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How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait

Lesson 18 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait

Lesson 18 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

18. How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait


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

How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait

This is my camera bag. When I was talking about this is a think tank, airport navigator. It is amazing I can fit everything that I take to a wedding in two of them. The reason why it is amazing is it opens from the top, and you can reach down in and get him important things, such as your wallet and a protein bar. Or you can lay it down flat, like so, and open up the front and then get into it that way down in here. When I'm travelling, I put my laptop in it. On the wedding day, I put things like invitations, timelines in my road, flash mentor, um, so down in here, we're going to need this very important thing here. My eighty five millimeter right here. That's. All so it's, my d seven. Fifty. I'm going to take the twenty eight off because it was from the end of a reception. Yes, I did. Just throw it in there without putting a cap on it. There we go. Okay, so I just wanted to bring the bag out and show you what it looked like. So the important part to all of this. Is this thing. This is ...

the cheetah stand for those of you who are just joining us if you go to my website, not my photography website, but my wedding photographers website the dynamic range dot com, and you click on the creative live resource list. There is a link to exactly where I bought this. What makes this makes this thing amazing, is you literally. I've rattled it around. Hang on, stereo. Hang on. This is what happens when you travel with it and start kicking it around in different directions. There we go. There we go, put it down and walk away. There it is. Pick it up, walk to a new spot. The end. Um, I have this thing here. When you saw me shoot details and you saw me bending it around. The reason why this is important is because when you take your ice light and I talk to you about walking around like a ninja, this is why, because you literally strap it to your back. Pull out your ice light like so. This little thing screws into the bottom. Like this. Put it in here and tighten it down. I also have a periscope video up on my youtube channel of me, like putting this thing together. And then just three tweak it. Oh, my gosh. I just put on that side down. We're gonna pretend that nobody saw me do that. Well, it's, the same, you've gotta screw on the top or the bottom. Remember, I was talking to earlier about stocking two of them together. Y'all, it's, november, give me a break, it's. Been a long year. Hang on. This is why I don't like to demonstrate live, inevitably, make some dumb mistake. Okay, here we go. Like so, don't be afraid to really tighten it down and then just really tighten everything on there. So it's not going to go anywhere like so si. Si. You can bend it around like this. Or you can leave it straight up like so. I insist are you guys see this is why you lock it all down there we go up and down so I put it on backwards and then I broke it so I just and on with my shirt that says you don't look fat in the videographer is not with me on the back it's going to say it's november give me a break so I'm gonna show you the barn doors we're not probably going to use them for this image and I'm going to tell you why so the barn doors here they come in a really great carrying case and what I really like about the carrying case is it actually has kind of ah filler because what's gonna happen is I'm going to throw this in my car and I'm going to snap it before I get to the next venue you literally just pull them out and they snap right on like that and now you're modifying away but I'm not going to use them for this because I'm going to be emulating the look of putting a bride in front of a window using the barn doors for this image would be akin to setting the bride in front of the window and then closing down the curtains there is a time and a place for something like that it's not here I'm gonna pack this away like so and this partly you know to be perfectly honest a lot of this is why I have an assistant with me on the wedding day. So I'm not wasting time, taking things apart, putting things together, strapping things together, showing up super early so that I can set up lights all over the place. My assistant is completely invaluable to me. Could I do these things without her? Yes, if I shown you that you can do these things without an assistant, of course, everything that we do tomorrow will also be without an assistant. You know, can you do it? You can do I want to please don't make me. So I'm gonna move this out of the way. Eighty five millimeter to set up. I'm going to make sure that I am on one four. I am on my s a sensitivity settings. Lowest. Eso is as low as possible. Highest I s o n go ten thousand minimum, shutter speed, one hundred sixty eighth of a second white balance. Take it off a flash because you just shot a wedding with this. Put it on auto, okay, you set this out of the way, going to move these. Cause the last thing I need is to spill hot tea on a client and we're to wrangle this table out of the way oh my gosh it's much everything I thought I would let two of you take it away so anybody who watched me through wow this I feel like I should be tap dancing