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Reception Q&A

Lesson 29 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

29. Reception Q&A


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

Reception Q&A

Any questions at all about first answer's parent dances toasts blessings from you guys who are still smiling and nodding at me yes please absolutely I'm not sure if you mentioned in the video but what was the power setting that your flash was on the power setting on the flash was on half power because the room was kind of vic most of the time my flash setting is going to be hovering between quarter power eight power half power and what will determine that is the light level in the room and also the distance of the flash to the subject so if it's a huge dancefloor it's really really dark my assistant has to be really far away on the edge of the floor quarter half if the room is smaller if the ceilings are lower if she's closer between an eight and a quarter now I can make a deal let's go back I can determine a change based on what the image looks like so let's say I take a picture and it's over exposed what can I do? I could never step back with flash and my super sophisticated hand sig...

nal for that looks like that I could have her step back I can have her change the flash power or I can change my s o there are several different things that you could do my husband uses the pocket wizards the ones where you can actually change the settings of the flash from on your own camera I don't love them for literally no other reason than they just feel weird to me she and I have such a symbiotic relationship I can do like that she pulls the flash down hits a couple buttons puts it back up in two seconds so for cliff when he is shooting dancing and they're moving across the floor and changes or things are changing there close to the light then there away from the light then they're close to the light he conflict changes on his flash I make changes with my eyes so more often than not which one's right they both are you know like my way better I'm just getting its however you have to get there and the 00:01:59.058 --> 00:02:01. best advice that I ever got on off camera flash was 00:02:01.93 --> 00:02:03. from zach at his one light workshop where he said 00:02:03.84 --> 00:02:06. if you don't know where to start start somewhere like 00:02:06.24 --> 00:02:07. literally set your camera on anything and set your 00:02:07.96 --> 00:02:10. flash on anything and take a picture and look at it 00:02:10.95 --> 00:02:13. well are you over exposed then let's make a decision 00:02:13.75 --> 00:02:16. or you under exposed then let's make some decisions 00:02:16.52 --> 00:02:18. but don't be afraid to just set what you think are 00:02:18.58 --> 00:02:20. the right settings and take a test shot and then make 00:02:20.5 --> 00:02:21. a change from there 00:02:22.62 --> 00:02:26. yes, I saw the mike moving around yes sir so as we 00:02:26.61 --> 00:02:28. talked about with all the interest and different things 00:02:28.26 --> 00:02:33. like that large like choreographed dances which a 00:02:33.31 --> 00:02:35. lot of people don't like because for us when we're 00:02:35.9 --> 00:02:38. shooting weddings it's like you took all the emotion 00:02:38.27 --> 00:02:40. out of the first dance because now you're all focusing 00:02:40.51 --> 00:02:42. on where you're stepping in what your moves are but 00:02:42.88 --> 00:02:45. how do you adapt if it's just you and your assistant 00:02:45.78 --> 00:02:48. or whatever and you have not just the bride and groom 00:02:48.39 --> 00:02:50. on the floor but then all of a sudden the whole bridal 00:02:50.47 --> 00:02:54. party shows up on the floor or they're moving so fast 00:02:54.16 --> 00:02:57. in a low light situation thatyou're trying tio focus 00:02:57.23 --> 00:02:59. and making sure your lights air there and everything 00:02:59.54 --> 00:03:02. else so what I ideally like is that beautiful lighting 00:03:02.16 --> 00:03:04. pattern where it's coming from slightly over you know 00:03:04.94 --> 00:03:07. if we're dancing this way and you're lighting the 00:03:07.3 --> 00:03:09. face of the person that I'm dancing with I would like 00:03:09.61 --> 00:03:12. the light to come from over my back shoulder well 00:03:12.9 --> 00:03:15. if you've got a very elaborately choreographed bridegroom 00:03:15.99 --> 00:03:18. for stands or one where they pull a lot of people 00:03:18.68 --> 00:03:22. out onto the dance floor if this is the dance floor 00:03:22.05 --> 00:03:26. right and there's the crowd and here's everybody and 00:03:26.06 --> 00:03:27. they're kind of dancing facing this way or the bride 00:03:27.93 --> 00:03:29. and groom were doing this elaborately choreographed 00:03:29.34 --> 00:03:32. dance there facing this way instead of having my assistant 00:03:32.14 --> 00:03:33. at the back corner of the dance where which is where 00:03:33.8 --> 00:03:35. she would normally be with the light I bring her to 00:03:35.76 --> 00:03:37. the front corner of the dance floor and we light it 00:03:37.99 --> 00:03:39. with sort of the same pattern that I would family 00:03:39.86 --> 00:03:42. formals where the light is coming from a front but 00:03:42.25 --> 00:03:44. from an angle that way it's very forgiving with people 00:03:44.88 --> 00:03:47. spinning and twirling um 00:03:48.72 --> 00:03:51. yet still really tough I always do ask if they do 00:03:51.98 --> 00:03:54. have and I always ask this like