CLAIRE / HOLDEN BEACH, NC

Watching this girl grow before my very eyes is the craziest thing I have ever experienced. In the past three months her little wobble has turned into a confident walk, she has full on conversations with us even though we have no idea what she is saying, and seeing her enjoy Holden Beach the way our family has for so many year was absolutley everything. 

One morning, we decided to hop up early and capture Lindsey and Andy and baby Claire to document her 15 months of life. Now, if you came here for smiling faces pointing towards the camera, you came to the wrong blog. Being 15 months old means exploring, being tossed up in the air by your dad, and picking up every shell you can possibly find while waving to seagulls that fly overhead. So that is exactly what we did. It's the only way I enjoy capturing youngsters. You can't force them to be something they are not, and that is beautiful. Lindsey and Andy are also crushing it as parents, so we definitely need to give credit where it is deserved. All in all, Aunt Chelsea loves her little girl, and I am so happy to capture every growing moment I can. 

KATIE & CHRISTIAN / BLACK BALSAM KNOB, NC

This shoot was everything to me. This is what I love to do, these are the type of people I love to capture, this location is where I feel the most free, it took everything in me for my heart to not fully burst. Something you might not know about me is that I have tried really hard to invest in my business through education. The joys of being a creative is that you can always evolve, get better, learn more, improve on your craft, and hone in on what you love. There is no part of me that believes I can do it all on my own. If I did, then this would be a very lonely creative journey.

This year I decided to invest in myself, and took some time to go to Asheville to meet with the amazing Megan of MorningWild Photography where she would mentor me for day. We talked about everything. Seriously my brain was so overloaded that it took about a week to process everything. And on top of that, we planned a session, tailored to me, so I could capture my ideal client. I got to observe Megan at work, but also got to jump in and capture these two lovebirds. Katie and Christian were the best people I could have ever asked to be our subjects for the evening. They were a real engaged couple, both artists (Katie is a photographer, and Christian focused on video production) who were planning on eloping in these very mountain in October. It was so much fun to ask question, learn more about them, and see what made them fall madly in love. Their chemistry was effortless, and also when Katie told me she packed overalls as her second outfit I knew this was the perfect couple for me, my business, and my nerdy heart.

Thanks again to Megan for taking such time to deep dive into my business. I hope to continue to build on all the things she taught me, and looking forward to the many more mountain filled adventures to come.

DANA & KEVIN / CRAGGY GARDENS, NC

This my friends is a super special session. Dana has been my best friend since 6th grade. We met, and our awkwardness just complimented each others, and we have been friends — no probably more like sisters — ever since. I have lived a lot of life with the wonderful human, and she means a whole lot to me, so when Kevin came in the picture I was cautious. So when I hung out with Kevin for the first time, I knew things were different. He jumped into our lives and fit right in and not to be too blunt again, but it took no time at all for us to fall in love with him as well. My best friend had found a guy who treated her well, complimented her personality, and was helping her grow to be the best Dana she could be, do you know how happy that made me?!?!? That is literally all you want for your best friends, and Dana & Kevin were the best match.

So fast forward some time, and when Kevin told Andrew and I he wanted to propose to Dana, we were so pumped. We helped Kevin put his plan into action, stood with a card and champagne on their porch when they got back home from the big event. I couldn’t stop yelling, “YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!”. I think the most humbling thing is getting to be so involved in this whole process. Having Dana ask me to take their engagement pictures meant everything to me. We traveled up to the mountains over a weekend, and played in the crazy fog that fell over Craggy Gardens. I have never seen my best friend so happy, and to capture a touch of that happiness is all I want as a photographer and most importantly a friend.

Now, I am patiently waiting their wedding day, and know I am going to ugly cry and make them super uncomfortable. It will be great. A day to truly cherish for years to come. Enjoy the post, because this one has a lot of my heart in it.

SUMMER ADVENTURE / ALASKA

This trip was the coolest thing I have done in a while. This past summer, Andrew and I went on an Alaskan cruise with his family. I have never been on a cruise before, and neither had Andrew, so I felt like we had no idea what to expect. Andrew’s parents planned this trip about a year before it took place, so to be completely honest, it snuck up on us. We had no expectations, so we packed our bags, hopped on a plane, and landed in Vancouver to start the journey.

