Luster Studios » Boston Wedding Photographer for New England Venues Engagement Events

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Wedding Photographer Interview: Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios

Let’s start in the beginning. How long have you been interested in photography?
While I’ve enjoyed experimenting in creative media and traditional film my entire life, my college years were the most formative for me as an artist. I double majored in photography as well as computer graphics and design. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, I believe my study of composition, lighting and creative thinking directly impacts my work and is an important distinction when compared to others that have not attended art school.

You seem to capture some of the most personal moments we’ve ever seen. Can you share your process with us?
First and foremost, I place a priority on getting to know my clients prior to any shoot. I want their photos to mean something to them and to reflect their personality. In fact that’s how I came up with my motto “A True Reflection of You.”

Would you say your approach is more candid or traditional?
I consider myself an “artistic photojournalist.” On occasion I’ll inspire or prompt a situation by setting events in motion, take a step back, and let the story unfold naturally. My direct interaction depends on the energy level at that moment in time. My goal is to be unobtrusive, but to also offer assistance to help my subjects look their best.

Your work is unique in many ways. Could you talk a bit about why you think that is.
While I think my work is visually accessible to most, I strive to be different in my technique and execution. Content and subject matter are usually most important to me. Many seem to concentrate on a specific look, but I try not to constrain myself. There are many options available when choosing a photographer, but for those that connect with my style and personality, I’m going to be a clear choice for them.

How many weddings and sessions do you typically shoot each year?
I think I’m an exception to the rule in that I only accept a small number of weddings – usually twelve to fifteen total. In most cases each wedding includes full day coverage and a personal session and an album. This allows me to double the amount of time that I spend with those that choose me. I’m a firm believer that this directly impacts the quality of the full experience and always results in better photographs.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
Weddings are a whirlwind of emotion and moments and can sometimes feel like there’s not enough time to fit everything in. I think that timing and anticipating key moments can be challenging but also extremely rewarding. When I’ve captured something truly special, I often feel a sense of excitement and appreciation for the opportunity to document that moment in time.

How do you choose which images you ultimately provide to your clients?
The selection and image editing process is of the utmost importance to me so I tend to approach it in a similar way to how I shoot. I try to strike a perfect balance between images that are meaningful to my clients and those that I believe tell the story of the day in an artistic way. I’m often liberal in my choices and try to edit and provide them with most of the images I take. If there are multiple images of a moment that is essentially the same I scrutinize that set to choose the best few but if the capture is unique I always include it just in case it holds special meaning to someone.

The vibrancy and clarity in your work is something that immediately stands out. Could you talk about how you achieve this effect and if you retouch your photos?
A great photograph often starts in the camera. I invest in the highest quality equipment and constantly work hard to improve my technique. I personally edit and process every single photo for my clients. Some photographers like to outsource their work but I don’t. I feel that I have the most intimate knowledge of what is important to them. By continuing to ask myself the question ‘Is there anything I can do to improve this photograph?’ I’m confident in delivering the highest quality results. I do spend a lot of time retouching photos but my goal is to present natural looking images in which no one could know what has been done.

Most of your work seems to be presented in natural color. Do you also provide black and white or sepia photos?
I process photos in several ways, but usually need a specific reason to deviate from color. Since most of my subject matter is full of life and color, I like to display it in an authentic way. I never want couples to look back and say “I wish we had this is color.” While there are many artists that truly prefer to work in black and white, I think it can sometimes be used for the wrong reasons. I don’t like to use trendy filters or preset effects because I think they will eventually look dated. Even my monochromatic work is processed differently than traditional black and white imagery. I meticulously shift independent tones to create the desired look and provide a color version as well for most photos.

How quickly do your clients get to see their photos?
I usually can’t resist posting a few teaser photographs the day after a wedding. I remember how much my wife and I enjoyed looking through a select set of our photos during our honeymoon and do my best to duplicate that experience for my clients. It usually takes me a full month to edit an entire wedding but I strive to upload about 100 favorites a few weeks following the wedding. The full set is delivered online and on disc.

So it sounds like you provide the final images to your clients?
That’s true. Regardless of the shoot I don’t like to limit the number of photos that I take or provide. Each image is edited and provided in a high resolution format.

What type of lighting do you utilize and why?
This depends on many factors including the quality (and amount) of natural light available and the effect I’m going for. While I often use external flash, I rarely opt for elaborate setups as I think it complicates the process and negatively effects spontaneity. In most cases I scan the area for the best light and then add what I like to call a ‘kiss of flash.’ I’m not a big fan of the uninspired “light blasted forward” look.

We’ve noticed that you’ve photographed in many locations for destination weddings. Do you travel a lot?
One of the most exciting parts about photographing for a living is my opportunity to experience new customs and cultures. I’ve been fortunate enough to document weddings in destinations such as Greece, Italy, and Hawaii, but I’m also proud to call North Carolina my home. From the mountains to the beach, the diversity in wedding locations is unsurpassed in my opinion. Some would even argue that several venues such as The Biltmore Estate are destination locations in their own right.

If you could only use a few words to describe your style what would they be?
I would have to choose “creatively unique.” Regardless of how often I’ve photographed a similar pose or visited a specific venue I make every effort to document my subjects in a unique and creative way.

Do you bring assistants or second shooters with you?
There are a few bridal resources will suggest that two or three shooters will lead to better photos. While I think there are talented photographers that prefer to work in teams, I truly believe that there are pros and cons to each approach. When I opt to work with a second photographer it’s usually due to the size of the wedding. I once photographed a dual ceremony 500 person Indian wedding for 14 hours straight and having a second person to capture everything was a must. For most weddings I tend to work alone but will occasionally work along side another full time professional that fits seamlessly with my style and approach.

For those that would like to consider working with you, what’s the best way to start?
The first step is always to check availability. During peak times of the year I’m flooded with various requests so I suggest booking at least one year out when possible. There’s no way to predict when a certain date will be filled although some months are more popular than others. The next step is to determine if the couple’s personality and budget matches up to my services. I then like to schedule a phone consultation or a meeting in person. When possible, I’ve found it best to meet with everyone that is making the final decision at the same time.