Luster Studios Wedding Photography
Craig is FANTASTIC! I didn't even interview other photographers, we just met with him and signed that day! I knew the feel I wanted my photos to have and I actually stumbled on Craig's website by accident with looking for pictures of our venue, The Stockroom. I was blown away! Craig pays attention to every detail! He's moving to Boston, but don't let that stop you from booking him! You will not be sorry!
Photography is not something you want to skimp on for your wedding day. Craig is AWESOME! He's creative, thoughtful, and gets to know his couples. You get beyond what you pay for, for sure!
Craig Carpenter is worth every penny! He is the most amazing photographer EVER! He goes out of his way to make you feel comfortable and to ensure that you have the best photos to last you forever! Great guy to work with!
Although no one knew it but me, I had chosen Craig as our photographer the moment we booked Barclay Villa as our venue. In my quest to find out as much as possible about our venue, I found that the most amazing pictures of Barclay were from Luster Studios. As I stalked Craig's work for many hours I decided that I had to have him as our photographer. His pictures were so different (in the most positive and creative way) than any other photographer I had looked at. Everyone else just seemed boring! Thankfully Craig was just as amazing to work with as his pictures! If I had any concerns, he quickly put them at ease. The rest is history and I'm so happy we got to have him for both our engagement pictures and the wedding!
As fate would have it, the day of the wedding was, of course, pouring down rain. Even though I was inwardly miffed that this was happening on "my" day, it really was a blessing in disguise, and Craig knew it! Thank God that he has the talent to know how to work with all the amazing light that the evening's weather brought as he captured some incredible photographs from it. There was one picture that Craig showed my husband and I on his camera, indicating that that picture would be "IT." And it was! The morning after the wedding I got a notification that Luster Studios had tagged a picture of me on Facebook and I can't tell you how quickly I logged in to look at that photograph! People we don't even know were just raving about it. I think I will be devastated the day Craig takes that picture off of his Facebook banner. :)
I've NEVER ever had pictures of myself that I'm absolutely in love with like I am with our engagement and wedding pictures - and it's great to flaunt them all around our house. Friends and family that couldn't attend the wedding (but have seen our photos) always say that the wedding looked stunning and like a fairy tale, but I ALWAYS tell them, "It was a great day, but really, I had a fantastic photographer!"
One last thing that I wanted to mention, is that I'm not the type of person that would consider spending a lot of money on any one thing - especially for one day. What I thought professional wedding photos would cost was definitely different than what it turned out to be, but I would honestly do it again without hesitation. These photos and my dirty dress are all I have left of the day, and they bring my family joy every time we walk by them! I guess what I'm trying to say is that if there is any one area where you should splurge during your wedding, make it your photographer, trust me! I intend to recommend Craig of Luster Studios to every person I come across looking for a wedding photographer, because I know he'll deliver beyond their expectations.
We initially got to know Craig at Luster Studios through two of our friends that had hired him a year before our wedding. I had helped out at their couples session and was amazed at how smoothly everything went. While directing them, he still kept everything casual and fun. I realized how important this would be for Mike and I since we don't like posing for stiff looking pictures.
With most photographers, their subjects often look confused and the moments look 'fake' to us. Craig's style was nothing like this and we were totally hooked after we saw our friend's final photos! They looked spontaneous yet authentic and the lighting was just stunning due to his ability to choose the best spots.
During the planning process (between their wedding and ours) we had stumbled onto many photographers, but every time we went back to the Luster Studios website we would fall in love Craig's work all over again! They were exactly what we wanted for our special day - real people but the best side of them! He was great at capturing short moments and details that we didn't remember, and ultimately surprised us with his creativity and unique ideas.
It's hard to find someone that is both creative AND professional, but working with Craig was worry free from start to finish! He was passionate, polite and genuine in learning about us and our wedding plans and even took the time to get to know the personality, styles and stories of our family and guests. With the great connections he has with quality venues and vendors and all the special attention he gave us, we honestly felt like our wedding was the ONLY ONE he was working on.
On top of all of this, we were thrilled when he posted preview photos the day after the wedding. Despite how busy he is, Craig understood how excited we were to get our pictures and worked very hard to deliver them to us quickly. All of our friends and family members ABSOLUTELY loved the photos! EVEN people that normally hate being photographed loved ours because they look so natural. One thing I want to point out is that when I say “natural” I don't mean boring. He captures all different styles from “sweet” to “crazy” but still somehow conveys the emotions and personalities of the people without adding anything artificial.
We've had SO much fun reliving our wedding day over and over again through Craig's artistic talents and we absolutely love every single photograph! One of our favorite photos was a result of something that he had never tried before. He placed us between two giant mirrors and positioned himself in a way that caused our reflection to trail off into infinity. The contrast and the layers in the photo are breathtaking and unique to us! We love the idea that no one else will ever have a photo like this. It's true art!
Now that I've shared in this experience, my best advice to couples with a smaller budget is to consider scaling back on the wedding a bit, save some money and hire the best photographer you can. This is what we did and are VERY happy with our decision! Trust us when we say that Craig won't let you down and you'll feel special every time you look at your album of photographs.
Our deepest appreciation,
Shanshan and Mike
One of the most important aspects of wedding planning for us was our wedding photographer. We knew the wedding day would be a whirlwind, and we wanted someone to capture the moments, both big and small, that made the day so special. Since we were planning from several states away, we did a lot of online searching and came across many good websites with very similar photographs. Then late one evening we literally stumbled upon Luster Studio’s website.
Ben, who had few opinions on most of the websites we had already seen, perked up as we looked through Luster Studio’s site. After looking through it for several minutes, he commented that the photographs on this website really came alive and almost seemed three dimensional. What a perfect description. Craig’s photographs don’t just portray the bride and groom in the traditional sense of wedding photographs; he captures emotions in each photograph that are phenomenal and truly tell the story of the day – from the nervous excitement to the solemn power of the vows to the ultimate joy of finally being husband and wife!
We are so thankful that we chose Craig to be part of our wedding day. He is an absolute joy to work with through all stages of the wedding process. He has a wonderful balance of listening to what you want while also interjecting his own opinions and creativity. And we’ve never seen anyone work harder on the wedding day! Craig never stopped. He made sure to get all of the “must have” photographs that we requested plus hundreds and hundreds of others that we could only have imagined.
Craig’s final product is breath taking. Our photographs are absolute treasures that we will forever cherish. They take us back to each moment and allow us to relive it over and over again, which is such a wonderful gift. He captured intimate looks, laughter and pure joy from not only us but our family and friends. In all honesty, Craig out did himself and far exceeded any of our initial desires and expectations!
Thank you so much, Craig!
Ben and Katie Hill
When I began planning our wedding, photography was a top priority. I knew how fast the wedding day would fly by and I wanted beautiful pictures to tell the story of the day. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect photographer than Craig Carpenter!
I did a lot of research, calling almost every photographer on my venue’s preferred vendor list. I loved Craig’s work, but talking to him made me even more confident about my choice. He seemed to really get my vision for our wedding day, especially the fact that I wanted a mix of formal photos as well as some candid, photojournalistic shots. Craig was readily available at all times via phone and e-mail. I was planning our wedding at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC, but I live in Washington DC. The fact that he was always available, even though I wasn’t in NC, was a huge help! Since Craig has such a great reputation, he knew my venue very well and he also knew my wedding planner. The fact that everyone had worked with each other before made things even easier!
Our wedding was April 16, 2011, which was the same day tornados came through the Raleigh/Durham area. I had been watching the weather VERY closely, hoping that it wouldn’t rain. The ceremony was supposed to be outside and I really wanted some outdoor pictures. After working with Craig for my bridal portraits, I had a lot of confidence in his abilities and he certainly delivered on our wedding day! He brought umbrellas, cute signs, and rain boots to use as props for the photos. There is one picture where I am looking out the window with all my bridesmaids. The bridesmaids are holding signs that say “Rain Rain go away!” It was such a cute picture!! Craig made sure to take advantage of every brief period of sunshine and we took lots of pictures outside. We even jumped in his car and went to the Old Well to take a few pictures. I had really wanted pictures in front of the Old Well and due to the rain I wasn’t sure it would happen. Craig made it work and put me totally at ease!!
