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Getting into the Creative Shots

Lesson 36 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

Getting into the Creative Shots

Lesson 36 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

36. Getting into the Creative Shots

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is about engagement photography and getting creative shots.


  1. What is the instructor's approach to engagement photography?

    The instructor starts with basic shots to get everything they want before moving into more creative shots.

  2. How does the instructor handle clients who get too goofy during the shoot?

    The instructor acknowledges the goofiness at times and lets it go, but also guides the clients into different poses to keep the shoot on track.

  3. What lens does the instructor use for certain shots?

    The instructor uses an 85mm lens and a 90mm Canon Tilt-Shift lens for certain creative shots.

  4. How does the instructor deal with obstacles in the scene, such as a parked car?

    The instructor strategically positions the couple and uses elements in the scene, like columns, to block out or incorporate the obstacle.

  5. What is the instructor's approach to lighting in engagement photography?

    The instructor uses natural light and also incorporates artificial lighting, such as pocket strobes, to create a desired effect.

  6. How does the instructor guide the couple during the shoot?

    The instructor gives cues and directions to the couple, but if they are not working, the instructor simplifies the guidance to have the couple take steps and pause, while adjusting their poses and expressions.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Getting into the Creative Shots

That first 10, 15 minutes of shooting, we always jus start with some basic shots. It's just some basic shots to get everything that we want. Get them looking at them camera, get all those things and this is where I say, now it's time to start working into creative stuff. So we're maybe 20 minutes into a shoot total, and we're gonna start working into our creative shots and everything. So I start going with, what do we start doing first? Oh, no Facebook notifications. I'll turn that off between the break. Okay, whimsical. Cute whimsical look. Our leading lines are going directly into them so they're framed symmetrically and our lines and columns on both sides are being pulled in. We're using an 85 millimeter lens to pull the columns forward and make it look like it's closer. Okay, I'm sitting on tree stump. That's why the tree's there. That's right. That tree was so annoying. He does this weird thing with his leg, kicks it out. Like why are you doing that? This is really funny in th...

