Category: Photography     View all recent posts
May 18, 2011     |     Photography

Mon Frère, Hunter

When we were little, I used to pick on Hunter...a lot. I used to dress him in tutus and tattle on him. Not sure why those pranks gave me such's probably because I had five whole years with my Mom and Dad before my brother arrived, and was unaccustomed to sharing their attention. Now, it is my good fortune to enjoy this beautiful city with my best friend - my brother, Hunter. 
It appears that Charlotte Elizabeth Photographer is officially becoming a family business. Not only does my Mom assist with proofing my blog posts (thanks, Mom), but my brother, Hunter, is my Assistant Extraordinaire. He adds an important dimension to this endeavor for which I am deeply grateful. Hunt has a full-time job, but assists me on the weekends with weddings. He is a naturalist, having lead kayak tours through the Charleston and Florida Keys waterways, an avid fisherman, beer aficionado, handyman (he can pretty much fix anything), and all-round good guy. 
Having a photographer's assistant is an important feature of my wedding package for clients. His assistance is needed to help with my equipment, sometimes to shoot from a different angle, other times to rock out the Elizabooth. Above all else, Hunter is there to support me in capturing the best shots for the bride and groom. He is a wonderful addition to CEP, and I am proud and happy to introduce him to you. I love you Bunties!
Here's Hunt with his mandolin in a test shot we did for a bride who was planning her Elizabooth.
It's likely that you will see Hunt sporting his bowtie at your wedding.
Or you might see him holding a reflector for me.
Here we are at the first wedding we shot together. We had the best time and have been working as a team ever since.
Hunter, you are my best friend! I love you more than you could possibly know. Thank you for your support, for always saying "I love you" before you hang up the phone and for knowing exactly when I need a margarita or a dance party in your Jetta. You are the best little brother a sister could ever ask for. Can't wait for our next wedding together at White Fences Vineyard in Virginia. Love you! Char
A little sneak peek of what's to come....Hunter's been hard at work on the Super 8 division of Charlotte Elizabeth Photographer.

May 2, 2011     |     Photography


Have you read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss? I highly recommend it. I read it right after I retired (I prefer retired, rather than resigned...doesn't it sound dreamy?) and it was perfect timing for me since I needed a new perspective as an "artistpreneur". I'm one of those people that need to control everything and have trouble delegating because I think I can do a task better than anyone (not true). In my old job, this got me into trouble often because I was so overwhelmed with some of the smallest tasks that weren't worth my time and I still couldn't let go of some them! I also couldn't get away from my Blackberry...I would answer emails before I went to bed and first thing in the morning. Not only did this give me anxiety ALL the time, but it also set the wrong precedent for my clients...that I was available 24/7. If you email me now, you will get this message: "Thank you so much for your email!!! Due to my current workload, I am only checking email once a day. If you have an immediate question, I can be reached by mobile phone at: 843.754.8235. Thank you and have a great day!" What a great relief I felt when I posted this to my auto-reply. It sets a new expectation and gives me some relief that I have time to respond within 24 hours. After reading The 4-Hour Workweek, I swore to myself that in my next career, as soon as I was able, I would start outsourcing the tasks that someone else (an expert) could do and I would focus on the things that would be productive to my business (i.e. taking pictures, booking weddings and marketing).
I especially like Mr. Ferriss' idea of taking "mini-retirements" throughout your lifetime rather than saving up for a big trip when you retire. I fell in love with this concept and Steph and I are trying to get to a place where we can take 1-3 month long "mini-retirements". Oh, I have big dreams...and now I just need to outsource I can spend some time in these destinations!

April 27, 2011     |     Photography

Humble Beginnings

At the very beginning of my photography career, I found myself obsessing over blogs and websites. I was totally inspired and curious. When I decided I wanted to give it a shot (no pun), I bought a used Canon 40D from this website (it's basically like ebay for photographers) and a 50mm 1.8 lens from B&H Photo. I really wanted the 50mm lens because of the shallow depth of field and it was inexpensive to boot! I love blurring out the backgrounds in photos, like a colorful canvas. My camera body and lens was the perfect pair of equipment to start learning.  
After reading the manual and practicing on my dog Lexi, I reached out to my closest friends and asked if I could practice on their kids. Of course they were delighted and happily accepted my offer for a photo session. I did a few sessions, re-read my manual, researched online, learned more and tried again. It was the best practice for me to get started. It was also a great way to see if I really liked being a photographer and the answer was instantly YES. The feeling I got when I was engaging with people and culling through the beautiful images when I got home was thrilling.  
These are a few images from my very first photo session and I still covet them. I didn't re-touch them for this blog post since I shot and edited them in (gasp!) Google Picasa and I want to remember where I started. I actually loved using Picasa for editing. Not only is it easy and free, but I was able to learn about fill light, highlights, shadows and temperature.
I love this image of little H in the swing. I love how the two different color trees on either side frame the subject. I know I didn't plan for this to happen when I shot it...I was too nervous and over shooting. Now that I know my camera, I can really think about composition of the image and be more deliberate about my shots.
I was playing with grain here. I love the look of real fim much so that I am shooting more film. Why edit my digital images to look like film when I can use film as my medium?