Now, as a photographer ( this is embarrassing to admit ) but I am not the best at taking pictures of my life. When I go to an event, on vacation, or just hanging around the house, my camera isn’t usually attached to my hip. But this trip I was determined to take my big girl camera and capture the beauty that Alaska had to offer. Also, we were out at sea for a couple days at a time, so being the nerd I am, I challenged myself to try a couple settings on my camera I wasn’t super familiar with — I actually learn something new, so that was a bonus.

Below are a couple highlights of my AMAZING, AWESOME, INCREDIBLE trip to Alaska. You guys…who knew Alaska was so freakin stunning. To say it took me by surprise is an understatement. Everywhere you turn - there were mountains for days, glaciers are a normal thing, and salmon are everywhere. Again, this isn’t everything from my trip since I tried to enjoy my vacation, but hopefully its enough to convince you to hire me when you want to get married in Alaska…mmmkay. Enjoy!


Just for some cruise background, we started in Vancouver, and were in port in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, saw Glacier Bay completely by boat, before landing in Seward and taking a train to Anchorage. The cruise was super fun and an awesome experience, but I am not 100% sure I am going to become a cruise traveler ( Introverts unite! ). I do think it is a pretty sweet way to see Alaska though because most of these places you couldn’t get to by car, so just waking up and being in a different port was very convenient. We traveled with Holland America, on the Noordam ship in case you want to look into a vacation of your own.


DAY AT SEA / DAY 2

JUNEAU, ALASKA / DAY 4

SKAGWAY, ALASKA / DAY 5

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK / DAY 6

HANNAH & DAN / DURHAM, NC

10 years together looks good on these two. Currently living in Brooklyn, Hannah & Dan plan on celebrating becoming husband and wife in there hometown, where their relationship started. With some biscuits and sweet tea in their bellies, we woke up early and had the whole West Pointe at the Eno to ourselves, which is a rare sight to see in the summer. We talked, and they caught me up on the past 10 years of being high school sweethearts. When you are in a relationship with someone for that long, you hear some great stories. But I mostly enjoyed seeing how they laughed, talked, and even chose to hold each other close after all this time together. Can’t wait to capture the start to your new adventure in a couple months, Hannah & Dan, it going to be a celebration for the books!

THE CHAMBERLAINS / RALEIGH, NC

Couldn't love this family more. I have watched them grow since Katie & Reid were pregnant with their first. My favorite thing to see in this family is how Reid and Katie play with their children. From the years of sessions together, I rarely have to say a word anymore, I just get to observe, which can only hope to create pure magic.

Katie and Reid's natural instinct to pick up their kids and make them laugh, snuggle them, and just genuinely play with them around seven in the morning is something to witness. It isn't perfect, but it isn't suppose to be. We sometimes have two kids running off in two different directions. But that chase to get them back sometimes naturally develops the perfect amount of laughter and cuddles to capture beautiful moments exactly like the ones below. It captures the essence of what this family is all about, and that is all anyone should ever hope for. 

CHAD & KIMBERLY / RALEIGH, NC

When you have a couple who easily lets down their walls, and shows you the essence of their relationship, you are in photography heaven. It’s my job to help people to find that comfort in front of the camera, but these two cuddled our session away, and my heart melted. He was her protector, she was his encourager, and it was evident Kimberly and Chad fit together effortlessly. This wedding will be one where tears will be shed for sure, by them or me, has yet to be determined but I know the countdown until their September wedding has started and the happy day will be here before you know it.

ADVICE FROM A GROOM / ANDREW

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Hello there everyone, let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Andrew and my beautiful wife Chelsea is really the reason why you are all here. I am a teacher, a proud dog parent, an avid reader, a novice movie critic, a video game player, and overall huge nerd. Chelsea asked me to write a blog post about the wedding planning process from my perspective. At first I thought she was crazy because I still feel like I know nothing about wedding planning. But she assured me that many people are like me, unaware of the majority of wedding traditions and protocols, and might enjoy my viewpoint. Chelsea is in the industry and has been steeped in Southern wedding culture her entire life, while I was pretty clueless. So here goes…

One of the things that annoyed me the most during the planning process was when people would say things like: “well the wedding day is all about the Bride” or “now that you’ve gotten her to say yes, you don’t have to do anything else for the wedding” or “just let the Bride do whatever she wants, it’s more important for her”. All of these types of comments really got under my skin because a) it should be about both of us and b) I want my opinions to be listened to and valued. The big problem is that.I have no idea how colors work. Like no idea what colors match or combine to craft a welcoming “warm” space vs a “cold” space. My big idea for our wedding was to take all of the things I loved, which includes: video games, books, maps, etc. and all of the things Chelsea loved, which includes: pixar, succulents, the color gold and put all of those items in the room. Bam! That would create a space that is both myself and Chelsea and boom we are done. If that statement made you hurt just reading it you understand how Chelsea felt. Chelsea is wonderful at taking the concepts and “feelings” and somehow translating that into a consistent theme, I blame her creative side for that. Both Chelsea and I were approaching this planning process from radically different viewpoints with very different priorities. As you can guess this led to a lot of frustration and quite a few fights. The thing that confused me so much was WHY Chelsea would care so much about *fill in the blank*, or why *fill in the blank* wouldn’t work for our day. It was maddening!