is shoot, he started getting, I do this a lot 'cause I'm so goofy, like my guys will get really, really goofy with me. And at certain point you gotta reel 'em basically. Like it starts to actually delay the shoot. And the easiest way to do that is he does all these things, like he starts grabbing her butt and like, where's he doing that? He does that over here. Like grabbing her butt and I basically just ignore it. Like for the entire time, he's like ha, ha look at me, look at me, I'm grabbin' her butt. And I just kept talking to him, like guiding him into different poses. I was like walking in and out. And that helps to kinda reel it back a little bit, just kind of playing and letting it go at times. And then acknowledging it at other times when you want the goofiness back. This is one of 'em. Guys love doing this stuff, I don't know why. Yep, he... Actually flip sides, so there you go perfect. Do you notice how I just ignored it? I'm just like, I can see it. I can see him doing it just fine. And then Alex I want you... (video skipping through frames) Okay this is a stack pose, right? So we go into a stack pose. Now we're on a Tilt-Shift. So if you look at this lens. This is the Tilt-Shift lens so I can now bend, can't really see the lens there, I'll show it to you guys here. I can now bend the focal plane. So basically what we're doing is we're on the 90 millimeter Canon Tilt-Shift and we can bend it, manually focus it for their eyes and their face and get like really cool effects. This is actually a fun lens that once again, your peers man, Trevor's like I think you'd like this lens. And I got it and I'm like this is a fantastic lens. I love this. 'Cause I think he knew I liked screwing around with free lenses. This is like a free lens that's much easier to use and you don't get flares and that kinda stuff. So we go through, we get some really great shots. Working that same natural light. I'll spend, you know if I find a good place like this, I'll spend 20, 30 minutes just shooting all the different variations of shots that I wanna get in that scene before moving on. And that's part of the flexibility of having three hour engagement sessions, is we charge for it and we get to shoot for long periods of time. You'll see that, because it's manually focused, it's difficult to shoot with. So I'm gonna take, when I'm popping of shots, let's see when we get 'em down. I'll take several shots to actually get it. I'm looking through the viewfinder, just kind of tweaking back and forth a little bit, just to make sure that we get something adequately focused. Once you get used to it, it's not too bad. He does a really cute lift. I'll show you guys when we get that in the post. This is all the same lighting stuff. With lifts, you have to make sure that the hair falls behind the face. So you have 'em wrap the hair around to the opposite side of the face, so that way you get a profile shot. Otherwise the hair will always fall directly in front and you block it all. And then I always have the girl like kick one leg, kick both legs, do something with the legs, otherwise it just looks like your dead and his lifting you up. I do like to, his stance, I like to have guy stand a little bit more natural where it's like when he's doing a lift, maybe one leg is slightly in front of the other, just so I have some different, like I wanna show two legs, just a little bit in the shot, but it all depends, I don't feel like those things ruin shots. Whoops. Okay, that's all of our Tilt-Shift stuff. This looks pretty cool, right on the Tilt-Shift? You get a really interesting look, especially with the hallway effect. Okay, we take them right outside and now I'm just shooting through. So now I'm gonna position them. Close pose guys. Into a close pose. Let me see where the sun's gonna be at right now. Okay, there's a truck directly to the right... Keep going. We're gonna frame out the truck and we're going for this basic shot where we want this highlight to land on their heads and we're gonna put them right in between the columns. Can get a really nice shot with this all blurred out in the background. This is again that Tilt-Shift look. Now we're tilting on the horizontal side. So tilting that way, and we get a really cool shot. I'm keeping their head, the easiest way to tell if their heads, or at least her head is in the light is to look at the shadow on the ground. You can actually look at the shadow ground, to adjust their position to make sure that you can see their shadows fully. Mainly I go for a, if I want to bring focus, I'll actually go for the girl to bring focus in and have him looking towards her. So she becomes the kind of the highlighted feature in the shot. This is just them doing some different looks and then we get the shot perfected. Here's a great laugh. I'll show these all in post. Okay, so that's that scene naturally lit. Now let's get into, we actually did some candid shots and we did some, I'll come back to the candid that we have in a minute. Again, I'm not too worried because those that have the class can watch all the other videos in that scene and see how we get them to do this. What I wanna do is I wanna show you guys the lighting component of this. So that's gonna be this one. To finish up in this scene, I wanna get some... Like we're known for our signature, wide, dramatics and those kind of like shots that we do. We do 'em on every shoot and every scene. We try and get like between four to 10 of them per shoot and we try an make it, basically be like a scene starter or a scene finisher. So the goal is, when you open up to a scene, you see this crazy dramatic shot. Or you see a bunch of cool candids kind of getting, working out wider and wider and at the end of the book, you've got this crazy