Valentine’s Day Photoshoot: Love Up In Smoke

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One thing I love about being a photographer is the ability to help clients turn their vision into results they cherish.

It’s even more awesome when those results involve a creative photoshoot.

I’m sure plenty of photographers were asked to shoot client boudoir photos for Valentine’s Day, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (I shoot those too). But Aleisha wanted something different that she could give to her husband as a framed gift. 

She wanted her love to go up in smoke.

I’ve been lucky to have a cool Valentine’s Day photoshoot for the second year in a row. Last year’s shoot was an alternative take on what it means to be happy on Feb. 14:

But this year’s shoot was an interesting challenge, for I’ve never used smoke bombs before – let alone during a cold January morning at William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh. The challenge immediately appealed to me because I see myself as an artist who creates using people, light, environment, and the occasional prop.

Photographers who only see themselves as picture-takers limit their creativity, their ability to grow as a creative professional, and doing a disservice to their clients.

One hilarious aspect of the shoot was that neither Aleshia or myself had ever used smoke bombs before, so we had to figure out how they worked (you just pull the string). Also, we wondered if we were going to set the park on fire (we didn’t).

We first tried placing the smoke bomb on the ground, which didn’t work well for us. Then I had Aleisha hold the smoke bomb while simultaneously posing, which garnered much better results.

And then there was the cold. Aleisha looked wonderful in her satin high red dress -but she was freezing.

Some may not realize that the client plays as much of a role in a photoshoot’s success as the photographer. The photographer may be displaying their creativity, but it is the client who must be receptive to the creativity in order for the shoot to work. 

Aleisha did a great job of that, and it’s not the first time Aleisha and I worked together - she was one of my first clients.

It’s satisfying when I can help clients bring their vision to life – especially when their vision involves expressing their love to someone else. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Starting off 2019 with professional family photos at the WRAL Azalea Gardens

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As a professional photographer, it is an honor when I have the opportunity to watch a family grow right before my lens.

I first captured the Selvy family when they married in 2014. It was an intimate affair that truly celebrated the love Leah and Darrick have for each other.

Plenty has happened since, from the Selvys having a daughter to me moving to Florida, then moving back to North Carolina. 

Upon returning to NC, I contacted Leah just to catch up, and one of her first messages was “we need to take family pictures.”


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My take on family photos is they should be more than just recording what people looked like at a certain time of their lives. They should capture a family in its natural state with very limited posed photos.

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Out of the 100 or so frames I shot of the Selvys at the WRAL Azalea Gardens, maybe less than 10 were posed photos. The rest were the Selvys being themselves, which was wonderful to capture.

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I look forward to capturing more of the Selvy family during Leah and Darrick's fifth anniversary celebration in May.

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Interested in a professional family photo session? Let me know how you want your family uniquely captured in photos by clicking here.

Here's why you don't want boring senior photos

2018.11.10 Tai'na Ortiz by StanChambersJr Photography 8 small.jpg

There’s nothing wrong with railroad tracks, water fountains, fields of green and country bridges, but who looks back at those senior pictures and says that’s who they were at that point in their lives?

Senior photography should reflect one’s personality, but they should also be creative. After all, you’re only a high school senior once, right?

Tai'na, a senior at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School, has a lot of aspirations, including modeling. So I wanted to turn her senior session into a mini modeling session.

And I knew just the spot.

This was my first photoshoot since returning to North Carolina, and plenty has changed in the three years I was gone - especially Raleigh’s Warehouse District.

The area was already popular for photoshoots, but with the building of Raleigh Union Station and The Dillion Raleigh, both of where we took pictures, I’ve seen multiple photographers the few times I’ve been in the area.

And I don’t blame them.

As for Tai’na, we were able to capture some pretty cool pictures despite the early Saturday morning wind and cold.

Want to do a creative senior session? Let’s talk about it!