during the formals 00:03:54.72 --> 00:03:57. while I'm taking the bridegroom around only so your 00:03:57.02 --> 00:04:00. first dance to have a choreographed first dance my 00:04:00.08 --> 00:04:02. reason for asking that is are you going to dip her 00:04:02.16 --> 00:04:03. at the end and if you are what which direction is going to be facing that's all I really care about because the dip in the end if you miss that you know they're going to notice it so I want to know where you're going to dip facing the band are you going to dip facing the crowd if they're practicing their dance kind of when they get to the reception space I want to see because I want to see in which direction they're going to finish it so I could make sure that I'm in the right spot but something big for a very choreographed first dance I'm not going to try that precise backlight I'm going to do that angled front like the way I would for family formals and it's still really tough especially when you get a bunch of people out there and you're just like why are you doing this yeah okay yes, sir. Well, you always said your color balance on flash or will you adjust that depending on what you see in the room you know ninety nine percent of the time when I am using flash it is going to be on flash and it usually gets me pretty close if they go super crazy lighting the reception room and making it really wacky I'll put it back over to auto and let my post production team sorted out and sometimes they actually will contact me we talked yesterday about how when they're going through you know the wedding and they're editing the images and they have questions about things they'll come back to me will be like does this look all right is this what the room looked like and sometimes they'll come back and say the reception lighting is all over the place to your reception white balance is all over the place especially if you get d j light's you get those blue blue party lights that's going to change the white balance all over the place and I know that so yeah yes yes ma'am all right well we have lots of questions please weigh about this scenario elise because it's probably what one of the most challenging it's tricky it's true the wedding so we have a black room ends hee who in fact is joining us from auckland, new zealand so shout out it's been watching the whole time who says we and we've talked about this but how do you deal with the guests getting in the way of the first dance thie unplugged wedding really on lee gets taken notice of during ceremonies so tough like for the main people are obnoxiously respectful where if they're going all it's tough right like you're shooting into the crowd and you're really just shooting into a scene in a sea of held up iphones which is really difficult the only time it actually becomes a problem is if people actually come out on the dance floor to take pictures and if people do come out on the dance floor to take pictures I do my best to minimize them minimize them but they're does reach a point where I will actually include them in the photographs because that's what it looked like so if they've got a bunch of people ringing around them taking pictures I will step back and I will get a wide angle off what that looked like partly to save myself if they don't say later why're there not more close ups during the first dance but partly also that's what happened you know they had guests come out on the floor and take pictures and that's part of the day so I'll try to shoot around them but if I can't I will include them by all means why not yeah what is says we've said a number of all you could do all you can do right I mean it's, tough I don't I don't like it the worst is when somebody comes on the edge of the dance floor and they just stand there the whole time and like the bridegroom or it's usually a parent dance when this happens they'll just smile at the camera the whole time or sometimes you'll have a great first dance and the parent dance happens and they just look at you you know what I mean the whole way around and then they find you again and you're like you can't look at me the lights over the light the lights over there if they were really determined to look at me and I can tell that they're gonna look at me through the hole first dance where the whole first whatever dance all actually motion to my assistant and have her come from the back corner to the front corner so that we light a little more from the front or I'll move over and join my assistant stand kind of next to her and use her light is a main light so if they're going to stare at me they're going to be evenly lit wherever I'm at all you can do is all you khun dio really yes susan we have a couple different questions about if you would ever put your flash on your camera in this scenario one particular question from sd groot I love using backlighting too, but I often get too much light from the back making the subject to dark do you ever use an on camera flash for fill light or how do you adjust for that? I don't ever use an on camera flash or feel like most of the time because if I'm shooting my seventy two two hundred I'm just too far back for that on camera flash to really do any good I can't remember a single instance in the past couple of years where I would have used it on camera flash instead of an off camera flash for for stands but if you are using a flash from the back and it is too bright and it is overwhelming your subjects you've got to back the