We have gotten countless compliments from all of our friends and family about Craig’s professionalism and the quality of his photography. He really knew how to make us all feel comfortable, which I think is key to getting good photographs. He worked so hard the day of our wedding to catch every little moment. It seems like every time we look at our pictures we notice a new detail that we didn’t see before. Everyone was so surprised that we got so many outdoor, sunny pictures, despite the weather.
There are so many beautiful pictures it is hard to choose a favorite. I loved a picture of my husband and I during the ceremony. You could see both of our expressions and his sister was in the background. I also loved the pictures of my dad and I dancing. There were also a few pictures of my husband and I after the ceremony that really captured the happiness and love we were feeling at the moment. The emotion on all of our faces made the pictures priceless. Craig truly is a master at capturing emotion and telling the story of a wedding day! We are so glad to have found such an amazing photographer and I would highly recommend him to anyone!
I had the unique experience of learning about Luster Studios even before I was engaged. From the first time I viewed Craig's photography, I was hooked! Once my boyfriend became my fiancé, I showed him and we both became “stalkers” of his website. We were engaged for over 2 years before we tied the knot so we had plenty of time to make sure we liked Craig’s style before booking him. Every time new photos were added, we found ourselves dropping everything to view them. We continued this behavior after we chose Craig as our photographer – for more than a year, and viewed his spectacular work in anticipation of when it would be our turn!
With Craig, it became quite evident that he was not your average photographer. His ability to capture both traditional “posed” formals as well as unique candid shots (which we both preferred) is unmatched. More than that, though, we could tell that he really enjoys learning each couple’s story and catching their personalities (both individually and as a couple) in his engagement/wedding photography. He truly is a "Wedding Photo Renaissance Man" for many reasons.
In an effort to keep this review to a reasonable length I'll focus mainly on the wedding but did want to share that we also booked Craig for our engagement session and rehearsal dinner. If you get a chance to see our engagement photos, they will speak for themselves as to their quality and creativity. We displayed many of the photos in a slideshow during our wedding weekend and overheard many "oohs" and "ahhs!" At the rehearsal dinner Craig's attention to detail also exceeded our expectations. For instance, I had given my bridesmaids and two mothers brooches to wear on the day of the wedding. To my surprise, he had taken detailed photos of each brooch either with someone holding/wearing them or artfully arranged and lit by candles.
On the day of the wedding, Craig was prompt and professionally dressed – what you should expect. We learned first hand that his mind's eye is turned on from the moment he arrives. He had already scoped out the best backdrops, and you could almost see the ideas swirling around in his head. As I had my one moment of stress before the ceremony, he gave me a little pep talk to lighten the mood. That effort was appreciated.
Throughout the wedding day, his role changed as needed. We sometimes wondered how he would be able to capture all the special moments we desired, but he somehow seemed to always be there when we needed him. While taking formal or group shots, he is part photographer/part comedian as he lightens the mood and gets the best reaction out of everyone. During the ceremony and reception he becomes what my sister referred to as a “photography ninja.” We were amazed at the moments he caught because we didn’t even realize he was in front of us most of the time. We’ve attended weddings where the photographer’s presence was definitely known – to the point of being annoying. So, this skill is a definite bonus for Craig.
When all was said and done we were blown away by the range of shots that he provided and WE LOVE all of our photographs! Everyone keeps telling us how beautiful/handsome we looked. There are many stand-out photos that simply take your breath away… or make you laugh… or tear up. Those are above and beyond our expectations and are beautiful and special in their own way. The mix of photos is interesting as well. While we prefer the photojournalistic style of photos, we also have several posed, kind of traditional group shots. Those are important to our family. So, everyone was pleased.
Craig even caught several photos of my husband smiling. He doesn’t like to “fake” smile for photos, so the fact that Craig caught his real smile – twinkle in eyes, dimples showing – made me VERY happy and I feel that this was a direct result of Craig's warm and outgoing personality. He also made me feel like a celebrity. I look beautiful in the photos, and well… I feel like I look like a movie star. There is one shot where my long veil is blowing in the wind. It is just stunning. I also really love two close-ups – one of my mother’s reading glasses atop her “toast note cards” on the tabletop and another of my sister’s maid of honor toast shot over her shoulder as she read it. He even accommodated a couple of last-minute requests from my mom for family group shots after the reception. He really puts in that extra effort to make sure that the client has all of the shots they want before he leaves.
One final thing that we really appreciated was when Craig posted “teaser” photos for everyone to view while we were on our honeymoon. Luckily, we had Internet access and I looked at them at least once a day for two weeks. My mother admitted to doing the same thing. And, each time we received an alert that additional photos had been posted, we became so excited to view them! With so many excellent shots, we simply couldn't decide which one's were our favorites.
As most couples probably do, we did want to mention that we had considered a few other less expensive photographers, but honestly, looking back Craig's raw creativity, true expertise, his ability to capture moments and the attention to detail, it was well worth the investment! We felt that he captured the true essence of our wedding day, which was important to us. Many of our friends enjoyed his photographic style so much that a couple are hoping to book Craig in the future. We cannot stress enough just how pleased we are with everything.
Years from now, we will look back on our photos and remember the day perfectly. We’ll laugh at my grandfather’s approach to our dance together. We’ll laugh again at the best man’s toast. We’ll smile at the fact that my mom and sister made it through their toasts without crying – though we can tell their eyes were misty in the photos. I could go on and on because I really fell as if we have every moment documented in a beautiful and creative way.
We can't thank you enough!
Lia and Steve
As we planned our wedding, we knew that choosing our photographer was going to be the most important decision we would make. We realized that the cake would be eaten and the dress would be worn, but that the memories captured through our wedding photos would last a lifetime. We searched for many months trying to find someone that was unique and creative. The instant we came across Luster Studios (and Craig’s blog) we knew he was the perfect fit for us. Every single moment he captured was filled with such emotion, truth, and warmth. We booked him immediately and enjoyed his website so much, that we frequently visited it for new photos and inspiration.
We had several meetings with Craig before the wedding where he really took the time to get to know us as a couple. He found out that my husband is a graphic designer and on the day of the wedding he surprised us with amazing custom-made (and framed!) graphic elements that were used as part of our group shots. We were blown away at the time he spent creating these to help make our wedding pictures truly unique to us as a couple.
Despite the chaos and stress that surrounds a large wedding such as ours; Craig was our stress fighting, superhero! He was so patient with our gigantic, crazy bridal party and he made sure that we had all of the shots we wanted. As odd as it may sound, everyone was impressed with his chameleon abilities – he was able to move in and out of different moments completely undetected to get truly natural shots. He even ended up staying for an extra hour just to capture the perfect send-off images.
We were also pleasantly surprised when only a few days into our honeymoon we saw the “sneak peek” photos that Craig had posted. We were so happy to see pictures so quickly! When we got all of the images back we spent hours going through them, over and over again, just laughing and crying and laughing some more. He does such an amazing job of capturing the emotion of the day and it's so much fun to relive those fleeting moments of love, happiness and joy.
We can’t thank Craig enough for all that he did for us! We had a blast working with him and hope to work with him again in the future!
Jennilee and Mike Richardson
I've always loved taking (and being in) pictures so it was extremely important to me to find a superb wedding photographer. My wedding was in Chapel Hill at The Governors Club, but I'm from Ohio so I spent many hours scouring the internet and was especially concerned about finding the perfect match. When I visited Luster Studios and saw Craig's work I knew at that moment that I wanted him to photograph our special day. Each and every wedding that he had documented had its own unique style and told a new and different story. I absolutely loved the way he captured so many important moments throughout the day. Some of the other photographer’s blogs I had viewed had the same "stock photos and poses" over and over, but Craig's work was always unique and creative.
On the day of our wedding he lived up to my great expectations. I had mentioned that I might need some direction and was pleased with how quickly Craig helped us adjust our poses, especially during the formal and family portraits. This was very helpful on such a stressful day! The one memory that will always stick out for me though was how personal he made our day. When he discovered that I was a huge Ohio State fan, he brought a buckeye necklace and two buckeye jerseys for some of our portraits. He took endless photos of O-H-I-O and even took pictures of our rings with the buckeyes around them! The best photo of all though was the one where he used the buckeye jerseys to create our wedding date 10-2. I don’t think any other photographer would have added that special touch!
