Skip to main content

Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait

Lesson 16 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait

Lesson 16 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

16. Removing the Surrounding Space for a 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

Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait

I wanted to show you how you can literally completely remove your surroundings and make something very dramatic with only one light if you have no assistant if you have nowhere to go if you might I don't know find yourself in the middle of a speakeasy with no windows at all so for our purposes here I sat her on the stage of the speakeasy the important part for me is the dark background now my assistant night carry around a reflector oftentimes it's not to use it to reflect anything it's to use the black background of the other side of the reflector to be a neutral background so if you've got a reflector in your car you might want to consider holding the black background up behind her and if you don't have an assistant pull a chair up to the wall and profit on the chair there are a lot of different ways to get around the whole assistant factor which hopefully I'm showing you today so I have placed her a little bit of a distance from the background and that's important because I don't wa...

nt any light spill to start spilling on this background back here the on ly light that I want is going to be directly on her face and as you've seen we sort of have an ongoing theme here of turning lights on and turning lights off and this is going to be the sort of ultimate turning on and off of lights, because we are one hundred percent solely going toe like this with the ice light. So to show you what happens here, we turn this on again. Common theme again, we've got the barn doors when it's open like this all the way open, no barn doors at all. You can see it starting to light up the wall back here, it's lighting everything around her. But first of all, when we close this left side, watch the shadow go across the wall. Now we're not lighting the wall anymore. Then we pull this around here, and we close it, and we close it, and we are on ly very narrowly, lighting her face like so. But the other missing component is that we've got to get rid of these horrifying overhead lights, so we're going to do that right now. You can do this anywhere again. You open it up like this, we've lit too much of the scene, watch the background, close it down, close down the other side, so it's not spilling anywhere. You don't want it to be one narrow beam of light, very close to her, lighting her face and on lee her face. I still got my eighty five one four on. I am going to be shooting this at one four. Her veil is a little bit wrinkled. If it were a wedding day, I would have them steam it, because we're going to see the wrinkles in the picture. It's, not that big of a deal, but I want to see what it looks like, so I'm gonna work with this light, and you can see as I move it, it lights and doesn't like her. There we go. On the crooked stage, just like so. So you can do this anywhere. And if you are telling me that the bad venue that you're in doesn't have some horrible, bad dark corner that you could go hide in, then you're not really in a bad than you. So let's, take a couple of shots of this and see what we've got. Come around this way. That looks amazing. So, because the light is so incredibly specific, I do have to be very specific with where she is. She's, actually quite perfect. And then just play with your veil. Just move it around. That's going to be beautiful. Good. I'm working with my exposure making sure it's perfect turn your face to the right a little further away for right there good and just keep constantly moving with the veiled good and I'm constantly arranging my angle watching as the veil works around in the light there we go good perfect beautiful easy that room still just to look at that room makes me get all chivery not in a good way so can you make a good picture anywhere I'm pretty sure that we just showed you that yes you could and we're actually going to revisit this location later when we shoot the bride and groom together I'm going to make a portrait of them on this stage now you could take a picture like what I just shot with her with either a veil or without a veil if on the wedding day the bride had not steamed her veil if it had been wrinkly because you see in the images come here you can see that there's wrinkles in the vale I would have had her just take it off let them re steam it and put it back on because she would have noticed it was wrinkly anyhow and would have wanted it steamed before she goes down the aisle but there is no reason why you couldn't shoot this image without a veil she doesn't need to have a veil on it could just be her and her face just turned up into the light and for me this is where the ice light and those barn doors together really shine because you could see in that video as you close the barn doors you could actually see the light being removed from the background so that's why this horrible modeled brownish background looks pure black and we talked about the reflector yes I do actually bring a reflector to weddings usually in my car but I use it for two things one is to create a completely neutral black background in an area where I want to black out the entire background the other is for my assistant to hold it up and block me from the sun so when we talk about photographing the bride and groom have you ever been outside and you're trying to photograph a bride and groom and it's really hazy and to see them really clearly you sort of have to do like this well that's why it's hazy when you pick your camera up to your face and you start shooting is because even with ah linds hood on you're still gonna have some problems getting light in that lin so sometimes I'll have my assistant actually stand in front of me and shave me from the sun with the reflector so that we can keep the light out of my lens I it is a very rare instance that I would actually use a reflector on a client so this could be that black background. This could be a reflector flipped around and held up. You have a lot of different ways to get there. So talking about the actual settings here, my beloved seven fifty, eighty five millimeter. I was at one eight it's really tricky to focus through a veil, especially in the dark. So if I try a couple of times and I just can't get it, I will have the bride hold ultra ultra still, I will switch over to manual focus and I will actually manually focus on her face that is even harder at one four one eight in the dark exposure compensation minus two point three why bright, bright light, dark, dark shadow camera gets super super confused and one one hundred sixty eighth of a second I could probably of hand held at a little at a slower shutter speed here because she's not moving she's not walking around she's, not getting up and moving it would be easier, but I don't like to get in there and started messing with my auto I s o settings because when I get in there and I start sort of screwing around with my settings, I'm going to forget to put them back.

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