beautiful shot, that just closes it all out. Right, so these are what those are used for. Something a little more dramatic. So we're gonna go to something that we teach in Lighting 201. We have a Lighting 201 setup over there, with three pocket strobes on a stand. So they're... One quick note. We haven't talked too much about the basics of like how to set up your gear, lighting, how to put up stands, what are the different types of stands, power and all those kinda things. Those are all in the Lighting 101 and 201 courses that's why I'm saying that there. We have so much to cover just in this one, that like we just, there's too much. But basically this is just three pocket strobes on one cold shoe bracket. So it's this guy. Neutral density filter, which again we talk about and how it cuts down light, so we can synchronize our shutter speeds. We're gonna pull back. I'm working on a 7,200 because I wanna compress and get as much of this scene as possible in a single frame. The other thing too, is that you'll notice at the very end over there, there's a car that just so happened to park right where we were actually gonna place our couple. This is a perfect scene for something like a symmetrical composition. Since we don't have that anymore, we're gonna have to work from side angle. We can still get something really cool, but we have to be a little bit more creative about it. So let's go ahead and set up. Once we're in place, we're gonna dial in our settings and get the shot. So guys, for this shot we're gonna put a light behind you. And actually Neal can you lower that light so that the top flash is no higher than Alex's shoulder. Okay and then point them all forward. So I'll have you guys hold actually pretty still for this shot, just because we're gonna be playing around with the composition a lot so I don't want you guys to move too much. We're gonna do something that's gonna look good from a distance. So I'm gonna have you guys close against each other. There you go. And maybe you can kind of drop the toe back a little bit. And then Neal what you can do is pull her in tight from the waist so it kind of like arches her back little bit like that. That's perfect. Stay right there okay. Now for this, let's bring that back pretty far. Let's go about like 10 feet back, point it straight towards them. I'm gonna be shooting from clear I the heck down there, which is why I got this guy on. So I'll kind of, if I need something, I'll kind of direct you from there. But for the most part, once we get it in place we should be solid okay. I do all that directing, I direct like that before we actually step back, because how hard is to step back 30 feet and then go, okay guys, I want you, that's probably gonna really annoying everybody that's in the audio side listening to this on headphones. But like how annoying to scream over 30 feet, especially if there's like bystanders and people around you and it makes the couple feel weird too. I will sometimes still call out directions, but at least it's not like, I'm just saying things like go for a kiss, or do something simple, you know, as opposed to trying to direct the entire pose across a 30 feet distance. So we get back, we dial in our settings. Let's move the flash in closer to them. So now I'm just directing Neal, basically to get the flash in the right position. This is the stuff that you will have to, there's no way to get around directing the light in the position that you want, unless you are in the position that you need to be. Do you know what I mean? Because, the problem is that once we step back, the framing of the couple is gonna either reveal or conceal that flash. So we need to either pull it back or pull it forward. There's not point to trying to figure that out, before you step back. Or before you get into your composition. (video skipping) Perfect. Let me get a quick test. Fantastic. Neal can you lower the... Test shot we had a flash revealed, so we just need to fix that. They're goofing around. See if you like it wide better or tight better. I'm actually gonna leave it tight, I like the way it's hitting their hair. That's a good behind the scenes shot for next year maybe. Zooming in on that and just showing... Fantastic right there. And hold that guys. Hold it. See the cars in the corners, I'm watching the edge of the frame and I'm taking additional shots, because I'm like gosh dang a car, gosh dang a car. I love that, yeah, and I didn't get that, so I fixed it in post. Okay now Neal bring the flash close to 'em. So bring it all the way up. Hide it (video skipping frames). This, okay let's go back go right here. Oh, this shot was that edge led shot right. We pull it up close and watch as the light wraps around more. Now we get this light wrap kind of on the inside. See how it's bouncing in and actually causing a wrap. So we get a better light wrap as we pull in. It's just a different look. You guys can try both, see what you like better. There's certain things, if she has golden hair, see this, you can ask her to move the hair, but if she has golden whispy hair and a little bit of wind comes, it'll pull a flyaway across and you fire, and you're like crap, I got a flyaway. If it's one simple thing like this and I look at it, I'm like I'm just fix that in post. Again you can't sit there if it's constantly blowing you can't sit there to fix a tiny thing like that, versus moving on and getting more stuff. If you know it's easy, and you're like I got a great expression, everything else is perfect, all just knock that out in post. And I also notice in post that I have a water bottle right there.. So what am I'm doing about the car? That's why I'm actually shooting off to the right side. So I'm using this column to block out as much of that as I want. Now I still wanted to see some of the doorframe. I thought it was kind of interesting to see, and I'm like, you know what, if they blow it up into a canvas, I'm gonna have some work anyway to remove the stand and to remove the water bottle. So if they blow it up into a canvas I'll remove the car too. So it's a fairly simple fix, and rather than, block out everything. 