I was especially impressed after our wedding was over when he posted some "teaser" photos in less than a week. A lot of my friends have been married and none have received pictures that quickly. I could see how busy he was that October but he still somehow managed to have our complete wedding photos online within a month of our wedding. I am sure his turn around time differs depending on the time of year but I had several friends get married around the same time and none of them received their pictures as fast as we did. We were so anxious to see our photos and it really meant a lot to us that he was able to get them to us so quickly.
I highly recommend Luster Studios for weddings or any photography event. Craig's ability to connect with his clients and create photos unique to each person, is astounding and incredible.
-Megan Miller Virginia Beach, VA
Craig of Luster Studios was the photographer at my best man’s wedding which is where he first caught our attention. Even amidst the chaos that surrounds a typical wedding and the obvious amount of hard work he was doing, he still had an air of casualness about him. When we saw the final photos, and his obvious skill behind the camera, we inquired about his availability for our own wedding.
Kate and I had several requirements for our photographer. First, we wanted to have our engagement session in another city. Secondly, we wanted someone that would be flexible during both the engagement shoot and our wedding day. And finally, we wanted someone that we could trust to capture our wedding with the highest quality that we desired. After talking to Craig and a few other photographers, we chose Craig.
We found him to be totally different than the others in that he truly believes that his photo sessions are a captured experience as opposed to the common notion that photography is simply a product. As such, he personally tailored our session to fit our needs both in terms of location, schedule and quality. We were thrilled when he joined us in Albuquerque New Mexico to capture the most beautiful photos of us throughout the area. Some of our favorites even include the Rio Grande as a backdrop! Needless to say, he won our trust immediately.
During the wedding day, Kate and I saw a side of Craig that we weren't aware of before. He was absolutely relentless. While everyone was caught up in the moment, Craig steadfastly documented the mood, the people, and the overall event. Whenever there was a moment to be captured - be it one of the kids dancing up a storm, Kate and my father-in-law having a moment of utmost tenderness, or even just my friends and I sharing a smile, Craig was there. He was spectacularly alert and aware at all times.
Furthermore, Craig has an eye for beautiful locales and settings that is equally impressive. We had an outdoor wedding, and my wife had her heart set on outdoor wedding pictures. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain most of the day. However, Craig never missed a beat. He braved the elements while keeping us under umbrellas to take pictures in the rain. The resulting photographs are breathtakingly beautiful and are some of our favorites of the day.
Despite his obvious artistry at taking unique photographs, his most impressive quality (in my honest opinion) is the ease at which he handles people and any stress of the wedding day. At one point in the evening Craig saw that my wife was obviously overwhelmed by everything that was going on around her. He politely asked her to step away from the fray for a few minutes so she could catch her breath and take a few personal photos. On another occasion, one of the kids was crying loudly, Craig was first to calm the kid. On yet another occasion, one of the kids was taking pictures and saying she wanted to be a photographer. Craig took a moment to look at the photos she had taken and complimented her skills - something that was noted and talked about for quite a while afterwards. The results were a calmer bride, smiling kids, and many many beautiful photos.
After the wedding, it was clear that I was not the only one who noticed Craig. I was routinely asked “Who was that photographer? His attention to details are amazing,” or “Wow, the photographers went above and beyond to what he was supposed to do, I was very very impressed,” or simply “Can you give me his contact information, I would like to talk to him about my upcoming wedding.” After our wedding photos became available to friends and family, the comments increased, and they became our daily confirmation that we had chosen the best photographer for our wedding.
To this day, I am reminded of Craig’s exceptional talent when my wife says to me: “Craig’s pictures are the only pictures that I absolutely love when someone else taking pictures of me…”
Andy (and Kate)
In every way possible, Craig exceeded our expectations in a photographer! After we became engaged, everyone told us that the most important decision and investment we would make would be in choosing our photographer. We braced ourselves for a lengthy search to find the best in the area, but even though we found Craig's work near the beginning, we stopped searching immediately. After looking through his galleries and meeting with him, we knew that his personality and blend of natural and unique work would be perfect. From that day forward we could not have been happier with our decision!
As we prepared for our engagement session, we loved that Craig placed such an importance on taking the time to get to know us as a couple. We could tell that this helps him uniquely capture every aspect of his couple's relationships. Since David hates posing for traditional pictures, I knew it would be a challenge to get him onboard with all of the photo opportunities that would be happening that year. Because of this, I suggested that we revolve our session around his love of motorcycles. When we shared this idea with Craig, we could tell how excited he was. He took our request, ran with it and planned an elaborate photo shoot. The resulting photos could not have turned out more amazing! Even though the session was inspired by one of David’s hobbies, Craig not only found a way to embody our fun loving spirits and love for each other, but made it look like something straight off of the set of a James Bond film! He made us feel so natural and we ended up having such a great time that the shoot turned into a marathon session full of smiles, laughs and even dinner.
After we experienced working with him first hand, we completely trusted his ability to creatively think on his feet and capture every intimate detail. We decided that for our wedding, we wanted to let Craig naturally capture the essence of the day without too much planning or a set list of standard photos to take. From the beautiful images he captured of my dad driving me to the chapel in his yellow corvette, to the pictures of our entire café themed reception decor, no memorable detail was overlooked!
The wedding day went by so quickly for us that by the end all of the wonderful memories seemed to blur together. However, Craig made sure to send us some photos while we were on our honeymoon. It seems funny to write this, but it was actually one of the highlights of our trip! We were able to relax in our suite and truly reminisce about all of the detailed memories that once felt like a blur.
One of these memories that stuck out is that of the “cookie table.” In Pittsburgh it's tradition for all of the family members to chip in for the wedding by each making different cookies and bringing them to the reception. Because my grandmother was a baker, this tradition was one of the most important in our family and was one that I didn't overlook in memory of her. We placed recipe cards in front of each batch to highlight which family had made the cookie. The cookie table and recipe cards were such a hit that everything was completely gone by the time David and I got to the reception! However, to my surprise Craig had documented the moment so well that we felt like we were there with our guests enjoying the table. My absolute favorite picture was one that he took of the batch of sugar cookies that my aunt had made in honor or my grandmother with the recipe card reading “Granny’s sugar cookies.” I couldn’t believe that Craig had paid so much attention to detail or that he was able to realize how much that picture would mean to me.
In general, we feel deeply lucky to have been able to have Craig document our wedding. His personality, professionalism, and passion for photography are truly out of this world and because of his work, our special day will never be forgotten. To this day when we share the photos with family and friends, there is never a dry eye because every one of the photos is able to bring up all of the amazing memories and emotions of each person all over again. We can not thank him enough for all that he did to make our wedding day so special, and even though we have moved out of North Carolina we will be contacting him in the future to document all of our special occasions!
From an extremely happy bride,
Craig of Luster Studios was a pleasure to work with from start to finish and was extremely professional and responsive in all of our interactions with him. One of the things we liked best about Craig was his ability to strike a good balance between respecting what we wanted and giving us helpful suggestions. He took the time to ask questions so he could completely understand what we were looking for and offered solid suggestions in line with our wishes. We really felt like he "got" us.
On the day of the wedding Craig was barely noticeable while still getting tons of great candid shots. During our formal and family portraits he managed to make the photo session feel natural and relatively painless.
Craig was certainly not the least expensive photographer that we considered, but we both decided that it was an excellent investment. In the end Craig was well worth the cost for the excellent service, professionalism, and high quality photos that he provided. Our wedding photos came out crisp and vibrant and looked very professional, with a good mix of artful and "in the moment" shots.
David and Megan
To all those looking for THE photographer of your dreams… Craig Carpenter is your guy! It’s difficult to even know how to begin to explain just how satisfied we were with the entire experience we had with Craig at Luster Studios. We were recently married at the Biltmore Estate (which we also highly recommend!) and were living in Atlanta at the time. We did find it somewhat challenging to plan our destination wedding from out-of-state, but Craig made the photography component relatively simple.
Now, for those of you reading this, we can't underscore enough the importance of having a ‘nice’ photographer. Sure, we all want beautiful wedding photos… but you won't be your best if the guy behind the camera gets on your nerves. This was never a concern with Craig. Throughout our entire process Craig was simply a nice guy… a quality that certainly went a long way! He was incredibly flexible, professional and available from the get-go. He answered all of our questions (sometimes within
minutes of sending an email… not an uncommon occurrence) and was extremely responsive to our photography needs and desires. He even gave us some feedback as we narrowed down color choices for my bridesmaids dresses! He asks for a list of ‘must have’ photos (which he gets), but we knew that his best photos would be his candid shots.
