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Wedding Toasts

Lesson 49 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

49. Wedding Toasts

Next Lesson: Parent Dances


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 Toasts

Hi, I'm susan stripling and this is thirty days of wedding photography today we're here to talk to you about toasts and parent dances now if you were with us yesterday, we already talked about introductions and first dances, so some of that information will be carried over from yesterday, but some of it will be new and hopefully all of it will be interesting if you're joining us for the first time you're coming in at a really good time where midway through the reception, we're talking about how we're handling some off camera flash for some of those really key crucial moments of the day. But if you've been with us so far, you know that we have come quite a long way from the very beginning of thes thirty days from the very, very beginning, we were talking about the gear that you pack and how you establish your vision and creativity. We've gone through marketing and all of those things seem like distant memories, but we've helped you booked clients. We've helped you manage their expectati...

ons. We've shot engagement sessions we've introduced you to blair and jeremy are constant client throughout this entire process, we photograph the details of the day, the getting ready, the first look, the family formals and everything and now we're at the part of the reception where we're working on the toasts and moving into the parent dances so let's, jump right in and start talking first thing we're going to cover is going to be the toasts now, as we have done with every single portion of this thirty days, we're going to talk to you about exactly what I used to photograph this part of the reception. Now, some of you were looking at this who have been with us over the past couple of days and saying, susan, seriously, you're really just recycling the same slide over and over and over again, and that might be true because I am using a very consistent set up that starts at the beginning of the reception and carries through until the very, very end, we have the d for with the seventy two, two hundred millimeter linz and are off camera flash. We've talked about that off camera flash, we're going to talk about it yet again, we have the d three s with the twenty four to seventy millimeter and the on camera flash, and we have my assistant with the flash on the monitor pod. Just a quick recap for those of you who've been with us so far and just a quick refresher with for those of you who are just joining us today, my off camera flash mono pod phobics a transmitter receiver sb nine ten flash from nikon. At this point in time in the day we are almost never using our rogue flash bender so there's just a simple stuff in omni balanced on the top of our flash we have our sd nine battery pack attached to the mono pod with the cord wrapping up and plugging right into that sb nine ten now we also have photos transmitters on the camera with the twenty four to seventy we also have it on the camera with the seventy two, two hundred the difference between the two of those is that the d for with the seventy two, two hundred we just have the transmitter on the top of the camera the d three s with the twenty four to seventy and the on camera flash we have the camera we have the transmitter and we have our flash actually mounted into the hot chute on the top of the transmitter. The reason why the transmitter is on the d three s with the twenty four to seventy is in case we want to utilize that off camera flash in conjunction with on camera flash and if you come back tomorrow and party down in the recep ction portion with us you'll get to see exactly how that happens so my assistant has the flash on the monitor pod she also does hold whichever camera that I'm not shooting at the time to give my arms neck back and shoulders a bit of a break so talking about these toasts, which generally usually happened somewhere in the middle of the reception we've done the introductions, we've done the first dance everyone has sat down to eat, usually at some point in time, in dinner service, we do have the toast now that really varies if we're working with a jewish wedding and they're going to do the moat see over the bread that usually happens after the introduction first dance, but before everyone starts eating, you'll very easily no, if that's coming, if you've talked to your clients, I learned about the timeline, and usually if you see a table of braided bread sitting off to the corner of dance floor, you know that somebody very important is going to come pray over it and cut it for them, knowing the timeline from the clients, but also coordinating with the maitre d and with the bander deejay to make sure that nothing has changed between that timeline and the actual day of the event means that you won't miss anything. Now we've had a terrible, horrible, awful instances of the band going rogue or the deejay going rogue or the maitre d deciding he's going to move things and having the planner run into the room hall were scarfing down a vendor meal and shouting toasts toasts! And five years ago, this would have put me into a total panic because I would have needed a couple of extra seconds to sit down, recoup and make sure that I know what my settings are going to be. But now we can pick it up. We can run in there, and