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Hey guys! If you did not get the email, we have just launched a new website and part of that is relocating our blog from this site to it’s new home at www.csphoto.biz/blog

Can’t wait to see you there!



September 3rd is a special day for me.  On this day in 1979 God blessed the world with my older sister, friend, and confidante Katherine Elizabeth Smith. Today on her birthday I want to share her with you.

I could literally spend days recalling memories we’ve made but for the sake of time I will only share a few rather humorous selections.

Our Tom and Jerry Fiascoes are legendary. It was absolutely uncanny how quickly we often made up on our way back to receive our spankings, quickly preparing stories that were both mutually flattering and congruent in the hope that our superficial alliance would allow us grace at the whipping post we called our parents bed. On one night in particular, Katie defied my mother and for the first time that I could recall, told my mother “no”. Now my mother is an unusually patient and understanding woman, but blatant defiance was lethal! After telling my mother no, Katie turned her back on my mother and preceded to walk away in teenage defiance. I turned and watched mom briskly walk to the kitchen. Like a bad wreck that we can’t ignore, I new something painful was about to happen but I couldn’t help but to watch…

WARNING: This next action on the part of my mother is both hilarious and purely Redneck.

Like the fleeting image you would expect to see of Sasquatch, my mother emerged from the kitchen brandishing a raw potato and without warning proceeded to take aim and fire it at my sister who was now running for her life at my enjoyable suggestion! Folks, it doesn’t get funnier, and more redneck than that!

NOTE: No animals, daughters or potatoes were hurt in the aforementioned event.

I will also never forget the night Katie convinced me to toilet paper roll the house of my current 4th grade teacher. With the job almost done, Katie and I saw a light flicker in my teacher’s home. Diving into the nearest bush we all looked on in horror as a dark figure emerged from the house. It was my teacher and within seconds she was dragging me and Katie out of our bushes and into her living room for a little chat.

Or how about how Katie used to dress me up in girls dresses complete with make up and wig only to force me to go buy milk at the local supermarket, in drag. To my defense, men, I was only 5-6 years old and she towered over me!

Though this stuff is funny, I cannot imagine where I would be without you, Katie. As a young boy I looked up to your confidence, personality, and conviction, constantly drawing strength from your example. Today I want to thank you for all that you have been in my life. This side of heaven you will never know how much you and Tori (my younger sister, pictured above left) meant, mean, and continue to mean to me. I look forward to our future with a thankful and expectant heart!

Today on this special day I challenge you to continue to follow Christ as your only worth and treasure, loving Him and forsaking all, only to taste and see more of Him.

I love you dearly,

Charles Jr

Yesterday I shot an engagement session here in downtown Louisville, KY. Jeff and Kristal were such and blast to work with; they even let me take pictures of them in the street!

I cannot wait to shoot your wedding, guys! Thanks again!

This weekend’s wedding here in Louisville Kentucky was nothing short of spectacular. The church was amazing (photographers: the light was insane!…very warm and diffused), the bride and groom looked like they “stepped out of a J. Crew Magazine” (inside joke from the best man’s speech), and the food was amazing! Yes, I snagged a little piece of chicken during a break :).

Anyway, I want to thank Brittany and Keith for a wonderful experience! I wish you all the best!

Here are a few of my favorites:

You will note me standing in the isle here. You know why? Because my insanely beautiful wife took this shot from the balcony…crazy skills folks, crazy skills…

Here are some helpful tips that I (along with the help of knot.com) have come up with to help our clients get the most of their engagement sessions. Enjoy!