Wonderful wedding photos were also of the utmost importance to us and Craig delivered! As we look back at the photographs, it actually seems as if he was in multiple places at once – catching the overall mood as well as telling a meaningful story through priceless personal shots. He provided the perfect balance of posed and (awesome) photojournalistic shots, and did such an amazing job of capturing the movement and emotion of our wedding day. He was right there throu ghout the entire event documenting (and we mean truly documenting) with a creative perspective. He certainly has an eye for the art of photography -- framing the perfect picture at just the right moment -- which really cannot be learned. He just has it! We loved him, and we heard repeated compliments from our wedding guests about how professional, thorough, likeable, and passionate he was.
Our favorite memory of Craig was of him speeding us through the Biltmore Estate trying to get to the front lawn for some last minute photographs. It was raining on our wedding day up until our ceremony so we weren't able to go beforehand. Craig knew we wanted the quintessential Biltmore House photo as well as photos on the back balcony overlooking the valleys and mountains surrounding the Estate. So, there we were… after the ceremony with little time before the sun set… speeding (but not too fast) through the grounds to ‘get the shot’. This is something we appreciate most in him – he remembered that we wanted those photos and in all the craziness and happiness following the ceremony, he made it happen (but not in a demanding or bossy way). These are our absolutely favorite pictures and we'll always appreciate that he did that for us.
Hire this guy! You wont regret it.
Andy & Amy
When we started planning our wedding, we quickly settled on the idea that The Carolina Inn would be the perfect venue since Brian and I both attended UNC-Chapel Hill and still have great ties to the University. While choosing our venue was easy for us, going about selecting our vendors was another story. There are so many options out there and we really had no prior experience with planning a wedding!
When it came time to choose our photographer, I began flipping through wedding magazines and searched the internet to get some ideas flowing and to gain a sense of different themes and looks. I seemed to stumble on photo after photo from Luster Studios that captured some truly amazing moments of couples at The Carolina Inn. Although the venue remained the same, Craig seemed to always have a fresh viewpoint that fit the couple's style perfectly. Even though there was a high quality and consistency to his work there were no cookie cutter photos or poses here! His creative use of backgrounds and perspective gave the photos a unique look and feel. Our interest was sparked of course!
After meeting and working with Craig first hand we quickly discovered why everyone looks so great in front of his lens. He was simply phenomenal throughout the planning process and his laid back nature put us right at ease the entire time - especially on our big day.
We couldn't have been more pleased with the way our pictures turned out! Our formal photos were quick and painless, and there were TONS of great candid shots that really captured the day and the true personalities of our friends and families. We continue to get rave reviews from our guests about not only our pictures, but the great attitude and spirit Craig brought to our special day.
We would work with Craig again in a heartbeat and I take every opportunity to recommend him to anyone in need of not only an excellent photographer, but a great person!!!
Beth and Brian B.
We had always heard that weddings seem to go by so quickly, so we decided to place the photography incredibly high on our list of importance. We knew that it was the best way to ensure that we would remember our special day. We browsed countless photographer websites and portfolios on the internet, but none really spoke to us until we saw Craig’s work. Once we started looking through his Luster Studios blog, we just couldn’t stop! So many of his photographs captured the little moments that many photographers (and wedding guests!) would miss, which speaks both of his intuition and style. It was important to us not only have the the formal pictures, but to have the photojournalistic ones that really told the story of the day too. We knew instantly that he would take amazing photographs and he did exactly that.
While the incredible photography was exactly what we were looking for, it would have been nothing without his warm personality that came with it. Craig was very helpful and patient with us when we became overwhelmed by all of the options and details. He had the experience to give us friendly advice on what usually worked best and why, and he quickly answered all of our questions.
As he learned more about us, he was able to throw out creative ideas for photos that we never would have imagined on our own. He inspired us to recreate a scene (complete with perfect apples) from Snow White to embody our Disney background. We had worked at Walt Disney World for many years (and my husband proposed to me there) so it had special meaning to both of us. They turned out wonderful despite the hot day and short amount of time we had. He was even able to help persuade the reluctant groom to don a pair of “Groom Mickey” ears by the end of the evening that led to some photos that were sentimental but not cheesy.
Craig really helped put us at ease on our wedding day, with a calming and fun vibe that lifted the emotion of our day even more. Our mini photo shoots were always a nice break from the wonderful chaos of the day. He was always willing to really go the distance, even stopping traffic to lie in the middle of a downtown Raleigh street to get the perfect shot. We learned that drivers seem to be more willing to stop when they see a wedding dress coming their way! :)
Craig somehow has this uncanny knack for being in all the right places at the right time, even when unplanned. We know that some of this comes from his vast experience but we still don't know how he does it with such consistency! When the groom and best man decided to surprise everyone by changing into camouflage vests, Craig immediately caught wind and captured some great reactions. He really dove right into our wedding and impressed all who met him.
We've heard MANY really great compliments from both friends and family about how amazing our wedding photos are. Each time we look through our album we're still impressed by a series of photos that are able to pull us into the magic of the day once again. You would be crazy not to work with Craig! If you happen to be on a tight budget and need to shift some things around just do it and realize that you are going to "get what you pay for." With the case of Craig and Luster Studios we know you won't be disappointed with your investment. His passion and skills really carry through in his pictures. He finds shots where nobody else will and creates unique and meaningful moments. We recommend him to anyone that will listen. Thank you so much Craig for capturing our day and making it unforgettable!
Jenny & Nathan
When we started planning our wedding, here’s what we cared most about: finding a remarkable venue that would provide great food and the perfect wedding photographer. I pictured myself looking at my wedding photographs years later, showing my future children, always being able to look back with the best memories.
After settling on The Carolina Inn, we dug into our photographer search and it took a loooooong time. We spent days looking at wedding magazines and countless websites. Craig’s was the last one I looked at, as these things tend to go. In our notes for other photographers, we had jotted down, “Good, but not great,” “Absolutely NOT,” and many other comments, but for Craig, it was, “Wow–love, love, love–perfect.” We liked some formal shots at weddings, but mainly wanted natural photos. A lot of photographers seem to add a lot of processing to try to improve their photos - but not Craig. Over and over again I saw that he captured beautiful unscripted moments between couples, families, and friends.
We emailed, talked on the phone, and felt comfortable with Craig right from the start. He was always quick to get back to me, answered all of my questions, and I felt reassured that he would capture our special day in just the way we wanted. We decided to book him right away knowing that if we didn't someone else would.
On the day of the wedding, I was stressed to high heaven. Craig was one of the few people that actually calmed me! I knew he was there for me, to make me look my VERY best, and to capture all of my favorite moments. He was one of two people that told me to “just breathe” (the other being my husband), which I desperately needed to hear sometimes. He took all the pictures I asked for, including driving us to a couple of locations. He took photos of us at the Old Well on the campus of Chapel Hill, just as I asked, but he also had us sit amongst the newly bloomed flowers and then standing while kissing each other (with my leg kicked up and back, of course!) Craig also took wonderful photos of us under the Davie Poplar Tree, as I asked, but then also recommended that we simply walk together back and forth across the freshly green lawn. I didn’t know how any of these pictures would turn out, but his creative suggestions and thoughtful direction helped to create some of our favorite photos!
After the wedding, supposedly relaxing on our honeymoon, my husband and I were actually on pins and needles, waiting to see our pictures, eager to remember our day. The wedding had gone by so quickly, and it was as if we needed to see the pictures to be reassured it really happened! We weren’t disappointed. Craig quickly posted highlight photos, and uploaded the rest to his proofing gallery soon after. The photos were gorgeous! Family and friends raved!
Their favorites were the ones he captured of my husband’s nine-year-old daughter (now my stepdaughter) who stood with us during the ceremony and held our rings. The photographs of her crying literally makes people gasp. They can’t believe how sweet and powerful they are! Truthfully, SO many of them are like that! My parents walking me down the aisle – that picture makes me want to cry and smile proudly at the same time. The photographs of the father-daughter dances (with me and my father, and my husband with his daughter) are fantastic, honestly, take my breath away!
