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Shoot: How to Photograph Reception Details

Lesson 12 from: The Complete Wedding Photographer Experience

Jasmine Star

Shoot: How to Photograph Reception Details

Lesson 12 from: The Complete Wedding Photographer Experience

Jasmine Star

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Lesson Info

12. Shoot: How to Photograph Reception Details

A great shoot should include lots of wedding reception details—everything from the food to the table settings to the toasts.


Class Trailer



Jasmine’s Background and Wedding Photography Inspiration


How to Define Your Photography Style


Shooting with Intent: Romantic + Editorial Wedding Photography


Shooting with Intent: Natural Wedding Photography + Fun Photos


Overcoming Shyness to Find Success as a Wedding Photographer




The Best Wedding Photography Marketing


Lesson Info

Shoot: How to Photograph Reception Details

I'm particularly excited for this lesson because I love shooting reception details. We're going to focus on how to, or how I shoot reception details so that you can apply it, and see how it fits within your wedding day workflow. Now, there are various stressful times on a wedding day, and for each photographer, depending on your skill set, it changes. My most stressful time on a wedding day is the wedding reception, the wedding reception details. Because I have a very limited time to document the majority of the wedding budget, I feel this, an inordinate amount of stress, because an average wedding cost x. Now, what popular magazines are telling brides is that brides should invest in their photographer eight to 10 percent of the overall wedding budget. What they're telling brides for food, decor, cake, DJ, or band, takes up more than 60 percent, and what I'm having on my schedule, if I'm lucky, is 15 minutes to document all of that. That's a lot of stress; I probably am my most unnice ...