Make it Snappy

The best time to snap your paired-up pics depends on how and when you plan to use them. Here’s a rundown of photo scheduling options — choose whatever works for you:

  • Day one/two: Take a picture of yourselves to commemorate the moment you get engaged — you’ll already be wearing a photogenically (and naturally) happy smile!
  • First month: Schedule a photo shoot early in your engagement if you plan to submit a formal engagement announcement with a photo to your local paper. (Check your paper’s guidelines for specific pose or print quality requirements, which are often listed on the newspaper’s website.)
  • When you set the wedding date: Have a photo taken for your wedding website or save-the-date — many couples incorporate photos of themselves into the design. If this trend appeals to you and you’re planning to send guests an early heads-up, have photos taken eight to ten months before the wedding, in time to print and send save-the-dates no later than six months before the wedding.
  • Six to eight months before: You can also take engagement pictures once you’ve booked your wedding photographer or when you’re narrowing down your final choices (which should occur when your planning countdown hits the eight-months-prior mark).
  • Three months before: If you plan to submit a shot with your newspaper wedding announcement, check their guidelines for specifics and schedule a picture-taking session at least three months before the wedding. Larger newspapers ask to receive wedding submissions up to six weeks before the event, and you’ll want to factor in four to six weeks before that deadline to see your proofs and make prints.
  • Two months before: Trying out wedding day looks? Schedule hair and makeup trial appointments the same day as your engagement photo session to capture a preview of your wedding day fabulousness on film (you could do the salon in the morning and the photo studio in the afternoon). Factor in some in-between time for damage control, on the off chance that the salon results aren’t as great as you hoped.
  • Up to one month before: Planning to feature your smiling faces on the wedding program, the favors, or plastered on the hot air balloon in which you’ll be leaving the reception? Schedule pictures in plenty of time to see proofs, select your favorites, and get everything you need printed up.

Who Calls the Shots?

Many photographers include an engagement photo session as part of the overall package, which presents a good opportunity to see your photographer in action. It also gives him the chance to experiment with flattering angles, poses, and lighting levels before the wedding day. If you haven’t booked your nuptial shutterbug yet, look at engagement photos as a chance to audition your top choice.

Take Aim

Before you call a single photographer, have a heart-to-heart with your sweetie about what kinds of engagement photos you’d like — posed or candid, formal or casual. Again, let your decisions be guided by how you plan to use the pics: Will they be hanging on grandma’s wall, reproduced in black-and-white newsprint, or shrunk down to the size of a quarter for personalized favor stickers? Advance planning will help you make the most of your pictures. Some photo-friendly options to consider for your engagement shoot:

  • Bring it outside: There’s no need to spend a day cooped up in a photographer’s studio if you don’t want to. Visit to a nearby arboretum or botanical garden, or hit your favorite downtown landmark. Your photographer may be able to suggest local sites that make great backdrops for pictures too. Talk about locations you like when you make your appointment.
  • Make yourself at home: Your home is your comfort zone, and when you’re comfortable, you look better on camera. Choose a more scenic area like your living room or front stoop — the bedroom may be a little creepy.
  • Around your world in a day: Create a meaningful backdrop for your engagement photos by revisiting nearby sites that are significant to the two of you: the restaurant where you had your first date, the ice cream shop you frequent on Sundays, the bus stop where you shared an umbrella — you get the idea. While the camera’s snapping, retell your best couple stories and relive a few of the moments that brought you together: It’s a blue-ribbon recipe for a series of romantic, fun candids.
  • Get close: You probably don’t need to be persuaded to get close to your fiance, but do plan to get a few affectionate close-up pictures: hug, hold hands, sling your arm around his shoulders. You’re in love, show it off! Besides, if you’re planning to submit a photo to a newspaper with your announcement, many publications specifically request close-up couple shots. The New York Times, for instance, asks that couples position themselves with their heads close together and (no joke), their eyebrows on exactly the same level.

Ready, Dressed, Go

An engagement photo does not require you to shop for matching outfits — you’re getting married, not becoming the Bobbsey Twins. But clashing plaids and flashing bling do not make a pretty picture. Here are some of our basic guidelines for dressing the part:

  • The duds: Whether you’re going formal or casual, solid colors are a must. Try to avoid plaids, florals, patterns, and head-to-toe black or white clothing — and keep the silhouettes streamlined. Some couples coordinate their clothing palettes to the point of looking a bit matchy, but there’s no need to go overboard. If you’re worried about color, pick a neutral and a few coordinating color tones you both like (gray with blue and violet for instance, or brown with pink and blue), and stick to those hues.
  • The details: Keep your jewelry ultrasimple to avoid flashy distractions in your pics. For men, that means leave your watch and your pinky ring on the dresser. Women should stick to unfussy earrings with a simple necklace or bracelet (or one statement piece), and your engagement ring.

