some light inside. So when I first came into this space I walked through the lobby and I immediately disregarded it I thought there's there's really nothing that I can do in here and it was interesting that I said that because this is the room that actually has the best best light out of everywhere in here for you know, the venue owner or whatnot when you show up here they're probably like oh, photographers love to shoot in the lobby and it's because there's just a lot of light in the lobby there's a lot of windows and so on and so forth but the light isn't very directional, so my ideal would be to go to go somewhere else and use a better quality of light or create the light that I need. However, as I was wandering around trying to find places to shoot the bride and groom together I realized that there actually is amazing light in here just 00:01:59.88 --> 00:02:03. not from in here there's a really interesting window 00:02:03.44 --> 00:02:06. over her to my right and there's a really nice window 00:02:06.28 --> 00:02:08. directly behind me. But as I was walking through the 00:02:08.94 --> 00:02:10. lobby I was thinking those windows are interesting 00:02:10.75 --> 00:02:13. but there's really nothing that I could do with them 00:02:13.58 --> 00:02:17. if you find interesting light I hate to use the phrase 00:02:17.34 --> 00:02:20. think outside of the box but I actually had to leave 00:02:20.13 --> 00:02:22. the room and look back into the room to realise that 00:02:22.97 --> 00:02:25. using this light in a really beautiful way couldn't 00:02:25.09 --> 00:02:28. be done in here it had to be done when I was out of 00:02:28.4 --> 00:02:32. the room shooting into the room so when you're walking 00:02:32.33 --> 00:02:35. around when you're looking for your scenarios I confined 00:02:35.13 --> 00:02:37. light in a basement hallway through an open door I 00:02:37.99 --> 00:02:41. confined it through a basement level window but if 00:02:41.56 --> 00:02:43. you do find something and you think that looks really 00:02:43.41 --> 00:02:46. cool but there's no way to get at it angle wise explore 00:02:46.83 --> 00:02:49. it from all different angles leave the room and look 00:02:49.39 --> 00:02:52. in it looked through something go up and look down 00:02:52.44 --> 00:02:55. go down and look up the angle that you can use the 00:02:55.62 --> 00:02:58. light might not necessarily be where you initially 00:02:58.75 --> 00:03:01. thought it was going to be so normally when I photographed 00:03:01.65 --> 00:03:03. the bridegroom together the seventy two two hundred 00:03:03.58 --> 00:03:06. is my go to limbs but when we're dealing with difficult 00:03:06.58 --> 00:03:09. scenarios where I'm trying to minimize backgrounds 00:03:09.03 --> 00:03:12. where I'm tryingto really isolate my subjects sometimes 00:03:12.58 --> 00:03:14. I could do that with the seventy two, two hundred 00:03:14.28 --> 00:03:16. all the way at two hundred millimeters and two point 00:03:16.38 --> 00:03:19. eight but more often than not when I missed in a space 00:03:19.02 --> 00:03:22. like this which is very small part of the problem 00:03:22.26 --> 00:03:25. of today is that the space is tiny I don't have room 00:03:25.51 --> 00:03:27. to get back with my seventy two, two hundred all the 00:03:27.46 --> 00:03:30. way at two hundred so I'm going to rely on my eighty 00:03:30.21 --> 00:03:33. five eighty five one four is an amazing, sharp, wonderful 00:03:33.8 --> 00:03:36. lens and there's nothing wrong with using the eighty 00:03:36.44 --> 00:03:40. five one four at one eight at one four at two eight 00:03:40.52 --> 00:03:42. for a portrait lens even if you're seventy two two 00:03:42.66 --> 00:03:46. hundred is your favorite so now that I have finally 00:03:46.24 --> 00:03:48. figured out how to use this window in this window 00:03:48.67 --> 00:03:51. to my advantage we're gonna grab the bridegroom put 00:03:51.31 --> 00:03:53. them in this scenario and take some really pretty 00:03:53.16 --> 00:03:55. portrait of so I'm going to shoot this scenario in 00:03:55.77 --> 00:03:57. two ways and the way that I've got them set up right 00:03:57.87 --> 00:04:03. now he is actually perfectly centered on that window 00:04:03.27 --> 00:04:06. and it's a really interesting composition so mina 00:04:06.48 --> 00:04:09. said it'd exposure compensation zero and shade that 00:04:09.39 --> 00:04:10. that's a poor choice 00:04:11.64 --> 00:04:13. and once again showing it to you so that you know 00:04:13.56 --> 00:04:15. that you have to be smarter than the camera but in 00:04:15.87 --> 00:04:18. this instance not much because it was pretty close 00:04:18.59 --> 00:04:22. I'm going toe exposure compensation minus point seven 00:04:23.14 --> 00:04:26. focal point directly on his eyes at f one point eight 00:04:27.64 --> 00:04:32. fire a couple of times that looks really amazing going 00:04:32.5 --> 00:04:34. to get a really nice vertical you guys look great 00:04:35.34 --> 00:04:35. good 00:04:36.94 --> 00:04:39. so what you're going to do from here take a step closer 00:04:39.71 --> 00:04:41. to the grandfather clock until you're practically 00:04:41.65 --> 00:04:45. touching it and then get even closer to her so what 00:04:45.11 --> 00:04:48. I have done here is I moved him away from the windows 00:04:48.99 --> 00:04:52. so he's no longer against the window now he's closer 00:04:52.17 --> 00:04:56. to her which really changes the lighting pattern on 00:04:56.7 --> 00:04:58. his face in her face, 00:04:59.14 --> 00:05:01. I'm not going to change my settings because the room 00:05:01.52 --> 00:05:03. has stayed the same, and the lighting has stayed the 00:05:03.23 --> 00:05:06. same, but it changes my perspective just a little 00:05:06.2 --> 00:05:06. bit. 00:05:07.64 --> 00:05:11. The light is stunning on them right now, and I'm gonna 00:05:11.07 --> 00:05:15. get just a little bit closer, like, so get really 00:05:15.6 --> 00:05:17. close to the two of them. You confined this whole 00:05:17.28 --> 00:05:20. scenario. Funny, it isthe after all, funny, good, 00:05:22.24 --> 00:05:24. and this is, you know, I know we're talking about 00:05:24.01 --> 00:05:27. making the best of bad situations that even if this 00:05:27.15 --> 00:05:29. were an actual wedding day and this was the light 00:05:29.47 --> 00:05:31. that I found, I I'd be thrilled. That was great, you 00:05:31.77 --> 00:05:34. guys, good it's, beautiful. All right so the first thing we're going to look for when we go inside whether it is july whether it is december now obviously if you're inside and it's eight o'clock at night you're not really going to find light coming through a window you have to be kind of logical on that one but I found these windows and I kept staring at them from inside the lobby and I kept thinking 00:05:59.199 --> 00:06:03. I really like them but I can't get at them so it wasn't 00:06:03.22 --> 00:06:05. until I went through these doors and looked back into 00:06:05.85 --> 00:06:08. it that I realized that I actually had an incredibly 00:06:08.05 --> 00:06:12. viable shooting situation and yes is this surviving 00:06:12.19 --> 00:06:16. in a difficult scenario it is but I also legitimately 00:06:16.17 --> 00:06:18. liked it if this were an actual wedding day and I 00:06:18.5 --> 00:06:20. stumbled across this light with actual clients 00:06:21.86 --> 00:06:23. excuse me I probably would have stopped them to take 00:06:23.79 --> 00:06:26. a picture there regardless I think it's very pretty 00:06:26.86 --> 00:06:27. scuse me 00:06:28.56 --> 00:06:29. so scenario number one 00:06:31.26 --> 00:06:34. d seven fifty talked about that yesterday eighty five 00:06:34.27 --> 00:06:37. at one eight the reason why I was at one eight instead 00:06:37.67 --> 00:06:40. of one four is their huge people shift around a little 00:06:40.75 --> 00:06:42. bit they move their weight from one foot to the other 00:06:43.13 --> 00:06:45. I didn't want to focus at one four and have him or 00:06:45.59 --> 00:06:48. her like shift wait one way or the other and then 00:06:48.24 --> 00:06:52. lose focus so I went with one eight exposure compensation 00:06:52.38 --> 00:06:56. zero it's still a little hot um er shutter speed they're 00:06:56.87 --> 00:06:59. one hundred sixtieth of a second it's fast enough 00:06:59.27 --> 00:07:01. so that there won't be any blur from either my hand 00:07:01.42 --> 00:07:05. shaking or the people moving around it's pretty close 00:07:05.56 --> 00:07:07. like I said in the video I did need to drop down to 00:07:07.81 --> 00:07:10. exposure compensation minus point seven I think in 00:07:10.21 --> 00:07:13. this images faces a little bit hot but what I've done 00:07:13.18 --> 00:07:16. here is I've deliberately placed him in front of that 00:07:16.09 --> 00:07:19. window looked at these side by side to me those are 00:07:19.17 --> 00:07:22. different pictures and it's also a really good illustration 00:07:22.73 --> 00:07:27. of why the light looks the way it does in each image 00:07:28.21 --> 00:07:31. the light on her face is the same it's coming it's 00:07:31.25 --> 00:07:33. hitting her in the face looks really great the light 00:07:33.82 --> 00:07:37. on his face is actually the same in both the reason 00:07:37.63 --> 00:07:40. why you can see it so strongly in this image is because 00:07:40.57 --> 00:07:43. he's against the darker background that's why I moved 00:07:43.5 --> 00:07:46. him in the image on the left I love that he has framed 00:07:46.59 --> 00:07:51. in the window but I also really wanted his face to 00:07:51.53 --> 00:07:53. get the same sort of attention her face got they're 00:07:53.87 --> 00:07:57. both gorgeous people so I moved him closer to her 00:07:57.22 --> 00:07:59. now the light is equally lighting both of them 00:08:01.08 --> 00:08:04. so okay, so we're inside and we've only got one window 00:08:04.65 --> 00:08:07. that's great you're working with