How I Got the Shot – Susan Stripling Bridal Fashion Shoot Using All-Natural Light

Posted by: on Apr 12, 2018

How I Got the Shot – Susan Stripling Bridal Fashion Shoot Using All-Natural Light
The below article is from Susan Stripling a wedding and portrait photographer based in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @susanstriplingphotography and online at We thank Susan for pulling back the curtain on her latest shoot and contributing to the How I Got the Shot Guide: Women’s Edition!


The concept was an editorial bridal fashion shoot using all-natural light.  The set-ups varied.  I used two black/white v-flats to bounce the light around my studio, and a Lastolite scrim to soften the light coming through the huge windows in the space.


Tethering on this shoot was crucial.  It was important that hair and makeup see exactly how their visions were being documented, and it’s not easy to have everyone gather around the LCD screen of my camera.  We also wanted to make sure the dress was being shown off properly since the bridal shoot is so much about the dress.


The biggest challenge was making sure everyone on set was pleased.  When you have a huge team of collaborators, everyone is an art director. Everyone needed to be happy with how their work was represented, and I also had to be happy with the final results photographically.



Post-processing was extremely minimal.  The Canon 5D Mark IV files are so true to life right out of the camera and shooting tethered meant that I was able to make sure I was nailing my exposure every time.  All I had to do was give the files a quick touch in Adobe Lightroom and a dusting of retouching in Photoshop and we were done. 


I used the Canon 5D Mark IV and the 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.2 lenses, plus an abundance of natural light, and space for everyone to work together.  The main logistics involved making sure everyone was being fulfilled creatively and pulling all of the looks and ideas together into one cohesive vision for the shoot.


We had a wonderful hair artist who is ferociously talented.  He’s a Broadway performer, but also just such a genius with wigs, innovative styles, and out of the box ideas.  He worked with my favorite makeup artist, who I actually met when she modeled for me!  She and I have done weddings together before, and she’s my go-to artist for portrait sessions.  We also reached out to the dress designer, Catherine Deane, who works so beautifully with the Broadway community so that we could feature her gowns in the shoot.  Lastly, we had an amazing filmmaker from Shady Theatrics there to document the shoot.  I was the main photographer, editor, and retoucher.  This whole shoot, from first touch of makeup to last bit of retouching on the final files, took five hours from start to finish.


To download this guide and including 29 more articles, download the How I Got the Shot: Women’s Edition on Each educational article features a different image, behind-the-scenes video, and a detailed breakdown of how the shot was made.