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Post Wedding Session Critique

Lesson 56 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Post Wedding Session Critique

Lesson 56 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

56. Post Wedding Session Critique


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Post Wedding Session Critique

So let's take a brief second and talk about who the images that you just saw me shooting ah lot of this if you've been with us so far should seem very familiar to you these are a lot of things that we've been talking about during the portrait section talking about photographing the bride and groom talking about the principles of how I liketo work with light it's the same thing over and over and over again so when you look at an image like this of blair and jeremy walking off into the sunset, this is my lighting ideal and let's talk about why you can draw a straight line between myself and the sun and it will directly bisect where my clients are so my clients are on a direct path between myself and the sun now the reason why it isn't a blurry, indistinct hazy mess of haze and confusion is because I have made very certain that my linds is being kept out of the sun because the light is lower in the sky because the shadows are longer on the ground I was able to put myself in the shadow of ...

a tree thus keeping my limbs out out of the light I met lincoln see the shutter speed kind of down there on the ground it is ridiculously high because it is also ridiculously bright outside if you look at my eyes so it is so two hundred they're walking away from me, I'm at f four and I met seventy millimeters you'll see that I've shot this entire session with my seventy two, two hundred it's my favorite portrait, linds, this is not a surprise to you, but I'm shooting it more on the seventy side because I want them to be a little bit smaller I don't want to compress them off of the background just yet, and I want to get a really good sense of time and place and the way the lightest filtering through the trees and therefore filtering on them so they've walked out to the edge of washington square park and photographing in this location. Not only is it my favorite light in all of philadelphia, you have a beautiful dark background to juxtapose the light against. You have wonderful foliage and buildings and wonderful things to photograph, but the area they're walking through right now coincidentally, not only is my favorite light in philadelphia, but it's where my husband proposed to me so it's a little extra special tow us it's always a pleasure to go back there and shoot. But blair and jeremy have walked out and now they're walking back and you can see a difference in the image that I just showed you take a look at this scene at seventy millimeters and then take a look at this scene at two hundred millimeters look at what the background does look at the compression of the background and what I have done myself is I've dropped down lower to the ground that's eliminating ah lot of the sun falling on the ground around them so that I can really concentrate on the light so that I can really concentrate on that dark background. Then we move on, we have blair by herself, and then we have blair and jeremy together in the absolute same spot and again, same lighting principles draw a line from myself to the sun, and my client should be smack dab right in the middle of it. You have a dark background so that light around her head really stands out in his extraordinarily prominent four hundredth of a second s o three twenty three point five at two hundred millimeters. I know I'm shocked, too, moving onward again were using the exact same principles of light you draw that line from your client straight to you, straight to the sun, you should all be on the exact same plane if you're a little to the right, are you're a little to the left? The light isn't going to hit them in that way, and another example of the dark background being important so that you can really see that light against your clients, take a look at the back of jeremy's head take a look at the part of the brick building that has the very white brick that goes right into his head. Now you can't see that rim of light quite so well where his head hits that white part of the building but if you follow it down into the darker brick and you follow it down into the shoulder of his suit, you can see that when it's against a dark background it becomes more prominent so here we are moving onwards you saw this happen seventy two, two hundred millimeters now I've opened back up to seventy the reason why is because I want to make several different photographs in this situation if you look at this frame right here which was shot at seventy millimeters and then step to the image right after it this was shot at two hundred millimeters they have not moved there in exactly the same spot that they were in right here the on ly thing that I have done is change my focal length. This image like this composed it seventy millimeters tells a completely different story than this image does at two hundred millimeters this is the f four that's also it at four we've got rule of thirds going on down here you've got your clients down in the bottom right left of the frame the light is falling exactly how it's been falling the entire time you let this beautiful light in in the other remaining two thirds to release supplement what else is going on here in the frame? But then when you go to the image, following it doesn't become about the light. It doesn't become about the compositional rule of thirds, it simply becomes a beautiful portrait of a bride and groom together in gorgeous light. So then we continued to move on. We were walking around and I saw this wonderful marble side of the building, and I realized that if I leaned the bride and groom up against that marble, that I would get their reflection over into the marble. Very simple, very easy is the light on them. Is the light on them? Nice? Of course it is it's lovely, but the light on them is mainly filling up their faces because it's, reflecting off of the ground, I'm beat their feet, which is very bright and off of the marble to the side of them, with just very reflective. I've pulled them over onto the sidewalk. We are using a shadowed space. We are using a very indirect light. I love using harsh light and I love using harsh shadows, and I love finding beautiful beams of light to stream down onto my clients, but if I