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Giving Direction

Lesson 19 from: The Wedding Story: Capture Creative and Authentic Photos

Davina and Daniel Kudish

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Lesson Info

19. Giving Direction


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Are "Epic" Images?


The Slideshow Formula


First Client Meeting


Establish Client Relationship


Expectation vs Preparation


Pre-Wedding Checklist


Gear for Photographing Weddings


Capture The Subtleties


Show The Connection


Importance of Capturing Transitions


Sidelines & Story Telling Details


Anticipation & Patience


Let The Scene Develop


Sequencing in Numbers


Successful "Anticipatience"


Examples of Poor Reaction Time


HTCG in 10


Giving Direction


Have Variety With Light & Composition


Capture The Mood


Take Advantage of Natural Light


Be Creative With Video Light


On-camera Flash For The Dance Floor


Find Flattering Ambient Light


Don't be Afraid of Tough Light


Composition & Framing


Lens Choice


Keep it Simple


Purpose of the Creative Portrait


Scouting for the Creative Portrait


Maximize a Location


Unique Posing for a Creative Portrait


Experiment with Your Photography


Make The Image Personal


Post Production Overview


Stay Organized in Post Production


Full Gallery Edits


Lightroom Workflow Overview


Bring Out Detail in Lightroom


Black & White in Lightroom


Landscape Images in Lightroom


Bold Images in Lightroom


Slideshow Edits


Importance of The Slideshow


Selecting Slideshow Images For a Large Wedding


Culling Slideshow Images for a Large Wedding


Complete Slideshow Example for a Large Wedding


Slideshow Images for a Small Wedding


Complete Slideshow Example for a Small Wedding


Build a Business Around Storytelling


Portfolio for Clients


Importance of The Inquiry Reply


Price List Best Practices


How to Price Your Work


Final Thoughts


Lesson Info

Giving Direction

All right, so giving direction, we've touched on that a little bit so far. The way that we give direction is really by situational control. We wanna control where things are gonna take place, but we don't wanna stage the moments or stop the moments or interrupt the moments. We're wedding photographers, we're not photojournalists. We're there to create the best photos possible for our clients while making sure that the moments are still real, but we don't wanna hold back on taking control and making sure that everything takes place in the best spot possible. Back to Mexico we go. Yay. All right, so we're just scouting together on the morning of the wedding. We're obviously attracted by the rooftop and the view here, and the idea was let's bring the bride out here and have her put on her dress on the rooftop because it's different. It's not gonna be in the room, we're gonna have this beautiful view to work with, it's gonna be interesting. So we're just seeing how we're gonna align th...

