Skip to main content

Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space

Lesson 17 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space

Lesson 17 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

17. Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space


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

Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space

So you saw how I did that with a video light but let's talk about how that's exactly the same way that I would approach light on a wedding day bride getting ready where is that light coming from it is a window but it is coming from the exact same angle the video light was coming from in the video that we just watched now I've talked about this before I will talk about it again I will talk about it until I am blue in the face why can you see that room of light around the bride's face it is because she is against a dark background if you step back why do you see that light so strongly it's because the background is black in this image here on the left why do you see the light on her face because she is against the curtains and the curtains are darker if she were against a white wall or a very light wall or the window right behind her the quality of light would be the same and it would be hitting her face in the same direction but you wouldn't be able to see it because it would have nothi...

ng to be juxtaposed against if that makes sense image on the right same concept the light has been brought a little bit more around to the side of the bride but is that a flash? Is it a window is in a video light does it matter, really. I could make an image exactly like that in that speakeasy against that dark background, that was light from a window. But it just goes to show you that if you don't have a window, you can still make that same type of light. That's sort of a pullback of that image on the right she standing there is a huge this is osaka castle there's a huge window right here and I just made sure that when I composed the image that I didn't include any of the window in the actual image itself because I wanted the light source to sort of become a mystery sometimes including the light source whether it's 00:01:57.985 --> 00:02:01. the sun or the window or whatever helps make the image 00:02:01.1 --> 00:02:03. look more compelling sometimes it's just distracting 00:02:03.56 --> 00:02:06. and unnecessary so for something this dramatic I prefer 00:02:06.87 --> 00:02:09. to have the light source itself actually cropped out 00:02:10.32 --> 00:02:13. now somebody also mentioned earlier as we've talked 00:02:13.66 --> 00:02:15. about a couple of times what happens if you want to 00:02:15.64 --> 00:02:18. light something a little bit more evenly if you want 00:02:18.55 --> 00:02:21. more light on the face or if you want to brighten 00:02:21.28 --> 00:02:24. up the subject itself let's take just a second and 00:02:24.92 --> 00:02:28. create a window like portrait and then make that window 00:02:28.94 --> 00:02:31. light portrait even better so here we go 00:02:32.51 --> 00:02:35. so at most weddings I try to get some sort of lovely 00:02:35.95 --> 00:02:38. simple portrait of the bride sometimes it's really 00:02:38.46 --> 00:02:41. difficult sometimes you sort of run out of time sometimes 00:02:41.1 --> 00:02:43. the scenarios aren't perfect but one thing that I 00:02:43.73 --> 00:02:46. almost always try to do is a nice easy window lit 00:02:46.82 --> 00:02:50. portrait now what we're going to do today is going 00:02:50.02 --> 00:02:51. to show you how you can take a window lit portrait 00:02:51.94 --> 00:02:55. and kick it up, kind of that mythical next level so 00:02:55.77 --> 00:03:00. here we are in a window and it's pretty terrible outside 00:03:00.05 --> 00:03:02. we are in seattle seattle is being especially seattle 00:03:02.92 --> 00:03:06. ish today in that it is very dim is very dreary it's 00:03:06.7 --> 00:03:10. very cold it's very rainy I love it but photographically 00:03:10.52 --> 00:03:12. speaking it's maybe not the best type of scenario 00:03:12.85 --> 00:03:17. to be in however when I'm inside and I've shut off 00:03:17.2 --> 00:03:19. the rest of the interior lights the light coming in 00:03:19.79 --> 00:03:22. from the window even when it's super weak is still 00:03:22.7 --> 00:03:25. better than nothing maybe I might have to pump my 00:03:25.54 --> 00:03:28. I s o up but the quality of light coming in from here 00:03:28.89 --> 00:03:32. is really nice what I've done in the rest of this 00:03:32.06 --> 00:03:35. room is I've shut off the other lights and I don't 00:03:35.7 --> 00:03:37. have anything else going on to compete with the light 00:03:37.88 --> 00:03:40. that's coming from this window now this is something 00:03:40.65 --> 00:03:44. that I have shot for years I've shot eighty five millimeter 00:03:44.34 --> 00:03:46. one point four or one point eight bridal portrait 00:03:46.84 --> 00:03:50. at the window but an extra little trick if you have 00:03:50.33 --> 00:03:53. something like a nice light you can use it to add 00:03:53.03 --> 00:03:55. in a background light to really separate your subject 00:03:55.47 --> 00:03:57. from the background