models you know someone 00:08:07.03 --> 00:08:09. and so forth how does this actually translate to a 00:08:09.15 --> 00:08:11. real wedding day? That's one window 00:08:13.58 --> 00:08:17. that's a really wedding that I actually really shot 00:08:17.75 --> 00:08:21. light from one window okay so it's one window maybe 00:08:21.84 --> 00:08:23. it's the same as being in that scenario and having 00:08:23.86 --> 00:08:25. one of the windows instead of two of them 00:08:27.08 --> 00:08:28. that's pretty similar 00:08:29.57 --> 00:08:32. you have the light coming in from behind you can see 00:08:32.77 --> 00:08:35. her really well because she's against a dark background 00:08:35.43 --> 00:08:38. that's inside with one window just because it's a 00:08:38.72 --> 00:08:41. door doesn't mean it's not a bright huge light source 00:08:41.82 --> 00:08:44. like a window what you cannot see because I actually 00:08:44.67 --> 00:08:47. did edit this image because it was hilariously mortifying 00:08:47.65 --> 00:08:50. I took the shoes that I was wearing off I couldn't 00:08:50.4 --> 00:08:53. get the door to stay open on we tried a million ways 00:08:53.64 --> 00:08:55. to get the door to stay open I kind of had my assistant 00:08:55.59 --> 00:08:58. outside she could hold one but not both I took those 00:08:58.14 --> 00:09:01. she was often jammed them under the door to keep them 00:09:01.12 --> 00:09:03. open I mean I took one for the team there on that 00:09:03.32 --> 00:09:06. one but it was california it was really hot it was 00:09:06.45 --> 00:09:09. sit somewhere I was wearing birkenstocks I took them 00:09:09.4 --> 00:09:12. off damn under the door and then edited them out later 00:09:12.31 --> 00:09:15. so yeah as I said yesterday I really like to get everything 00:09:15.17 --> 00:09:16. right on camera but sometimes when you have to use 00:09:16.95 --> 00:09:18. your own shoes to hold the door open you probably 00:09:18.75 --> 00:09:20. should just remove them later. 00:09:21.88 --> 00:09:25. Same sort of light light from one source this over 00:09:25.93 --> 00:09:28. here is dappled light so I had to be very, very, very 00:09:28.67 --> 00:09:31. careful to make sure that her eye within one of the 00:09:31.31 --> 00:09:35. clear spots so that your I went straight to her eye 00:09:36.12 --> 00:09:36. one window, 00:09:38.73 --> 00:09:41. one window inside there is no reason why you can't 00:09:41.85 --> 00:09:45. make this work indoors. I never want to show images 00:09:45.58 --> 00:09:48. and have people look at them and say, you know, you 00:09:48.89 --> 00:09:51. did this with a model and he did this in a controlled 00:09:51.13 --> 00:09:53. location but you can't actually do this on an actual 00:09:53.5 --> 00:09:56. wedding day with the real people. Well, you can this 00:09:56.57 --> 00:09:59. is indoors philadelphia's thirtieth street station 00:09:59.4 --> 00:10:01. this is a train station. There were thousands the people in the room but I found beautiful light coming in from windows placed her face against a dark background so that you could see her really well made sure that my exposure was correct dropped down a little bit with my angle so that I could block out all the other people walking around and there you go indoors just because you're stuck inside doesn't mean that you can't make beautiful things it's isn't easier when it's later in the day and the sun is coming through it a beautiful angle of course it is is it unworkable? Otherwise of course it's not you can still make it work any questions about that before we talk a little bit further? Yes, ma'am question that's would you ever put an ice light on the outside of a window to impersonate sunlight probably not it's such a little light source it's not really going to do much it's gonna look kind of weird like there's a flashlight coming through the window also a lot of times when we're driven inside it's because it's raining and I'm not putting my six hundred dollar I slide out in the rain just not going to do that I can't imagine email in jerry and being like this light you created I totally ruined it by leaving it out in the rain I can't do that I would be more likely to hide it behind the curtains or tuck it behind a sheer or something like that then I would to take it all the way outside it's not a poor idea I mean if it were a commercial shoot I would have a huge light outside shining through the window a big strobe something like that it's just sometimes not feasible to handle the wedding day the same way you would like a controlled commercial shoot though I wish you could awesome so that's great and all but what if there is no light at all what if it's winter and the sun is set what if it's night time what if it's raining so what if you've got nothing right like what if it is full on eight pm raining outside and you have nothing and you want to make something creative now you can put your ice light in front of your subjects you khun evenly