out here anybody who watched me through thirty days saw me do this saw me talk extensively about this what I'm basically going to do is the bride is going to be hay on a lower level than I am so if I'm in a hotel room and I'm shooting this if I'm in a venue and I'm shooting this thank you I would be on a chair I would be standing on a window sill I have climbed upon two radiators I have perched on all manners of difficult locations usually I am looking for a window so I'm going to have the bride sit down and face the light source normally that light source would be a window in this instance the light source is going to be this light and I'm going to set it up before I even bring her in what I'm going to have her d'oh is sit here and face this way but before I get her in here I don't want to waste her time at all so I'm gonna go ahead and preset my light where I wanted I'm gonna put it a little bit at an angle. Turn it on, come into power and all the way up. Angle it down at her a little bit. And I know that this is pretty close. But I'm probably gonna have to tweak it when she gets out here. Where am I going to be? I going to be over here I really hope I don't have to stand it on its end because nobody wants to watch me fall down but if I were in getting ready room I would have a window over here I would have my client down there on the ground and the light from the window would be coming in lighting the client's face can I do that here I can't we're inside there's no windows there's a window over there but I mean this background is brighter than that window so we bring a run in I'm going to have her sit down she doesn't mind sitting down she's a model in a dress she's not getting married today but if this were actually her wedding day and she looked at me like I was crazy oh my gosh please don't make me sit down on the ground I'm going to show you what to do and I'm gonna help you so what she's going to dio is just come pick a hip any hip and just sit on the ground and lean on your arm like that what I'm going to do a while she does that because I'm going to hold the edge of her dress so that she sits on the underside just get down there however you have tio what is she sitting on she's sitting on her under skirt now when I do pictures like this I'm gonna have to get her mom out of the room because her mom is going to go only under sitting on the floor and like completely lose it is she gonna get dirty no it's not like it took her outside and had her sit in a mud puddle it's it's a floor she's gonna be fine but somebody is going to freak out and I don't want that so we're going to refine the pose before I even start shooting so what you're going to do is pull your arm in a little closer to your body that's perfect now leading with your collarbones you're just going to lean towards me yes what this does because I'm looking down on her you have to think kind of like a prow of a ship like rising off of the ship right and she's leading down her natural inclinations going toe to toe lean back into her hips you have to kind of almost have them strive towards you the reason being is I'm shooting with my eighty five one for it one for her eyes are going to be in focus and everything else is going to melt away I wanted to really flow out of the image so roll your shoulders back and then lean forward again it is going to feel like they're doing like this and they're going to look at you like but I'm like like this really you say no you you're just sitting up straight because whenever you sit down you automatically slump roll your shoulders back pin your shoulders back and strive for words like that she already put her other arm in the perfect place but normally what's gonna happen if someone's going to sit down in their arms going brother I'm going to be here do you want them to take the other arm just like she did and gently just drape it across what it's going to do is it's going to create a beautiful circular look you're going to come up that one arm go around her beautiful face come down her shoulder and go right down into her lap which leads right to her other hand which brings you right back up again constantly going back up to her face over and over and over again now why am I sent her here? I sent her here because the floor is neutral and actually I love it thank you for putting in the new floors here when you read it this space because it's dark so if she were sitting on carpet that were utterly horrifying I would take her dress and lay it out behind her and used her dresses the background because I'm shooting down on it but it's actually really nice in here so I'm gonna take her dress and move it out of the way what? I grabbed a client stress and move it around sure you know what the client trusts me when people around her stop trusting me then she stops trusting me. So when I do a picture like this, I'll say, you know what? I really just need you by yourself for a few minutes in here, everybody else had on outside for a few minutes. We'll meet you out there in a minute, her mom, innovative honor always going to try to stay behind and I'll say, guys, just give me literally two minutes with her, and I will bring her to you. I promise we'll be like, no, I want to watch tv like you cannot watch as I have, like, one hand on their back, gently shuttling them towards the door. You know what I mean? And it's? Not because I don't want them to watch. I don't care if they watch, they could watch all day long. I don't want them to make her feel self conscious. I don't want