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Super Monday Instructors: Hard Work Pays Off for Christopher Castaneda - PPA Today

Super Monday Instructors: Hard Work Pays Off for Christopher Castaneda

Castaneda_headshot.jpgChicago wedding photographer Christopher Castaneda says that he didn't choose to become a photographer--it was more a natural progression of his life. But that's not to say it didn't require constant hard work.

His father owned a pro lab for 20 years, and Castaneda feels like he grew up in the lab. In fact, he was developing prints in the darkroom as early as the age of 10. In 2007, Castaneda began photographing professionally, assisting well-established photographers. He then opened his own wedding photography business about two years later in 2009.

"I like weddings because of all the family and friendship connections," Castaneda says as he explains his favored form of photography. "Family is very important to me, so to be there when a new one starts is special. It also fits with my personality. I'm more of a directive photographer, and I try to be funny, entertaining and calming to brides and grooms. A lot of times, they are nervous or don't know what's going on. I try to be a 'bride whisperer' and steer them through the day stress free, making sure they have a ton of fun."

Out on his own now, Castaneda admits that the biggest challenge he faces is getting those wedding contracts, and he tries to overcome that by working hard every day.

"Sometimes I feel that a lot of speakers do a disservice to their students by making it seem like there's a magic bullet that will solve a problem," he says. "But one workshop or DVD or lighting modifier won't do it. It's only through hard work, consistent effort and patience that you can achieve something worthwhile. There is no fast track to anything."
Castaneda02.jpgIf you're ready to work hard, join Castaneda for his Super Monday class, "Today's Weddings," in Chicago, Ill., on October 25th. He'll focus on using available lighting for wedding photography and the key elements needed to take a great photograph.

"To me, available light doesn't mean natural or ambient light," Castaneda explains about his class. "It means that whatever light is available to me, I will use. Daylight? Cool, I'll rock it. A street sign that looks like a big old softbox? Excellent, I'll use that. Crappy light? Okay, time to bust out the video light or off-camera flash."

With his class, Castaneda hopes to help photographers see the world in a different wayCastaneda01.jpg (compositionally). "I'd like to show people that they can create great images with good lighting and excellent design principals anywhere, not just at those two or three 'primo spots' in their town."

Learn more about Castaneda's Chicago class, and browse more Super Monday classes in more locations at  

Super Monday is an educational program, sponsored by PPA, every spring and fall.  These day-long interactive workshops are conducted in locations around the country, allowing PPA members to earn merits for sharing their craft and enabling all photographers to learn new skills and develop professional networking contacts.  

Christopher Castaneda headshot © Will James

All other images © Christopher Castaneda

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This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on August 3, 2010 2:06 PM.

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