we could be ready to go on a moment's notice, and we will tell you some of those horror stories pretty soon. So as I have mentioned, it is very important to know the timing of when these toasts are actually going to happen. It's also important to know who's giving the toasts. Are we just having the maid of honor and the best man stand up? Are we having multiple speeches on either side? Are the parents of the bride or the parents of the room going to be standing up and giving a toast? If the parents of the bride or the parents of the groom are going to be toasting? Is that happening with the toasts of the bridal party? Or is that happening at another time? Are the bride and groom themselves going to stand up and speak at some point in time in the night? All of these things are incredibly crucial things to know so that you could make sure that you're ready and ready to shoot no where they will stand that's a big one at blair in jeremy's wedding I did talk to the d j extensively about where the toasts were goingto happen now the reason why this is important the reason why knowing where they're going to stand is something that you should probably have a handle on is because it actually does affect the way I'm goingto light the toasts my ideal if this table in front of me is a dance floor if the bride and groom are sitting here the bride and groom are my glass of water here I want the person that's going to be giving the toast to them to be these flowers I want them to be facing each other so if this is the bride and groom and this is the person giving the toast usually the rest of the guests are going to be sitting kind of around in here but that doesn't happen all the time every once in a while you get a really intrepid maitre d or band leader who thinks that it's a great idea to put the flowers behind the water glass and then what you've got is the person giving the toast and then you have the bride and groom like this they have their back totally to you they have their back totally to the rest of the audience and there's nothing that you can do to really capture their reactions short of being a contortionist and climbing behind the table and a lot of times the band leader or the deejay or the maitre d has no real strong feelings about where they're going to put the bride and the groom and I'm not sorry about the bride and groom the person giving the toast they just kind of put them wherever they think will work but if you can get to them at the beginning of the reception if you could talk to them during caught tell our and say hey where you going to put the person giving the toast if they say I don't know I guess we're gonna put them like behind the bride and groom I feel like it's my responsibility to say you know what do you mind putting them in the center of the dance floor instead that way I get separation between the bride and groom that way it's easier for me to see their reactions that it also is kind of beneficial to the guests because they're not just looking at the back of the bride and groom's heads for the entire toasting process so knowing where they're going to stand is something that I always try to establish either during khan tell our or write a cz the guests are starting to come into the reception before the introductions in the first dance so that I know that if I can possibly have any input into this part of the day I'm going to do it the other thing that is somewhat important is to know when to back off, and this is a tough one. How many of you have been at a reception and someone's been giving a toast? And it kind of starts to get to the point where it's uncomfortable, you know, they've been taken, they've been talking for kind of a long time, maybe they're starting to ramble that disastrous thing where they didn't, you know, high for those of you who don't know me, I am bob's fraternity brother and I didn't prepare a speech for you guys today, so I'm just gonna kind of wing it that's basically the kiss of death for a speech because you know that it's going to go on for way too long and probably be slightly inappropriate. So what do you do if you've shot? You've shot, shot, shot, the person giving the toast, and you shot the person's reaction and you shot all of the people in sort of the reception space also reacting, but it keeps on going. There will reach a time where we have covered the moment to the end of the moment and I'll look over to my assistant, I'll do like that, and that just means okay, you can put it down. So she's on the side of the dance flor, she can lower her flash. She can also come down to a crouching position on the ground and get herself out of the view of the people and I will do the same thing on the other side, so you kind of have to gauge your comfort level when you feel like you've got it. I'm not asking you to stop looking around, I'm not saying stop being observant, but it is okay to kind of come down. Stop being the center of attention instead of just standing there on the side of the dance for a looking bored, remove yourself from the scene when you feel like you've worked it sort of to its utmost. So this is exactly what it looked like in blair and jeremy's reception space when they had their toasts. Now, at this wedding, there were two toasts, the maid of honor and the best man I had been able to talk to the d j and I asked him where to put these people on the dance floor. Now, when it actually went down, he totally forgot what we talked about