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Wedding Details & Tips

Lesson 30 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Wedding Details & Tips

Lesson 30 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

30. Wedding Details & Tips


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

Wedding Details & Tips

You're going to be following blair and jeremy, who are to actual paying wedding clients of mine who graciously allowed us to spend the day with them. So this is the very first section of their wedding day. There will be many, many more to come, so we're going to start off by talking about the details of the day. So the first thing that I always kind of advise photographers to do when they're looking at photographing the details of a wedding day is to find out if the details are actually important to you. If there's something that you actually want to be photographing on the wedding day, I know a lot of photographers who photographing the details isn't necessarily something that's important to them or aesthetically pleasing to them. For me, photographing the details is something that I I really, really enjoy to do really enjoy doing and something that my clients have come to expect from me, especially the photographs of the rings and the shoes. Now, the other thing that you have to figu...

re out before you even get started with this is are they important to your clients? Now? I know that they're important to my clients because as I've said before, I do a lot of macro photography of the rings and the details, and my clients have started to ask for it. When I show up on the wedding day, a lot of times, they'll actually have all of the details laid out for me and we'll say, I can't wait to see what ring shot that you do for me, the answer that I have to that is me, too, because I don't go in with any sort of pre set plan or idea as to what that I'm what I'm going to do to photograph these details for them. The reason why I say that you need to find out if they're important to the clients is because some clients really don't care. They don't understand what the point of having a picture of their ring is because they have their ring and they're goingto wear it every day for the rest of their life. Or why would you take a picture of the shoes? They're just shoes you should be documenting people. So if working more artistic ring shots and detail shots into your repertoire is something that you really want to work on it's also important to gauge your clients and see if those pictures in the end or even going to be important to them. Because at the end of the day, I really do like taking these artistic and interesting shots of the details of the day, but it's more important to me that I please my clients and if it's something that my clients weren't interested in, it might not necessarily be something that I wanted to focus on quite a strongly we've talked the other day in talking about branding and marketing and getting your name out to clients about what I like to call the pinteresque defect, and nowhere is the pinterest effect more prevalent than in the details of the day. If you look at wedding blog's, if you look at anything that really features real weddings, be it a blawg or a magazine or any other type of publication, bridal fairs anywhere that you see, wedding imagery displayed, ah lot of times it's, very heavy on the details, and a marriage is not made in those details. There is much, much, much more that goes into your wedding that goes into your day that goes into the establishing of the family that we're creating with your new spouse than whether you do or do not have mason jars at your event. And while I do love photographing the details, it's not about that, for me, that is simply something that I put into my repertoire of wedding photography to enhance the galleries. To make them more interesting to make them more diverse to make them may be a little bit more artistic, but I don't want you to think that in shooting the details of the day, you need to be focused on that, and only that in ignoring everything else that's going on around you. The problem that I see with pinteresque is because interest is so focused on the details because it is a tool that you can use to gather together all of your inspiration for your wedding day. Ah lot of what I'm seeing people pin are detailed photographs, and then they come to you with those detailed photographs, and then they ask you to recreate them. So, like I said the other day, when we were talking about marketing that if a client comes to me and asks me to recreate something that I've seen on pinterest, my response is very simple. Would you rather me duplicate something that another photographer did for another client? Or would you rather make me make something for you that is brand new, that other people will be pinning on pinteresque later? Now, my goal here isn't to get my images on pinteresque that's, not what I mean by that it's simply too express to the client that you don't need to follow what somebody else has done, that you should do what's true. And meaningful to you in all respects, but also in the approach to the details of the day. Now a marriage is not in the details, but they're they're pretty and they are important to me and there are reasons why they're important to me. I've been a photographer's I've mentioned many times for about thirteen years, and I got married last year myself and because I am that special type of horrible client, I decided that photographing the details of my own day with something that I wanted to do myself now I didn't go crazy, I didn't take my camera to the reception and shoot the set up. My husband did that, but I actually set up my own details in the hotel room that I got ready and in photographs that myself in the days leading up to the wedding, and when I was looking at it, I thought, you know, this is just a really fun thing that I could do myself. I shoot a lot of details, my client's love a lot of details, you know? I should really shoot the details of myself, but something really interesting happened when I looked at these images later, I was actually really blown away by how important they were to me that when I looked at the picture on the left here, which is my wedding dress that I didn't just see a picture of my dress, I saw my friends and I going and trying on these dresses together. I saw the first salon that I went to, where they kind of