I would definitely, without any doubts, recommend Craig to others (and actually, I already have!). His work is amazing and I will just say that in all of my searching, I found other photographers in the area to be comparable in price, but lacking the skill, personality and passion that Craig has. I ended up with 600 pictures, and I would have paid the same amount for even less than that because of the quality. To us, they’re priceless memories.
We don’t have enough superlatives to describe how pleased we are with Craig and his work, but we’ll try. We found his blog online and literally spent an hour and a half looking through a year’s worth of entries, each story better than the last! He has a knack for getting to know his subjects and finds a way to let their personalities shine through in pictures. His creative eye captured the essence of the day’s events, the true personality of the people, and told their story. I had to meet this photographer! After experiencing his technique and character first hand on the wedding day I must say that he’s been an absolute joy to work with from beginning to end – professional, responsive, creative, kind, and oh, did I forget mad-crazy-talented! Everyone who has seen the photographs has been blown away – he really does make it look as special as it felt that day, and has given us the gift of memory, of being able to re-feel the emotions of the day through his photographs. We recommend Craig without reservation – he is amazing and we will be following his work and plan to hire him to capture our additional special moments in the future. Thank you! – Christine + Tim
As a couple that truly appreciates excellent photography, we knew that it was going to be one of the most important aspects of our wedding. Not only did we want to be sure that all of the most important memories were captured, but wanted our final photographs to represent our true personality and style. After looking through (what felt like hundreds of) photographer websites and blogs, I was convinced that Craig from Luster Studios had the perfect style. The colors just pop in all of his pictures, and I could always see the energy of the moment captured in each photo. From our initial meeting with him, I knew we had found the perfect match, both stylistically and personality-wise.
During our engagement session, we really got to know him on a personal level and were so excited as he came up with one creative idea after another! We had never had professional photos taken of us before so we weren’t sure what to expect. But Craig’s disarming style helped us loosen up quickly – and that’s when he was able to get some of our favorite shots! He really helped us feel at ease and it’s perfectly evident in every photo.
Throughout the year before our wedding I would frequent his blog and send him little notes when I saw pictures of other weddings he had shot that I REALLY liked. When our wedding finally arrived I discovered that he had been making notes of all those comments so that he could be sure to incorporate those elements into our own photos. But it was his professional and creative personality that many of our guests took note of and commented on. They were amazed at how he was able to seamlessly integrate himself into the ceremony and reception without being too obtrusive. That was just one of the many little touches that showed us how much he cared about us personally as well as our individual event.
We received RAVE reviews from our family and friends after the wedding day when they finally saw the photos… Without a doubt, between his photographic style and his personality, Craig fulfilled our vision of an ideal photographer for our wedding. Not only have we had a lot of fun with him along the way, but we have the most amazing engagement and wedding photos to prove it!
When picking vendors for our wedding, we both agreed that the photographer was one of the most important decisions we would make. Years later, it might be funny if your cake fell to pieces, but it certainly won’t be funny if your pictures are lousy. We knew we only had one chance to capture our wedding in a way that would tell the full story of the day. We were looking for a someone who could capture both traditional posed shots as well as unique unplanned moments. We didn’t want a photographer that used a bunch of crazy filters or camera effects, but definitely appreciate a little creativity with angles and perspective. We could immediately tell from Craig's portfolio that he would be a great fit for us and our guests.
To be honest, when we first met Craig, we found him to be a little quiet, but he really comes alive when he’s shooting! In hindsight we actually discovered that it's this balance of humility and passion for what he does that makes him such a great photographer. You can tell that he’s very comfortable behind a camera, and that comfort and playful demeanor really helps to evoke the desired responses from his subjects. He was also very responsive anytime I had questions, so come the wedding day I knew I had nothing to worry about.
It was a great comfort to know that it didn’t matter if my make-up got smudged or I got a spot on my dress, because none of that would show up in the pictures. Everyone looked radiant in the final versions. I remember thinking several times while going through various shots, that they were the best photos I’d ever seen of myself and my husband, as well as friends and family. Obviously, one of our guests agreed as she and her fiancé booked Craig for their wedding several months later.
I was thrilled to see how many individual unique moments Craig had captured. He definitely has a keen sense for knowing where he needs to be and seems to somehow anticipate photo-worthy moments from across the room even before they happen!
Overall, we had a great experience working with Craig, and I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone I know that's in need of a photographer.
Laura & Nan Gao
Here's a copy of the letter I sent to my photographer. He asked if I wouldn't mind posting it here for others to see as well.
I’ve been wanting to write you a “Thank You” note for a long time but every time I started I would find myself “emotionally tongue tied” trying to find the words to express how much we treasure our wedding photos. As our one year anniversary approaches I’ve decided to push through and send you this letter.
First, let me say how glad we are that we chose you! Your photos have proven to be one of the most important parts of our wedding day. As we planned for our destination wedding, we considered getting a local photographer however, after viewing your portfolio I was hooked! It still amazes me that we handled ALL of the logistics by phone and email. From executing the contract, to providing expert advice on our timeline, we always had the utmost confidence in you. Working with you was easy and we appreciate that you handled every aspect of the photography flawlessly.
As you know, our wedding photos document my final days in the United States before leaving to live with my husband in England, but I don’t think it really hit me as to the importance of all of these wonderful moments you’ve captured until I settled in my new home. These photographs are not only a reminder of our wedding day, but of our dear friends and family who are now so far away! Thank you for that.
We are astounded and deeply moved whenever we view our album! It’s a vibrant blend of posed and photojournalistic styles. You posses an uncanny ability to capture the emotion of the day, including sensitive and touching moments. I smile, laugh and cry each time we flip through our pictures as they candidly tell a story of how our guests experienced our wedding.
I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to photograph us and neither would our guests. They commented on your warm and professional demeanor and I remember watching you as you moved amongst everyone in an unobtrusive manner. Now that we’ve experienced working with you first hand I now know why everyone looks so natural in your photos. You were engaging, respectful, and kind. You really do put people at ease and it shows in your work. I still don’t remember your presence during the ceremony… and yet… we have dozens of wonderful pictures!
Craig, we are so grateful for your contribution to our wedding day. It is through your talent that you have given our families a tremendous gift that we will be able to share for many years to come. Many, many thanks for being part of such an important day!
Stuart Hayes and Sabrina Tyus Hayes
For our wedding, we were incredibly busy because we were both writing our theses and defending our PhDs. We hired a planner which reduced our stress tremendously, but we wanted to choose our own wedding photographer. Since we weren't going to have a videographer, it was important to find someone who could really capture the full story of the day.
Craig of Luster Studios came highly recommended by a friend of ours, and we immediately went to his website to view his work. He did not disappoint! We loved how creative he was with posing but also how he captured the “unscripted” moments. While we looked through his portfolio, we found ourselves exclaiming “Wow!” or “I love this one!” repeatedly. We saw that he took several pictures from different vantage points and could tell that he was up on a ledge, or flat on the ground just to get the perfect shot. We wanted to respect our budget, but knew that we didn’t want to compromise the quality so we decided to book him.
After meeting with Craig his passion for his work was obvious, and while passionate people can often be difficult to work with, Craig was an absolute pleasure. We found him to be incredibly friendly and enjoyed his laid back approach. This was important to us because we tend to be quite shy and generally don’t enjoy having our pictures taken. During our engagement session, we actually had fun though. Craig is very funny and after just a few minutes, we opened up and had a great time. We loved how the pictures came out! Several of our friends and family commented on how amazing they were which made us even more excited for our wedding day.
At our wedding, Craig was both very professional and easy to get along with. Not only does he create breathtaking photos but we felt that he let the photo opportunities just happen rather than forcing them to occur. We are not exaggerating when we say that most of our wedding guests asked where we had found our photographer because they saw him climbing things, hustling from one spot to another and laying on the ground to capture unique angles. They said that they couldn’t believe he was "working so hard to get the best pictures."
That being said, we think it’s important to mention that we didn’t even know Craig was there. When we received our photos, we were shocked that Craig had somehow managed to get amazing pictures without being intrusive. It was like we hired 2 photographers! We still don’t know how he did it, but we are so happy that we chose Luster Studios for our wedding. Our family and friends (and especially, us!) absolutely love our wedding photos came out. It's been hard to choose our favorites for the album because we love SO many of them. We will always look back at these pictures and remember how special the day was. Thank you so much, Craig!