and put them somewhere else entirely, which could have been a recipe for disaster, but it actually ended up working out so here's a shot of exactly what was going down, you see the maid of honor with her microphone in her speech you see the best man waiting just off the side on deck and you see kind of towards the middle that little bitty speck holding a really big linds that's me this gives you a very clear indication of where I stood when I started photographing the toast you can see that I'm coming from an angle I'm aiming into the side of the bride's maid's face and let's talk about positioning we are making a triangle very nice and simple and in the next slide you're going to see a little bit more of exactly what it looks like I'm starting off to the side we're making a triangle where one point is me one point is the person giving the toast and one point is my assistant on the flash is staying constant she isn't moving now in an ideal world we were looking at my coffee table here in the bride and groom where the water glass on the person giving the toast of the flowers or the the bragger my guests could be the flowers and the toaster could be the water. Either way the analogy still works. My ideal is if this is the bridegroom and this is the person giving the toast I'm right here and my assistant is right there so we're for photographing the bride and groom we've made a triangle if we're photographing the person giving the toast we've made a triangle all I have to do it. My point in the triangle is turned this way or turn this way. All my assistant has to do with her point in the triangle is turned this way or turn this way she doesn't keep the flash in the middle, because then it's not aimed at the person that I'm photographing, she turns it either towards the person getting giving the toast are towards the bride and groom. Now the reason why I try to keep her equal distant between the bride and groom and the person giving the toast is so she doesn't have to change her flash output if she's ten feet from the bride and when she turned, she is ten feet from the person giving the toast her flash output khun stay at a quarter power or I can stay at eighth power, whichever we've determined is appropriate for the room and the distance between herself and the subject. If she's further back, if the dance floor is really long and she's got a long throw between where she is and where these people are going to closer to quarter power, if it's a smaller dance floor, maybe if it's a little brighter, maybe we don't need quite a cz much light, maybe she's a little closer to the subject, then we're going to go with eight power and again I can't give you a formula I can't tell you in every space you must be on this power or divide the links by the width by the light this is something that you have to become comfortable with yourself and you'll start noticing when the room looks like x my flash needs to be why and as you practice and as you practice you'll be able to do it in your head immediately we can walk into a room now in sandra my assistant who is not a photographer who has no photographic training can look around for two seconds and go quarter power right? And I can say yep and chances are she's dead on because we've been doing it together for so long there's also absolutely nothing wrong with taking a test shot if you think you might have your settings but you're not entirely sure wait until you have a few brief seconds before the toast start and go ahead and take a test shot you don't need a person standing in that spot just shoot towards outside of the room you'll be able to see if you're getting enough light enough ambient light and you'll be able to adjust accordingly don't wait until the person starts giving the toast to take your test shot because if you have to fumble with it you have to change your settings a little bit maybe you're not quite comfortable with off camera flash just yet, you could really miss a large portion of the toast while you're fumbling with it. And as with everything else that I've talked to about, don't try this for the first time at a client's wedding. Practice this at home, get comfortable with it and on lee bring it to an actual paying event when you are fully confident that you can get the results that you need. So you've kind of seen where I'm standing now. Let's, take another look at the scene where you can see a little bit more what's going on in this instance, I have moved over just a little bit, but the principles are still the same. You can see me off to camera left how I desperately clutch my camera while I'm shooting you can see off to the edge of camera, right? The maid of honor standing holding her, holding her paper giving the toast you can see blair and jeremy sitting at their head table and then if you look just just camera right are just a stage right here of my lens hood, right? Hiding behind that column there, sandra, with our flash and you can see exactly how we're making the triangle. Now, I understand in this situation that when we're photographing the person giving the toast, sander is further away from her. Then she is to the bride and groom. When I go to shoot the bride and groom, I have one of two options, actually, three options. Sandra can either step back, because if the intensity of the light at eighth power is enoughto light up that bridesmaid right over here, if she then turns to blair and jeremy that's gonna blow them out, unless something