ings, where the light is coming from. This early in the day, the light's not that great. (laughs) I love that part. Talking about how it might create raccoon eyes, but in a couple hours when the bride is there, (audience laughs) the lighting might be better. All right, so fast forward a couple hours later. We got lucky with the light. It got very cloudy, so very easy light to work with. There she is. We just asked her, do you mind coming up on the rooftop to put on your dress? Plus we had a lot of photos of her doing her makeup and being there with the girls in the room, so we didn't feel the need to have more photos of her putting on her dress in the room. And so the photos that come out of that, a transition, again, we know that she's gonna go up on the roof, so again, one step ahead. Go outside of the room as she comes out of it, click all the way through, not reacting to this moment happening. Then her up on the rooftop before she takes her dress off the hanger. And then that's the scene that you saw in the GoPro video, her mom helping her zip up. Girls helping her put on her shoes, and we're not gonna necessarily use all of these photos in the slideshow 'cause it's overkill and it's a little bit too repetitive, but we're giving ourselves the opportunity for all these great photos because we took control. And then the sun comes out, and the veil goes flying. We get this transitional portrait of the bride. Max is gonna give us Some advice. (audience laughs) That's really all it is. It's a very mental state. It's so easy to hesitate and to not listen to your inner voice telling you to do something or to say something, and just don't be afraid to take control. When I find myself hesitating a lot at a wedding and I know that things can be made better if I just spoke up a little bit, that's when I really have to tell myself this. Don't be afraid to take control. It's just a small thing sometimes, like, oh, could you guys actually do that in this corner instead, or oh, when you're ready to put on your veil, let's do it here. It can just be little things like that, and again, being one step ahead, to just anticipate that there's going to be a veil putting on or there's going to be, you know, lips are usually the final things, so if she's been getting ready in a spot that's just not lending itself great to photos, then when it's time to do the lips, let's go next to the window or can we do that facing this mirror or something like that. So in this situation, you've met the other Davina earlier, so you know a bit of the back story. Her father was sick, and he actually passed away two weeks after the wedding so he never got to see the photos of the wedding, but we managed to deliver them all so that they would have photos of him at the funeral. He really wanted to do the bedeken, which is when the bride gets the veil put on her in a Jewish ceremony. He wanted to do that part in this cellar part of the estate, basically the darkest, most cramped area, and you're not gonna argue with the bride's dad who's gonna pass away shortly. You're gonna do whatever he wants, and you're gonna make it work. The only thing we asked for was if she could be facing this corridor that led up to a door because that was literally our only source of light. That's all we needed, it was dark, 6400. Here's a bit of a whack situation that I've described. 6400 and 1/500, which means we were ready for a darker spot behind her, maybe. That was an exposure, the 6400 was that exposure for behind her. But when we were photographing her and she's facing the light, then we could bring up the shutter speed a little bit. What about auto ISO? Instead of having it set for the darkest spot, just putting it in auto ISO? Is that not something? The problem with auto is, whether it's auto ISO, auto aperture, auto shutter speed, you're letting the camera decide what your exposure is gonna be, and in this case I might think well, I'm just gonna average out or I'm just gonna look at the highlights, whatever mode you have it setting on. I don't wanna let the camera decide. We prefer to take control of our exposure because we know exactly what we're doing and the camera's never gonna be in our heads and know what we're trying to do, so that's why we set it ourselves. But yeah, I agree, auto ISO here might do a better job, and going down to 1600 at a more decent shutter speed, but we don't wanna leave that chance up to the camera. I don't want my shutter speed to end up, yeah, I guess I could, yeah. It was like, yeah, maybe. Whatever works. So yeah, so here the control Taking control. was really making sure that the chair where the bride is gonna be sitting was in this exact spot, and even when the planner came and set the chair in that spot, we still went ahead of time and made sure that it was really, really perfectly placed. And when it started, if for some reason the bride sat in it before any of the moments happened and it was a little bit off, we would say something and be like, do you mind just sliding the chair a little bit this way? Really wanna make sure it's, again, team good photos. We want them to get the best photos, we want us to get the best photos, and taking control really helps us get there. So that's one photo that happened in that little path of light that we created for ourselves. And then after the whole event had happened, this is just before walking down the aisle before another ceremony, so they're fussing over her. I love these kinds of moments. For me, this is again slide show gold. Her sisters, her sister-in-law, her mother, her mother-in-law. Check, check, check, check, important people, inner circle. And I love, again, the tension in this moment, that fixing of the veil, and the getting ready aspect is there, and obviously their dresses just work really well in this situation, but it all came from her just being in the right spot with the nice light on her, and then everything else could just happen. Let's go to this photo. So let's deconstruct it and show you how the control came about and how it helped us bring this photo to life. Outside of the frame of this image, the scene actually looked kind of like this. It's in the living room at the groom's parents' house. There's a frame up top with decoration, and there's a big couch that's blocking the space. Originally they wanted to do all the ceremonial events just in front of the couch, still in that same spot, but I realized that obviously the couch wouldn't be great, so I just asked them, do you mind if we moved that out of the way so you're closer to the wall, you're in better light, and it's gonna give us better photos. Simple as that, just to control before the events start happening. Then it gave me this really blank canvas to work with and allowed for a more creative, a cleaner photo to come to life. So it's cleaner for when it's being done in a literal way. We're fulfilling our obligations, people are coming, they're doing these blessings, you don't wanna shoot this abstract because your responsibility as a photographer is to cover the fact that this person is significant and is giving a blessing, so this is your obligation, but then when you wanna go a little bit more abstract and do something a little bit more creative, that came together when he went in tighter and was able to wait for that right moment. And this photo exists as a more literal version. I think it's the groom's mother who's doing the blessing, and it exists as a wider version really showing everybody, but as I was taking photos of that, I knew that my next photo was gonna be this because I'd practiced this framing, this exact setup, as the other people came and did it. So again, just anticipating that it's gonna happen, and the little bit of luck with the milk dripping down his eyes is just really when it all came together. Let's So again, it's just prep is a really great time to take control. There's no pressure, you're not interrupting anything important, so we just told the bride we wanted her. It was a basement apartment, so we just said there's one source of light here, so we want you in front of it. We thought this would be a good opportunity for us to have side light on her, if we're facing her or also silhouetting her up against the sheer curtain, just the best place for her to be for us to try different things. So for makeup is one part of the day where we'll often take control about where it's gonna take place. Wanna make sure that the light is good and that we do have some kind of interesting element to work with. In this case, the only interesting element here that we saw, at least quickly, was that light hanging above the dining table. It was these pivoting glass heads, and when you would look through it, it would just refract light and reflect the subject quite well. So combined with a silhouette and combined by turning on the light which was on a dimmer and getting the right intensity of the light bulbs while all of those elements came together, and then it was really just a matter of waiting for that hand going in and out and making sure that it's not connecting to the nose so that you get very clear framing between the hand and the face. Going back to control, So simple. Yeah, so simple. (Davina laughs) But it starts with curiosity, taking control, and letting all of the elements come together. When we come into the room, we don't see this final photo in our head. We're not like boom, this is what it's gonna look like. It's really just one step at a time. Control, curiosity, being patient, letting the moment come together, and then the good photo comes out of all of that effort. This is obviously not a storytelling detail, a storytelling photo, or a significant moment or something that's gonna be really important to them, but in terms of the slide show, which is what we're working towards as a final product, something like this really mixes things up visually. We are very inspired by film, and if you look at film, that's what they're doing all the time. So you're gonna have things shot in a more literal way, you'll have things shot in a more abstract way, they'll be details. Disney movies are a great source of inspiration, honestly, I'm not kidding, for stuff like this. There will be, like in Cinderella, there's a scene where all the bubbles are around and she's reflected multiple times cleaning the floor in the bubbles. That's abstract take on this moment. So it's nice for us to work on stuff like this because it's fun, it's just fun to play, and play is a big part of what we do, and also it's gonna visually break up the slide show, which we're gonna talk about when we talk about variety. This is an example of where I thought of taking control and I actually didn't follow through with my inner voice. What I should have done and what I thought of in the moment is just to take down that Black Label box. It doesn't add anything to the photo. If anything, it's blocking the groomsman who's getting ready in front of the mirror. Could've become a storytelling detail where he's pouring a shot and the groomsmen are getting ready in the background as well, but I hesitated. I didn't listen to my inner voice, and I got punished for it. You Maxed. You didn't listen to your inner Max voice. Yeah, exactly. What's important is that I was aware of it, and I recognized the fact that I didn't listen to myself and I didn't take control, so a few minutes later when the bride was getting ready pretty much in the same spot as well, I did take control to make sure that I got the best photo possible. So again, recognizing that something isn't going well in my head and then doing something about it. Here she's getting her makeup retouched, and what piques my curiosity is really the juxtaposition between her getting ready and the dress in the mirror. As I'm trying to frame it, I realize that there's that blue bag sitting on the counter, and that's distracting. I stopped them there, I asked the bride to rotate because I wanna frame her properly in the blank wall behind. I tell them to wait a second, I take down the bag Were you acting for the GoPro? Looks like you were like-- No, I wasn't. So I take down the bag, take down the little towel, they asked me, okay, are you ready now? She looks a bit annoyed with you. Meh, it's makeup artists. And then final photo ends up being this. Again, having the bride rotated in that position is really key for aligning it in that space on the left side, not having any distractions in the background. And then I did this photo focused on the dress but also focused on the bride. Storytelling detail. So in terms of taking control, what happens when you're shooting alongside the videographers and they forget that you have priority and they start to take control and start to ask the bride and groom to act out things and stuff like that? How do you deal with that? So it actually happened at this wedding that you just saw the video from. You've seen that throughout these clips they have a pretty intense video team. I think there were three or four, even five at times. They did take a lot of control and it actually ended up benefiting the photos. They did things that we normally wouldn't do which is like when we stage moments they're like, no, you're not laughing enough, can you laugh more? I was like, it goes against my beliefs, but while the girls are laughing I'm gonna photograph it. Why not? I try to go along with it, and unless it's really hindering what we're doing, just keep our mouths shut. I think what's important is that the bride and groom aren't bothered, and what strikes me in those moments, and I'm very team bride happiness, so it did happen this last summer actually, or last year, where the bride was really not having it, and I could tell she was really unhappy because they were staging things, and you ended up talking to her, right? I crossed her in the hallway, and you could tell she was having a bit of a meltdown, and I knew what it was about before she told me what it was, but I was like, is everything okay? What's happening? And she's like, I don't like the videographers, they're really ruining the day. I was like, do you want me to talk to them? And she gave me the green light to go and talk to the videographers. So we went and told them you know what, you guys are being too controlling. She hired us for the really documentary, candid approach. If you can just follow that style and not interfere too much, I think she's gonna be a lot happier. It was a bit of an awkward conversation, but do what needs to be done.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Wedding Photography Contract
Albums Contract
Pre-Wedding Checklist
Five Discount Codes