put every single client that I have in bright light every single time I photographed the two of them together, then I'm being just a cz one note as I would be if we were being in the shade the entire time, so I try to vary it up. I try to change my locations. I try to change my backgrounds. I tried to change my quality of light. I try to change the way that I pose them, because I'm looking for a rich, varied take throughout the portrait session, be it on the wedding day or after the wedding day. I don't want all of their images to look the same from trying something different every single time. Then the light comes down a little further in the sky, then it is much more direct it's, much more focused it's about to go behind the buildings, but it is this extraordinary beam of light. My husband and I like to ask each other kind of during or after every single shoot that we do. Did you make a picture? And what that means to us is not. Did you take a picture that you like, or did you do something pretty cool? But did you make a picture that blew your mind? And we've talked about how often that happens a year for me, which, honestly, is not that often I make images that I love, I make pictures that I enjoy. I like the work that I'm doing for my clients, but to really blow my own mind. That only happens a couple times a year. This year, when I was preparing my images to send off to print competition, I only pulled five files on ly five images and of those images, two of them, I consider that I made a picture, but this is about as close as I've come to ever making a picture at a portrait session. There are reasons why I didn't into this into competition there some problems, there are some distractions, it isn't competition perfect, but do I love this image? Is one is one of my favorite images of the year. Absolutely it is let's talk about why I'm able to use my seventy two, two hundred at two hundred millimeters, I'm able to shoot at f four, so both of my subjects are nice and in focus I'm able to use that compression and compress them off of the curtis center. We talked about this image during the portrait today of the thirty days I'm able to have a bright light source on my subjects, and I'm able to have a darker light source behind them, so by the time I exposed for my subjects, the background becomes dark. I have visual interest in the background with the columns on the curtis center and the leaves on the trees, and then I have a beautiful, believable really moment before between the bridegroom. I didn't tell them to do this. I put them in this light. I put them in this compositional arena that I knew would be beautiful for them, but the moment is their own. I didn't make them do that moment the wind hit the light hit and he went in for a kiss, and that was magic right there. So when you know all of your technical things down to a t and you set your scene and you let the moment happen, sometimes the magic will happen for you, which it did happen here, and I love this image so again, moving on, closing out the session, just simply looking for a different way to see the scene shooting through the bench, using those lines of the bench to lead you right down and into the clients, using the light in exactly the same way I've been using the light all day long. And for most of these thirty days and taking a look at my settings, if that's, what makes you happy and seeing the consistency off the settings in the different situations now? Let's, take a second and visit some of my other clients. Blair and jeremy are not the first post session that I've done in my entire career, and they definitely will not hopefully be the last let's talk to you for a few seconds about sue's e and brian. This is a completely different day. This is sue's e and brian's wedding day. The reason why we did a post session for the two of them is that after the ceremony, we had to immediately do family formal ls, and there were a great deal of family formals that we had to accomplish, and it was a little crazy. People were running around, pull a few people from the bathroom. We had a lot of groupings to get together, and by the time I finally had sue's e and brian together, I thought I was gonna have about twenty minutes. But the catering manager wanted tow line them up for the introductions ten minutes before that actually happened. So my fifteen to twenty minutes ended up being three minutes with catering manager standing right next to me. The only thing that I could do was find the best backdrop that I could find, which was actually the wall in the building outside of the spa. In the hotel that we were in, I was able to snap a half dozen frames. No more, no less. Ah, little video light coming from camera. Right? I don't have exit data on these that's. Not important. You should know my exit data pretty darn well by now to know exactly what I'm getting at. You can see that the light is coming from over brian's shoulder and lighting up sue's e space. But this was all we could do. This was a winter wedding. It was dark. By the time she was getting dressed we only had three minutes. We were really limited with what we were able to do. So we met up on another day and we were able to take them outside. She had her hair done again. She had her makeup done again. We were able to go outside, wander around, spend some time together and get the images that they had also wanted on their wedding day. Now again, this isn't an opportunity for you to cop out on their wedding day. This isn't an opportunity for you two try less hard and also the post session isn't really an opportunity to try to make it feel like it's the wedding day. I'm not trying to fake anybody out. We all know that this isn't their wedding day, but it is my responsibility to make a to treat it like a beautiful portrait session a lot like an engagement session and to make some beautiful images for them that are going to supplement the images that I have given them on their wedding day back in two thousand nine I went to miami to the vizcaya museum to photograph christine and jared's wedding day now for various reasons they decided not to see each other before the wedding but their ceremony was at sunset so what do you do when you have the beautiful grounds of the vizcaya a ceremony with no light whatsoever five minutes with the bride and groom and no like to photograph them with well you do the best you can we took our five minutes I pulled out my video light we made a handful of really wonderful images that really pleased