changes, either sandra can step back when she sees me, turned towards blair and jeremy. So she maintains an equal distance between her and them, the same way she did between her and the bride's maid. She can reach up, and she can change the power of the flash. She could go from quarter powered eight power, or I could make a change to the settings on my camera myself. I could change my s o could do it that way. So it's, really however you're comfortable, which is why, as we were talking about our analogy of flowers and water glass, I prefer her and I to be equal, distant between the person getting the toast and the person giving the toast, but it's not an ideal world every single weekend, so we just make do but if you take a look at this setup and you clearly see where she's sitting or standing, you can clearly see where I'm standing, you can clearly see the maid of honor you get a sense of how far we all are from each other. The ensuing photograph looks like this now I don't have to tell you where the flashes coming from, you just saw it, and I don't have to tell you where I'm standing because you just I saw it. The only thing I have to tell you that you haven't seen so far are my settings an eightieth of a second if you've been with us so far, if you sat with us during introductions and first dance, you'll know one eightieth of his second because it's fast enough to freeze the motion of the people with the combination of the flash f three point five. The reason why I'm at three five instead of four is because I have only one person to get unfocused, not multiple people one hundred seventy five millimeters, because I'm looking to be a cz close to two hundred as possible to compress my subject away from the background, and I s o sixteen hundred because it's working in tandem with my shutter speed to bring up the ambient light in the room now nothing changes between here and here, my settings are the same the only thing that's changed is that I'm at two hundred millimeters instead of one hundred seventy five millimeters my flash hasn't moved sandra is still in the exact same spot the only thing I've done is to adjust myself so if you take a look at this picture back here you can see that it's a more harsh light angle you can see where the light hits her face you can see the shadow fall off into her body and then if you come over to this image just immediately following it you can see that the light is hitting her body more fully it's hitting more of her face there's less shadow fall off because even though sandra is aiming the light in the exact same direction I've changed my approach I'm coming at it from a different angle I'm giving it a different background I'm letting the light hit her face with a different way but as you see the flash itself hasn't moved the flash power output hasn't changed the settings on my camera haven't changed the only thing that changed was my angle now I'm always on the lookout to see if there's something that I can do with that scene that's a little bit different and take a look at the uh the iron working on the wall you can see how it's pretty bright in between all of the different ironworks we've got a little up lighting going on on the wall but you're not really seeing it terribly clearly because I filled in all of the shadows spaces with my light it also looks like that we've talked about silhouettes we've talked about all of that pretty extensively that in order to get a nice, clear, crisp silhouette you have to have an exposure difference between your subject and between the background that is so vast that when you under expose your subject to make them the dark crisp portion of the silhouette that your background still stays nice and bright enough to provide that separation between subject and background. Now I saw that ambient let the up light the candle lights that they put on the floor shooting up the reception wall and I realized that the exposure difference between the maid of honor giving the toast and the background was going to be pretty vast now we just took a look at this image beforehand where I filled in all of the shadows and I brightened up her face you can see the settings that were used down at the bottom of the image to make this image just as it wass all I've done here I reached up I turned off my radio transmitter so that every time I click the shutter it was not triggering sandra off camera flash at all I'm still an eightieth of a second I'm still a three point five one hundred thirty millimeters eso twelve fifty so if you take a look and eighties of a second three five, two hundred millimeters an eighty eighth of a second three five, one hundred thirty millimeters the only thing I've changed is my focal length but this shows you very clearly and very definitively that without a flash this scene looks like this filling it in with a flash at eight power it looks like that however luckily for me both images are equally compelling. I was able to utilize both of them and give two different looks of the exact same scene to my clients and staying with the moment the moment after the maid of honor stopped speaking and she was so choked up and emotional and blair came over and gave her a hug if I had shot this and I had been busy patting myself on the back and congratulating myself for catching such a lovely moment and not paying attention I would have missed the moment that followed which is equally wonderful so after the person giving the toast is done