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6 Things You Need to Master to Be a Badass Wedding Photographer | Huy Nguyen [WPPI 2016]

By Amii & Andy Kauth on March 12th 2016

Huy Nguyen, educator and founder of Fearless Photographers (and former photojournalist turned badass wedding photographer), seriously believes that you can be an amazing wedding photographer. His platform class at WPPI, “Talent Not Required: Becoming a Badass Wedding Photographer,” was filled to capacity. And while he mused that it was likely due to the title of his class, it was evident from the start that we were all in for quite the ride (and education).

Huy spoke about Fearless Photographers a bit and the awesomeness of the Fearless community, which recently took on Black Friday by donating over $5,000 to charity instead of buying stuff (matched by Fearless for a whopping $11,552)! The bulk of his presentation centered on what he believes you need to do to in order to become a badass wedding photographer: master focus, metering, & flash and get close, take risks, & be happy.



(Huy Nguyen [left] chatting with a class attendee, Image by Sunshine & Reign Photography)

For Huy, it’s important to master three things on your way to the inevitable badassery that awaits those who understand why they want to be a photographer in the first place and who also believe in themselves, trust others to guide them, and are willing to suffer for their goals.

3 Things to Master To Become a BaDAss Wedding Photographer

First, according to Huy, you need to understand focus. He is adamant that photographers put their thumb on the back button (focus) and their index finger on the shutter. “The thumb is like, but the index finger is love,” says Huy. This is the first thing he teaches at the Foundations Workshops that he hosts throughout the world.


Next, Huy wants photographers to be masters of exposing for highlights (i.e., the whites) because doing so will make your images not boring.


Finally, Huy believes that photographers must learn flash in conjunction with composition (making certain the subjects are in a clean spot) and mastering the moment. And that, for Huy, is the beginning of being a badass wedding photographer.

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3 Advanced Techniques For Those Who DARE to be fearless

After mastering the three basic things he discussed, Huy went on to explain that he believes in the mastery of three advanced techniques for all photographers who dare to be fearless.

First, Huy wants photographers to get in close. “Be in stabbing distance!” he exclaimed. If you aren’t getting that image of the whole scene, then Huy wants you up close. He recommends being a part of the action because that’s where the stories are, physically and emotionally.


Second, you need to take risks; taking risks will help the advanced photographer not get lost in the crowd or become bored. One of his favorite quotes lately is by Jim Kast-Keat: “Creativity is the ability to take risks.” In other words, why be like everyone else? Find some inspiration and get out there and capture something unexpected!



And, above all, Huy insists that happiness is most important because if you can’t be happy, then why do what you do? For Huy, it is important that you don’t sit around waiting for success. He says, “Don’t wait for success to come to be happy; be happy and success will come.”



Huy rocked the crowd and impressed everyone in attendance. He got out from behind the podium and walked around the front of the room (no stage needed!). He also gave a presentation featuring images that mostly weren’t his (but those of other “Fearless Photographers”), and he definitely showed that he is an authentic educator (unafraid to discuss his own story, failures and faults included). If you want to experience more of Huy’s awesomeness and push yourself to your utmost, you’re going to want to check out Fearless Photographers (consider joining). You can sign up for a workshop here: Foundations Workshops,  and the next Fearless Conference will be in Portugal and the U.S.A.

Photographs by Huy Nguyen are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.


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Amii & Andy are a wife and husband team of rad portrait and wedding photographers (Sunshine & Reign Photography) who absolutely love life and are generally just stoked! Yeah! When they aren’t photographing or writing and teaching about photography, you’ll find them off on a seriously legit adventure with their little ones, lifting weights in their garage, training jiu-jitsu, refining their archery skills, or surfing every chance they get. And on the rare chance they escape off on a “date night”? Yep! They’ll find a wedding to crash (true fact).

Website: Sunshine & Reign Photography
Instagram: @sunshineandreign

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Michael Jackson

    Can we stop using “badass” and “wedding photographer” in the same sentence? It’s a ridiculous notion. Wedding photography is already looked upon as one of the most self-gratifying, sellout, fake, copy-cat, award-obsessed industries in the world of photography. Now we have mass amounts of wedding photographers labeling THEMSELVES as “badass” and “fearless” for getting paid to photograph brides. Oh yeah, and they are apparently humanitarians, too, because they donate a small amount of money to charities, which is more of a self-promotion tactic than anything so they can show off their “good deeds” all over their articles and websites.

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Thanks for your comment, Michael. We can guarantee you that Fearless Photographers is an amazing community that cares more about helping photographers get better than self-promotion. Also, the donation on Black Friday was Fearless’ way of sticking it to a system that encourages the opposite of being generous. We see your point about using the term “badass” and “fearless” and thanks for being willing to express your opinion. For us, it’s about getting better at what we love to do. That should be a goal in any career or industry … being “badass” or getting better or whatever term.

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  2. Lotus Buccola

    So going to be keeping the thought about ‘stabbing distance’ in my head for everything from now on.

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  3. Christina Ward

    Hahaa. STABBING distance, eh? I’m going to use that term to describe my close-up shots from now on!!

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  4. Andy & Amii Kauth

    Btw, Huy let us know that the amazing Todd Laffler was his second shooter at the wedding in the featured image of this article (he snapped that one!); check him out here:! #Boom!

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  5. Pye Jirsa

    Great tips in here Andy, love this article. Great feature on Huy, they have an awesome community and directory with Fearless!

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