light off turn the light down or change your own settings you can use it at a much dimmer power and not have it overwhelm your people but I feel your pain ideo great uh let's say we have a question about this is from guy of indignity who says would it be okay to ask the bride and groom in advance to not eat during toasts is that you don't get that scenario of them eating you know there's only so much control that I can have over the wedding day I think that you can advise them of it you know I was talking yesterday about wanting to write that book is a guide for my clients one of the things I'll put in there is you know please bear in mind that while you are the focus of a blessing or a toast all eyes will be on you the camera will be on you video will be on you if you could hold off eating or you know drinking heavily you know I just don't want them constantly going for the water during that part it would help the photos out but I they're remembering so many different things on their wedding day I don't want to sort of boggle their brains with that so I don't often ask them actually I wouldn't ever ask them not to do it I would just rather roll my eyes respectfully and shoot around it as best I can but it does really kill me when I've got a really great moment like a really wonderful genuine natural moment the bridesmaids crying the bride's laughing and the groom's cheeks are stuffed full of salad like a monk but you know what it is what it is it's what happened it's kind of cute crop him out later you know do you know what I mean? Like I would love it if they didn't but I realize that's part of the day that I can't have a whole lot of control over for sure much as I wish I could very much appreciate that center it's tough because there are like we're talking about family formals and portrait the bride groom portrait of the bride by herself there are a lot of things that you can do to control that part of the day. But once the reception happens and it's kind of an uncontrolled event, there's. Not a whole lot that you can do. I can't step out there and be like, stop eating salad. Although I wish I could that would be great yeah yes ma'am so I have a question regarding cellphones I've had this happen a few times where like during the dances the parent that's not dancing with the bridegroom has their phone in front of their face he do that and I was wondering if there's like a way that you could at nicely say to them like hey put your phone down enjoy the moment type thing or like can you say that earlier in the day or have you dealt with that and do you have any oh digestion hate listen I've had the groom miss seeing the bride when he walked down the aisle for the first time because his mom's leaning in the aisle with her cell phone I've had parents shooting the entire ceremony I've had parents videoing the entire ceremony even though there's a videographer right there and it happens a lot during parent dances the groom's dancing with his mom and dad standing there on the corner like this well I'm going to take a picture of that because it is what it is do you know what I mean like much as I wish I could go over to him and be like sir, I'm so sorry can you can you put that down I don't know them I don't know their scenario maybe there's no videographer there and the groom and his mom have an amazing relationship maybe maybe maybe maybe a million different things that I don't know anything about and much as I would love to just go over there and just swat his phone and make it fall on the ground I'm not I'm not going to do or say anything about it the only party gets super awkward is if you're this is just weird I don't get this one if the dance is happening like groom is dancing with his mom and dad's like texting that's kind of a weird one I kind of have a problem with that but then if I'm shooting him I will just shoot from here up and just cut out his hands entirely so that later generations to come will not know that he was on facebook call them but do you know what I mean like at some point in time he's going to look up and I'll hover over him for a few minutes and wait for him to like look up and then I'll catch that but it'll be cropped here so that you can't see that his thumbs were going crazy. But it's tough the cellphone thing is is a constant problem and you have to figure out how much or how little you on your own end want to deal with it and want to address it. Yes, ma'am, so this one had a number of votes from amy who says any tricks on how to focus on clients during dancing when it's so dark that your camera isn't getting you know, locking focus you know that's where having a really top lynn's really helps some of the less excellent more off brand lenses that I've worked with have trouble focussing in low light I have to say that the strongest combo of camera and lens together in low light that I work with a reception is that g seven fifty and the seventy two, two hundred for it is like a tractor beam a focus I mean it works like crazy I love my twenty four to one twenty f four it's slow to focus during receptions I know that I can't use it when the light is very low but I will if I'm at f four sometimes I will aim for where the grooms quite shirt meets his neck because I know that if I can focus right here it f or I'll have their faces or all focus on their ears cause it's hard to get the eyes but when you're in f or you can get the ears and I'll move my focal point because they're moving so fast it's hard