left me alone and didn't really help me. I saw my mom flying up from atlanta to see the dress with me at a trunk show and being there when I bought it, I saw the fact that I was able to pay for this beautiful wedding dress myself, which is something that really meant a lot to me, so it wasn't just a picture of address, it was a picture that inspired all of these memories that went into picking the dress and getting me too that day, and when I look at the picture of my rings on the right, it's not just a pretty picture of my rings, which it is it's my husband and I looking at the ring together in the jewelry store and it's, my husband proposing to me in the park. So when you're looking at details, maybe you not don't be so quick to just brush them off as, oh, this is just a picture of the ring when you think about the emotional moments that you photographed through the day and your clients looking back on those photographs of those moments and remembering what it was like to be at that instant, when your mother hugged you or your father kissed you or your sister cried during the ceremony ah photograph of a detail, a photograph of a thing can also elicit a memory that maybe you don't even know about. You know, I look at this and I remember my daughters and I looking on etsy for kind of an antique vessel for us to carry the rings down the aisle, and I look back on it after the wedding, and I remember passing that exact vessel around so that all of our family and all of our friends could hold our rings and bless them, and I remember sitting around on the internet with my friends debating whether or not I should buy these really ridiculously expensive shoes that just said love on the toes that were surely going to be miserably uncomfortable, but I wanted them anyhow, and then I'm taken back to the actual wedding day itself, where I put them on the mirror and I took the photograph and I remember what it felt like to be there. So, yes, there is a lot of negative connotations to shooting the details on the wedding day because blog's and pinteresque do make it seem like those details make up the day, but they don't make up the day, but they do mean something. So, that's, another thing to consider when you're photographing these details that maybe these pictures don't mean anything to you, but maybe they're going to mean something really tremendous to the clients that you haven't considered. So when do I shoot the details of the day? Usually when I show up in a client's room because, like I said, several times, I've sort of set a precedent of doing these images when they go to the galleries that I show them before they even book me, they see that usually every single wedding day starts off with either a handful or a large chunk of detail shots. A lot of times I'll show up in the bride's home or in the place that she's getting ready, and and she'll have everything pulled together for me the rings, the shoes, the invitations, a guard or anything like that, and I will start the day by photographing those. This gives me several different advantages. First of all, it's a little hard to walk into a room and start shooting cold, you're not warmed up. The people aren't comfortable with you being there, and if I can start by photographing the details, then they're getting used to me being in the room there, getting used to me moving around in their space, and so by the time I start photographing the people it's not like I just walked in the front door and started shooting people and they don't know me and they're kind of uncomfortable. I sort of dipped my toes into the water of the pool before jumping all the way in, so to speak it also lets me get these out of the way at the beginning of the day, so I don't have to interrupt any of the moments are happening later to photograph these, and it also helps me warm up a little bit creatively as well at fifty some odd weddings every single year sometimes it's a little hard to get going at the start of the day and starting off with something like details allows me to sort of flex my creative muscles before I get started photographing things that actually move and talk like people. So most of the time I'm going to shoot these at the very, very beginning of the day, unless if the bride only has her engagement ring, if she doesn't have the groom's band in her wedding band, I'll go back and I'll take those rings from them during the reception sometime later in the night, usually during dinner service, when not a lot is happening on all photograph them. Then I don't want it to be a big deal I don't want them to have to like go to the groom's room and get his ring back or anything like that I'll photograph her engagement ring and then I'll take care of those later in the day and I will go up to them during a reception and I'll say, hey, can I borrow your rings for just a minute and nine times out of ten? They have absolutely no problem and I've also prepped them with that earlier in the day oh, you only have your engagement ring here that's great do you mind if later on in the day I grab your wedding bands as well and photograph them so they know that it's coming on top of that? How do you find the time to photograph the details now you're about to see a video of me photographing the details for blair in jeremy at the start of their actual wedding day and it goes on for quite a while now. I don't normally have that kind of time on a wedding day to really concentrate on the details, but I do make sure that when I'm talking to the clients when we're talking about the time line we were talking about the structure of the day, I try to make sure that I'm going to be spending enough time with the bride in her room to photograph these details, if she's got me starting thirty minutes before they see each other for the first time, I'm not going to have time to do it and it's my job to manage those expectations and let her know that I need at least an hour to an hour and a half in the bride's room before she actually gets ready to be able to accurately document these details, if that's something she wants, and then to really document her in her final stages of getting ready and getting into the dress. So I find the time because I asked for the time, and like I said, you will see this video, which kind of does go on for longer than I normally do get to photograph the details, but I can also really crunch that time down. If all I have is five minutes, I can make it work