Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Lesson 12 of 36

Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room


Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Lesson 12 of 36

Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room


Lesson Info

Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room

So we're going to go through each of these scenarios and talk through exactly sort of the camera settings and how lighting these images in this way would also pertain toe lighting on a wedding day when things weren't maybe quite a cz bleak so this is that getting ready room we were in and this is the first image that I shot so the settings here the seven fifty eighty five one four at one eight at I was out one eight because you know they're people and they're gonna move and if she shifts at all even if she just shifts her weight from one foot to the other foot I'm going to lose focus on her one for so I went with one eight my exposure compensation at zero and you can see that it is pretty over exposed here it's way too bright s o twenty eight hundred one hundred and sixty eighth of a second and remember I talked earlier about when I use my eighty five and auto I esso together with moving subjects I can't shoot with the minimum shutter speed oven eightieth of a second the way I could wi...

th the details because I've got people moving around so I stick it about one hundred sixty eighth of a second for my auto eso but then I fixed it I think we can all agree this looks a little bit better than the one before it the on ly change that I made was I took my exposure compensation rolled it down to stops and that changed my eyes so so I went from I s o come here I s a twenty eight hundred s o seven twenty everything else stayed the same just the changing exposure compensation change that s o now again dropping my exposure compensation changed my eyes so from twenty eight hundred to seven twenty my shutter speed stayed the same common theme here because of auto eso and my f stop say the same because of aperture priority 00:01:59.299 --> 00:02:02. and this is pretty much what we've got I've got a 00:02:02.08 --> 00:02:05. little hes up here in the corner from the ice light 00:02:05.61 --> 00:02:08. that could have been absolutely fixed by me moving 00:02:08.4 --> 00:02:10. in a little tighter me changing my angle just a little 00:02:10.91 --> 00:02:14. bit and could you fix it in post sure should you learn 00:02:14.48 --> 00:02:18. not to yes but that doesn't look so bad that looks 00:02:18.92 --> 00:02:22. like there could conceivably be a window off camera 00:02:22.58 --> 00:02:24. right that you are not seeing 00:02:26.22 --> 00:02:28. so when would I shoot and light like this I would 00:02:28.65 --> 00:02:31. shoot and light like this when I had no other choice 00:02:31.82 --> 00:02:34. when I don't have another room to take her into when 00:02:34.99 --> 00:02:37. I don't have another room in the venue that would 00:02:37.37 --> 00:02:41. work I mean I've shot getting ready in ah hotel ballroom 00:02:41.35 --> 00:02:44. before I've left her room and going to a bride's maid's 00:02:44.38 --> 00:02:47. room I've done all kinds of crazy things pulling out 00:02:47.9 --> 00:02:50. a light and actually lighting the getting ready is 00:02:50.43 --> 00:02:53. going to be my last step I would much rather go somewhere 00:02:53.93 --> 00:02:58. else with a window or beautiful natural light but 00:02:58.27 --> 00:03:01. if I can't that's when I would work like this if the 00:03:01.52 --> 00:03:04. room had been crowded with people I would have had 00:03:04.59 --> 00:03:08. to ask people to leave or to stand behind me or to 00:03:08.02 --> 00:03:11. stand off camera in some way and I never like to do 00:03:11.68 --> 00:03:15. that I never have to say hey listen I think the room 00:03:15.23 --> 00:03:17. is really small we're not gonna be able to have everybody 00:03:17.22 --> 00:03:19. in here but I would say hey listen just hang out in 00:03:19.92 --> 00:03:22. the open door behind me you can crowd out there and 00:03:22.75 --> 00:03:24. watch there's just not enough room to bring everybody 00:03:24.95 --> 00:03:28. in here we need maybe two people three tops to get 00:03:28.25 --> 00:03:30. somebody ready if the room were cluttered if there 00:03:30.97 --> 00:03:33. was a lot of stuff in that room I would have moved 00:03:33.5 --> 00:03:35. it all from one side of the room just to the other 00:03:35.47 --> 00:03:39. side of the room like purses the handbags, the suitcases 00:03:39.83 --> 00:03:41. all of that stuff I would've just pulled it to the 00:03:41.94 --> 00:03:44. other side any time I'm going to move something like 00:03:44.52 --> 00:03:47. someone's handbag I always sort of make a universal 00:03:47.33 --> 00:03:49. announcement hey guys I'm meeting up the room and 00:03:49.5 --> 00:03:51. hear you guys don't have to help me don't worry about 00:03:51.86 --> 00:03:54. it I just want to let you know I'm going to pick some 00:03:54.41 --> 00:03:56. stuff up and move it if anyone has a purse they want 00:03:56.71 --> 00:03:59. to grab before I move anything just giving you a heads 00:03:59.3 --> 00:04:02. up I don't want anyone to ever come back later and be missing something or can't find anything and I'm the person who moved their stuff if I'm going to steal something from your purse why what I announce to you that I'm picking it up and moving it do you know what I mean like I'm all I'm just very careful moving people's private things again if there are too many brides maids I'm gonna have to ask people to leave I mean I hate to say that I cannot have twenty people in a room like that I would have had to move somewhere else what if you have no assistant you're helpful light stand on a stick could you shoot that with a strobe ofcourse you could you could do the exact same thing with the strobe I just prefer toe like the ice light better in a situation like this I feel like it mimics a window a little bit more I don't have to go to crazy lengths to defuse it the way I would a strobe and for me it's just the tool for