Downtown Raleigh NC Bridal Photography: Second Time's The Charm

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I love it when good people win.

Crystal has been my barber on and off (if we count my three years in Florida) for about a decade. When you’ve had the same barber for that long, you’re prone to learn a few things about them, such as their resilience following a divorce and their openness to finding love again.

Which leads us to today. By the time you read this, Crystal has transitioned from fiancee to wife.

But before the wedding, there was the bridal shoot.

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The State Capitol Building in Downtown Raleigh is used for many a bridal shoot, but there was a certain sameness to the shots I’ve seen. So I wanted to mix things up a bit.

As you’ve noticed above, one of the building’s distinctive features is its doors. But no one highlights the doors in their photos - until now.

I took a flash and placed it behind Crystal, which really made the door pop - and the photos more distinctive.

What I loved about this shoot is that a lot of our shots were not traditional bridal shots. My thought process was more model than bride, which led to more creative photos.

So to Crystal and Ray, congratulations! I’m honored to be part of your wedding journey.

Raleigh Union Station Photo Shoot: A Second Chance for Memorable Moments

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Photographing someone’s wedding is one of the most precious responsibilities a photographer can have, but if they screw it up, there’s no second chance. Not only do the mistakes last a lifetime, but the wedding couple never forgets, a fact Christina and Royal can attest to.

“Mr. Chambers…your brother mentioned that you’re a renowned photographer,” Christina wrote to me in a Facebook message, referring to one of my Iota Phi Theta fraternity brothers. “Are you still in the photography business?”

Do birds fly, lol.

My real answer was more professional, of course, but the ensuing conversation centered around her desire for pictures of her and her husband because “our wedding pictures were crap” and that “friends & family took better pictures.”

Although I didn’t take the crappy wedding photos, her words impacted me because a bad impression of any photographer hurts the entire photography profession. If a bride’s trust in a wedding photographer was betrayed, then why would she trust a professional photographer for anything else, especially if friends and family took better pictures?

Christina and Royal wanted simple pictures. A few posed shots along with photos of them playing spades. My immediate thought was Raleigh Union Station, which has quickly become one of my favorite places to shoot since moving back to the Raleigh-Durham area in September.

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While Christina and Royal live near Winston-Salem, they were willing to drive to downtown Raleigh. I love it when clients are willing to make a true investment into the quality of their photos. Photo shoots are not just about the photographer giving direction – it’s a collaborative effort that can yield great results.

Here’s another way they were truly invested – Christina was in the early stages of the flu and was fighting a 100.2 fever on the day of our shoot. While one could tell in person that she wasn’t feeling well, her sickness wasn’t noticeable in the pictures.

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Speaking of pictures, I love when I capture couples that are just being themselves. Sure, a couple that’s not used to having professional pictures taken will need some posing guidance, but in my experience, the best pictures are often the unscripted ones, and Christina and Royal were no different.

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But the best part was what Christina and Royal got out of the experience.

“When we learned that Stan was back in NC, we immediately jumped on the opportunity to have him recreate the moment we lost,” she wrote in her review. “He did an amazing job. I will recommend him to anyone who’d need a memorable moment captured professionally and with class.”

More importantly, I’m glad Christina and Royal recaptured some of the magic that was lost through their “crap” wedding photos.

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!

Professional headshot session - Sigma Gamma Rho (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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It’s the end of the year, and you’re probably working on your 2019 goals right now.

Do your goals include investing more in your professional self?

I had the pleasure of traveling to Fayetteville, N.C., to conduct a professional headshot photography session for the Delta Gamma Sigma chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. These women are working towards some major goals for 2019, and they wanted pictures highlighting their professional stature.

As a professional photographer, I enjoy helping professionals utilize photography to show off their professionalism.

Need professional headshots? Click here to set up your professional headshot session.