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Tips & Tricks

Susan Stripling Shows You Her Processing From Capture To Completion | Bonus: Offers Big Discount On Alien Skin

By Kishore Sawh on November 3rd 2014


Are you a wedding photographer or someone that likes to, and does, shoot weddings? There’s a difference, and if you’re the latter, or want to be the former, there are a select few who will serve as inspiration and help you get there. Susan Stripling is one of those few. In the off chance you shoot weddings and haven’t heard her name before, you are in limited company. Susan has a train of publications and professional accolades to her name, including having her work featured in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, Town & Country Weddings, and has been named among the Top Ten Photographers by American Photo Magazine.

[REWIND: Susan Stripling On What’s In Her Camera Bag For Weddings]

That list, as impressive as it is, is only ever overshadowed by the work itself, and Susan as a person. Many of you may have seen her on CreativeLive or had the good fortune to meet her and you’ll know she’s very forthcoming with information, and a great instructor. Susan has said that she gets requests all the time on how she processes her work from start to finish, and in the video below, she shows in great detail, just that process with a number of her own images.


What she shows here are her steps within Lightroom using Alien Skin Exposure 6 from capture to completion. Granted, the video is somewhat a sponsored post by Alien Skin, but really it’s what she uses and the instruction isn’t any less relevant or less useful. Many a wedding photographer can have their works look very very similar, and while always good to get it as close to perfect in camera, using post to add flare and differentiate yourself can be a wonderful thing to do. The video here is quite detailed and should serve as some great help to get you on your way.



‘But I don’t have Alien Skin,’ you may say. This is fair, and you may not even want it. That said, the instruction isn’t solely useful for copying her precise steps, but understanding what she is trying to achieve with each edit, and why she does each process. If you are considering getting Alien Skin there’s an added bonus that Susan is offering for today only, that with promo code SSM3048 you can get 30% off their products.

Check out and spend some time with Susan’s work here on her site and Facebook.

Source: Susan Stripling YouTubeImages are screen captures from featured video and her site

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Love the article !

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  2. Ant Motton

    Can’t understand why she’d add that effect to the couple walking, she could of just imported it into Instagram and done the same thing in half the time….

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  3. Katie Reich

    The discount code is not active… I have been thinking about getting alien skin, but I would love that 30% off!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Katie, I know the code was time sensitive, and for today only. Perhaps she’ll generate a new one if there’s enough interest. Keep an eye on her FB (linked in article). Cheers

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  4. Nick Viton

    It’s important to remember too that wedding photographers have to deliver somewhere in the order of hundreds of edited images to a single client. I’m sure plug-ins like Alien Skin are a blessing for such processes, as time is a luxury for wedding photographers. So it’s understandable that not all the images are necessarily going to be absolutely perfect (by our standards, anyway).

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  5. J. Cassario

    A customer might not always be right…but they are the customer. You are there to provide a service and give them what they want. I prefer to not do a dinosaur shot, but if the customer asks for it, Im not going to tell them no. I will give them my version without the dinosaurs and a version for them. Thats part of running a business. In this case, I just prefer to do everything before my images hit post.

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  6. Chris Warkocki

    Meh. Far too heavy handed in editing. When you have to fake an effect just don’t do it. Everyone has their style and someone mentioned that some couples like this style but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. Just because giant monsters in the background started popping up doesn’t make me want to ruin a wedding photo by putting it in there because someone likes it.

    Customer is not always right.

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  7. Nick Viton

    The stairwell picture looks cool, but the blur in the image with the couple looks wrong/unnatural. Objects on the same focal plane should be consistent in terms of their focus/out-of-focus. For instance, the grassy mound behind the couple, at their head-level, should be out of focus.
    To be fair, I doubt the couple would have noticed and are more than happy with their final images.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Nick, I’m not a wedding shooter, but I have noticed it’s so common within that field of work for emotion to take over from reality. Case in point was the one you made – While typically I wouldn’t have applied that type of edit, it seems like brides/grooms often want that type of look, and who are we to say anything to that? I also think something about how Susan pulls it off is a bit different, and I actually, surprisingly, quite like it, typically. Artistic license, and all that…

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    • J. Cassario

      I find that brides love that look, but there is something lost when it is done in post, compared to doing it in camera with a tilt-shift or free lensing. I have most of my brides tell me they love the tilt-shift look, and lens flare, both something that can be done in post, but also something that looks a lot better (at least to me) when done using the right lens. I personally don’t like her processing, but to each their own.

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    • Kiel MacDonald

      I have to agree. It’s also a harsher transition than it could’ve been and still left things on the same plane blurred, just further out and not as close to the focus point (the bride and groom)… That said, for wedding photos, more than other forms, I would say it is more about pleasing the 1 or 2 people who will look at the photo day in and day out than anyone else… so if they are happy with the photo and 90000 people aren’t, the photographer did their job right in my opinion.

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  8. Aaron Cheney

    These are beautiful before and afters. I love her style

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