after everyone has applauded ah lot of time the bride or the groom or both the bride and groom will get up, join them on the dance floor and give them a hug and I follow the moment through and I followed the emotion through until the entire scene is finished and we move on to the next person giving the toast now to talk about how I photograph the reaction of the bride and groom I could show you images of the best man giving his speech they look exactly like the images of the maid of honor giving her speech so in the interest of time, we're going to keep on keeping on. But this is what blair and jeremy looked like sitting at their table now you saw the image that showed where I was standing, where the toaster was standing, where blair and jeremy were sitting and where the flash was coming from. This is the exact same thing we're still in eighty eighth of a second we're still at f three point five I'm still on manual the flash is still on manual at eighth power I'm still a two hundred millimeters and my eyes so it's still hovering around one thousand to twelve fifty the only thing that has changed in the light that's happening here is that sandra physically took three steps further back into the room because she was closer to the bride and groom than she was to the people giving the toasts so she had to back off because the light was too intense on the bride and groom. You can see where it's coming from you concede that it's coming off stage left you can see exactly how it's striking their faces and it's coming from an angle that just gives the photograph dimension so this is what we have going on now. Let's, break this down and let's, explain this just a little bit more. Using examples from other weddings that I photographed before we go into the reaction shots of the bride and groom let's talk about the person giving the toast first now. Wonderful wedding in martha's vineyard. This is my ideal. The parents were standing up on the dance floor. They were facing the head table where the bride and groom were sitting. You take a look at the settings were at a fiftieth of a second because I had to go nice and low to bring in the ambient light in the room. However, still a fiftieth of a second with the addition of the off camera flash at eighth power, I was able to freeze the movement of my subjects f two point eight instead about four. Because I'm focusing mainly on the bride's father instead of the two of them standing there one hundred sixteen millimeters from getting back as far as I can. But I couldn't get back any further than that. And I s so one thousand, because the esso and the shutter speed are working together to freeze my subject and bring in my ambient light. This is the same principle that I was talking about when we were talking about the flowers in the water glass on the table. Here, my assistant and I have made a triangle. She is on the other side of the dance floor from me. This is the gentleman giving the toast right here. My assistant is right there, and I am right here. We've made our triangle that way. I know she's on the other side of the dancefloor her flashes constant. I can move wherever I want. But I know that it's going to be coming in at an angle. That's going to give the dimension on the face of the toaster. That is exactly what I'm looking for. Same thing, like coming from the same direction light hitting the subject in the same way. The on ly reason that this is different from the image prior is because there's no up lights in this room. If you go back and you take a look at this image here, there's a lot going on in the background, you have the light on the walls of the tent, you have the light on the edges of the tent, you have the lights on the table, you have a little light on the dance floor and this image here you didn't so this gives you a very strong indication. What light coming from the exact same angle that we've been talking about is going to look like when there's no other ambient light in the room to illuminate the scene. And then I move. My assistant stays exactly the same before backto our analogy of flowers and water glass over here on the table. My assistant is here. The person giving the bride and groom are still here. The person giving the toast is here now I can do whatever I want she's there the lightest constant. The power is constant. The output is the same every single time, nobody settings or changing at all. I can stand over here. I can go stand behind the bride and groom and aimed towards the person giving the toast. I could go stand over next to sandra and use her like a different way. I don't go stand all the way over on the other side of the room by the door and as long as our radio transmitter and receiver can still talk to each other, the light output in the exposure's going to be the exact same thing in every single image my cameras on manual, my flashes on manual, it is the same thing every time. So you can see here that the light is still coming from her triangulated place yet I've moved instead of being directly next to the best man who's giving his speech here I've moved a little closer to the bride and the groom so the light is hitting them in a more direct manner filling in more of his face less dimensional but still no less powerful. So we've talked about what's happening with the person that's giving the toast and how we approach the person giving the toast I know this should probably come is absolutely no shock to you that I'm going to