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Chris Smith – Private Mentor Session

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  • Shooting wedding #44 this weekend... due to Chris.

From shooting in low-budget dumps to The Willard in DC…

When I went down to Charleston in Jan. 2012, I had shot about 10 low-budget weddings- we’re talking soda cans, potato chips, plasticware & styrofoam plates in Best Western hotels. Honestly, in 1 of them, the bride/groom almost tripped over someone’s kid rolling on the floor during their formal intro! Obviously, I didn’t want to stay at that level. But I kept on getting the phone slammed down whenever I’d call established photographers for assignments.

So I decided to better both my portfolio and skillset by arranging shooting with models with an established wedding photographer to help me. Chris did great in that role. He reinforced and clarified concepts that I already knew (backlighting), and taught me concepts that would have otherwise taken me years to learn, such as the not-so-obvious effect of focal lens choice and how it affects the subject, either favorably or unfavorably. Those are but 2 examples amongst many.

Charleston is 1 of the most aesthetic cities on the East coast. Just how aesthetic? Well, when I saw a location that Chris got me in to shoot at on the cover of “Unveiled Magazine”, I was ecstatic from knowing I had shot at that exact spot! But it would’ve taken me weeks to find the locations that he showed me. Chris also gave me more guidelines for posing to make the bride look her best in these locations.

Summing up, Chris’s instruction helped improve my images significantly more than upgrading from a D7k ($1,200 value back then) to a D700 ($2,700 value at the time) in Fall 2011. He deserves credit for my now shooting mid to high-end venues in a lucrative market.


Taking instruction from Chris means your skills are worth more money. This is a good thing when photography is a vocation, and no longer just a hobby.


Check to make sure you're not shooting when a major political party decides on having their SC state convention in a Presidential election year. All the really nice hotels were booked during my date (MY fault, not Chris'), as Charleston is a popular tourist destination.

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