CHUCK ARLUND BLOG » living one weekend closer to death

Jennifer & Elijah

What makes this wedding interesting? Jennifer, a recent Graphic arts graduate that designed her own wedding and made almost everything. She has a typical story. A broke college student in love. The question I ask, do they deserve great photos or great anything for that matter even though they are broke? I think they do. As a former wedding photographer I have shot weddings from the price of $1500 upwards of $11,000. I do not do shoot many weddings anymore since my focus is mostly commercial, but I still love a good wedding.

What makes this wedding unique is I shot this for $0. There was something about this couple. I felt they deserved better than what a limited budget might get you. She went to the college I taught at and we were talking about her story. She mentioned that she was going to have to hire a friend to come and shoot the images. The first thing that went through my head was "oh don't" The whole "your wedding photos are so important…" was racing in my brain. Her wedding sounded so wonderful.  She was getting married in the park where they like to go a lot. I love natural outside weddings. I knew it would be cool because of her design ability. 

I kept my mouth shut as she continued talking about how the photographer she hired had not shot a wedding before but wanted to build her portfolio so she was willing to do it for next to nothing, I think it was $200. 

I hear about folks like Jennifer and Elijah a lot and read stories like this on Craigslist. "Poor college student needs photographer for wedding…" Many times they offer to edit the images for the photographer and hope that someone will take the offer that is needing to build there portfolio. 

Professional photographers hate hearing about these stories and often say, if you can't afford it why are you getting married? Or, you pay for all the other stuff like flowers and the dress and the cake and the service and… Well, they do have a point but.

Is a broke couple then not worthy of good vendors? 

I'll take you back to the year 2000 where a recent college graduate (1998) was just starting to work as a commercial photographer. Yep, I'm talking about me. My wife and I had no money and were living in my parents house. We wanted to do a nice wedding (of which I knew NOTHING about) We booked a popular spot and started looking at photography. At the time I did not know good from bad wedding photography even though I was a photographer. I am empathetic for couples going through the wedding process, especially when you do not have much money. It is insane.

To make a long story very short, we ended up getting married at the MGM in Vegas. I have a friend that worked there at the time and got us a deal. I flew my coworker (photographer) out to shoot us. I ended up working the day after our wedding because, since we were going to Vegas our boss figured that would make a good destination wedding story for the Magazine I worked for. Her dress was a $99 job we bought at a warehouse. MGM provided most of the stuff. Our entire wedding for everything cost $2000

I want to believe that my wife and I our the typical "cool" client that most wedding photographers want. We are open to ideas and love to do the cool stuff. I even wear makeup. (former glam rock band thing) But there is no way we could have afforded a photographer. Yep we would have been lucky to put together $500 for a photographer and I KNOW how important those photos are. (ours were not great but they are ok and I'm thankful that my coworker offered to shoot us.)

Back to Jennifer and Elijah. After hearing about her wedding I just told her. "You know what, I'll shoot it for ya. no cost. I'm free that day and not doing anything." (it was only a few weeks away.) "If the person you were going to hire wants to come help she can." "And you can edit whatever you want" (Jennifer knows her way around PS as well as I do)

So, I believe that they did deserve at least someone that has shot many weddings. She did not have to stress. She did offer some of her design services for me but I ended up not doing that.

Here are a few of the photos. Nothing was edited in PS, Just quick edits in Lightroom – Most Lightrooms own presets that come with the program.

Cindy CalvinDecember 30, 2011 - 11:21 am

What a sweet story, Chuck, and how awesome you are to do this for them. I was checking out your site and your blog – very impressive! It’s also very cool to look through your images, as I lived in downtown KC and recognize many of the locations. I’m looking forward to meeting you at Imaging soon! ~Cindy

ChuckieJanuary 1, 2012 - 4:20 pm

Please come by and say hello.

Laura N.January 8, 2012 - 11:27 pm

You have a heart of gold. Not only do you take some of the most awesome pictures, you also seem to be genuine in your approach to teach and help others 🙂

ChuckieJanuary 10, 2012 - 8:58 am

Laura, Thanks.

Michael DoermanJanuary 17, 2012 - 3:02 pm

Sweet story. Glad to see you shoot more weddings, Chuck! Keep it up 😉

Gina LewisJanuary 24, 2012 - 6:48 pm

Chuck, you are not only an amazing photographer but also an amazing person. Beautiful pictures!