photograph the bride and groom in exactly the same manner if we're looking at my water glass in my flowers here when we've been photographing the person giving the toast my assistant is over there I'm over here to start on I'm aiming towards the person giving the toast now when I turned to shoot a reaction shot of the bride and groom all she does is turn towards the bride and groom and I turned towards the bridegroom the light is going to hit them at the same angle that it hit the person giving the toast and I'm going to come at it from the same angle so you have a very similar look to the final image and when this is happening unless there is a great vast light difference between the person giving the toast and where the bride and groom are sitting my settings we're going to remain exactly the same a sixtieth of a second tell me why it is low enough to bring in your ambient light while it is still bright enough to freeze the movement of my subjects in conjunction with the flash f three point two because in this situation I'm focusing on alison instead of andrew and I want your eye to go straight to her one hundred forty millimeters because it's a long as I can get in the space that I have on my I s o because it's working in tandem with my shutter speed to bring in the ambient light but also to freeze my subjects and you have to stay with it reaction and reaction to reaction if you shoot the image on the left and you're super proud of yourself and you think man, I nailed it and you go look for something else maybe you're going to miss the ensuing moment that falls right after it reaction light coming from exactly the same place. The only thing moving is me I know the lightest constant so I adjust my angle as necessary to make the light hit exactly how I want it to like so again take a look at the settings down at the bottom nothing is radically different as we go from scene to scene nothing is radically different exactly the same now how do we make these images look a little bit more interesting because I don't want to be one note because I don't just want to stand in between the person giving the toast and the person or saving the toast and turn this way and go click click and then turn this way and go click click and because I am a single photographer team I don't have a second shooter at this point in time in the day sandra is holding the light and assisting me she's not out there photographing herself I need to be able to photograph all of this by myself not only the person giving the toast but the person being toasted and the reactions of everyone else around me and then not only on top of that but I have to do it quickly and technically proficiently have to make it interesting because if my work has been interesting and it's been varied all day long, why would I suddenly dropped the ball here and not make it interesting? So I start looking for framing devices in different angles that I can come at sometimes it's a matter of having the light come from such a dimensional angle as in the image on the left so that I have just a slice of light framing the groomsman as he's giving the toast and then I crouched down and I shoot up and I catch that new yorker sign in the background now not every wedding am I fortunate enough to be on the roof of a building with the new yorker sign in the background, but if an opportunity like that presents itself to you, why wouldn't you grab it and make the most of it in the image on the right? This could be shot anywhere this could be at a catering hall this could be in a ballroom this could be anywhere whatsoever with candles on the tables. I don't actually even remember where this is I think it's the arts ballroom in philadelphia they could just as easily be in a tent in the bridegroom's backyard what I've done here, you can take a look at the person giving the toast you can clearly see that the light is coming from the same angle that we've been talking about the entire day today you can see that my settings are in line with everything that I've talked about so far and the only thing that I've done here I'm able to get all the way out to two hundred millimeters and I've gone over to the other side of several tables away from this mate. This gentleman is giving the speech and shot through the tables I was able to introduce the candles and the crystal ware on each of the tables as a framing element to push your eye directly to the person that's giving the toast sometimes I'm actually using light as my framing element shot in towards the grandmother right here she's watching the toast going on she's having a great time she's really enjoying herself the light is coming from exactly the same angle that we've been talking about the entire time the settings are completely in line with everything else that's been going on, but because I shot into the scene in this exact, precise way, it eliminates all of the up lights in the room and eliminates all of the candles on the tables and it focuses on the light on ly hitting the grandmother's face, illuminating her and sending the rest of the scene into a shadow. I will use the centerpieces on the table incredibly often as a framing device. If you look at the image on the left, you'll see off the camera right of the image on the left it gets kind of blurry and it's not because they took a tub of gasoline smeared all over the side of my linds it's because I went over on the other side of the table that was right next to the woman