April 18, 2011     |     Photography

Ghost writer: Kristen Gehrman

Thanks are still in order for the creation of my blogsite. Meet my other copywriter, Kristen Gehrman. With the help of my friend Jonathan Sanchez, Kristen helped me create cute and custom descriptions for my favorite things map on my website. Kristen works for Jonathan at Blue Bicycle Books and for Charleston Magazine writing artist profiles and theatre coverage. She also had her first cover story published in Native Magazine this week! I knew Kristen would be a perfect addition to help with the copy for my site since her writing style is light, quirky and to the point. She also speaks fluent French and since I am a francophile to the core, I knew we would be fast friends. More than just helping me write, she also provided me with the encouragement that I can, deep breath, become a good writer. You can check out Kristen's blog here: A Commonplace Thing
Kristen, thank you for adding the perfect dash of fun and elegance to my site! I am so thankful that Jonathan introduced us and will always remember the fun time we had for your portrait session, biking all of over town together. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for you, my friend! Have a blast with Mason in Turkey this summer! I'd love to hear about it over wine (en francais) when you return to Charleston! XO, Char 
Kristen lives in Charleston and showed me this cute little alley that I never knew about! I love it when my clients make suggestions and show me new locations.
Kristen wants to be a ghost writer, meaning that she will write copy for a client without putting her name on it. Her dream is to write an autobiography for a famous figure.
Kristen rides her Mom's bike. She used to ride on the back of it when she was little.
Kristen, you are beautiful! Thanks again!

April 11, 2011     |     Photography

Creating My Brand: Stitch Design Co.

Once it was decided that I would be hiring a custom web designer to create my blogsite, I needed help creating an identity for my business. I heard about Stitch Design Co. through a few friends. They are a local design powerhouse and I absolutely adore their work, so natch I had to book a meeting. I was so impressed by their portfolio that I hired them on the spot. Working with Courtney and Amy was undoubtedly the best decision I made for my business. It was especially important for me to give a good first impression in lieu of my website (that was on hold for 9 months) and the gals at Stitch were able to create custom business cards and stationery to get me started.  
At the beginning of the process, I told Courtney and Amy that I wanted a logo that was Charleston inspired - something fun and whimsical and I wanted to give them creative liberty. I can remember coming in for the first meeting and nearly lost my breath (I'm not even kidding) when I saw my brand start to come to life. It took a while to narrow it down but we (all three of us) fell in love with the bike and worked from there. Biking is "so Charleston" and it's something I love to do every day downtown. I couldn't be happier with what Stitch created...and we created A LOT of goodies for my clients for every aspect of my business (more on that later).  
Courtney & Amy, thank you for your patience and your hard work on this project. My brand, my stationery, everything is just beautiful. I am so proud and happy to call it my own. It's crazy to think back to the day I came into your office, confused and nervous as I pondered this new career path. As I have built this brand with you, little by little, I felt more assured of who I am as a person and most definitely as a photographer. I can't imagine going through those emotions with anyone else than wonderful entrepreneurial women such as yourselves. I will never forget our time together and look forward to many more projects in the future. And yes, I am still available to work as your intern anytime!  
Here's the front of my hand letter-pressed square business card. Stitch has a sister company called Sideshow Press where they press and print each piece indiviually on a 1926 vintage letterpress.
Here's the back. Isn't the horn that Amy drew for me so adorable? I need to get one for my bike.
Here's the front of my stationery.
And here's the envelope. I just love the logo system they came up with. Tandem for couples, solo for headshots/portraits, vespa for teens and tricycle for kids.
Here's the back of my stationery. I love how we were able to use the map on my website in my favorite things section.
Courtney & Amy, I still keep these in my wallet as a reminder of our time together.

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