Kansas City Workshops





Back in Kansas City. While I was away for the last 11 years I have had some requests to put on a workshop here in Kansas City. Now that I am back home for a while, seems like the perfect time.

Ask yourself this:

  • Are you a natural light photographer?
  • Do you struggle with flash?
  • Are your images not as good as you would like?
  • Have you ever wanted to try something new photographically?
  • Do you have trouble posing subjects?
  • Do you want to keep your photography fresh?
There are so many other questions I could ask. For those of you that do not know me, real quick. I have been a photographer for over 20 years. Started as an art photographer then turned commercial. I ran one of Nashville's top wedding photography studios for over 4 years before deciding to turn my attention back to commercial photography. My work can be seen at

2 day workshop “Don’t be afraid of the light”
September 19-20 & November 14-15
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Demystify lighting using Natural, Strobe and Continuous lighting.  In this workshop you will go back to the basics to be able to fully understand how to use lighting properly. We will also discuss theory on composition and design in photography.  You will come away understanding why, not just how to light your subjects.  We will go on a field trip to a local gallery to get back to the roots and be really inspired.  We will have models available during the photo sessions, where you will be given the opportunity to work with them and lighting while Chuck coaches and mentors.

To make it fun, we will conduct photo challenges in the style of Project Runway and Master Chef type  of shows. This will allow us to focus on certain aspects of the photographic process. We will have fun critique to help understand aspects within the photograph. There are also a number of giveaways from companies like Radiopopper, Big Folio, Fundy SOS, Marathon Press and more to come.  




  • Introductions
  • Review of Day one and questions answered
  • Basic photographic theory. Composition and design
  • Introduction to 2 lights and theory
  • Natural and reflective light
  • Lunch and Video
  • Lunch and Video
  • Multiple light scenarios
  • Introduction to flash, One light scenarios
  • Processing, workflow and business application
  • Individual posing
  • Constant light 
  • Shootout and critique | Intro processing
  • Critique
  • Optional Dinner and Movie night
  • Art gallery visit and optional dinner
Exact schedule is subject to change  



Supply List:

Camera, Lens and speedlight is you have them, Laptop or computer, jump-drive, inspire board (your aspirations), 5 images to be critiqued

Topics Covered:


  • Photographic Theory
  • Composition and Design
  • Posing, individual and group
  • Exposure and camera review
  • Photo history and Inspiration


  • Natural, Using mirrors and reflectors
  • Flash manual
  • Flash ETTL
  • Proper metering | Lighting subtlety
  • Multiple light setups | Effective reception lighting
  • Off Camera Flash outside
  • Making On Camera Flash look like Off Camera Flash

Workflow & Business

  • Dramatic editing techniques in Photoshop and Lightroom without spending a lifetime messing with images
  • How to approach Photoshop from a darkroom point of view | Less is more
  • Proper costs and selling of your work
  • Marketing tips to help get started

Lunch is not provided but will be ordered in.

These will be held at the Prairie Room Event space in Kansas City. Located at  1105 E. 18th St. Kansas City, MO 64108




Sell tickets with TicketLeap

[…] I’ll be speaking about this at a Photography workshop I am giving in Kansas City on September 19-20 and November 14-15. Workshop Information can be found here if you are a professional photographer. […]

[…] Work: Chuck Arlund Tue, Aug 30, 2011 Chuck Arlund is one of my favorite photographers in the world. A former big hair band rockstar, Chuck turned his […]

[…] I know, right?! Stunning work, through and through. His lighting, composition and post processing make his work all his own. Check out more of Chuck’s work and his Kansas City workshops right here on his blog. […]

TaraNovember 4, 2011 - 9:41 am

I would absolutely love to attend your workshop but there’s no way I could make it to your November one. I hope to see more available in the future.

ChuckieNovember 4, 2011 - 9:58 am

Tara. I will be posting a bunch of new ones next week.
Thinking about a one day in nashville around thanksgiving.

Spencer S-St. Thomas Aquinas Senior Session

Meet Spencer S from St. Thomas Aquinas HS. Chuck took Spencer around Kansas City for his senior session and got some great shots that would please even the “pickiest” of dudes. My favorite is this picture of Spencer in front of a red wall. The photo immediately grabs your attention and pulls you in to look at the other photos. Enjoy! More to come soon!