giving the speech and I used part of the vase of flowers on the table as an element into my islands just sort of muddy up that area just need take the distraction of that side away and push her I directly to the woman that's giving the toast same thing with the image on the right kate is actually sitting the woman on the left is actually toasting the woman on the right this is from the same wedding I went over to the other side of the table next to the bride got down just a little bit no, I'm not pushing guests out of the way or not sitting in their cedars sitting in their lab I'm simply going over to the other side of the table and introducing the floral arrangement on the table into my linds two uses a framing device to push your eye directly over to the bride not only are these images graphically interesting they're a little different there's a little element of what did you do there but what it does is it the framing of the image combined with the lighting on the image pushes your pusher I directly to this subject and that's what I'm going for crouching down just a little bit sometimes it's just about changing your angle just a little bit of ashley and zack sweating they were being toasted by the maid of honor and I went over to the other side of one of the tables look at the light on her face it's coming from the exact same diagram principle we've been talking about where we're making a triangle if you look at the settings there in line with everything that I've been talking about so far but all I've done here is simply go over to the other side of a table crouch down just a little bit introduced the heads of the people at the table as a framing device. The light hits the maid of honor lights her up, everything else is dark and down in your I go straight to her face, as in here, the father of the bride giving a toast, I'm shooting through a flower arrangement on the other side of the table next to him and again, I'm not climbing onto the table. I'm not getting in the way of the guests, I'm not saying get out of my way! I need to get this shot I am shooting with a long lens it is at two hundred millimeters, which means I can use that framing device from a little bit of a distance now let's talk briefly about action and reaction, which I think is an important principle all day long, but especially so when you're working with toast because you have action of the toaster and reaction of the toaster, you have action of the bride and groom in reaction from them. You have action reaction from the crowds of people that are watching the toast go down, so if, while you're shooting, you have a wonderful moment where the bride is listening to her maid of honor speak to her. Look at the settings there in line with everything that I've talked about. Look at the light it's coming from the angles that we've talked about, but I love this image. I think it's an absolutely beautiful image. Leah is incredibly gorgeous and she's even a pretty crier, which is incredibly frustrating. But if I shot this image and was proud of myself and said, oh, look, I got this really great image and then sort of hung up the camera and waited for the next speech to start. I would have missed the moment where she stood up and threw our arms around the woman that was giving this speech, and then I would have missed how she went and she sat right back down and her new husband helped her clean the mascara out from under her eyes. So you go from the reaction to the toast to the action of her, hugging her maid of honor and then over here to another moment that unfolded even further. Roger and carrie's wedding. This is it. Karen would estate in pennsylvania. They were watching the best man. Give them a toast. And roger, who was incredible, had the most fantastic facial reactions if you take a look at the setting down here, you might say hold on just a second of four hundredth of a second at s o nine thousand that's because what you're not seeing off camera right over here is the massive florida ceiling windows in the absolute perfect late afternoon light that was coming in and exacting acting exactly how the flash would what I had been using a flash during this portion of the day so I have this wonderful moment I have roger reacting, I have cary laughing, I have the people in the background I have the leading lines of the staircase taking you right down into the clients faces and then I took the extra second, zoomed in from one hundred thirty millimeters to two hundred millimeters and was able to capture a wonderful detail shot of them holding their champagne glasses same setting same scene about two seconds after the image prior. But this goes back to what we've been talking about the entire time which is working a scene looking and seeing if there are other angle. So sometimes the action and reaction in this instance is you. The action of kjr is mother giving her speech, and then the reaction of chiara standing up and giving her a hug sometimes it's action and reaction from the exact same person such as kelly who was extraordinarily happy now we touched very, very briefly on natural light we've talked an awful lot about flash where I put my flash what my flash power is the relationship of where I'm standing and where my assistant and I are standing to the person giving and receiving the toast but when to use natural light we touched on this a little bit when we were doing introductions and first dance is that sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you