Jarrod and Minna
We wanted to write you a note to let you know how much we appreciate all of the wedding photos that you created for us. As we reflect on the past year since our wedding, one thing that stands out about that fabulous day was how you managed to capture all of these special, unforgettable moments for us. As you know, we did extensive research when choosing a photographer and what we loved most about your work was your unique artistic style and ability to demonstrate the couples true personalities through your talents.
We were so pleased to work with you for both our engagement and wedding photos and are quite convinced we would not have had the same experience with any other photographer. We appreciate your professional manner and aspiring ideas which made each experience such an enjoyable process. We soon discovered that some of your creative suggestions helped create some of our favorite photos of the day. We also love that you were able to bring out the true essence of our individual style but also the combined personality of us as a couple. You've captured moments that we had forgotten until seeing the completed photos and we will always be grateful for that.
We've been flooded with compliments over this last year whenever we share pictures to our friends and family. In retrospect, it has meant the world to us to relive these moments whenever we choose. We could not be more pleased with the choice that we made in working with you on our big day!
Thank you again for your creativity and professionalism,
Melinda and Jeff
I couldn't be more more thrilled with the service we got from Luster Studios. I initially chose Luster Studios after Craig responded to my initial email inquiry with a lengthy personal phone call during which we discussed in detail what I was looking for in a wedding photographer. From there, Craig made all of the arrangements for my bridal session, and spent hours making sure that we got the perfect combination of fun and classic portraits. Even though our wedding day was cold and rainy, our photographs make it look perfect, and we've gotten endless compliments on the high quality of the photography. I would definitely recommend Craig to anyone who's looking for high quality, artistic wedding photographs and a photographer who's both fun and professional to work with!
I believe this letter I sent to Craig explains it all:
I just wanted to let you know how truly happy I am that I found you!
Having a skilled photographer was always of utmost importance for my wedding day, but with you I got so much more! From our first phone conversation to the end of our reception you made me feel completely at ease. I knew I was in good hands and that you would be easy and fun to work with. You were incredibly professional, but at the same time I felt like you were one of us who just happened to be holding a camera. I am still amazed every time I look at our wedding photographs - for many reasons.
First of all, how were you able to get so many incredible shots in such a short amount of time? Our ceremony could not have been more than 10 minutes, yet you captured me walking with my father, views from both sides of the portico, the most AMAZING angle (from above) of our ring swap, our "first" kiss, and the pronouncement of us as husband and wife! The funny thing is that I had no idea where you were the whole time, but you have the photographs to prove it. You must move like lightning!
I am also deeply moved by the variety emotions you were able to capture in one day. The bond between us and our friends and families is incredibly evident, which is what I had hoped for but never knew was possible to that degree. I can tell what each of us was feeling during the different moments of the day.
Most of all, I am amazed at how well you were able to work with the weather conditions that you did. Misty rain and fog, and not just any fog - the thickest fog that any of us had EVER seen! I would imagine that this would be a nightmare for most photographers, but I can honestly tell you that I wasn't worried for one minute. I was completely confident that you would know how to handle it, and my goodness did you! Our photos look like we are on a movie set with fog machines and lighting directors! Honestly, at first I was disappointed in the fact that the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains were not going to be seen, but once you told me how incredible the fog looked in the photographs and the look on your face when you said that, I knew it was something special. I just didn't know how special.
We continually get a lot of oohs and aahs when people see our photos, but we know they are not the typical praises. Literally everyone says they are the most beautiful wedding photographs they have ever seen, and I truly believe them. And I owe it all to you, Craig. I would like to think it has a little to do with the subjects in the photographs, but I know it is because of your extreme talent. Like I said, I am so happy that I found you!
Thanks again for everything. You really are the best.
In our search for a wedding photographer my friends kept telling me how difficult it was to pick the right person to document our special day, but now that I'm married I get to tell others how easy it was for me! We had emailed a few other photographers before meeting with Craig at Luster Studios, but he was our first appointment. After our consultation there was no doubt in our minds that we had found our perfect fit! We didn't even bother meeting with anyone else. His examples from other weddings were so unique that we knew that he'd be able to capture all of the the moments we were looking forward to remembering for years to come.
Of course, on our wedding day my husband and I were nervous and anxious that everything would be pulled off without any problems. I must say that from the time Craig walked into my bridal suite, to the end of the night, I never once worried that my photographs weren't being taken care of. I probably wasn't the easiest bride to deal with (as I always manage to stress myself out over the little details) but I can honestly say that I was less anxious knowing I didn't have to worry about what a great job he was doing.
If that wasn't enough, Craig is also somehow able to capture a lot of different styles but still show a consistent story and look. He took beautiful portraits of my husband and I, captured fun moments of our entire bridal party on the Umstead lawn and ALSO caught my little cousin doing "the worm!" He really managed to put into pictures exactly how that day felt for us - wonderful!
When we saw our final set of photographs my friends and family were amazed. My mom actually cried (again) when she saw how beautiful they were. Our group portraits are in the foyer of our house, and NO ONE can resist stopping to awe over them when they first walk into our house! And Magnus (my husband) always manages to show off a photo Craig took of us changing our statuses to "married" on our iPhones in the church. He was so happy that he snapped a picture of that!
Since our wedding I've been sure to spread the word of Craig's professionalism and skills to anyone who will listen. I've enjoyed seeing his recent work that he's done at other weddings and every time I show someone our pictures, I make sure to tell them to recommend him to any bride-to-be that they know!
My husband and I were married at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC and had planned our destination wedding from Washington, DC where we lived at the time. Since there were few opportunities to do any local planning, I relied on TheKnot.com for a lot of my info. We had probably looked at 20 photographers, putting all the features of each into a spread sheet to make comparisons a little easier. Then, another active "Knottie" recommended that I check out Craig at Luster Studios.
When we viewed his portfolio for the first time we fell in LOVE with his style and could immediately tell that his work was far superior in both quality and value. Craig's photographs captured both emotional and lighthearted moments in which you could truly see the personality of the couples and families. We wanted someone who could do that for us.
Since we weren't able to meet in person I knew that our phone conversation would be the deciding factor. When we chatted, I found him to be very friendly and energetic, yet focused on what what important to us as a couple. He took the time to build us a custom package (since we didn’t need engagement pictures) and made the entire process extremely easy. We were both convinced that he was the guy for us, and decided to book him one and half years before our wedding so we wouldn't lose him to another couple!
When our wedding weekend finally arrived, I decided to meet Craig a few days early for an impromptu bridal shoot. I'll stop right here to say that he lived up to ALL of my expectations from our phone call AND MORE! Not only was he professional and welcoming, but he dealt with my mother (who can sometimes be difficult) extremely well! Whenever she would get pushy or try to give instructions, Craig was smooth and sweet and just rolled with it while still getting amazing pictures. He was also creative and up for lots of different backgrounds and poses. It was such a blast!
On the day of the wedding Craig was like Superman behind the camera and always seemed to be in just the right place at the right time while still remaining undetected when needed. He really has this amazing ability to appear from nowhere to capture the perfect moment. There were a lot of photos where we simple couldn't figure out where he was or how he got the shot, but somehow it happened! We had also chosen a package (which included a second photographer of Craig’s choice) and could not have been more pleased with both of them! They worked together seamlessly and were barely noticeable unless we needed something specific.
At the wedding reception Craig again worked his magic with our families and was able to get great pictures of almost all of our attendants. We really enjoyed watching him interact with the children as well and many of our guests made comments about how they couldn’t wait to see the photos and that they knew he was capturing some special moments by the way he was positioning his camera and choosing when to take the picture.
After the wedding, Craig continued to respond to emails promptly. We had some snafus with the company that we ordered our wedding album from, but through it all Craig stayed in contact and kept us updated. This was greatly appreciated and everything was handled very professionally and turned out perfectly in the end!
In summary, we can't express enough how AMAZING our photos turned out!!! We look at them regularly and each time we see things that we love and didn’t notice before. We still get comments from family and friends and couldn't be more satisfied with our decision to go with Craig! I would recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone for any type of photos!!! He's the total package!