her mom being in here going, honey, sit up. No, sit up, don't sit like that. You know what I mean? People thinking they're being helpful, but they're really just making it very difficult. So we're gonna turn this light on don't look at it. She knows she spent a whole day not looking at it, we're going to turn it on and they turned all the way up. And I'm gonna turn it so that it's lighting her face directly, much like a window. And right about now, if I had an assistant, she'd just be moving it for me. But here we go, okay, it also makes me nervous, because if I were to kick this it's going straight in her face, I'm not going to kick it. Don't worry. She was looking at me like, please don't do that, and I have business insurance, but, boy, I really don't want to use it, so I'm going to get up high above her. This is probably high enough. It might not be so let's. See overhead lights, kill whatever you can kill without ruining the space. Oh, that's, just terrible, thank you. Okay, so one to start on exposure compensation zero making sure I have the focal point directly on her face you're gonna look right up at me and if my face if my hand is your face tilted this way to bring back and you're just going to look right up at me even higher up towards may yes right there right on her eyes and fire and we're gonna wait a couple seconds because we have to pull it in and bring in the program and take a look at it but you can see that the quality of light is great you can see where the quality of light is coming from you khun see that it's coming from were I in a hotel room the window would be coming from over here right? Obviously I have to get this closer to her face because it is an external light source it's not going to be as bright as the window there is only so much I can do with it I'm up here with my eighty five one for it one for I have moved the focal point directly on her eyes it is straight up right on her eyelids and what it's going to mean? Is it's going to mean this? I over here is perfectly in focus. The other eye is not quite perfectly in focus but I know that and I'm doing it on purpose. We're waiting to see the image here. All right now let's say you really wanted to minimize that background let's say there was terrible carpet let's see she's wearing a short dress and you can't really see it you're going to take the light and use those barn doors and bring the barn doors in so that the light is really on lee on her face that would allow you to minimize a lot of the background you could also close off some of it you could move it around so that it's really only hitting her face you could bring it to a horizontal and bring it down really lifes and low but the main point is getting her on the ground and getting me higher than her I'm five eight you can see that I don't have to be that incredibly tall I'm just up on an apple box I've stood on my own suitcase before I've stood on chairs I've stood on the edge of the bed I've climbed onto the rickety ist of new york city radiators I don't recommend that but for me the absolute key the absolute most important part is to get alone with her because she's going to have to sit on the ground so it looks like it's taking a second to get the image up do we have any questions while we wait so this question of kim from jamie one what would you do with a tighter wedding dress when you were trying to be this type if she can't get on the ground a lot of times even when it's tight the way I had her sit down the way I had her sort of fall onto her hip there you khun generally do that if you're wearing a snug her dress if she super super super tight and she can't sit on the ground I'm not gonna be able to do this like maybe I have her sit in a chair and I get up above her but for the most part unless I can get her down here on the ground it's just not gonna look quite the same so you know while I do really like doing this shot it's not it's not something you have to do it every single wedding I might scrap it in favor of going by the window or going outside or any of the other things that we could d'oh yeah any other questions from anybody so far I am on a literal soap box right now this goes back a little earlier but you say you shoot with two cameras yeah I was just wondering are you carrying is it like on your hips like you have special attachment for you got both around your neck I definitely do not put them both around my neck on the last thing in the world I want to do is end up with bad arthritis around my neck. My husband is a photographer he has been a photographer for years and years and years and he's developed some arthritis in his neck from dragging his cameras around he was a photojournalist for a really long time I don't I have tried I've tried the holsters I've tried the harnesses I've tried everything and nothing feels quite right because even when the weight is very evenly distributed I'm still wearing the cameras on my body and my goal is to get them off of my body as much as possible so when I'm not shooting them put them down and again yes I am very fortunate I have an assistant and a lot of her job is to scurry around behind me and pick up the cameras when I put them down and leave them places which I d'oh but I would rather hold them in both hands so that I can put them down and get them off of me then I just I don't know maybe I'm too awkward but I've never been able to find a way to wear them on my body that actually works I was just wondering you mentioned a few times an assistant do you have your