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What eventually helped us make a major breakthrough in our wedding planning process was actually pretty simple. We sat down, and talked about our priorities and took turns explaining why things were important to us. It helped me understand Chelsea’s vision and it gave her the opportunity to explain her rationale for many of the wedding planning choices she was making. It also helped me do the same for my own vision and rationale. This simple act really turned our wedding planning process into a fun thing that I actually looked forward to. Both of us were able to be on the same page and to really understand what aspects of the day really mattered to each of us. Chelsea has taken this idea and created a “Priorities Checklist” that she shares with all of her clients and you can find it here

After doing this together we found that there were really 3 things that I cared about for our big day. 1) Food 2) Drinks and 3) lodging for my family and friends. The first two are pretty obvious but the third needs a little bit of explanation. I moved around a lot growing up and my family is pretty spread out. I also went to college up in Massachusetts so many of my friends, including groomsmen, are also spread out. This meant that I wanted a venue that could be both our ceremony and reception area or that the two were in walking distance that way people didn’t have to be so worried about driving around a new location or worry about parking. When it came to selecting a venue Chelsea really only cared that it would allow us to take beautiful photos. Now that we both knew what we valued in a venue it made the selection process easy and was why the Vineyards at Betty’s Creek was such a great fit! This priorities talk also helped me not only care but actually be useful in aspects in the wedding other than my big three. Because even if I didn’t care a lot about the flowers or the plates, not only did I know Chelsea cared I knew WHY she cared. This was so important for me to be able to give good opinions and to fit into the overall vision for the day.

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Figuring out your own priorities as a person and as a couple is so important and surprisingly hard to do because the entire wedding industry is telling you what is “important” to have on your big day. I would advise you to avoid websites like “The Knot”, pinterest, and major wedding magazines when trying to figure out your priorities. Websites like these typically tell you the “10 things every wedding needs” and other such articles that will make you think that certain things are “essential” for your wedding day. Not only do you have the entire wedding industry trying to tell you what you “must” have but you will most likely have family and friends telling you other things you “must” have. Try to block out a lot of this noise until you can sit with your partner and figure out your own priorities first. This made me a better partner because even though I still didn’t know too much about the way weddings are “supposed” to happen I knew how we wanted our day to happen. After that we could safely go to family, friends, and the internet to find ways to make our vision a reality rather than being dictated by outside forces.

I know I’ve been harping on the priorities talk a lot and this isn’t to say that after our one talk everything about wedding planning was easy. There were still plenty of frustrations and teary eyed planning session; but this discussion put us on the same team with the same goals, and a list we could come back to and tweak as needed.

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Well that’s all for my article, hopefully you enjoyed my perspective on things and thanks for being part of the CMP family. My wife pours her heart and soul into this business and is so thankful for all of you who have supported her and let her be part of your stories. Thank you for all you do to make my wife’s passion a reality!

All photos were taking by Emily Chidester Photography at our wedding in September 17, 2016

JEN & JARED / CHARLESTON, SC

By the time this is posted Jen and Jared will already have a little baby girl! Bah! That is exciting and crazy, I cannot believe she is almost a month old. Andrew and I went down to Charleston for this mini adventure, and had the joy of capture these two right before little Eleanor arrived. Fun facts about Charleston: I've never been there when it's cold, so that was a new, frigid experience for me and I feel slightly guilty about how much I love Spanish moss especially since it's really bad for trees. But anyways, I would go back in a heartbeat. It's the most magical place ever to take photos even when everything is dreary and gray. We explored an old Naval neighborhood together that the city was converting into a park, but we had it pretty much to ourselves. Andrew and I got to ask these two some good questions as they prepared their hearts and their minds for their new baby girl which made for the best photos of them laughing together. I'm so excited for Jen & Jared and their new family member that is about to take them on a wonderful adventure. Little Eleanor you are so very loved, I hope you know that to the fullest extent.

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