Awesome Wedding Details
Susan Stripling Photography
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Awards and Features

Awesome Wedding Details

I realize that sometimes I do things at weddings that people do not understand. While I have long worked to establish trust between myself, the bride, the groom, and their families, but wedding guests meeting me for the first time on a wedding day might not understand what I’m up to! 

I do things that might appear a bit strange, things like shutting off all the lights in the room when the bride is getting ready, holding a bottle of water in front of my camera lens to create distortion, or laying face down on the ground to get just the right angle for a shot! 

I can only image what the guests at this 2013 wedding thought when they saw me scavenging for leftover glasses of champagne from the champagne fountain earlier in the night. 

I took seven champagne glasses and placed the bride and groom’s rings (with their permission, of course!) into the middle glass. I lit the entire scene with tea lights, also borrowed from the reception tables. 

Don’t worry, wedding guests, I neither drank the champagne nor forgot to wash the rings before giving them back to the bride and groom! 

Entered into the Wedding Division : Wedding Details of the WPPI 16x20 print competition in Las Vegas in 2014, this image received a score of 81.

I used to run a wedding photography education blog called The Dynamic Range. I wrote a series of reviews of my experience with prints in the WPPI 16x20 Print Competition, and I wrote a write-up of this particular image! The description of the judging process, my score, and how I felt read as follows:

This image, shot in 2013 and entered in 2014, scored an 81.  An 81 is considered "above average...good standard of professional skill, creativity and technique."  An image that scores an 81 receives a silver, and 1 point towards their Honors of Excellence title.  
This image is an excellent example of a great, great image that is a bad, bad competition print entry.  What do I mean by that?  Well first, I love the image.  Of course I do, else I wouldn't have entered it.  I love the wedding that I took this image at, I loved the clients, and I loved the venue.  
I really, really love this photograph.  As a competition print, it has this going for it:
1.  It's different.
2.  The composition is awesome.
3.  The color palette is beautiful.
4.  It's technically solid, in focus, and sharp as a tack where it needs to be.
Now let's talk about why it doesn't work as a competition print:
1.  The bubbles on the rings make it hard to find the actual rings themselves.
2.  The bubbles in the other glasses compete with the rings...your eyes ping-pong around the shot to find the actual point of interest.
3.  There are so many highlights that they're distracting.
4.  When there are so many distractions, the overall image loses impact.
Is it a good image?  Of course it is!  But when you're choosing prints for competition, it's about more than a good image.  It's about more than being technically solid.  It's about finding the image that makes the viewer sit up and go "Whoa."  If you've never sat in on print judging at WPPI, I highly suggest that you do so.  It's such a singularly excellent learning experience, and listening to the judges talk about what works and what doesn't with each print is invaluable.


1/80; f/11.0; ISO 400; 60.0 mm.