the job if you've got the ones if you've got strobes if you've got a soft box and you want to go to town like that, by all means there's nothing wrong with it. This is just sort of my way of solving the problem. And the kicker? What if no one will listen to you? How often does that happen? Hey can you just turn a little bit to the left? No excuse me hi hi can you just can you shut up and turn a little bit to the left like you can't say that right and what will happen is you'll get in there and you'll put the bride in the right space and then a bride's maid will come in and like you've got the bride here and the light's coming from here and it's amazing and the bride's maid comes in and comes right here like this and it's like butt in your face and then okay then I have to go out kind of like pull that girl around here and then somebody is going to say it's too dark in here can you turn the lights on? I can't see what I'm doing and I'll be like yeah just let me grab a couple shots then I'll turn the lights on for you and then then mom started talking about something and in the makeup artist comes in and needs to get her check and that all of these things keep happening and I start like that little like rage fire inside of my chest starts to burn hotter and hotter and harder and I just want to like scream and be like everyone shut up like none of these things matter calm down let's just focus on the matter at hand. Stop snap chatting! Get off of instagram like focus but you can't say that goes first of all you don't talk to people that way like that's super rude the things in my head should never go for a walk out of my mouth it's a really poor plan but if no one will listen to you you just have to keep reiterating yourself peacefully and sometimes I'll have to like I'll have to be like guys I'm so sorry I'm like I hate to use my indoor voice that you I know there's a million things going on in here can I just like literally can I just get you for thirty seconds I was like I'm sorry for raising my voice I sound like my mom I'm really sorry and usually people laugh and they're like oh yeah no no no you're right they give you five seconds of their attention and they go back to doing what they're doing but talking to them and being very honest in saying guys I'm really sorry it's it's getting really loud in here but I've gotta have you focus for just a second first of all it sort of snaps then it's like throwing a bucket of cold water on the scene and they're gonna look at you and it does give you a little piece for a few minutes but what it also does later is it does a little damage control if the bride looks at her pictures later and is like everyone's got their mouth open and everyone's talking you can harken back and be like I know it was there were a lot of people in there yet a lot of cooks in the kitchen it was really fun everyone was very you know, emotional and talking I tried to get your attention I know you remember me doing that but it just wasn't possible so part of it is calling the attention to the behavior that's happening that's making things difficult for me and is there one magical thing that you can do or say to get people to listen to you when they're not listening to you? I mean there's not right like if people aren't paying attention to you and you keep trying and you keep trying you will reach a point where you're being rude which sounds ridiculous because you're just trying to get them to pay attention because you want the best for them but you know my husband when he teaches he's got a quote in there in his workshop somewhere but it says people are the main point of 00:08:02.922 --> 00:08:05. it is that people are going to remember how you they're 00:08:05.35 --> 00:08:06. not going to remember your words they're going to 00:08:06.79 --> 00:08:09. remember how you made them feel and I could be wanting 00:08:09.96 --> 00:08:12. the absolute best for my clients with every single 00:08:12.17 --> 00:08:15. like fiber of my being but if I the second I raise 00:08:15.26 --> 00:08:17. my voice and get impatient they're going to remember 00:08:17.72 --> 00:08:19. that I snapped at them and they getting ready room 00:08:19.48 --> 00:08:22. and I don't want to do that I'm not saying that I 00:08:22.25 --> 00:08:24. want the images to suffer because I don't want to 00:08:24.24 --> 00:08:25. stand up to my client's because I'm afraid they're 00:08:25.99 --> 00:08:28. going to hurt their feelings I will stand up to people 00:08:29.05 --> 00:08:31. but I'll do it in the most kind of jokingly apologetic 00:08:31.41 --> 00:08:32. way possible 00:08:33.98 --> 00:08:35. that's where it gets kind of hard though because what 00:08:35.94 --> 00:08:38. you want to do sometimes is grab a bride's maid by 00:08:38.08 --> 00:08:40. the braid and yank her out of the room and be like 00:08:40.02 --> 00:08:42. get off your phone and like closer in the bathroom 00:08:42.62 --> 00:08:46. but you can't do that like you just can't sew guys 00:08:46.72 --> 00:08:49. I'm so sorry really I really need your attention ladies 00:08:49.78 --> 00:08:51. in the back like I know you want to take pictures 00:08:51.89 --> 00:08:53. of her can you literally just give me thirty seconds 00:08:54.09 --> 00:08:56. and what I'm saying to them is I understand what you 00:08:56.71 --> 00:08:59. want please let me do this thing first and then I 00:08:59.9 --> 00:09:02. will give you time to do what you want let me just 00:09:02.87 --> 00:09:05. get a couple of these pictures here then I'll turn 00:09:05.07 --> 00:09:07. the lights back on you guys can snapchat and instagram 00:09:07.71 --> 00:09:11. and take your time just give me a second help me and 00:09:11.34 --> 00:09:15. then I will help you I do that all day long family 00:09:15.38 --> 00:09:17. formals when uncle bob is trying to take pictures 00:09:17.43 --> 00:09:20. behind me you know things like that when there's too 00:09:20.23 --> 00:09:23. many cooks in the kitchen let me get what I need then 00:09:23.48 --> 00:09:25. I will give you time to get what you need what's gonna 00:09:25.87 --> 00:09:28. happen