to focus and recompose so maybe if this is your sensor offer your inside of your camera I'll put my focal point up here instead of focusing and then re composing, focusing and re composing I put that focal point right where I know why won't my subject is going to be and nail it every time but when it gets really, really dark. The best, most reliable focal point for me is dead on in the center, so I'll go ear, ear, ear, recompose here, recompose here or neck. The worst is to try to get the eyes, because you're never going to get the eyes that's hard, great, great here, thank you. Okay, how about this one? This person likes to use a light stand with two flashes on the one light stand, one bounced and one direct with with one of those road flash benders like you use. Have you ever tried this? And does that sound like something that could be useful? I've never tried it I probably would never try it because you would have the life that bounces up really filling the room and evening it out and that's not the kind of lighting that I'm going for I'm looking for one very direct light it if you want to balance and have direction but it's not probably something that I would ever try it would probably be very helpful in a small space especially if you turn both of those down a little bit it's a pretty smart idea it just wouldn't fit with the way sort of the way I like the lighting pattern toe look it's not wrong it's just different cool yeah grace pretty smart to guess the right suggestion awesome ok what about what happens when the videographer has their light I know where you're going with this couple's during the toast do you forget you say that again I died inside just like you guys were saying what happens when the videographer has their lights on couples during the toast do you forgo your flash you guys I rule it depends on the quality of life honestly it depends on the strength and the quality of light I work with several videographers in the new york area and the philly area who do a really beautiful job of adding in some minimal light just to illuminate the couple however it's usually not strong enough for me to go without a flash I will still use a flash unless it is a very very very bright light source and then maybe most of the time not most of the time I still need my flash the main problem that I have with videographers is that they don't seem to understand what a seventy two two hundred is or what really anything longer than a twenty four is and I'll be shooting trying to shoot toaster trying to shoot dancing and they're really close they won't get out of the way they've got one shooter here one shooter here all over the place and I have to remember that we're both there to do the job for the couple and work around them it does make it tricky listen I understand there are plenty of things that I do on a wedding day that will probably make the videographers job difficult I fully I fully take my part in that but videographers of the world please take two steps back during the toast and the blessings like you don't need to lean on the sweetheart table it just sort of makes it really difficult and the worst part is people think that they're with you so they think that you've got like five shooters out on the dance floor and again that shirt that I would love to have that says the videographer is not with me on the back it would probably have to say that he is a really cool dude and I really like him and he doesn't really good job we're just not part of the same team but it's it's you know what I mean it's tough every once in a while I want to run into a wedding where they actually have like a spotlight on the dance floor spotlight on the bride and groom from the venue lighting and sometimes you can work with that and that's great but usually because the space is so dark you after jack you're so up so high and bring your shutter speed so down to get a good shot of it that I'm going to get motion blur or it's not gonna look right or it's going to be noisy and I'm still going to use my flash in that scenario though it is tough it's a great question though it's making me a little anxious all these sonar bullets that's why we're surviving right why would a survival kit giving us answer it is true all right how about another one which is ah when you are for running around moving the light if you're on your own again without the assistant how do you do that if it's a short toast is there a set up in a similar style that would light both the bride and groom and the toaster you know my ideal is to have the person giving the toast out on the dance floor while the person receiving the toast is sitting down you could ask the band or d j to have the person giving the toast stand up at the sweetheart table with the bride and groom then you just need one angle of light or have again the guy who had one flash bounced up in one flash balanced towards the couple have one head and have one flat two flashes pointing in different directions but I'm not gonna lie to you and say that shooting things like this without an assistant it's going to be pretty tough yes ma'am sorry but you're finally when you're lighting something like ahora for example and if you're by yourself without an assistant where would you put the light on and I guess on your camera okay listen you see this right here set a huge bruise on the back of my leg that's from a horror I got kicked in the shins I have horror related injuries id was in a horror that horrid so hard that