assistant also as a second shooter do you also have a second shooter just slowly okay then we're going to talk about why that has been very difficult for me not shooting wise but business wise that's one of the big things tomorrow is talking about a second shooter and it's tough um so it looks like I'm seeing the image on its way over hopefully if not well to do couple more no big deal yes ma'am I've had several people ask about the ice light and the batteries and do they last for an entire wedding or what sort of the battery life e I have noticed that I can get through about two weddings with them obviously they're not on all the time um I can usually shoot them for two weddings using them for minimal portrait ce and using them toe light details at the reception maybe some details throughout the day I could get about two weddings worth out of them. I could probably push it a little harder and a little longer. Um the the newer ones definitely have a better battery life than the first ones they last much longer but like, you know, like the batteries that I have on the wedding day for my cameras and for my flashes and everything I have enough to get through a couple of weddings I still obsessively charge them but this one here actually you can remove I don't even want to do it because it's going to fall out into my hand but right here where I'm touching you heard it click you khun take the battery out of this one so if you only had one and you wanted to get a couple of batteries you could, you know, get a couple of extra batteries and do that um yeah so ah I see a picture and it is working its way here so talking a little bit about the posing here and just talking in general about posing brides I am not a master of posing if you are looking for the master of posing literally anything super isis ever taught is basically greater than anything that I could ever d'oh but I come from a ballet background and when I think about posing my clients I think about all of the things that I learned hey, all of the things that I learned with posture and dance so I'm gonna fix a couple of things and then we're going to shoot I've changed my exposure compensation two minus let's go one three because that looked a little hot to me then I'm going to get up here and reassess the situation all right? So you're sitting basically perfectly if you are me and these are your shoulders pushed that one back and leaned towards me a little bit more bring that arm in a little closer to you and then if this is your head tip it that way and up to your chin with a yep that's perfect I get really excited when it's going really well and I stopped being able to talk this is your face just open it up that way and then shut up to me amazing it's just making everything a little more streamlined thanks. I was like working on my focal points. I'm like, why doesn't this look right, it's flickering here a little bit and right up here at me, focal point directly on your face. I don't know what it's flickering right there. As it flickered off it does not want to behave today I'm gonna not turn this off so you can pull it up but I do want you to see the exposure compensation gets a little bit better but you have to understand when you're putting a bride in this scenario and you're shooting her and she's sitting on the floor this is the first time she's made eye contact with you all day usually she's had girls around her she's been getting ready she's been kind of doing her thing and this is the first time she's directly interacting with you one on one I mean she is gorgeous this is very clear she's beautiful and wonderful in front of the camera and has been wonderful hey look at that better exposure yeah that definitely looks a little bit better so if we were on were to talk about bride fear in just a minute after I let her get off the crown in just a second but you can see just a little tweak pushing that one shoulder a little further back angling her face a little bit better just completes the whole circle you come in you go through her face you go back out you come back in and so on and so forth the dark background is fantastic if I didn't like the background and I wanted it to be darker, turn the light up brighter and get it closer to her face if you want to cut out part of the background put on those boring doors closed them down if I don't like having that little bit of dress out there I took it a little bit closer if I just don't like that that ground it all I pull her dress all the way out and shoot with her dress as the background there is enough room back here for me to take this white dress and extended out that way and just shoot into the straight white dress and then all of a sudden I have a really nice hi key portrait of her but this is something that you can do in less than ten minutes max with either an ice light or a window or a strobe let's say she was sitting right there and I did not have a nice flight and I wanted to use a strobe I would back it off a little further bring it up a little higher shoot it through a nice soft box shoot it down on her coming from the angle of where I would want the window to be we're gonna let my little ice light hang out back here since it decided to go flicker crazy I packed it very badly I hope it is still fine get my camera out of the way I mean that's what you get up off the ground but another lean I'm going to get it by yourself you and your good thank you

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.

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