is the bride's going to get ready and then 00:09:28.32 --> 00:09:30. I'm going to say ok ladies you know I've got the lights 00:09:30.14 --> 00:09:32. back on you can do whatever you want now on the bride's 00:09:32.44 --> 00:09:34. going to be like no I want to do the first look 00:09:35.44 --> 00:09:38. and you're gonna get what you need so don't be afraid 00:09:38.25 --> 00:09:41. to step up and assert yourself but do it 00:09:42.69 --> 00:09:45. say I'm asserting myself because I'm trying to help 00:09:45.21 --> 00:09:47. you it's not about me it's about me trying to help 00:09:48.1 --> 00:09:50. you so it's all in how you say it in the words that 00:09:50.91 --> 00:09:54. you say when in your head you just want to start smacking 00:09:54.42 --> 00:09:54. people 00:09:56.54 --> 00:09:59. so that's that is my pet peeve is people who won't 00:09:59.06 --> 00:10:02. listen right up there with when I got ready my wedding 00:10:02.8 --> 00:10:05. photographer didn't turn the light get off and I'm like I totally understand everybody's got a million ways of going about doing this I promise you this looks this looks super amazing I promised and they really usually like okay and the brides like yeah it's totally okay she is what she's doing and one bridesmaid is in the background like like totally distrusting you but it's you can't get mad at them for that they don't know maybe they're photographer was different. Maybe they've ever worked with a photographer before maybe maybe a million maybes so I always tried to give everybody the most benefit of the doubt and understand that they're all just there to be with the bride and help the bride and that's my goal to so not to quote anymore how I met your mother for you guys but it's for the bride is literally like my I can ask for anything the whole point of it on that show was like one of the characters asks for a bunch of ludicrous things like girl's phone numbers and what not because it's for the bride and as long as he says it's for the bride people will do whatever he wants if you're asking these bridesmaids you're here for her help me do something great for her, they'll get on board with you more times than not I'm not saying it's easy it's still mind numbingly frustrating so when we're talking about the light in those scenarios, you know the very first one where I've got that light kind of coming from an angle look at this light it's coming from the same angle as the ice light in that scenario that I just set up in that little getting ready room. But this is a window you can see, though that the rim of light around her face is the same room of light as when I used the ice light to make that light same thing here light coming from a window if you block this part off over here and you didn't see it at all that light could have been a strobe it could have been a nice light or it could have been a window my goal when I'm goingto light something is going to be 00:12:01.985 --> 00:12:04. so that people can't tell where the light came from 00:12:04.97 --> 00:12:07. sometimes you can I mean they're standing in front 00:12:07.66 --> 00:12:10. of a window that's not a hard one like that logic 00:12:10.4 --> 00:12:13. one o one the light is coming from the window but 00:12:13.74 --> 00:12:14. where's the light coming from here 00:12:16.53 --> 00:12:22. is it a window is it a strobe who cares it looks really 00:12:22.15 --> 00:12:25. good that light is actually coming from a floor lamp 00:12:26.23 --> 00:12:29. that was at the venue there were no windows in this 00:12:29.69 --> 00:12:33. getting ready room at all so we had to make light 00:12:33.83 --> 00:12:36. I left my ice light in the car I was about to have 00:12:36.53 --> 00:12:39. my assistant run out and go get it and then I saw 00:12:39.26 --> 00:12:42. this amazing weird spaceship looking lamp in there 00:12:42.54 --> 00:12:45. and I said we can use this lamp shut off the rest 00:12:45.39 --> 00:12:48. of the lights let that like be my only light source 00:12:48.61 --> 00:12:54. and I was on my way things were great so god I loved 00:12:54.11 --> 00:12:57. her dress that was really amazing now as I said before 00:12:57.04 --> 00:12:59. if you are using a small light source like a strobe 00:12:59.82 --> 00:13:02. like a ice light you are going to be have to be a 00:13:02.21 --> 00:13:04. little bit more specific about where your client stand 00:13:04.58 --> 00:13:07. because the light just is much smaller physically 00:13:08.09 --> 00:13:10. than a window. But there's. No reason why you can't 00:13:11.06 --> 00:13:13. work with the same lighting pattern that you like 00:13:13.24 --> 00:13:17. from a window, just with a I slight instead. 00:13:18.23 --> 00:13:20. So any questions at all about that scenario before 00:13:20.87 --> 00:13:22. we move on to the next scenario and go wading through 00:13:22.89 --> 00:13:23. the hallways? 00:13:26.13 --> 00:13:29. Internet. I do have some questions about using the 00:13:29.59 --> 00:13:32. ice light itself is that is that all right? Of course 00:13:32.54 --> 00:13:35. it based on what people are seeing, politi asked, 00:13:35.44 --> 00:13:39. do you always put that isolate at head height or is 00:13:39.14 --> 00:13:42. it better halfway down the body or lit at a forty 00:13:42.37 --> 00:13:45. five degree angle? How how do you place the ice light 00:13:45.73 --> 00:13:48. relative to the subject, usually for a situation like 00:13:48.35 --> 00:13:49. this, with the bride getting ready, it's going to 00:13:49.76 --> 00:13:52. be head height? Um, that's. Why I was talking about 00:13:52.15 --> 00:13:54. earlier, how you actually can buy an adapter, tow 00:13:54.23 --> 00:13:57. hook to ice lights together, then you could get full 00:13:57.02 --> 00:14:00. body and go crazy on that. But what I usually want 00:14:00.13 --> 00:14:02. for something like this is, I want the light hit the 00:14:02.02 --> 00:14:04. face in the tour so first and then disperse throughout the rest of the scene. So I am going to have it straight up and down, and I am going to have it head height pretty much just like what you saw.

