Behind the Lens: Kristin Chalmers Photography
Welcome to another Behind the Lens post where I interview a talented wedding photographer whom I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with. Every photographer has their own distinct style so the purpose of this series is to help you choose a photographer whose style best represents you. Thus I want you to meet them not as “vendors” but as potential friends who just so happen to have the skills to creatively chronicle your special day in pictures.
Meet Photographer Kristin Chalmers
I’ve been in awe of Kristin’s work ever since she sent me Gloria & Renny’s Double Joy Downtown Boston Wedding early this year. From that wedding alone I saw a photographer who really knows how to bring out and genuinely capture the funky & crazy side of everyone! Her tagline is “edgy photos for edgy folks” and she totally delivers. Just take a look at the spectacular photos showcased below (and all our previously featured work by her) and you’ll see what I mean. It’s no surprise really because Kristin has once been a dancer, a rapper (her name was MC Sweet ‘n Lo and she once opened for Moby!), and even a cover girl for High Times, plus before she professionally photographed weddings she shot musicians, artists and children. With such diverse photo subjects and not to mention a colorful history, it’s obvious that working with a variety of people comes naturally to her. (If you follow her on Facebook, once in a while you’ll get treated to old photos from her interesting life, like this pic of herself as a young dancer!)
Apart from shooting weddings, she does fine art portraiture of people with autism as an advocacy and is currently working on a book with the Camphill Special Schools in Phoenixville PA, which will be out by next year.
I’m honored that this talented and very busy lady has set aside some time to answer a few questions for us so without further ado, here’s the lovely Kristin!
* All photos on this page are copyright Kristin Chalmers Photography *
Hello Kristin! Please tell us more about yourself and your wedding photography business.
I have always loved taking photos and probably got my start with a dinky point and shoot camera in my early 20s. But when I put myself through Emerson College, (I was a film major) I took my first photography class and learned about the darkroom and how to process and print film. I had a crappy Minolta 35mm that I took with me to Europe, while studying there and I photographed a HUGE protest in the streets of Rome. I ran with all these really pissed off ironworkers and I knew that I was in the wrong major at a school. I am 44 years old now and I have been professionally shooting for about 12 years now. I think doing anything professionally means you actually get paid for it.
I graduated at 30 years old with a BS in film and moved to LA with my boyfriend, who is now my husband of 12 years. I produced TV for about 8 years while I was out there but when I was out of work; I rented TONS of gear from the film rental houses and taught myself a lot about photography. I shot everything and anything. I learned how to print color and started shooting a lot of music people,
especially rappers and techno artists and producers, stills on set and lots of really beautiful scantily clad women. After I had my son, I left the work of TV production behind and began to photograph families and food. (My husband is a chef, so shooting food comes naturally.)
We returned to Boston about 6 years ago and I started working from my home primarily shooting kids and families. It was fun, but the work was 1. Not steady and 2. Not really bringing in any money. I was fine with that for a while, but about 2 years ago, my husband was turning 40 and I wanted to do something really BIG for him. He had been working his tail so I could stay home with both our boys (one who has autism) and I really wanted him to know how much I appreciated it. Maybe a trip? Something fun. But photographing families wasn’t going to pay for that. So after countless requests to shoot weddings I jumped in headfirst and said, “what the hell, let me give it a go”, I NEVER imagined I would be good at it or love it as much as I do. Every time I shoot a wedding, it reminds me how much I loved my wedding day let alone how much I love my husband. I relive it every wedding. I swear.
When I first jumped into weddings the best advice I ever received was to make sure that I only put images on my website/blog that reflected the kinds of clients I wanted to work with. It was slow to start but that has theory has paid off in a big way. I get clients most of my friends dream of. I live in New England (the fresh for each one. People save their hard earned money to have me with them, and I don’t want them to ever feel like they are getting the short end of the stick because I want to cram in as many as I can.
I still photograph families but now they have to play by my rules. No matching clothes, less posing and more capturing. I also shoot food because it’s fun, doesn’t talk back and I can eat my face off at the end. These jobs allow me to do what I was born to do, which is offer, my services to families who have been touched by autism for sliding scale. So I do fine art portraiture of people with autism when I have time. I am working on a book with the Camphill Special Schools in Phoenixville PA, which will be released late next year. It’s the most important work I have ever done.
My slogan is “edgy photos for edgy folks” and I think that sums it up.
The quirkiest wedding you’ve photographed?
They are all quirky in different ways. I haven’t shot one that’s over the top one yet, but I think that is coming this month. I have been hired for an entire weekend at the end of this month. This couple is fantatsic! They will try anything and are open to my ideas. I am shooting a huge bonfire for the rehearsal dinner, then the wedding the next day, and last but not least; I’m shooting them the morning after in their honeymoon suite. Yes, in bed. I always tell the couple, “listen, I’ll shoot anything but sex” They look at me like I’m nuts but it really loosens them up right away.