in five minutes. I might not be able to play or tinker or move things around as much as I'd like, but I definitely can knock out the details incredibly quickly if it's important to the client and I don't have that much time, so it it definitely can be done, which leads to the next very obvious question, what gear do I use now? Most of the time, I'm going to be photographing the details with my nikon d for the reason being that when I'm shooting at the aperture that I like to shoot out for these ring details ah lot of times I really have to push the esso because I do mostly shoot these natural light because it can get a little dim in these hotel rooms. A lot of times, my s o will be going up to sixty, four hundred or a thousand or ten thousand, and I'm at f eleven f sixteen, sometimes even f twenty two, so I need a camera that can really handle that low light can perform really well at a high s o and that I can trust to accurately represent the color, and I get that best out of my d for I'm not saying that you have to switch to nikon and not saying you have to use a d for you can do this with any camera that you have. This is simply the tool that I choose to bring to the game, the lens that I photograph all of my details with. We've talked about this if you've been with us so far, but if you haven't, I'm glad to recap it for you. My lens of choice for my detailed photographs is one hundred five millimeter nikon macro. Now there are some photographers out there who will say, oh, I shoot my ring shots with the twenty four to seventy or I shoot them with the eighty five one two at one too, but first of all, you're not going to be able to get us close and get that macro effect with those lenses, and if you're shooting at two, eight, one eight and one two, as I've mentioned already, there's no way that you're going to have that entire ring in focus, there simply isn't even if it's not a macro lens, you just don't have the ability at those apertures tohave the entire kind of facet of the ring and focus I choose one hundred five millimeter because I like the compression of the longer linds I used to shoot with the sixty millimeter there's absolutely nothing wrong with that lends its a wonderful lens, but I got a chance to try the hundred five and because I do love compression is I I've mentioned many, many times I love the compressed look in the images that I do. Why would my macro images be any different? So I use one hundred five it gives me that really great compression sometimes if I get a little crazy, I'll put a tele converter on it and turn it into a two hundred plus millimeter lens. But that's only if I'm feeling kind of nuts about it for the most part I don't need any sort of tell a converter one hundred five works just fine and I am shooting these as we will talk about at f nine eleven f sixteen so the gear that I do use for these images is as I've said the nikon the war and one hundred five millimeter macro do I use natural light? Yes it d'oh now that's not I don't want to have the misconception that I used natural light because I don't know how to use a video light or because I don't know how to use a flash, but most of the time when I'm shooting these images I'm in the bride's getting ready room I have access to some windows all I need is a window and I'm able to do that without supplementing any light at all I'm happy with the quality of light that I'm getting from the windows for the shot so I don't need to supplement it with anything else that said if I'm taking the rings back during the reception or if I'm photographing them in one of those terrible getting ready rooms that have no windows whatsoever I will bring out my ice light that's my light of choice for a detail shot if I do need to supplement with light, I'll let you know in the images that you'll be seeing soon which ones have supplemental light? And which ones don't? The reason why I like the ice light is for all of the reasons that I've mentioned up until today, it very strongly mimics daylight it's a very soft light source, you can adjust the intensity up and down, and it gives me just the simple, beautiful quality of light to emulate the windows that I usually use for the detail shots. So, yes, I do use natural light, but if I do need to supplement with additional light, I will go for my eye flight all the time. So what you're about to see is a video of the very beginning of blair and jeremy's wedding day. This is from the second that she texts me tow, let me know what room number she's in you'll see me walking into the room for the very first time you'll see how my assistant and I gather the details together and decide what we are and what we are not going to shoot, and then you'll see my entire thought process and me and action as we photographed these details, I'll see you on the other side, okay, so she did actually text me back last night she's in room five oh three, no five oh two so we know where she's going, we do this so that we don't have stand in line at the front desk the front desk doesn't have to call up to the room so on and so forth. But one more thing let's check the weather one more time let's, figure out where we are so okay um since last night it actually got like a thousand times better. It looks like it's not really going to start raining until about six o'clock which is going to really not be good for their six o'clock ceremony but this means that there's literally no rain at all. So if she wants to brave washington square park yea, but I'm really gonna kind of suggest against it because there's no light there anyhow, right now and it's just going to be wet and gross exactly it's gonna be nasty and so I'm going to suggest head house square I think it's going to work really well this is, you know, still really sucks but it's much better than it was yesterday so hello. Hi. Have you looked at the weather yet this morning? It's looking better like last night it was like seventy percent chance of rain all day long, but hold on. It said that we're down to a zero percent chance of rain in an hour and then it's not supposed to rain again till six oh, my god. This is great in here. I've never been in this one. It's fun the lights even better than the last one I was in. I wanted a cornish. It'd be more like yes. Yes, you are, how's. Everything going good? You guys are so nice already can't believe your mom made that. Oh, my god. If I made something like that, have you ever seen the site