Class Description

When it comes to running your own wedding photography business, it's not IF something will go wrong, but WHEN! In Wedding Photographer Survival Kit, Susan Stripling will help you handle all of those inevitable "whens" with grace, humor, and strength. 

From scheduling disasters, to rooms with no windows, to reception halls with low ceilings, Susan will teach you the tips, tricks, and skills you need to survive wedding season unscathed. You’ll learn how to: 

  • Create beautiful images in low light situations 
  • Pose awkward clients for flattering photos 
  • Deal with challenging family dynamics 
  • Work in direct sunlight 
  • Negotiate favorable contracts with difficult clients 
After this class you’ll feel confident that, no matter how challenging the circumstances, you’ll be able to produce beautiful photographs and resolve issues quickly. 

Whether you're just starting out or still find yourself fretting during difficult situations, Wedding Photographer Survival Kit with Susan Stripling will give you the skills you need to thrive.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. The Gear That Will Save You in Tough Situations
  3. How Lenses Shape the Image and Help Tell Your Story
  4. Light Modifiers for Your Survival Kit
  5. Gear to Spice Up Bland Images: Prisms, Mist and More
  6. Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue
  7. Why Each Room Works and Why It Doesn't
  8. Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Dress
  9. Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Rings
  10. Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Shoes
  11. Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in Difficult Scenarios
  12. Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room
  13. Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Dark Hallway
  14. Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Doorway
  15. Portraits of the Bride in a Small Room
  16. Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait
  17. Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space
  18. How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait
  19. Photographing Guys, Complaining Brides and "Helpful" Bridesmaids
  1. Portraits of Bride and Groom: Ideal Situations
  2. Portraits of Bride and Groom: When Things Go Wrong
  3. Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors
  4. Bride and Groom Portraits: How to Pose an Awkward Couple
  5. Family Formals: How to Achieve Your Ideal Situations
  6. Family Formals: When Things are Less Than Ideal
  7. Family Formals in an Awful Space
  8. Family Formals Recap and Questions
  9. Photographing the Reception
  10. Reception Q&A
  11. What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Business?
  12. Contracts Q&A
  13. Dealing with Social Media as a Wedding Photographer
  14. What if Advertising Isn't Working?
  15. What to do When Everyone Just Wants More
  16. When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive
  17. When You Hate Your Job as a Wedding Photographer



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.