now you've seen me use a nice 00:03:57.86 --> 00:04:00. light a lot if you don't have a nice flight that's 00:04:00.82 --> 00:04:04. okay, you can use whatever video light is your video 00:04:04.29 --> 00:04:07. light of preference. I especially love this as I've 00:04:07.63 --> 00:04:10. mentioned before because of the barn doors because 00:04:10.32 --> 00:04:12. you can control the amount of light that's hitting 00:04:12.14 --> 00:04:14. your subject because you could really control the 00:04:14.22 --> 00:04:17. direction of light that's hitting your subject you 00:04:17.66 --> 00:04:22. can also grade a flash you can use a pro photo be 00:04:22.07 --> 00:04:26. too you can use one speed light you can use any light 00:04:26.45 --> 00:04:29. source that you want to it doesn't have to be a video 00:04:29.55 --> 00:04:32. light it can be a strobe so everything that we've 00:04:32.67 --> 00:04:35. done today can be done with a strobe light as well 00:04:36.29 --> 00:04:39. so if I have my ice light which I've been using I'm 00:04:39.19 --> 00:04:42. gonna come over here as no surprise to you I'm going 00:04:42.21 --> 00:04:45. to close down these barn doors and it's because I 00:04:45.5 --> 00:04:48. just want a little kick of light I'm going to turn 00:04:48.24 --> 00:04:53. it on that light is going to hit my hair now a lot 00:04:53.09 --> 00:04:56. of photographers will take this lovely simple window 00:04:56.37 --> 00:04:58. lit portrait but if you really want to get it up another 00:04:58.99 --> 00:05:01. level if you really want to make the lighting even 00:05:01.6 --> 00:05:04. more dramatic really set yourself apart from your 00:05:04.05 --> 00:05:07. competitors consider adding a light coming from behind 00:05:07.45 --> 00:05:10. it's something I do a lot in the studio but something 00:05:10.3 --> 00:05:12. that kind of gets ignored a little bit when you're 00:05:12.2 --> 00:05:14. sort of running and gunning on the wedding day because 00:05:14.58 --> 00:05:16. you don't have a whole lot of time to set things up 00:05:17.29 --> 00:05:19. so even if you don't have an assistant you can put 00:05:19.04 --> 00:05:20. your light on the stand you could pop it behind your 00:05:20.85 --> 00:05:23. subject, and it will really help separate them from 00:05:23.61 --> 00:05:26. the background. It's also helpful in an area like 00:05:26.67 --> 00:05:29. this when I'm trying to minimize the background, it 00:05:29.76 --> 00:05:32. will let me get a really good exposure on my subject 00:05:32.52 --> 00:05:35. where really all you'll see is her face, the light 00:05:35.48 --> 00:05:38. from the window, ah, little rim light separating her 00:05:38.45 --> 00:05:41. from a very, very dark background. So we're going 00:05:41.52 --> 00:05:42. to get the bride in, and I'm going to show you what 00:05:42.91 --> 00:05:45. that looks like. So one pick thing again, not to belabor 00:05:45.66 --> 00:05:47. the point, but before we start shooting, I want to 00:05:47.44 --> 00:05:51. talk very carefully about the positioning of the light 00:05:51.14 --> 00:05:54. itself, so as you can see, we have the ice light turned 00:05:54.06 --> 00:05:57. on, it's turned on to absolute full power and the 00:05:57.63 --> 00:06:00. barn doors were wide open. However, you've got to 00:06:00.46 --> 00:06:03. come over here and be careful about it. Watch the 00:06:03.18 --> 00:06:06. light on the curtain behind her. Close the barn door 00:06:07.19 --> 00:06:12. until it's gone close the barn door until it is on 00:06:12.69 --> 00:06:17. ly on her. Once we have it there, we're ready to shoot. 00:06:20.51 --> 00:06:23. Eighty five millimeter. One point four. I am on one 00:06:23.74 --> 00:06:24. point. Four. 00:06:27.63 --> 00:06:30. Exposure. Compensation at zero. Zero. Just to show 00:06:30.34 --> 00:06:31. you what that's gonna look like. 00:06:33.9 --> 00:06:38. Not good, very overexposed. You have to be smarter 00:06:39.04 --> 00:06:41. than your camera meter, so I'm going to take it down 00:06:41.69 --> 00:06:45. to minus one point three at one point, four focal 00:06:45.58 --> 00:06:46. point directly on her eye 00:06:48.06 --> 00:06:48. and fire. 00:06:50.46 --> 00:06:52. Good, just like that, and turn even more to look out 00:06:52.84 --> 00:06:56. the window. Turn your face away from me away a little 00:06:56.73 --> 00:06:59. bit more right there. Good. 00:07:01.96 --> 00:07:04. Then, if I stepped in a little bit closer, change 00:07:04.92 --> 00:07:06. the focal point. Get it right on her eye. 00:07:09.46 --> 00:07:10. Beautiful 00:07:11.16 --> 00:07:12. done nice and simple so that was pretty easy just adding in a little video light behind we're back in this room that you know I love so much but what we've done to prepare for this bridal portrait is we closed the other windows and turn the lights off because if I'm trying to do one very controlled light source the light from just that one window I don't need any light coming in from open doors from overhead lights from the windows across the way so we closed all of those curtains we closed all the doors we turned off those things and I put a light behind her now I will often take pictures of the bride at a window just very