were able to use the natural light in the space because it is the exact quality of the light that you're looking for now with the way the cameras work nowadays with the power behind that defore I can shoot natural light just about anywhere but just because I can shoot it that doesn't mean that it's the quality of light that I'm looking for or it's the direction that I want it to be coming from or it's even good light not all light is good light but every once in a while you have a wonderful opportunity where you can use natural light and you should see that when the opportunity is right in front of you and be ableto leverage it such is the light pouring in from the windows behind jessica and sam why wouldn't I use that light it's exactly what I want why would I pop a flash who in the florida ceiling windows air giving me the exact same like quality that my flash would be giving me and why would I pop a flash on jenna's, mom and dad when they were speaking to her when the band already went ahead and let that area up for me? And I could climb up into the balcony and shoot down on aperture priority, and I knew that the quality of the light would be exactly the same as if we had added in our flash. Now, just to talk about some of the things that common question that people might have for me during this portion of the day, do you ever get nervous walking around when everyone else is sitting and still, no, I mean, I don't I really don't in the early days of being in business, I was always very, very nervous. I was always very conscious of people looking at me that if everyone is sitting there and someone is giving a toast and they're not moving and someone is sitting there taking the toast and they're not moving either, but my assistant and I are moving, I was like, surely every single person in the room is looking at me, but they're not now there's a difference, I'm not running around like a rabbit monkey, like climbing on tables and being incredibly distracting, we are very deliberate in our movements, and we're very careful toe only move when we need teo. But do I get nervous walking around when everyone else is sitting there? Of course I don't, I'm there to do my job and I have to do it reverently and respectfully and deliberately, but if I need to move, I need to move. Do you ever feel intrusive photographing people crying? No, no, I don't I don't feel intrusive about that either. I did have a really horrible thing happened to me one time where I shot a wedding and the toasts were extraordinary and their reactions were beautiful and the reactions from the guests were gorgeous and I photographed a woman being held by her daughter as she cried and it was a touching moment. I was absolutely honored to have witnessed it. I was honored that they opened up like that in front of people that they didn't know very well, and it was an image that I chose to use on my blogged for that wedding day because I really just felt like it exemplified all of the emotions that everybody was feeling and I got a phone call the following day that in my first year of being in business would have made me cry, but you know, now I just kind of rolled with it and handled it as best I could and the message said. How dare you put this image on your blawg? How dare you have photographed this incredibly important moment! How dare you be intrusive about that! And I memorized this part! How dear you then use this image for your shameful marketing gains. Okay? My shameful marketing gains. I don't have a shameful marketing gains. I was not trying to exploit them. I was not trying to make them look stupid. While I'm very careful about the images that I put on my blawg and what they are portraying and the light in which they're portraying my clients, I wasn't trying to be shamefully intrusive or like some wicked marketing mastermind over here by exploiting her t use the image and I hurt my feelings, but at the same time, this was an incredibly private moment. Maybe the woman felt embarrassed that it was out there. Maybe she was uncomfortable that it was out there and she finished up her e mail by demanding that I take it down before she took legal action. Listen, you're not legal action, my response to that could have very well been well, you know, I'm protected by my contract with the bridegroom, I can do whatever I want with the images, just tough luck, my response back was incredibly polite, dear so and so. I was really honored to have documented this moment between you and your daughter. I thought that it was a very humble, beautiful moment, and it was a testament to the bride and groom that you were so moved that you reacted in this way. I am still honored to have documented it for you. That said, I'm terribly sorry that you in any way feel other anything other than thrilled that it's on the internet, of course, I would be glad to remove it immediately. I don't feel intrusive photographing people crying at all, but if I do put it on my blogger, if I do put it out there and they want me to take it down, I will take it down in absolute heartbeat. There is nothing that that picture could have done for me, marketing wise that would have made up for the fact that that woman would have hated me in the clients would have resented me for doing it, so down it came.

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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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