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Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue

Lesson 6 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue

Lesson 6 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

6. Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue


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

Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue

So we pre shot these scenarios that you're going to see in a gorgeous but tricky Seattle venue. How many times have you showed up in this place? And you're like, This is amazing. Oh, my God. I can't shoot anything here like it looks really cool, but you're like, this is photographically horrifying. Um, so you want to see what it looks like and increasing, Totally see what it looks like? We're going to show you the video of horrors while I'm walking through it. Enjoy. So here we are, and the Grand Ballroom And upon first sight of this room, it sort of set my heart into a little bit of panic because this is really hard. It's a biggish room, but not that big. And it's got really high ceilings. Uh, it's got a bunch of windows, but the lights not coming through them at great angles. And I don't like the really dark windowpanes and the lines going through the windows of every single windowpane. That's really hard. There aren't any shears, so there's nothing to pull to cut those lines. So if ...

the sun's coming directly through it, it's going to be a big beacon of sun with nothing to soften it down. And if the sun's not coming through it, then it's just not all that interesting. There's some twinkle lights in here that's not going to help me in any way whatsoever. That's not really ambient light. And it's tough right when you shoot a wedding and brides and grooms are like, Oh, we've got twinkle lights everywhere and tons of candles and you show up in. It's like three strands of twinkle lights and, like to tea lights on each table. That's not really good ambient light. So this is this is gonna be a really tough space. The overhead lighting is a very entertaining white balance. It's not really gonna help me, either, because the light is not very strong. It's really high up overhead, the carpets kind of tough. The wall color is tricky. This is This is gonna be interesting. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception pictures can be taken in here, and what type of portrait's can be done with these windows because they look really difficult. So challenge accepted. This one's gonna be tough. So we're here right inside the lobby area of this venue, and it's actually amazing in here right now. The walls are kind of painted this sort of reddish, magenta ish color, but it's early in the day, so we don't have a lot of directional light coming through here right now, and it's gorgeous in here. I love the shadows. I love how the wall sort of fade into darkness in the background. I love that the floor is a little bit reflective. There are some really interesting windows in here that I can't quite figure out how I'm gonna want to use. But I know I'm going to want to use in some way, and it makes me really depressed because the clients aren't here yet. And I know that when the clients get here, the light is going to change and it's going to get a lot brighter in here. And the brighter it gets in here, the more excited some photographers would get because it would be super bright in here. But I'm not going to like it because what I like about it right now is that the light has a really interesting dimension to it, and as it gets brighter and the room just sort of brightens up entirely. It's going to lose a lot of that beautiful dimension, the shadows. We're gonna be gone out of the corners of the room and everything is gonna be lit up, but I'm not going to like it as much. So I'm really hoping that as the day goes on and the light comes up and ruins this beautiful room, it will then start to go away again. It will look a little more like this, and I'd really like to do something interesting with these. There's two windows in the background that I can't quite figure out how I want to use them yet, but I think that they could be pretty cool. So this is one of those spaces that when you walk into, it's either gonna be amazing or it's going to be awful and fingers crossed that it's gonna be amazing when we finally get to it. So this room is something? Um, yeah. I mean, where do I start their walls or yellow? Uh, that it looks like there's a window, but that looks out Who? For the lobby. That's not even a window out to anywhere. There's a skylight in here, but because it is Seattle being Seattle, it is gray, and it is overcast. And while that could be, like, super cool if it were noon and the sun were coming directly down, basically does nothing to help me in here It all I, um This is a getting ready room, I guess. But as far as what to do in here, there's no discernible natural light to work with it all. The room is really small. I don't like any of the backgrounds. Um, I'm desperately trying to come up with something positive to say in here. Um, yeah. Okay. Next room. So here we are in. I mean, I'm in a closet. It is a closet. It is. It's a closet. I mean, I'm trying to dress it up and give pretty words to it, but it is. It's closet with an overhead light and some moss on trays and shelving. Um, and I have a terrible, terrible sneaking suspicion that I'm going to have to shoot the dress shot in this room. Um, you know, it's funny way, way. Look, a rooms that were going to have to shoot in and there's this weird misconception that that most wedding photographers get to work in incredible venues all the time where natural light pours and angels sing and the light comes from whatever window you wanted to, and you have hours and hours to take pictures. But the reality is is that 90% of the time I'm in rooms just like this. I mean, catering halls. I'm in small hotels. I'm in little corners of the bride's parents houses. I'm not in these palatial estates, and I don't always have things completely handed to me. In fact, I rarely have things completely handed to me. So this room is an excellent