pinterest fail? Are you kidding? Way we're gonna photograph those that's gonna happen and that that's gonna happen? We're just piling everything on you right now rings and is your engagement ring in there? Also? Okay. Good, because I knew that blair loved the detail photography that I did, I made sure that we plan the schedule so that I had enough time to photograph the details that were important to her when photographing details. The first thing that I'm looking for is a nice, bright light source in this instance, the brightest light source that I could find happened to be in the bathtub of the bathroom. Usually I at least let the macro try to focus for a while before you give up manually. Oh yeah, when I'm shooting something like rings or jewelry and I want the entire item to be in focus, I can't shoot that at f two point eight are just one little bit of the ring will be in focus understanding your depth of field when it comes to working with a macro lens is key since depth of field is combined of aperture focal length and distance of subject to the lin's macro photography is especially hard because the magnification zehr so large with this type of linz I almost always start my ring shots at f eleven and sometimes all the way up to f sixteen or even f twenty two wait oh that's it I didn't have enough compression on the other one for to really show off the rain always sort of hold my breath and then let triple fire my math rose just because I'm really paranoid I'm gonna go toe like f twenty two for this some of the numbers are in the shadow spot in some of the numbers are in the bright spot and the reason why I shot like eight hundred of those just now is because I'm holding my breath because the shutter speed it's so low because of the fact that it is not grow and your planet focuses so little boom and make sure yeah give the rings back we always give the ring back makes us very nervous these are grandmother's so clearly they're important so a lot of times I'll shoot it straight and then I'll try to make something a little more creative with withthe likes it looks kind of like a coiled snake on water. Oh, that's cool. Yeah, they're having a good time in there and a lot of times now is when will also try to find the guys and shoot them but he's not getting ready here I tried using the same setup when photographing blair shoes but it wasn't working quite right. I literally trying too hard now, okay? And luckily we have the luxury of time here, which is really nice, okay that'll sort of d'oh. Although I eventually got a shot I will is happy with we ended up moving the shoe's toe another bathroom location to try for something different. Yes, but all of this stuff is important to her, so I kind of want to give it its proper respect if I want to focus on just a portion of the detail all sometimes shoot my macro at three point five or even f four knowing what depth of field does with a macro lens is crucial to using it correctly. So welcome back. I hope you enjoyed the video. I hope you got a bit of a kick out of me sitting in a bathtub to shoot the details that is not normal. I do not normally end up climbing in someone's bathtub to photograph their details, but when I went looking for the natural light source, there were several different options one of them had been in the actual room that she was getting ready, and you saw the windows as I I went in and talked to her about the details that I was going to be photographing. The problem with that room was that there were a lot of people in that space, the biggest window is being taken up by the makeup artist, and I didn't want to ask her to move, and there wasn't enough room to really work around her the other windows on the other side, we're really close to the bed, and there just wasn't there wasn't a great space that I could be there. I chose the bathroom because nobody was using it, they weren't doing any hair and makeup in there, and because there was that massive window right next to the tub, they would let me get close to my light source and work with an s so that wasn't completely crazy on would allow me to use the settings that I wanted. Now, naturally, as we've talked about before the video that took a long time, I mean, it did it did take a long time part of it was because I knew that we were going to be filming the details of the day, and I made sure that I had ample time for that. But that is not a misrepresentation of what a day is normally like for me. Ah lot of times I will get ten to fifteen minutes to photograph those details because they're important to the clients because that is something that they've asked me to do for them and because I've talked to them about their timeline and the timing of the day beforehand and ensure that I'm going to have enough time to do it. My ideal amount of time for a bride getting ready, as I've mentioned before is ninety minutes that gives me about fifteen minutes to document the details, and then it gives me an hour and fifteen minutes to document the end of the bride getting ready her getting into her dress, some portrait of her and to get out the door. So I don't want you to have the misperception that we made this extra long video just so that I could use it as a teaching tool, but I don't normally have that amount of time. Yes, I do actually normally have that amount of time on a wedding day sometimes it's faster. Sometimes I have more time, but no matter how much time I'm given to photograph those details, I will make it work. The other question that a couple of people who have seen this video already have asked us, why does my shutter sound weird? If you listen to me actually photographing these details, you'll hear that this shutter sounded kind of slow, maybe a little bit. Draghi, that's, because I was operating on quiet mode and my d three s and my d, for they have a setting where you can actually quiet down the sound of your shutter, which, unfortunately, to anyone who knows anything about photography, they're going to look at you like you're kind of crazy, because it sounds like you're using a shutter speed that you can't possibly be getting, you know anything other than a ton of blur in but it's? Not because it's. A super slow shutter it's. Just simply the sound of the quiet mode on the d for

Class Materials

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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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