light them the way I did yesterday you could make some great camera wear portrait that's not a problem when you're inside but what if you want to make something creative and you've got nothing so when it comes time to shoot the bride and groom together let's say it's pouring rain or twelve degrees or twelve hundred degrees you can't go outside there's nowhere to go you're inside in oh I don't know a basement speakeasy with no windows and yellow stage lights what can you possibly d'oh well it's really important to me when I'm photographing the bride and groom that I have a wide variety of images of them together when you're doing something like a detail shot you only need a couple and we're doing portrait's of the bride alone you only need a few but if if there is time to photograph the bride and groom together I need more images so I'm going to try to work with several different lighting scenarios so that we can see what we can do both from creating all of the light to creating a minimal amount of the light now anything that I've done with the bride getting ready with those lighting patterns with portrait's of the bride and those lighting patterns those can easily translate to adding a guy in there or, you know, adding her spouse in there and using those same lighting scenarios so while some of these might look familiar, it changes a little bit because you might place the light a little bit differently or consider your settings a little bit differently so the important things to note here we have a dark background my clients are not shoved up against that dark background the reason for that is I need a little bit of separation between the light and the background I don't want the light to spill over onto the background because then I'm not isolating my subjects in the way that I want teo so I have them facing each other they're very close together I have again my trusty ice light on my cheetah stand so for those of you who are saying iike can't do off camera flash or anything like that I don't have an assistant you pick it up you put it down no more excuses you have your assistant so when you turn these lights on like so it lights up the whole scene now you've seen me do several times scenarios where I add in light and then subtract light and this is no different I add in the ice light I take away the existing lights that are bothering me so the stage lights are gone already we not only have a better white balance, but the light is looking a lot better but it's not great these barn doors are so crucial in a lighting situation like this, because if you look at this without the barn doors, it does not look bad. But when you start closing this door, you eliminate the light off of the background, and then you close this door. You see how it's spilling all over the back of his suit. I close it down, it's not going anywhere now, except straight into her retinas, just like that. So I've gotten rid of the distracting light in the background. I've gotten rid of the distracting light on the back of his suit. Her face is lit, they're facing each other. Everything is perfect. I'm going to shoot this with my eighty five one four at about one eight, and let's shoot it. You shoot this at exposure compensation. Zero zero, on average, your priority so that you can see that that's, a very bad choice, incredibly, incredibly overexposed. I can eyeball this scene and know that I need to already go down to minus three point. Oh, with my exposure, compensation. And that is straight up perfect somebody shoot it vertically you khun horizontally sorry you guys can find each other amusing if you'd like there you go and as far as posing for this they just have to be nice and close together and look like they mostly like each other good two seconds to set up two seconds to shoot you've got a lighting scenario that works anywhere yeah that I still just look at that room and I'm like why why so now listen is at a very specific lighting pattern it is am I going to shoot all of the portrait of the bride and groom together like that? I'm not because then it would look exactly the same you know, I want to vary my lighting patterns whether I'm indoors, whether I'm outdoors so that I have a very rich variety of images in their gallery this is just another tool when things are difficult you don't need to do all of your portrait's like this but let's talk through the settings that's bad why is that bad? Eighty five one four at eighty five and one eight exposure compensation zero I s o eight thousand eight hundred sixty eighth of a second it is so over exposed it makes me want to cry it's about three stops overexposed and it's because your camera meter looked at it and said, what are you doing? Dude? That's horrible and it's trying to equalize that super dark background and bring some of it back and it just doesn't know what to do it's hunting for your bell curve history ram you don't want a bell curve hissed a gram here like you literally want a