at that time in the wedding day. So, I have, over the years, developed a pattern in how I approach it. I think we spoke in a previous lesson about what I do to go in, so that I can handle and get what I need, and what I needed to do, over the years, was practice, but I only got more effective with practice once I actually had a list, a list of what I need to shoot, and how much time I have to shoot it. We're actually going to get into that list, a kind of like an abbreviated list, because it is so long, and you know that you are going to add to your list when your time comes, but here it is, in its loosest sense. Most of the bride will spend the majority of her time and her budget, I will be reading these out loud for those of you guys sitting in the back, we'll make sure that we're going to keep you on point. So, the food that they eat, the music that they hear, the basket that they keep their gift cards in, all of that, she has spent time. So, the rule of thumb for me is if it looks like she spent money on it, or time, you shoot it, and you shoot it well, and the more original that element is, a card table, a tablescape, then you need to shoot more of that. Originality trumps the basics, hand over fist, all the time. I said hand over fist; I don't know if that's a right analogy, or verbatim I should be using, but we're just going to go with it. So, I need to educate my clients for the amount of time that they need because a lot of times, brides will just say, okay, so cocktail time ends here, we're going to do grand entrance, and then I have to go back, and I have to say, well, I need this amount of time to document everything that you have spent time planning; know what is there. First and foremost, what I need, that is so important that a lot of photographers omit after, based on conversations with magazine editors, when it comes to submissions, is the overview of the reception. So, what they want you to do, depending on the layout of the room, is to stand in a corner and shoot the entire layout. Better yet, if you can get from an elevated point in the room, and shoot down, you get to see an entire overview of how many tables, chairs, the layout, the overall environment. Those are very powerful photos, and what you want to do is you want to take a horizontal photo, and you want to take a vertical photo because that's what editors definitely want. Next, the tablescape; now, there are now weddings that are having multiple tablescapes, but generally speaking, tablescapes will all look the same or they will look up to three variations. So, if there are three variations of the tablescapes, you must shoot every variation, and the way that you have to shoot the tablescape is vertical, floor to centerpiece, vertical, top of centerpiece, down to the floor, horizontal, floor to the top of the centerpiece, horizontal, tabletop to the top of the centerpiece. So, you have to get these all, once I know boom, boom, boom, this is what I gotta do, then I need to repeat that same pattern three times over for the tablescapes. For the centerpiece, so the tablescape is the whole entire thing, the centerpiece is just what goes on, on top of the table. Vertical, tabletop to top of the centerpiece, horizontal, tabletop to the top of the centerpiece, vertical, details of the flowers in the centerpiece, (snaps) moving on. I need to shoot the menu, what they're eating for dinner, any sort of paper good, their names or titles, or thank you cards, or desserts, sitting at the table with it. I need to shoot the plate, the charger, and the cutlery. Now, basic weddings, you have a plate and you have a napkin. The more complex, or the bigger the budget becomes, you get a charger, which is just like a fake plate to hold the real plate. You need to shoot that because they spent time on that. Also, the cutlery; if the bride has invested in renting cutlery specific to the wedding, that needs to be photographed. The guest thank you gifts at each plate, a bride and groom may or may not offer thank you gifts at that table, you need to include that. The sweetheart head table, where the couple is sitting. Sometimes they sit with their entire bridal party or sometimes it's just the two of them. Either way, I take the same approach when I shoot that. Vertical, floor to the top of the centerpiece, vertical, tabletop to the top of the centerpiece, horizontal, floor to the top of the centerpiece, horizontal, tabletop to the top of the centerpiece. So, what you're basically doing is I'm getting a wide shot, then I'm cutting that shot in half, and if I have time, I'll go in and shoot it even tighter. So, I'm thinking strategic, horizontal, vertical, step in, horizontal, vertical, step in, horizontal, vertical, (claps) move on. Sweetheart table, or the head table details, so, once I shot the table, then I'm going to go in closer, and itemize every single thing that I need. This is champagne flutes; this is the cup that they're drinking from. The table seat name cards, this is the first time the bride has taken on her fiancé's last name. This is the first time she'll actually be seeing it technically, take a photo of that. Floral decor, specific to the bride and groom, sometimes bride and grooms will have decor on their chairs or they might have really nice flowers tucked into their menus; that needs to be documented, and if there's any sort of signage, sometimes people will dangle signs, Mr. and Mrs., that needs to be documented. Now, let's move on to the cake. Let's go onto the dessert bar instead. So, if a client has a dessert bar, in addition to their cake, I need to shoot the dessert bar. Here we go, again; we're going to follow the same pattern. Vertical, floor to top, vertical tabletop to top, close up of various desserts, usually shot vertically, from my perspective, from my opinion, those are the things that get reproduced the most, horizontal, floor to top, horizontal, tabletop to top. Cool; moving on. This is the cake and the groom's cake. I shoot the groom's cake, if there is a groom's cake, the same way I shoot the overall wedding cake. So, I'm not going to get into details, but vertical of just the cake topper, vertical of the cake cutter and the knife, vertical from the floor to the top of the cake, vertical from the tabletop to the top of the cake, vertical close up of the cake, vertical of the base of the cake, horizontal, floor to table, horizontal, tabletop