it broke my iphone my iphone was in the little pouch bag and I got hip checked so hard by somebody who was dancing that it actually shattered my screen you think I'm gonna put a light stand out there anywhere you there's no way on this really hard by the way two it's like all lumped up but you know what the guy who kicked me found me later and he was like I kicked human missions so hard I'm so sorry and I was like it's cool it was just really nice city apologized but for ahora because it is crazy because people are spinning like mad and usually because they're going to be several points of activity on the dance floor I treat it just like regular reception dancing and I have one on camera flash and that's it if I were going to cut sort of flirt with other flashes I might put one or two up by the band and have them cross out over the dance floor but horrors are so crazy I mean crazy that I get a much better result with just one good bounced on camera flash and call it a day and where shin guards because it literally like seems like I have a golf ball under my leg right now yes so are you um since we're talking about managing lights and somebody that you ever pre talk with a deejay to keep their crazy lights that they always feel they need to have on during those first dances or the laser lights that just become huge hot spots all over your couple do you manage those relate you know manage that with the deejay beforehand just say hey would you mind not turning on your crazy lights until after first dancers feel like hey I understand that you've got this whole nightclub thing going on and it is it is but I'm like can I talk to you just a little bit about what lighting pattern you're going to use for the first dance parent answers, stuff like that, and if they're like, yeah, you know, we're really in a line it up. We've got these lasers. I'll be like, you know what? I lighting pattern go to town if you could. If there's any way at all, you could keep the lasers off until after the first dance. That would be excellent. Usually they're like, yeah, cool, no big deal, and if they're not, if they're like, well, we are going to party like we want a party, I'll shoot into those lights. When you've got those crazy lights going out on the dance floor, I would much rather shoot into the band, then shoot into the crowd because at least I can shoot into those lights and use them to my advantage. But that said, I am still not retouching your proofs, tto gett every pin picker print pinprick of light off of you, you paid for it. Can you clarify again? J uh for mariana and their several votes on this question to can you clarify again how you choose a spot for your off camera flash when your subjects are moving on the dance floor certainly and you know I hate to keep saying watch thirty days but I do encourage anybody who owns it to go back and revisit the days the multiple days actually about toasts and and blessings and dances because we have diagrams and you see videos and so let's say for example that we are at a reception and the band is here and the audience is there in the audience the crowd is there and this is the dance floor I'm going to usually be standing over here with my back to the band shooting towards everyone who has congregated together I will then have my assistant at one of those corners of the dance floor which one doesn't matter pick one it's not often that I will have her up next to the band at either corner because then I would be shooting into the band sometimes if shooting this way gets me open doors and exit signs and waiters coming in and out I'll shoot that way or that way if there are guests on either side of the dance floor and that means she could be there or they're either way but I always want her to be sort of to the edge of whatever background that I choose just off camera although we do have a really super amazing album of pictures on our iphones called sandra at work and it's when I inadvertently catch her in the background of a picture she is always making a horrible face on dh I save them just because I am kind like that how do we look through them for our own amusement at times you've got to find the goofy fun behind the scenes and what you're doing great let's say okay so we have another question from manila ma hadia who says how frequently should one fire the flash is it annoying to be constantly over flashing are overshooting and she's a new photographer and is wondering sort of how much is too much when you're in that scenario would I fire it is often as I need every guest with a cell phone is firing with their flash every guest with a pop up flash on their camera is firing with it and I do remember very strongly sort of my earlier days and wedding photography where I was really sort of afraid to be noticed like I didn't like to stand on the dance floor while they're doing toasts I didn't like tio I thought that I was going to be in the way but you also have to realize that the guests know that you're there to work right like they know you're the wedding photographer. You're not fooling anybody by like crouching down I don't think about how often I'm popping the flash. I pop it as often as I need teo, you know, I'm not. I don't have, like, nine flashes in the room, it's, not like poof every time it fires its just one little little guy. So I, like I said, I completely completely understand how you feel, but don't worry about it. You'll be fine.

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