cup of a history graham that is so much better I mean in my opinion same thing everything's the same except exposure compensation went down to minus three literally under exposing it three stops I'm on aperture priority look what it did to the so it went from eight thousand to twelve fifty that's a pretty big change and it the whole file looks better and this is not retouch this is not edited there's no vignette put on it this is what it looked like straight out of the camera so lest you think that I can only do this with models in a controlled location wedding day is that a window? Is that a strobe? Is that a nice light who cares doesn't matter it's the exact same lighting pattern and as the image you just saw which also again looks a lot like this scenario haha I left the when and where I didn't edit my shoes out I thought I'd make you guys laugh with that one so if you wear birkenstocks you can use them to jam open doors but it's the same principle look where the light is coming from. It doesn't look entirely dissimilar to being outside the light is coming from the same angle that I wish the sun were coming from or that I wished the sun were coming from do you see where we're going with all of this would I much rather be outside in a scenario like this oh yeah because this is really easy you put your subjects between yourself and the sun you expose for the faces and you go to town that's a pretty good place to be in it's difficult when you're inside I can't make inside look like this right like we have to be realistic here but I can make it look pretty good and I can use the light coming from the same angle I can use the light behind them coming from an angle the way I just did in those videos or I could move the light in front of them and use it to light them up they're so nice it was raining and snowing and horrible and she looked at me and she said let's go for it they went outside she destroyed her makeup her hair was soaking wet her dress was wet and her logic was who cares I'm gonna fix when I go back inside and she went inside her makeup artists looked at her and looked at me and then took her away drive her hair put more makeup on and you enter the reception no big deal if every client where this woman I would shoot wedding every single day they are I mean, look at her face, she is so full of joy. Um, I was, I got sick. After that day. It was very cold. I was ill prepared, but you can be inside and use your video light or your strobe, or however you choose to light 00:20:04.828 --> 00:20:08. it. Same thing. We're outside in the image before 00:20:08.37 --> 00:20:10. this were inside. In this image, it doesn't matter. 00:20:10.82 --> 00:20:12. I'm still using the light the same way.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Wedding Photographer Survival Kit Slides

Ratings and Reviews


I found this course extremely helpful. I own Susan's 30 day bootcamp class and I think that this course is a great supplement to that course. I don't work with an assistant so it was very helpful to see how she would approach a scenario without an assistant. It was also great to see her point of view and thought process when scouting locations for portraits and witness her ability to make something beautiful out of "not so pretty" or difficult locations. It helped me to take a better approach to finding the light, and really paying attention to all of the different details throughout a room. Her business tips were awesome too. I could go on and on but maybe you should just get the course. It's worth it.


Good and useful course as typical of Susan Stripling; I also own Creative Wedding Photography. However, all the class materials should reside on the Creative Live website -- not just the Power Point presentation. I understand Susan's desire to drive people to her website to increase visibility and sales of her own products, but the strategy isn't very customer-centric for CreativeLive customers. People shouldn't have to "google" the name of her company to find the information that she references in this course; and then once on the website scroll through outdated or unwanted information to find, as she states at her website, "Below is the list of gear (as promised) that I've mentioned on Creative Live." If people are smart enough to find CreativeLive, they'll be smart enough to find on the web any presenter that they like or want to know more about. The folks at CreativeLive ought to address this type of behavior before it sets a bad precedent for future presenters.


I love Susan. She will give it to you straight! I own her "30 days" class and it's amazing but one thing I took away from this course was when she said something along the lines of, "Those photographers who tell you they hand pick their clients are lying to you!" Haha. There are TOO MANY young and arrogant wedding photographers who think they are rock stars. They really get me down. And that's why I like Susan. She's honest.

Student Work