'Cause imagine how much of the, if you actually wanted to conceal the car, look at how much of this hallway we gotta remove from that column. And their bodies are not big enough to block it out by themselves so. Beautiful look down and to the left a little bit. Alexandra there you go right there. Lean onto his chest a little bit more. There you go perfect. Fantastic guys. So when we get in the post I'm gonna show you guys the exact settings for that scene. I can guess off the top of my head, we're around one 200th of a second, f2.8, probably like ISO 200 to 400ish. And then we're gonna be shooting pretty high power on the flash. It's probably like around, anywhere between one-eighth to one-quarter, maybe even up to one-half depending on how much light we need. As we pull it back and as we pull it forward, we're gonna reduce the light down a little bit. But we gelled it also 'cause I just wanted to have a golden light for effect. Oh I actually forgot to even show this thing. Hold on one second. One thing I wanted to show you guys was the framing of the couple, why I chose that spot. Let's see if we have another image over earlier. No, okay so look at the framing. Let's look at the last shot. Dang mouse. Do you see this? Remember when we talked about that. I actually took a shot on my phone. I'm like there's a nice highlight there. That would be great for bringing attention to the subject so I posed them inside of this highlight, so it's like this nice line that kinda leads down to them and then I use that golden light, because it kind of has the same warmth and feel to it to this light. So in my mind, this kind of looks like I'm simulating this scene of this light hitting the background, and when we bring it out in post, it's gonna have this beautiful golden look, where there this golden bar that kinda comes in and highlights this entire areas an we knock down all the ambiance in the other areas and we get this really cool dramatic shot. So if you can think to that extent where you're looking at the scene and you're previsualizing and you're saying, okay this is where the highlight's falling, I'm gonna place my couple there. I'm gonna light and I thinking about the color of the light that's in the scene. We're gonna add this light into place and then we're gonna make our ambient light look the way that you would like by adjusting your shutter speed and your aperture, and you ISO. Then you can kind of play into, you know, you're basically adding to the existing scene with you're lighting, as opposed to trying to modify so much of the existing scene. The less we do, not only the more natural something's gonna look, but also in my mind the better something looks. This isn't meant to look like a natural photograph. This is meant to be something dramatic. But we're actually incorporating what's already there. And so in my mind, we have something that is very unique and to them, it's gonna be more unique and natural. It's gonna be more of something real to them, as opposed to us going in and knocking all the ambient light out and making 'em look like two models that are standing in a black area that doesn't look really like what the scene looked like. So I wanna keep kind of authentic and play into those pieces of the scene. So I just wanted to point out the poses. I wanna do just a few walk... So we're basically gonna put them into an open pose, have her hug onto his arm, and we're gonna play with that existing light that's already in the scene and get really nice shots. And I'm positioning his face, basically for that Rembrandt light. So we're making him look to the left, where we have that hard light coming in. Remember what we talked about in the foundational side, drama is for the guy, like we put him in the drama. So we got a high highlight, we've got dark shadows, I'm gonna leave that for the guy She's in this soft light area, and we're gonna have 'em basically start this walking scene. Now what happened was, they're getting so goofy at this point, like look at this, I'm like, I'm just trying to get them to kind of smile and stuff and we got some good shots of that, but then he starts doing like... I was like whisper something into her ear. And then he did this. That doesn't look very good. Not really. So she's kinda laughing and that's cute, I like that, but what I ended up doing was I'm like we gotta just get this shot and be done with it. So I just said, take a step, pause. We did that yesterday. Take a step, pause. Okay, once they're in step, I just guide their faces to the position and then we get the natural light, that natural shot. I might give them a cue. This couple was really difficult to work with with cues. So when I was giving them cues, they weren't playing into it. And when they would do stuff, they'd do super weird, goofy stuff, that just doesn't photograph well. So when that happens, I just stop using cues basically. I stop like kind of giving them guidance, like oh whisper something soft and sweet into her ear, or nuzzle her cheek, or do something like that. Or I want you to meow in his ear, or do whatever. Those kinda cues are fantastic, I love them, but if they're not working, then that's just when you say okay, perfect, just take a step, pause. I want you to look to this side, you look to this side, and you just go back to kind of doing that.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work