Heather and Jesse
Planning our wedding was without a doubt one of the most challenging things we've ever done. As with many couples, we were definitely overwhelmed by all of the to-do lists. We had received a lot of advice from blogs, magazines and friends on the important things to look for in a great wedding photographer. We knew it was important to hire an experienced professional, but in the end our number one recommendation to couples is to find a photographer who's work you LOVE and is someone you can trust and enjoy being around.
As we searched, we did consider two other photographers before Luster Studios (all recommendations from friends or family) but once we met with Craig in person we immediately felt comfortable with him. We were impressed with not only his work, which speaks for itself, but also by his professionalism. He shared his approach with us and answered all of our questions in detail. We left that meeting knowing we had booked our photographer. We were excited to take this major decision off of our checklist!
Leading up to our wedding, Craig was always quick to return phone calls and emails which made our lives so much easier. Once the wedding day arrived we knew we had made the right choice. Craig was AMAZING! He was everywhere without getting in the way and knew exactly what we wanted. Our pictures turned out perfect and we could not have asked for anything more. Even friends and family that were unable to attend our wedding have said that they felt like they were there due to all the great moments he was able to capture.
Upon returning from our honeymoon, we received a phone call from Craig letting us know that our photos were ready and that he wanted to deliver the disc to us in person. We were already excited to see them, but our anticipation was heightened when he mentioned that he had a special surprise for us. Later that afternoon we met Craig at his studio where he handed over our photos AND a copy of a local magazine with one of our wedding pictures on the FRONT COVER! We were SO excited that we couldn't believe it. The photo was perfect and will be something we will treasure for years to come.
We would highly recommend Craig not only because of his wonderful photographs, but also because of the passion and love he has for his work. When you are working with Craig you are assured to have an amazing experience that will last a lifetime.
Leigh and Duncan
When we met with Craig for the first time at Luster Studios, we instantly felt a connection with him. Instead of diving into details about his photography and the collections that he offered, he began by asking us about our own interests, how we met and even inquired about the story of how my husband proposed to me. We could tell that he was genuinely interested in us as a couple instead of potential clients. We already knew that we loved his photography style but it was his friendly, laid back nature that sealed the deal. In fact, he was the first and only photographer we interviewed.
On our wedding day, he arrived early and was fully prepared with organized shot lists and back up cameras and equipment. Because of his thorough pre-planning, my husband dubbed Craig the ‘boy scout’ of wedding photography! He patiently worked with us and took photos per our time schedule without being bossy or demanding. We managed to make it through our family formal shots with ease which left more time for creative portraits of just the two of us. He has an eye for the perfect shot and provided a nice balance of traditional, posed pictures and artistic and candid photos.
Overall we found Craig to be respectful, professional, and unobtrusive. It was like he wasn’t even there, but he still got close up shots of all the action. He was open to our suggestions and requests from our guests, but also had great ideas of his own. With only one photographer I wasn’t sure how much coverage we would have, but Craig got at least one picture of every one in attendance. We were thrilled and surprised by the quality and the number of photos that Craig took. And, he captured small details that we would have otherwise missed in the chaos of the day. We couldn't be more pleased.
We highly recommend Craig and hope to work with him again in the future!
Anne and Dan
The entire process of planning our wedding and choosing vendors was very overwhelming due to our short timeline. Our future sister-in-law recommended her photographer (Craig) who would be shooting her wedding that next year. We became very excited after looking at his website. Not only was his photography beautiful, but when met him we realized that he was also someone who was down to earth and would be easy to work with. We consider it a stroke of luck that he was available to shoot our wedding. We were also thankful of how much time Bridget had saved us from stumbling through various random portfolios only to come to the obvious conclusion that Craig would be the best choice anyway.
To be honest we weren’t entirely sure what we wanted to see in our wedding photography other than the “basic shots”, but Craig not only captured those wonderfully, but really went above and beyond to document all of the other special moments from beginning to end! Now that the day is over we love reliving out those moments that we knew he was capturing as well as the “behind the scenes” photographs that we weren’t able to experience first hand. We couldn’t have been happier with the way our photographs turned out! I still tear up a bit when I look at the series of photos in which my husband and I are meeting for the "first time" prior to our ceremony.
We didn’t truly understand the importance of wedding photography before meeting Craig, and now, we are forever grateful that he was an integral part of our special day. All of our guests enjoyed the way he interacted with them as well. He was always involved and excited, but never overbearing. That meant a lot to us since our family and friends are so close to each other. We’ve even had the pleasure of interacting with him at two other weddings since our own, and each collection has proven to be beautiful and unique!
Craig, thank you so much for everything. You’re simply wonderful and we're looking forward to our next wedding “date!” ;-)
We are celebrating our one year anniversary and wanted to send you a giant, THANK YOU!!! You were simply fantastic throughout the entire process from the first time we met you to the delivery of our final photographs. We were very impressed with your work, and while we loved the formal pictures, our VERY favorites are the candids that you took. You have a real gift there!
At the wedding you were totally professional, didn’t get in the way at all, and actually, became a favorite with our guests. Many of our friends were actually seeking you out to be photographed! In the candid pictures you managed to capture genuine smiles and laughter from our friends and family. Looking back it means so much to us to know that they were having a good time.
You went above and beyond in accommodating any quirky requests we had and were a total blast to be around during our reception. Our wedding day was the most fun we’ve ever had and you were a big part of that all the way around. Our wonderful collection of memories are worth even more to me now than they were right after the wedding. Thank you for sharing your talent with us on the most important day of our lives.
Monika & Dave
I had the unfortunate thing that shouldn't happen, my first photographer and I had a few miscommunications and my day was booked to another couple. Here I am a month before the wedding still looking for a photographer. I had to find one that week so I started searching. I found Craig and decided to meet him to review his work and get a feel of what I was looking for. When I met Craig for the first time it was comfortable and when I left I knew that all my questions had been answered. I told him my deal and I never felt like, "Oh no he is going to take advantage of my situation." He was very professional towards me and my guests. After I looked at the photos (2 weeks later, fast) I said to myself, "Where was he for that photo, I didnt even see him?" He got awesome photos without getting in the way of everything. He never asked the family to get out the way or for anyone to do anything out of the ordinary. He did an awesome job with everything. I will be getting more photos done by him in the near future.
Just wanted to drop you a note thanking you for the wonderful job you did taking the pictures for Kim and Mike’s wedding. The pics are awesome, and you have a wonderful talent for knowing just what to shoot.
You moved so silently that it was like you were invisible until you showed up in front of us for some shots.
Your skills and personality are perfect for this kind of work, abd you actually made it look like play rather than work.
I am VERY happy that kim booked you.
I have recommended you to others here at work and outside work.
I received my DVDs in the mail today. While I’ve not had time to look at all 900+ images, I just wanted to thank you for your work. As I’ve probably told you before, I was very careful choosing the vendors we invited to be a part of Courtney’s wedding. I wanted a caterer, florist, photographer, etc. who would not only do excellent work, but would be kind to my guests and treat others with respect. I received MANY comments from our family and friends about you on Courtney’s wedding day. “How did you find the photographer?” “He’s really good at what he does.” “He was everywhere taking pictures but didn’t get in anyone’s way at all.”
Thank you for not only working so hard at our wedding, but for being a pleasure to have with us as a guest on this special day. You are hardworking, kind, courteous and have great respect for the people you work with. May God bless you in your life together.”
With kindest regards,
Fabulous photography! I use his beautiful photos in my website galleries. Wonderful choice for wedding photos!
With a professional’s touch and an artist’s eye, Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios will amaze you with the final photos he delivers of your wedding, reception, engagement photos, family portraits. One of the premier photographers in our area, his work speaks for itself. Browsing through his blog and website you will see it, too. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
We had the opportunity to work with Craig from Luster Studios at a wedding at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC. Craig was nothing less than professional and very courteous. We have an opportunity to work with lots of photographers each weekend and have to say Craig takes the extra step to get very creative with the photographs he takes. We would certainly recommend speaking to Craig if you are considering a photographer for your wedding day.
Beautiful, creative shots, every time.
Always fabulous! Always fun! A pleasure to work with.