nice very simple portrait of the bride standing by a window but everybody does that you know and everybody does that what can I do that's going to make my bridal window portrait look different in a situation like this it's adding that light that you saw me set up coming from a slight angle behind the bride so settings eighty five one for it one for exposure compensation minus one I s o eight hundred one hundred sixty eighth of a second again I probably could have gone a little slower on the shutter speed but I don't myself if I'm gonna change it I'm going to forget change it back so now we've got a good basis and really you have two pictures here you can shoot the bride at the window without the backlight you can take the back light and added in and that's a different scenario and we've got one more quick one because I'm really paranoid on the wedding day almost everything that I have that's crucial to me in my bag I have two of them so because the seventy two two hundred is one of my workhorse lenses I have two of them because if one of my seventy two two hundred's goes down I don't have anything else that works in that range at all so because my eyesight is so incredibly important to me I have not only one but two sometimes it's because I'm worried that one of them might go down and I'll have a backup sometimes it's because I want to use two of them at the same time so when I was photographing her here just now she was looking out of the window she was lit from the window she was lit from our back light but if I want her to turn and look at me then there is no light filling in her eyes and this is especially important in a space like this when I don't have any other existing like to pull from now could I maybe use a reflector to balance a little light back in her face? Sure could I do this with two strobes? Sure but the easiest thing for me if I don't have an assistant if I'm by myself is to have two of these guys on to cheetah stands, and I could just carry them around and put them down. So I want to show you what, adding one additional light in the front of your subject does. When your subject turns to look at, you still have my eighty five millimeter one eight. I'm still shooting it. It won eight or one four and let's see what that additional light looks like, so she's still in the same spot. But instead of looking out of the window, she is going to look at me, same settings as before. That looks amazing I'm just going to get a little bit closer you are absolutely perfect and just a little smile their ego beautiful light in her eyes she still separated out from the background everything looks wonderful so you have three scenarios there and you could do all three of those scenarios in less than five minutes so an image of her looking out the window bring in a light added in from the back bringing a light added in from the front feel like going crazy take away the backlight leave the front light it's there so many things that you could dio when you start adding in supplemental light itjust often gets very difficult on wedding days because wedding days are so fast and it happened so quickly and you sort of have to pre visualize needing these things it would be really hard if I was on the wedding day and I was shooting a portrait of the bride and I had less than five minutes and I realized you know what I actually do need additional lights then I have to get them then I have to put them on the stand and have to bring them out then I have to set them up so while I don't pre visualize what I'm doing on the wedding day if I was without an assistant I would probably have to do that a little bit more because I would need the time to get all of these things set up so talking about the settings again none of this should come as any big surprise eighty five out one for exposure compensation minus zero I s o two fifty one hundred sixty seconds for those of you who are at home frantically writing down all of these settings if you do as can I mentioned earlier if you do purchase the class you will receive the entire keynote presentation in its entirety all pictures all settings all slides everything so sometimes you just have to make the boast of a bad situation we're surviving here are any of these situations ideal? Of course they're not that's why we're surviving if it was awesome you wouldn't have to try so hard do you know what I mean like if you had everything handed to you and you had beautiful light and it wasn't raining and I mean tis the season right now it gets dark at four thirty in new york five o'clock right now all of my weddings are in the dark from here until the end of the year if I'm waiting for the sun to come out and save me I'm going to be waiting until like april I have a lot of weddings to shoot is there anything else I can d'oh well there is there is one thing that I haven't shot yet and we're going to shoot it now talk you in we have our bride hiding out in the corner of the room. But what about just a nice, simple head shot of the bride? This is something that if I do have less than five minutes with the bride, this is where I'm heading first is just a nice, simple headshots.

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