to top, horizontal close up of the cake and the cake base. So, this is all the things that I'm doing in 15 minutes, but I can feel so overwhelmed, like not sure what I'm going and how I'm doing it, but because of my list, I feel so much more confident. In addition to other things, if there's bar signage, sometimes a bride and groom has signature drinks or sometimes they make a list of their hashtag, that should be photographed. Bar decor, sometimes people will have special bar tables, floral arrangements around the bar, needs to be photographed. Lounge furniture, if they rented lounge furniture, it should be photographed, and a personalized dance floor. If they have a monogram or if they have gobo lights, all of that needs to be photographed. Now, now that you know the approach, what you're going to see now is a video of how I did it, in relation to a shoot that I had at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a luxury resort in the San Diego area; they were revamping their entire marketing campaign to go after a luxury bride, and they put together a shoot. I was lucky enough, I was commissioned to shoot it, and I was very honored because the team that they brought together were all people I respect very much. Now, it put a lot of pressure on me because they wanted all the photographs to happen in a very specific timeframe of the day, sunset, and I was okay with that, but I knew I had to work really fast. So, the CreativeLive team came along, and this is the exact same approach that I will take on a wedding day. This is what you will see me do at The Knot wedding, but I probably won't have as much time to explain what's going on, but at least, you'll know, you'll see the pattern that I am following. So, on that note, we are going to move into our video. One thing to take into consideration is yes, you want to shoot for the bride, and you want to make sure that she's well taken care of, but another major consideration, will be shooting for the vendors, in this particular case, the coordinator and the baker. She made the cake, as well as the other desserts on the dessert station, so I need to make sure that I'm getting photos and capturing photos that work extraordinarily well for their portfolio. Yes, the bride will benefit, but more so, I really want to create relationships with the vendors, that I'm working with, to ensure that they can market their services, using my images. So, what I'm shooting right now is going to be the cake station. I'm going to shoot this vertical. I'm going to shoot it horizontal, but one of the things that I have to take into consideration is that the facade of this station is a bunch of mirrors. So, I wanna position my body with myself in it as least as possible because it will save me time in post-processing from removing myself from those mirrored reflections. So, right now, my settings are at a 2.8. I'm at 6/40th of a second in 200 ISO. I'm shooting this vertically, and I'm going to put the cake, right in smack in the middle of my frame, and then as I shoot this horizontally, I'm going to notice that there's patched light in front of this, and so I just have to take into consideration, I'm going to try to crop out as much of the mixed light as possible, but then I understand that it's just part of the photo, and I'm just going to have to deal with it. So, right now, the cake is in the centermost of my frame. I want to get it from top to bottom, with the cake in the center of the frame. I'm going to step up and shoot this, again, horizontally, but I'm not going to include the entire edifice of the facade. My settings are still going to be the same, as I kind of creep in, but then as I step in a little bit closer, my settings might have to change because it's going to get a little bit darker within the frame. (camera shutters) So, right now, the cake is centermost, and what I'm noticing is that there are four plates on the right side of the cake, and three plates on the left side of the cake, so I need to kind of take into consideration that it will seem a little off balance, but I need always to keep the cake in the center, regardless of how many items are flanking the cake. I'm going to shoot the cake, vertical, and I will have some dessert stands next to it. I'm going to be shooting the cake, the 2.8, 1/1000th of a second at 200 ISO. Everything's in shade, so I'm not going to be too concerned about changing my ISO; I'm going to be mostly manipulating my aperture and my shutter speed in these given situations. Now, I notice there's a monogram on the cake. I need to make sure that I'm shooting vertical and horizontal, including elements around it, but now I'm going to shoot nice and close to the cake so that the cake in and of itself becomes the focus and less about the dessert station, since I already have that well-documented. I'm going to shoot this straightforward, as much as possible, and now I'm going to shoot it off to the side. (camera shutters) So, now I feel like I have a nice, safe shot. I am shooting it at a 2.8. I'm getting some nice, kinda blurry backgrounds, but because I can, I'm going to shoot this at a 2. just right now, as I shoot individual pieces because when I really focus on individual items, I want the stuff in the background to be really blurred out, and when you shoot wide open, you're afforded that luxury, but because I changed the aperture, I'm going to have to compensate by way of my shutter speed, so right now, I'm shooting it at a f2. I'm going to go to 1/2000th of a second, 200 ISO. Going to get in a little bit closer, and the focal point will be on the monogram on the cake, and so this is great; I'm feeling nice and good about how it's just coming out, how it's like a nice, beautiful look in the background. So, now that I feel like I have the cake fully covered, what I want to do now is shoot individual pieces of the dessert station; there's a panna cotta. There's a cupcake, and there's a macaron. I only need to shoot a single shot of each of these things, and not have to worry about everything else. So, I'm going to choose the items in the best light because there's light hitting the ground in front of the station, bouncing back up into this, as opposed to being more shade on this side, I'm going to shoot the elements on this side, but in this direction, so we're going to be leveraging the natural light. Again, I'm going to shoot this at a 2.0. I'm going