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Holy Moly! I have been very familiar with Davina & Daniel for several years and I also work closely with Image Salon for the past 3 years. I loved their relatability, raw honesty, human connection, and their teaching method. It was also super helpful to see the GoPro footage on a real wedding day and walk through their thought process with them. A refreshing wind of inspiration has now flooded my mind and attitude. I am excited to begin my 8th year of weddings with a clear mind and full heart. These two are the REAL deal and I am so happy I made this investment. Thanks, CL for always bringing the BEST of the BEST.

a Creativelive Student

I’ve been following Davina and Daniel’s work for years and suffice it to say, they are in my top 6 all time favorites. I was so excited to watch this creative live and it didn’t disappoint. From their approach to shooting through the moments, to their stunning locales and minimalist gear, there is something for everyone in this class. Both Daniel and Davina have a tremendous knowledge of photography and their willingness to share and educate is second to none. Oh, and just so you know, they are also the nicest people on the planet. Super sweet, amazingly talented. Thanks for having them on.

a Creativelive Student

Davina and Daniel are fantastic presenters as well as an exceptional photo team (plus they are super nice people, too!). I love their approach and methods and felt like there is so much value in this course. Even though I've been photographing for a long time, I took away a lot of great value gems from their course and look forward to applying several to my own business!

Student Work