the two of them but there's no way there's no amount of light that I could bring to a wedding day that's going to make night time at the vizcaya look like this there's no way that it's going to make it look like daytime at the vizcaya it just isn't possible so there day after session was literally a day after session I flew down to miami from new york I shot the wedding for them they woke up the morning after hair and makeup came again she put her dress back on and out we went to the grounds of the vizcaya this enabled us to make images for them that we hadn't been able to make on the wedding day not because I couldn't but because I couldn't make the sun come out at eight o'clock at night so that we could take portrait's like this this allowed us to really utilize those grounds this allowed us some more time this allowed christine to not have to worry about keeping her dress perfectly clean while we weren't out there trying to quote unquote trash the dress for her when you're running around the day after the wedding in the gardens in the bottom of your dress gets a little bit dirty it's much less of a concern than it is if you're doing that five minutes before your ceremony happens so that was another situation that was another reason to do a pose posession stephanie and chris on their wedding day this is the limerick ian hotel in philadelphia, pennsylvania and I had a great time with them there's literally nothing wrong with the portrait that I did on their wedding day we've got to be inside he got to be outside, I had an hour with them, we got to walk around, we went over it a love park, we were in front of a christmas tree, we wandered around, they were great but it wasn't really where she wanted to go where she really wanted to go with eastern state penitentiary and I know I know it sounds a little bizarre, weird little metaphor to maybe do your portrait at a prison but it's a really graphically interesting place, the light is really peculiar, there's no way that I could make downtown philadelphia look, why like this? So what happened here is that the day after the wedding, stephanie got up, had her hair and makeup done again, but she was also able to change up her look a little bit, she put on a black card again. She put on a long strand of necklaces. She wore her hair down instead of up. She carried her flowers from the day before, but it led us to a different session for them. It let us have a different feel to that session and we're not pretending that it's the wedding day, but on the wedding day we didn't have the time to go to this prison. We didn't have the ability to keep her dress clean the entire time that we were there. This was, you know, by the end of the day her dress was pretty dirty at the bottom. It had already been dirty from the reception the night before, but if we had done this on the wedding day, we would have decimated. The bottom of her dress not only that, we would have had to get transportation, we would've had to have twice as much time because we would have had to transport over there and then come back. It just wouldn't have been the same thing doing it the morning after the wedding enabled them to be calmer. We didn't have to rush, we could take our time, and that let us really make some beautiful images for the two of them in a complete only different setting. That's another thing to consider when thinking about post sessions now we were talking about my client, kelly, and her desire to have a portrait with a horse. This is not her course. Kelly grew up riding horses, she's riding horses again after this session, which makes you really happy whenever I see that on facebook. She is a lovely, bright, warm, wonderful woman with a great love of these animals. So she found a stable in mount airy, maryland, that would allow her to pose with one of the horses we set the right date. We set the right time and I got my car and traveled out to mount airy so that I could give her something completely different if you take a look at this. It is really obvious why there is no way in the world we could have done this on the wedding day. There's no way I am never going to ask a client in her extraordinary pristine waters gown to climb over a fence and wander into the middle of a horse field and pet a big, dirty, sweaty animal that's also going to sneeze on her there's no way whatsoever, that's possible. We knew before the wedding that this was something that she wanted to do. We talked about being able to make this happen at some point in time, and it was a solid, almost a year after her wedding, before all of the plans came together so that we could do this. I would never do a session like this on a horse before the wedding, even though we could have had her dress clean, she could have had it prepared again for the wedding day. This isn't a chance that I want to take with the clients dress before the actual event itself. So in a sense, this is almost like a completely different portrait session, even though it's a post session, even though they're in their wedding clothes, it is separate from the wedding day and should be treated as such, so hopefully for some of you that are maybe considering post sessions, maybe wondering how you can work them into your price list, wondering how you can approach them with your client when the weather might not be great or your location might not the right or they might be a little bummed that they didn't get portrait's during the day because their wedding was at night. This is a really great thing to add to your price list. It's. A really great other session to put into your repertoire. It gives you beautiful, beautiful images that you might not have been able to make on the wedding day and it's, just fun. It's lower stress everybody's in a good mood, and it really lets you play with your clients sometimes in a way that you're not you're not capable of doing on the wedding day. So hopefully something that you heard today resonates with you in some way, hopefully something that I taught you might help you navigate these sessions or introduced these sessions to your clients. I hope you enjoyed the video. I hope you enjoy the day and we'll see you back here tomorrow.

Class Materials

bonus material

Quicksheet Inside Guide (one large PDF file)
Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
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Ratings and Reviews

Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.

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