to be focusing, I'm going to get both a vertical and a horizontal. I'm going to make sure that I'm lining up the background so that my horizon is as straight as possible, even though I'm shooting at an angle. My focal point is going to be on a cupcake right in the foreground, and everything else behind it will fade off. I'm going to step in a little bit closer. I shot it straight on; now, I'm going to shoot at a slight angle, just for diversity within the portfolio, both for the bride and for the baker. I'm going to shoot the panna cotta, and because I have panna cotta on both sides, it's going to be flanking it; I'm okay with that. For some reason, the cupcake is lighter than the panna cotta so I'm going to compensate by way of shutter speed. My settings are 2.0, 1/1600th of a second and 200 ISO. Now, it looks like there's these little, tiny gold flakes, so I want to make sure that I get a detail of that. So, if you notice, I'm shooting straight on, and then I shoot down at a slight angle, just for variation because when you shoot down into a cup or straight on to a cup, you kind of lose a bit of the details. So, when you shoot down, you can actually get the details in a really different way, in a way that looks a little bit more editorial. I'm going to switch my focal point so that the items right in the foreground become the focus. The last thing I'm going to shoot is the macarons. There's a flower on the macaron plate. Now, one thing I'm going to do, because now that I shot everything, I feel confident moving a few things slightly, I can't get a clean shot of the macarons. So, I'm going to carefully move the cupcakes, and I do this on a wedding day quite often, just to get the shot that I want in a way that actually works. I'm going to stylize what's in front of me, get the cleanest shot possible, and move on from there, 'cause the thing I don't want is anything in the background compromising it or making it too cluttered, so now I'm backing up, and what I'm getting now in the frame is a little bit of the panna cotta, but because I'm shooting at f2, it's going to be out of focus, and the focal point will be in the background on our macarons. So, now that I'm doing that, I'm going to readjust. I'm going to shoot a few of these things in the foreground and then a few of them in the background, just so that I'm going to get diversity within the portfolio, make sure everybody else is covered, and make sure that I'm getting images for the vendors, that they appreciate, and be extra careful with the cake. (camera shutters) So, this is the first time that I've actually worked with these vendors so I want to make sure that the images that I'm getting, yes, are great for my portfolio, selfishly, but more so, I need to make sure that I'm getting images for the whole team that works really well, and that gives them the ability to market their services using my images. So, I shot it straight on, which is always good and interesting in a way, but at the same time, it might be important for me to get a slightly different angle. My main concern, at this point in time, is that the light has changed so dramatically that right in front of the dessert station, we have a really bright floor, but the station itself is seated in shade. So, I'm going to try to shoot this as much as possible, cropping out the lighter floor, because it adds a distraction to the eye. So, I'm going to back up; I'm going to bring this to a 2.8. So, one thing that I want to make sure is that I got the straight on angle of the cake, both vertical and horizontal. Now, I'm shooting it from the side, both vertical and horizontal. Because I need to make sure that I can actually show the entirety of the station, I'm going to step in now, and get one small final detail of just the dessert station. Okay, so I feel good with that. Right now, I'm going to shoot the name cards. What I like to do is I like to shoot them, pretty wide open, so that I can kind of distort that background. I'm going to focus on one card, and my settings for this are going to be a 1.6. I'm shooting at ISO 160, and my shutter speed, right now before I adjust, is going to be 1/1600. That's okay; I'm going to just slip it up to 1/1600. My focal point is going to be on the front card, and then I'm going to shoot the front card, and then I'm going to choose the card right behind it, so that I can blur both the front card and the back card, and focus strictly on that middle card. (camera shutters) I'm going to rearrange the cards so that I can get a single line. (camera shutters) Great; what I'm focusing on now is a really far away, pulled away shot in this situation because it is tented. I'm afforded this luxury so I'm absolutely going to focus on that luxury. I'm going to set this up at a 3.2. My ISO is 160; my shutter speed is 1/1250, and that looks exactly where I want it to be. My focal point is going to be on a chair. I'm going to shoot this vertical, and I'm going to shoot this horizontally. I'm shooting with the 50; I could shoot it with the 35, but right now, I just kind of want the focus to be 100 percent on the actual reception site, and I've already had some really wide, nice pulled away shots. I'm going to shoot this straightforward, and then I'm also going to shoot it at an angle 'cause anytime you can get down on an angle and shoot up, you're going to give it a little bit more of a glamorous appeal, a little bit of a rockstar effect. So, right now, I'm in the best time of day. This is what I can God's light, which is so beautiful. You can shoot a bad photo; I will take a bad location with great light, instead of great location and bad light. So, right now, we're shooting in the best light. What I'm going to do now is focus on the small details, then get a pulled away shot, then I'm going to incorporate the bride and groom, to come back into this. The things that I'm focusing on, specifically, are the small details that each individual vendor has played and made for this. So, I have place cards; I have place settings. I have chairs; I have the main chairs, which is for the bride and the groom; I have the overall chandeliers. I have hanging lights, and then I have chandeliers on the, or candelabras, on each of the tables. The light is behind my details, which is how I like to shoot it the best. I'm going to start, first, with the monogram on the floor, the monogram on the chairs, and then move from