Craig is phenomenal! Not only is he one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, he's also one of the best photographers BBS has ever had the privilege to work with. The emotion and detail that he is able to capture at a wedding is just astounding. His work speaks for itself. We cannot praise him enough: he is professional, friendly, and talented. He knows how to capture every important moment while being invisible- his presence doesn't intrude with instructions and poses because he is so focused on documenting the spirit of the couple and the day.
Luster Studios worked at the King's Daughters Inn for a wedding. Not only did he take amazing photos of the wedding, but he had some time to take images of the Inn. He was wonderful enough to share them. They are truly spectacular and show off the Inn's amazing architecture and design.
Craig at Luster Studios knows all the right techniques to create masterpiece still images of your special day. He also has a rockin' personality and is sure to not only capture great photos, but provide top notch customer service.
Criag with Luster Studios is an excellant photographer for your wedding. Awesome pictures that I've even used in my marketing.
Craig is a wonderful photographer to work with. Couples relax around him because of his easy calm direction and his friendly easy going manner, so he gets the best shots. I've worked with him several times and am always impressed that he finds just the right magic of the day to bring out in his photos of the couples. They really shine.
Luster studios photography is very flexible and easy to work with. They are very creative. I look forward to working with them again in the future!
Craig of Luster Studios is a great photographer. I enjoy working weddings with him because he is so friendly and easy to get along with. He is so good at setting up shots and getting everything the couple want for their wedding. He even tolerates my little digital camera snapping away for photos for my blog. Thanks for being so accommodating, Craig!
Weddings are such a happy time and Luster Studio's photographer captures those emotions exquisitely! From the moment she says "Yes!" to the "I Do's" and even after the last dance of the reception... everything is captured on film to be enjoyed for years to come. This is one of North Carolina's finest photographers.
Widely regarded as one of the the most sought after wedding photographers in North Carolina, Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios captures award-winning images through creative ideas and authentic photojournalism. His unique style and thoughtful personality help him document planned and spontaneous moments that evokes viewers to care about the people that are in them.
My local operations are based in North Carolina so I am often asked to photograph in areas like Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Cary, The Outer Banks, Fayetteville and Wilmington. I have also photographed at select locations out of state and for destination weddings.
How would define your photographic style?
I try to blend in with guests to minimize intrusion. I’ve found that most couples want their wedding photographer there during the important moments but to blend into the background during most of the day. I’ve found that this approach has allowed me to capture spontaneous moments of action and emotion. I also feel that formals are supposed to be as relaxed as possible. I tend to keep these light & fun.
What makes you different from other photographers out there?
With the advent of digital photography and the latest photojournalistic trends, anyone can buy a camera and proclaim themselves to be an “amazing photographer”. Past clients and their guests have shared with me their insights as to why they enjoy being photographed by me. The first is that I have a “natural eye” for composition, creativity and emotion in my images. This is supported by my technical knowledge and hands on experience. The second is my positive personality and simply the way I treat others. I am a great mixture of “respect for tradition” and “relaxed fun.” You will always here me say “please” and excuse me.” This will never be sold at a local camera store and I pride myself on the personal relationships I build with my clients.
If you become sick or injured who will be our photographer?
I take care of myself as best I can and so far I have never missed a wedding. A common cold or a headache will never prevent me from performing my duties, however in the event of an emergency, I already have a backup plan in place. I have built strong friendships with a network of photographers and studios locally and nationwide. My wife has a list of these contacts (and steps to take) and will immediately secure another photographer of equal skill.
Can I request specific photographs at my wedding?
If you let me know a list of specific shots you would like or specific people to be photographed, I will do my best to ensure coverage of those details. Many couples appoint someone that is familiar with both sides of the family to help me identify everyone. In many instances I suggest a premade “formals shotlist” to keep things moving quickly and smoothly. During the day, you can even let your guests know that they can grab the photographer at quiet periods during the day to get specific photos!
Can we print the photos ourselves?
Yes, whilst I do offer a complete print service, you are more than welcome to produce your own prints from the files. I will provide you with a print release which will allow you to create prints at any lab of your choice.
Is this your full-time career?
Yes! I’ve found that one of the largest misconceptions about wedding photographers is that they only work a few days on the weekend. On the contrary, I work 6-7 days a week. I find that I am constantly meeting with potential clients, updating the blog, shooting portrait and couples sessions, processing images, designing albums etc.
Do you carry backup cameras and equipment?
Yes! Camera malfunctions and equipment damage can happen to anyone at the worst time. If you hire anyone that doesn’t carry duplicate gear, you are taking an enormous risk. Simply don’t do it.
Are you fully insured?
I hold full Liability & Indemnity Insurance specifically for Professional Photographers. I don’t leave anything to chance.
What do you wear during personal sessions and at weddings?
During fun family and couples sessions I usually wear long pants and a polo shirt. During weddings I arrive well dressed and groomed with black pants, dress shoes, and a dress shirt sometimes with a tie. My goal is to always look my best without drawing attention to myself.
Do you offer wedding albums?
Yes I do. I work with a few album companies that specialize in medium to high-end wedding albums.
Did you go to school for photography? How long have you been doing this?
I attained my BFA in photography and graphic design and have been an active artist for over 10 years. I feel that each skillset compliments the other. My eye for strong composition is influenced by my design skills. Before the advent of digital photography I learned to develop my own 35mm film and spent many hours in a traditional darkroom.
Do you work alone at weddings? Do you use assistants?
In most cases I prefer to be the sole photographer. It allows me to blend in with guests & cause as little disruption as possible. As an experienced professional, I can confidently cover most events alone but will assign someone when I feel it is needed. If a wedding is particularly large, or multiple shooters/assistants would benefit the photos, then I hire a second professional to join me.
How do we secure you as our wedding photographer? Do we need to pay a deposit/retainer?
In most case I collect a 50% retainer and a signed contract, however a request can be made for payments to be made in thirds. Once this is received, no one else can book me for that day. The balance is due 2 weeks prior to the wedding day.
I’m not sure of my wedding details yet. Should I wait to book you?
A lot of couples have this issue. I’m more than happy to book you at my base package to secure the date & then upgrade packages as the day approaches.
How many photos do you take? How many do we get?
That depends on the length of your wedding, number of venues & the general flow of the day. I shoot anywhere between 500 and 2500 frames, then edit down photos (where people blink, or where someone stepped into frame etc.) to a more reasonable number. I process these as required. My goal is to always capture every planned and unplanned moment.
Do you provide a variety of color and black and white photographs?
Yes. I take all my shots in color then convert to black and white or sepia after the wedding day. This gives me full control on the processing decisions and how best to bring out the full potential in each shot.
Do you photograph the bridal “getting ready” shots?
I understand that some brides/bridemaids may be shy about having a male photographer in the room at certain moments. I remain professional at all times, but if there is ever a concern about this, I can happily wait outside until everyone is ready. I never want anyone to feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable.
When do photographers usually find time to eat? Do we need to provide a meal?
I’ve found that most guests prefer to dine without cameras around so I usually take this opportunity to grab a bite. In a buffet style dinner I always wait until everyone else has been served before I prepare a plate. In a formal setting I do not expect the same food as everyone else but it’s always appreciated if that is your choice. A simple boxed lunch will suffice for the budget conscious.
Meaningful Imagery - I'll take the time to get to know your friends and family. By understanding these relationships I can anticipate and capture key moments.
Custom & Original Art - I will always be the lead photographer and do not outsource the process. Each photograph and album is personally developed and designed by me.
Modern Techniques - I will utilize my unique and diverse skill sets to make your images the best they can be. In addition to documenting your event, I will usually spend an entire week adjusting images for color, exposure, and artisitic style.
Timely Delivery - I understand how excited you're going to be to see your wedding photography. I'll be just as excited to show everything to you! Although I will take the time to get everything perfect, my personal promise to you is that you will receive your images within one month.
Attention To Detail - Memorable imagery is not created by simple point and shoot. I have spent many years studying dynamic lighting, composition, exposure, and image processing. I will go beyond the obvious to focus on the "little things" that help make the day special.
Professionalism - As I interact with guests, family and other vendors I will always conduct myself in a polite, respecful and professional manner. I will arrive well dressed, honor specific requests, and will work within location guidelines to the best of my ability.
Preparation - Whether you are looking for casual candids or a lot of formals, I believe that pre-wedding day planning help everything go smoothly. Instead of "just showing up" I will work with you to create a tenative timeline and a list of any important planned moments.