example of most of my weddings take place in rooms, if not exactly like this. But I see rooms like this on a weekly basis so I can make it work. Then I can make it work now. And what other option do you have? So this is sort of interesting way walked into the venue and I've been walking around and this is the downstairs area. This is where the bathrooms are behind me. If you turn around and go around that corner there, stairs that go up to that lobby level that we were at, and as we were coming down the stairs and we were coming this way, I saw this window over my shoulder and there's not a lot of light coming through that window, and there's just bad things happening down here. The walls are God don't even know what color You would call this burnt pumpkin something bad. There's overhead lights that are horrible. There's light spilling out all of these hallways that are completely different white balances. It's just all over the place down here. However, this might be amazing because there's that window here and I really do think that there's some really interesting things that we could do with that window later. When it's time for the bride to get ready, it might be terrible and it might be excellent, but I really do think that if we find that window at the right time of day of the lights coming through it in a really interesting way, we could see this scene down here in a way that other photographers might never have seen and make something really different and really compelling. So fingers crossed, so as if it wasn't bad enough, it's getting worse here. I'm pretty convinced that every space that I walk into is just a little more terrible than the space before. So what's bad about down here? I mean, let me count the ways. There's a really small ceiling like it's really low. There's a stage, but it's not really a stage. The lights or yellow. Um, I mean, this room literally has nothing going for it. It is a speak easy. If I were having a party in here, this would be amazing. If I actually came to shoot like I'm doing today, I'm in a lot of trouble. There is no natural light in here to help me at all. There's light up here, but you can't move it around and it's not in any way good. It's not coming from any angle that I would want to use the walls or brown back here. I mean, this is pretty disastrous. However, I'm really thinking that when it's time to make some pictures of the bride by yourself, or maybe when it's time to make some pictures of the bride and groom on, I want to really plain neutral background. I'm thinking that this might be my room, believe it or not, because if Aiken shut off all these lights and I can get rid of these yellow lights up here and I can light the bride or the bridegroom together correctly, I might be able to turn this background pure black and do something really interesting that will have the bride or the bridegroom together really stand out. So I'm looking forward to revisiting this with a video light and hoping that I could make it look more interesting than it looks right now, because right now this is pretty bleak. I don't even know what to say about this place. I mean, I saw pictures, it seemed OK. And then we get here and we start off with the room. That's kind of okay, but not really. And then there's a lobby that could maybe work, but it's not gonna work when we're there. And then we're in a basement, and now we're in a basement in the hallway and the walls out here orange the walls and there are like, yellow green. I've never seen this many white balances in my entire life. I know that the sun is never going to come through this this window in a way that I want it to based on the way this building is shaped. And I also know that in a little while I have to shoot a bride getting ready down here. So I've got nothing. This is awful. Oh, I'm I am actually at a loss right now, so we're gonna come back here later, and we're gonna make something great here. I just don't know how yet it literally looks worse than I remembered. It s o that was bad. Um, and you see what I mean about the places, like, really cool, right? Like my we're having a party there. Like I really like that space. It could be really neat. I can totally see why people love it. Um, as a venue, it's just as a photographer, you show up and you're like, Oh, this room is cool. I don't know what to do in here like it's You can see all of the challenges here, and I want to reiterate one more time. I am not poking fun at weddings here. I'm not. But if you cannot laugh at the difficulties that you what other form of photography do you have less control over where you are, right? Like when I shoot portrait's like family portrait with their portrait of a couple of engagement session, I can say where I want to go and we can talk about what time we want to be outside and everything happens at Golden Hour and this is great, but you get no say so over where your clients have chosen for their weddings. And I have shot the most wonderful of people and most wonderful of weddings in the most difficult of situations. You have to admit that it's difficult and you have to find it funny. That does not mean that it's disrespectful, and I just want to be very clear about that. I am not using any of these examples to disrespect people or to say that I'm judging their weddings or anything like that. It is. It is not like that at all. It might come as a big surprise, but I have an enormous bleeding heart. Um, actually get very moved by something. I'm currently crying my face off over this horrible show called Parenthood that I can't stop watching anybody else. We're to talk about this outbreak cause it's just the worst. Um, But my frustration in any anger that you see in any aggression or anything that is negative in any way is because I'm frustrated because I want to make great things for people that I care very much about. So I just did want you to know that I'm not making fun of anything here. You just It's November. We're all dead. You have to laugh at it. Or, um, took to quote one of my favorite Broadway musicals. I laugh because I will cry if I don't.

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