there. This gorgeous gold monogram; I'm at 160 ISO. I have this beautiful white light everywhere. I'm at 1/800th of a second. So, I'm shooting just the monogram by itself, and then I'm going to incorporate the monograms on the chairs. I'm going to shoot a horizontal and a vertical. Now, I'm pulling back, and this, I have like tripped before so I need to make sure, okay, good. So if I can have you guys scoot over this way, sorry guys. I'm going to shoot the monogram and then the chairs. My focal point will be on the monogram. I haven't changed my settings because I don't need to change settings, and this light right now is just so beautiful. I'm shooting horizontal, and then I'm going to shoot it vertical. (camera shutters) This is what going to be the nice thing. If you can work fast enough and quick enough, you don't have to worry so much about the settings. Given the same light situation, which it will always be, for me right now, backlit, and then having this nice white floor, white chairs. I already shot the chairs during their wedding ceremony setup, but I'm going to shoot them here because this environment is slightly different. Again, my settings have not changed. I'm still at 1/800th of a second, f2, 160 ISO, great. So, I'm still going to shoot with a 35. I like to shoot my details with the 50 millimeter, but since I have the 35 on, I'm going to just shoot with this right now, and see what it's getting me so that I get a variety of focal lengths. Because I shoot with prime lenses, I want to make sure that I'm shooting for myself, but I'm also shooting for the vendors. I might prefer the 50 say, and they might want wider shots to show more of their work. So, I want to make sure that I have diversity within the portfolio. My focal point will be on the thing closest to me, which at this point is the plate. I'm going to pull this chair back a tiny bit 'cause I feel like it's degrading the overall quality of the photo. You see my shift in my camera. I have the 64 point focal system so I'm focusing on the lowest point, but I have to shift and recompose ever so slightly because if I don't, I'm going to be included things within the frame that I really don't want at this time. JD, can I get, please, individual shots of each pendant or I don't even know what those are called? Each one individually or, Yes, please. A collection of them and then individuals. Great, and then can I get the 50? Pulling at the drink glasses, and ideally I'm going to be shooting this, ideally I'm going to be shooting this from up top, but because I'm shooting on a white chair, I have to be like extra careful, so I'm going to see if I can remove the top of the chair. Right now, my setting is a 2.0. I'm at 1/500th of a second, 160 ISO. I'm having a hard time focusing on the mirrored menu so what I'm going to do is I'm going to find a focal point that's on the same focal plane so I'm going to go towards the knife, focus on the knife, and that should bring me up to find the text on the menu. Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to, JD, can I bother you to put these flowers right here? These here? Yes. So, what I sometimes do is I will shift elements within each setting to ensure that it looks nice and full. So, a simple switch. (camera shutters) Shoot this horizontal, and I shoot it vertically. (camera shutters) (background conversations) So, right now, what I'm doing is I'm going to shoot the place card holder for each place setting. So, right now, this is always important because this is the first time the bride will be using her husband's last name. So, that's going to be a really important element that I want to curate both for the person who actually made the place cards, but also for the bride, herself. So, now, what is happening is the bride and groom are going to come in and they're going to sit within, you guys can come on in, awesome, thanks. The bride and groom are going to come in, and I'm gonna actually shoot them within the reception details, as much as possible. If I can get this to happen on a real wedding day, I absolutely do, and what I want to do is to kind of curate what the story will be. I want them toasting with their glasses. They're obviously going to be smiling and laughing and enjoying their time, and I'm just going to coach them through. Right now, this is the last bit of amazing light, and we can get the chandeliers illuminated in the background and we're going to be talking through how that looks, and the things that I'm looking for as I shoot the bride and groom; so, here we go. I'm going to change my ISO to 200. I'm going to shoot this at a 2. because they're going to be, again, profiles. Let me get my lighting to where I want it. I'm going to go up to 320 ISO. Now, what I want you guys to do is just to bring your faces in nice and close. Beautiful, and looking at each other. These ones are all going to be as candid as possible. Beautiful, can you get your hands underneath Andrew's chin? And you're going to guide him in. Both hands underneath his chin, you guys will be looking at each other. Beautiful, and guide him in for like, just bring your foreheads together. It's going to be a nice tender. Actually, like this, here you go. Hands together, you're just going to bring him in like this, like that, okay. Yes, but not yet, not yet, not yet, and then Andrew, can you put your hand on her knees? Yep, there we go, and in three, two, one, looking at each other; bring it in. Nice and soft, nice and soft. Relax the shoulders, relax the shoulders. Looking at each other; bring your foreheads in. Bring your foreheads in; alright, noses to touch instead. Noses to, there ya, nice, beautiful. That's it. Beautiful. Good, now relax your hands on the crest of his elbows. Crest of his, nice, on the inside, bring them in closer. Beautiful; now, what I want you to do is someone's going to be calling you from that direction, and Andrew, you're going to bring, hold her hands, yeah, you're going to hold her hands. Not, like bring them down, actually hold, yeah, there you go; now, you're going to look over as if somebody's calling you, and he's going to be pulling you in for like a little secret. (laughs) That's cute, guys; hey, we can do that. That's it, whoever that is I owe a drink. I mean that's just fantastic. Oh, that's fantastic. Hold on. Hang on guys; peel away from each other. Oh, was that really, aw, good job (laughs). Okay, we're