I also booked a wedding for this February in Brooklyn, which I’m looking forward to. The bride is a very successful burlesque dancer (yes, with fans and feathers) and her fiancé is a really amazing trumpet player. That wedding should be really wild too!
The most unusual or unexpected location you’ve shot a wedding at?
None yet. Remember, Boston is pretty traditional. I’m waiting for something fun and nuts. I know that couple will find me soon.
A wedding photography fad you will never follow?
I try to avoid the dreaded gazebo shot and the “dipping your bride” shot.
Can you tell us what your wedding was like?
We got married in Los Angeles. We paid for the whole thing pretty much by ourselves. We got a little help from family but not enough to compare to what my friends got from their families. At first there was a lot of pressure to get married back in Philly but it was just too much for us. It nearly broke us up at one point. We took a deep breath and then took control of the reigns. I put on my producers hat and really took over. My husband was working for these amazing women who owned Lucques Restaurant in West Hollywood. Suzanne and Caroline, along with the staff, were our family out there. So asked them if we could have our reception there. They were amazing and worked with our budget 100%! The staff donated their time as a wedding gift. Rob (my hubby) planned the menu with Suzanne and Caroline worked her magic to get purveyors to donate food and wine. Farmers gave gives of cheese, veggies just about everything. One farmer that Rob was close with donated a suckling pig! Our ceremony was held at Franklin Canyon’s Sookie Goldman Outdoor Theater, in Beverly Hills. Sounds fancy but it was not at all. Very rustic and only cost us about $150 for a three hour rental. There was tons of dancing provided by my friend Crystal. My best friend Dari, who is an amazing artist, did my invitations as a gift too. But you wanna hear the sad part about the whole day? We didn’t have enough money for a wedding photographer! I had a few friends who were shooters snap away and then hand me the film and I proceeded to head to the darkroom to print everything. I have yet to put a full album together. One friend, who is now a pretty successful photographer made us a beautiful 5×7 album, which I treasure very much.
Lovely shots of Kristin and her husband Rob (above) and her son Jake (below)
Barring budget, logic or reality, what would your dream wedding (to shoot) be like?
God I have a bunch but here are the ones that come to mind first.
1. A food truck wedding. Find a huge abandoned parking lot, with a warehouse that we can take over. Get like 5 or 6 food trucks to come and make a HUGE circle around the lot and that’s where the reception takes place, in the center of the food truck brigade. It would have long community dining tables and the bride and groom would sit on either end. The music would be over the top with a really good DJ. There are so many crappy wedding DJ’s out there and I believe it’s the DJ that can make or break a wedding. A DJ that can beat mix! One that doesn’t talk much at all.
2. A wedding in a far off land. I’m part of the Fearless Photographers and I get so inspired by my fellow fearless photographers that live in Europe or other awesome countries. One of my favorite photographers of the moment is a woman named Jacki Bruniquel. She lives in South Africa and has the most amazing locations and subjects. I also lived in Amsterdam on and off for a few years and I would love to shoot a wedding there.
3. A same sex wedding on the steps of The Capitol in Washington DC. I’m a HUGE advocate for marriage equality! That’s one big thing I love about living in Massachusetts.
A book, movie or tv show you’d love to base a styled shoot on?
I had a potential client who was a CSI for a living. I thought it might be fun to do their e-shoot as a crime scene. Something at dusk with a cop car and make the groom the cop or even the victim. They loved the idea but didn’t book me. I think my up front personality scared them a little. I’m not for everyone and I know that. That idea is in no way dead, so to speak. I would love to do that with someone else.
Which celebrity or fictional couple’s wedding do you think would be a blast to photograph if you could?
Megan and Don Draper. (I’m a HUGE Mad Men fan)
Pink and Corey. I think that would have been fun.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. I love her style.
Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka
Rosie O’Donnell and her partner Michelle Rounds
Quick, name 5 favorite songs off the top of your head!
Oy, pressure. Ok, let me do a shuffle on my iTunes. That’s better because I love so much music it’s mind-boggling!
Zero 7 – Somersault
Jay Z- Roc Boys
Air – Playground Love
Pearl Jam – Love Reign o’er me (Who remake)
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
If you weren’t a photographer now, what would you be?
I hope you all enjoyed meeting the gorgeous and funny Kristin! The beautiful images on this page are just a taste of what she can offer!
If you want more info on this talented photographer, please visit the following pages:
Website: Kristin Chalmers Photography
* See all our previously featured weddings & shoots by Kristin Chalmers Photography
* Meet other featured photographers in our Behind the Lens interview series
* While you’re at it, do check out the site map to browse our real wedding/engagement/styled shoot features by photographer and by location.