Photo Funds

If an engagement session isn’t included in your wedding photo package, hire an a la carte photographer instead. For a basic portrait sitting at a photography studio and a few prints, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars. Hiring a professional for an afternoon’s worth of photo ops will cost several times that much — the final cost will depend on where you live, and the popularity of the photographer. On a budget? If you’re willing, ask a trusted friend who has a quality digital camera and a good eye.

Over the years brides have often asked me what they should look for in a wedding photographer. “What questions should we ask?”, “are albums really important?”, “should I get a videographer?”, etc… These, along with many others, are all very important questions and should be considered when choosing your wedding photographer.

To begin with, don’t be afraid to ask these questions. Most brides are timid and don’t want to offend the photographer with endless questions but remember that you are investing a considerable amount of money in his/her services. Would you buy a house without an inspection or a car without doing a little research? In the same way, don’t be afraid to be inquisitive. Photographers don’t mind answering your questions. In fact, I am often baffled (and flattered) at how few questions my brides ask when they first meet me.

Below are some of the topics/questions I would consider:

Experience Level – Has this person photographed other weddings? Does he/she do this for a living or for fun?

Photographic Style – Are the images that you are shown, what you would like to see? There are “buzz” words flying about everywhere about photojournalism, formal, classic candid, and so on. Do you want a mixture of black and white or only colour photos?

Truth in Advertising – Is this the photographer that will be photographing your wedding or will they send in whomever is available. Don’t be shocked, this happens more often than you can imagine. Be certain that you know which photographer is going to be there and that you see HIS/HER work and meet with that individually face to face.

Personality – Is the photographer that you meet someone that you can get along with? Is the “chemistry” there?

Appearance – Ask the photographer how he/she intends to dress. Is this person well groomed?

Price Range – Although, the last thing you want to do is shop by price, is this person within your budget? If not, is he or she worth the price difference? Make sure you understand what everything costs, including reprints and albums.

Delivery – How long does it take to get your proofs back, thank you cards, your finished album, your bridal portrait, etc.?

Offering – Whether it’s a la carte or a package, do you understand what you are getting? Is there any room for changes and will it cost to do so? Sometimes the packages are fixed, sometimes they can be customized, in any case, ask. How much time will he/she spend? What if you need more time? Make sure that you know what’s coming.

Contract – Do you understand the contract. Is it fair? Is everything spelled out? When it comes down going to court, only what is WRITTEN really counts, not what was promised. Make sure that you have no doubts before signing. Read it ALL.

What about deposits and payments? What does it say about cancellations and the photographer not being there? If the photographer protests, ask him why? This is one area NOT to take lightly. You could be disappointed for a long time.

References – A personal reference is always the best and people love to talk. Get a list of references from the photographer and check them out personally. A photographer who doesn’t have references or is afraid to give them to you may not be the person that you need to hire.

Other Questions: (some questions may be repeated from the list above)

* Have you shot a wedding at my location before?
* Do you have an assistant?
* Do you have backup equipment and is it the same quality as the primary      equipment?
* What time will you begin and how long will you stay until?
* When will the proofs be ready?
* Do we get to keep the proofs?
* Do you mark your proofs?
* Where and how are your proofs marked?
* How much extra for unmarked proofs?
* Do we get to keep our negatives?
* How long do you keep the negatives and will you sell them to us?
* Do you use high speed film to expose natural light?
* Do you have tele-photo and wide-angle lenses?
* Do you work well with the other vendors? i.e.: coordinators, caterers, videographers.
* Can you work from a photo checklist that we create?
* How will you be dressed?
* Do you process and develop your own film and prints?

Last night I had such a blast filming Tim and Cindy. I met Cindy shortly after I moved here to Louisville and she has been such a joy to know since. Last night we started at the Reservoir on Frankfort Ave and continued walking down Frankfort to to find some other interesting places. As you can see, both Cindy and Tim have great smiles and made for a GREAT pictures!

Guys, thank you so much for being so laid back! Enjoy!