going to do that just one more time. Fantastic, good, good, good, good. (laughs) Nice, good. (bride laughs) Now, what I'm going to have you guys do is I'm going to have you guys stand up. I'm going to have you guys stand up, and then I'm going to pretend like we're going to do the first dance. You guys are going to be pretending like you guys are dancing, so bring your, beautiful. Andrew, put your feet underneath her dress so you can get in nice and close; beautiful. Now, you're going to actually hold each other's hands. Yes, just like that; beautiful. Looking into each other's eyes. I know, guys, this is a job; I know. (laughs) Can you guys actually dance? Just kind of like sway a little, yes, looking at each other, enjoying it; beautiful, beautiful. Oh, this is so fricking beautiful, you guys. Because I'm only focusing on one person at a time, according to my angle, that's going to be my focus. Relax your arm, Adrienne, your right arm; beautiful. Bring your faces nice and close, side to side. Now, look over there at Stuart. Yay, nice, there you go, Stuart. Thanks, you're bringing in clutch, homie. (laughs) This is so nice; good. Good, beautiful; now, like can I have you guys do is relax your arms, Adrienne; yes, JD. Now, what I want you to do here, so you're here; dance with me. Beautiful; now, I kind of want you to peel back, peel back, peel back, peel back, peel back, as much as possible. So, I want a nice curve, and then I'm going to coach you through what I want you to do for the rest of it. Beautiful; bring her in nice and tight. Edward. Edward? Have I been calling you Andrew the whole time? Yeah. Oh, this is epic. So I want you to relax your arm, Adrienne. Edward, I want you to hold her in, nice (laughs) and close, and then I kind of want you to lean back, as if someone is calling you from over there. Now, Edward, I want you looking at Adrienne. Now, bring her in; baby, can you come here real quick? C'mon, and then lightly, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, okay, and we are ready in three, two, one, nice. Oh cute, (laughs) that was adorable. Looking at each other, looking at each other. Nice, that was so cute; good. You are going to hold it in your right hand. Beautiful. Beautiful. And then if I, yes, you are going to bring your right hand around Edward. Do you like that they're different or do you want them the same? Oh (laughs). I would love them the same. Yeah. I'm going to take this hand, your right hand around him, yep. So, Adrienne, arm around him; beautiful. And you guys are just going to be looking at each other, yes, enjoying a toast, yeah, nice. Looking at each other, yeah, cute. Clink your glasses, good; can you toast to somebody at the end of the table? Raise your glasses and toast to them. Hey, (laughs) cute, cute. So, instead of bringing out in front of your nose, drop it in front of your chin. No, yes, but bring your hands back. Just relax them, and then we're going to call for the toast in a sec, and then you guys are going to look out for two and then at each other for two. So, it's going to be cheers, out for two, at each other. So, three, two, one, cheers; yeah, smile. And you're smiling now; good, nice. And then looking at each other, good, nice, good. Now, we're going to get a little bit more comfortable. Can you sit in his lap? Nice; can you bring your left arm around his side? Thank you, thank you, thank you, and then rest it down, yes, from his shoulder, nice. Looking at each other; Joe, you're shooting, tight. Yes. Please, fire in, nice. Looking at the candle lighters, again. Nice, and back at each other, yes, yes, yes. You guys, can you guys, can you guys toast lightly? And you guys, okay, beautiful. Now, what I want you to do is relax, relax hands, peel away from the toast, look at each other, and toast, and smile, yes. Yeah, look, talking to each other is great. Thank you, and it's working; it's so good. Can you guys look out towards the opposite big chair and toast, like cheers? Raise your glasses, raise your glasses, raise your glasses, raise your glasses; yes, nice. Good, great, hang out, hang out, hang out. Now, drop your hands again; drop 'em, relax 'em, and then JD, JD, I'm tossing them again. Here we go. Here we go. And you guys are just going to do the same thing all over again. Nice. Yes. Nice. Thank you; that's perfect. Oh, Adrienne, delivering it now, woo! Okay, good, I'm going to put you guys back here, at this chair, and this will be the closing shot. You're going to bring your right leg here. I'm sorry; let me, you're going to kinda straddle the leg a tiny bit, just like that; beautiful, hands on her hips. Beautiful; come in a little bit closer, and you're just going to bring your foreheads. You guys are not going to look at me. This is a private moment before your ceremony. Looking at each other, yes, yes, yes. Relax that front shoulder; relax that front shoulder. Put your hands underneath his chin; attagirl, beautiful. Good, relax your left hand down Andrew's, Andrew, really? Oh my gosh, relax, Adrienne; relax your left hand down Edward's back. There we go; there you go. Eyes at each other. (camera shutters) Edward, can you have your right hand, your left hand, on her leg instead? Yes, and then Adrienne, your hand. Yep, there we go, and then eyes at each other. Nice; foreheads together, foreheads together, Forehead, foreheads together; nice, good. (camera shutters) Good, okay great. Turn you this way; fantastic, right there. I'm going to have you sit on this side of his lap. Can I get the 35? Okay, so you guys are going to be looking at each other. I love where your hand is, Edward. Adrienne, can I have your hand on his hand? Yep, and you guys are looking at each other, just relaxing. (camera shutters) My focal point is on the bride and groom. It is really dark around them, but I'm picking up silhouettes from around the trees. I'm metering for them inside the tent, and then I'm going to bring up their portion of the photo in post, but for right now, I'm just going to get a nice, overall look and feel. Eyes at each other, nice; foreheads to forehead. There you go; thank you. Awesome, so, as you saw in the video, there's a lot of bases to cover in a short amount of time. Even as we ended that video, you could see how dark it got, and how quickly it became dark. So, in both of those situations, you saw what I would do, and that's very close to how we would photograph things at an actual wedding reception, which is what you will see happen, shortly, at The Knot Dream Wedding. Now, I explained, in this session, that it's really important for me to shoot these images, obviously, selfishly, for my portfolio, but that is the third concern. My main concern is for the bride. My second concern is to give the creative team images to market their own business, using my images. I'm always thinking, first and foremost, in marketing. My approach to marketing is I am not so concerned about getting weddings right now. I'm thinking about the weddings that will come by way of a recommendation from a future coordinator, vendor, that I had just met at that time, foster that relationship, prove myself, and give as much as possible as I can. The general rule of thumb when it comes to things like this, and shoots like this, is when you care, other people care, and when you give, people give back to you. So, on that note, let's move into our homework. I want you to make a list of reception detail photos. You now saw a peek of what that looked like for me. There are more things that get involved, but just for the sake of brevity, you guys got a very good sense of what that was. Now, you have to make one for yourself. Now, you can see my detailed shot list on, in case you just want to save time or just use it as a basis, and then add your photos to it, and what I want you to do is I want you to stay accountable to the list. There's going to be times that you're tempted to just move away and divert, and say oh, I see something shiny, I see something pretty. Stay to the list 'cause you know priority-wise, that's where you need to be, and then work faster, and then get, ultimately, the things that you think are going to make you smile at a later point in time. This also goes back to a very, very powerful thing of working with a second shooter. What the video also showed is how quickly and efficiently both JD and I work, and the photos at the end, I was shooting wide. I was shooting with the 35, and JD was shooting with the 85. What was interspersed in this video, were actually his images because he got more focus on the bride and groom, but overall, what the creative team will probably want is a photo that I was getting, which was wide, showing off all the work, in addition to the bride and groom in it. So, we're shooting two ways, but being very cognizant of what we're doing at the same time. So, are there any questions in relation to shooting reception, wedding reception details? How often are you restyling tables or anything? Good question; all day, erryday. I don't, here's the thing, let me just take this back. When people ask, well, how did you start shooting weddings that look like the weddings that you're shooting now? When we first started shooting weddings, our weddings were literally in the basement of churches. Our fourth, fifth wedding was at a church in Koreatown, in Los Angeles, that was so dark, every person sitting in a pew was silhouetted. Then, we walked across the street, and we had their wedding reception in their gym. So, there were streamers hanging from one basketball court to another, and it was a Korean style potluck, and all of this that was going on, I'm thinking in the back of my mind, how can I make this work to my advantage, and what I discovered was that the harder I worked to create pretty photos in a less than desirable arena, it actually, that was the thing that helped me move forward because the bridesmaids that were at the wedding, they saw a slide show of the wedding photos that I made that day, and I put it up, and they saw that, and their reaction was, if she can shoot that here, imagine what she could do at my wedding. So, what I starting realizing when it came to reception photos was if I saw a table, and it was decorated sweetly, I needed it to look fuller. So, I might collect other flowers from other tables and decorate, stylize one table. I know people have different approaches, but I view myself, as much as I am a photographer, I'm also an art director; I will take time, if there's a cup with a chip in it, I move that. If the forks look off-center, I do that. There might be a flower that I take from somewhere else and insert it in the menu to make it look like something a little bit more. I am constantly restyling. Now, less with weddings that I have these days because they're of different budgets, but still, I still shoot very simple weddings. In fact, there was a couple years ago JD and I, we don't broadcast it, and now that it's going to be in CreativeLive, I should be careful, no. There was a girl, who had emailed me, and she just wrote the nicest email, and we kinda corresponded a few emails, and then she had just said the reason I'm writing is because of x, y, and z. She was going through really personal things with her family and her friends. She's like I've been reading your blog. We connected, and then she said, I would love for you to be my wedding photographer, but I can't afford it, can you recommend somebody in my neck of the woods? And in particular, I'm leaving her city out, and we got to talking, and we came up with a creative arrangement so that she covered the cost of us shooting the wedding, but not what we would charge, and so basically, as long as she covered our cost, then we would eat any sort of profits that we would get on it, and we shot it, and I adore her, and I adore her husband, I think they're doing amazing things with the trajectory, and the hope that they want for their lives, but nobody knew that that wedding was a budget wedding, and nobody knew that we shot it for anything other than what we charge our other clients, and I think that is a testament to how hard we work to curate the day in a very different way. So, if you are shooting ghetto weddings, you make them ghetto fabulous. You work twice as hard to get what you want. You're laughing 'cause you do that, right? Like you do that, like we do that, and that's what makes you good. That what makes you great because again, you cannot book a client, based on what she does not see. Are there any other questions? Great, well that was a good closer. Thank you so much for asking that and clarifying. I look forward to see how you guys totally rock and totally restyle your reception photos. (audience applause)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials: Shooting Guides

The Complete Wedding Photographer's Experience Keynote
Gallery Access
Shooting Guide: How to Pose a Curvy Bride
Shooting Guide: How to Shoot a Tall-Short Couple
Shooting Guide: How to Shoot in the Worst Light
Shooting Guide: Shooting with Intention

Bonus Material: Syllabus


Ratings and Reviews


Do not just watch this video. Eat it up, live it and breathe it. I am a recent Jasmine Star convert (a.k.a. evangelist) and a newbie photographer. I was looking for inspiration online and her name had come up before in conversations with another photographer and I am SO GLAD I stumbled upon her blog, her store and her Creative Live classes. I have to say that in the 9 months now that my business has been in operation, she's been with me every step of the way (in internet spirit) and although I've never spoken to or corresponded with her, her online presence has served as a guide for many steps in my business. I am not a high-end photographer or teaching my own classes, like I said I'm brand-spanking new to the industry, but her blog and this class has helped me develop a clear vision and plan for my business, and to me that is half the battle. If you want to feel good about your business, know what you stand for, your style of photography…if you want to know your 2-minute why-hire-me speech in an elevator full of brides or whoever your audience is, listen, really listen to what she has to say. Then DO DO DO what you need to do for yourself a successful business takes a lot of work. But if you love it and it's a passion of yours, then you can make your business what you want it to be. Thank you, Jasmine Star and JD for being an amazing beacon of light to many photographers around the world and for being my wedding day warriors who amp me up on the mornings of my professional shoots! All the best from Ohio, Donna May


Remember when Magicians kept all their secrets to themseves ? Well its as if Jasmine said enough is enough I'm doing a 30 day class on the A to Z of Wedding Photography and I'm not holding anything back baby!! I'm even going to wear a mic and speak my thoughts out loud! Is this really happening? Creative live said its free the first time around? Am I dreaming? Jasmine your giving us a wealth of knowlege and I cannot thank you enough I love and look forward to your teaching everyday Talk about step by step! Jasmine your the Tony Robbins of Wedding Photography, You've inspired me to pick up my camera once again Thank you so much for doing this course for us and explaining everything so clearly and sharing every tip you know with us I feel like i'm shadowing you on the shoots :) Thanks to creative live and JD too An awesome class that I will be buying Highly recommend!

Charlie Ketchen

WOW! So inspiring! This course really shook things up for me! I've never seen a live wedding, meeting, engagement/bridal shoot before and it was so valuable. Edited nicely, easy to follow and so relatable. It's been truly inspiring to watch this over the past few weeks. I purchased the course and I am so glad I did, the course materials saved me making 1,000s of notes, but I still had documents open to make notes because EVERYTHING she says is helpful/moving/game-changing. Don't skip the Q&A's at the end of each session, or the last sessions as she either recalls and compounds what we learned over the 30+ lessons and there is value in all of it! I can't be thankful enough for Jasmine, JD & the CL team for bringing this to us in a shiny, clean format for us to enjoy. For bearing all, for wearing your hearts on your sleeves and pulling back the curtain on how the J* brand operates and came about. So so so so inspiring. BUY IT!!!

Student Work