Who are we?


n29705128_32551953_2520Crystal Genes, Charlotte, NC Wedding and Portrait Photographer


n676392880_1454300_1458Laura Meyer, Chicago, IL Wedding and Portrait Photographer

n29705128_35950284_8358Laura Manzare, Charlotte, NC Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Read down to see our own profiles:)


Crystal Genes Photography – Charlotte, NC

Meet Crystal,  a Charlotte, NC wedding and portrait photographer who shoots with her right eye using a Nikon camera.  She shoots JPEG and is not ashamed to say that she shoots 95% of the time in Aperture or Shutter priority with the use of the exposure compensation control.  She doesn’t use many actions except for getting punchiness, but occasionally she’ll use some Kubota or TRA.  She also has a few that she made for herself.

crystal-and-ben-227Photo by Laura Manzare



Twitter – Crystal Genes – follow me!

Facebook – be my fan!


Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
About 4 years ago, when my friend volunteered me to shoot her friend’s wedding, I had no interest. I considered it for a while, did a little research about it, and realized that wedding photography was a LOT different than I had assumed, and I started to get excited. I shot the wedding at-cost and really enjoyed it. I continued doing research, bought some equipment, worked on a website and other online marketing tools, and kept the idea of one day pursuing it as a career in the back of my mind. The next year, I booked 5 weddings really spontaneously through word of mouth, coworkers, old college acquaintances, etc. I enjoyed all of them, but still didn’t really think to start pushing it as a business… just something I could see for the future. The next year, I didn’t do nearly as many weddings, but many more lifestyle, children, and maternity sessions. Towards the end of the year(last year), I realized I really missed all the excitement of shooting weddings and as I was walking in to my day job one day, I thought to myself, “I do NOT want to be making this same walk into work five times a week, at this time next year”.  I used my meager savings, purchased a few advertisements, and really started pushing myself.  Literally every single moment that I am not at my day job, I am working on something related to growing my business, unless someone prys me away. I’m still in the process of getting to my goal, I probably chose a bad year to start pushing, but it’s going very well so far considering, and I’m excited for the future and the day that I can consider this my only full time endeavor.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-24-of-9118-70, 46mm, 1/80, f4.5, ISO 200

What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
Learn all that you can and listen to others ideas, but then use all the information you get to make your own way.  Not every great photographer’s “idea” of how things are, will be, or should be in the industry are correct for everyone.  Do what feels the most right to YOU.  Oh, and don’t stay up late trying to edit images when you are dead tired.  You’ll end up having to go back over all the work you did in the morning!

the-bokeh-pot-faves-65-of-9150mm, 1/30, f1.8, ISO 1000

What makes you different from everyone else?
The same thing that every single other person has said:)  I think it’s time to retire this question… though when I added it to the profile, I meant it more in a sense of “what makes your images different?  Your style.”  So, for me, back in film days, I was always a big fan of black and white images.  When I had to take color photography for college, I was so bummed.  I just KNEW I would hate it.  But I was wrong.  I LOVED it SOOOOO much.  I have always been really good with color in real life (clothes, decorating, etc…) so it made sense that I SHOULD like color photography. I haven’t really looked back since. I constantly strive to acheive more and better color in my images. I also enjoy it most when my images have some aspect of quirkiness to them.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-43-of-9112-24, 24mm, 1/160, f6.3, ISO 200

Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
Actually, I think my friend (from college days) who was featured last week and lives in Charleston now is AMAZING and for sure has a bright future ahead of her!  Tracy Turpen

the-bokeh-pot-faves-33-of-9150mm, 1/1250, f1.4, ISO 400

One item you can’t live without?
My toothbrush and moisturizer.  I have the driest skin.  Photography wise, most people will say their 50 1.4, but I am really not the biggest fan of that lens… I’d much rather have my Tokina 12-24mm wide-angle.  I LOVE that lens.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-45-of-9118-70, 52mm, 1/500, f4.5, ISO 500

Your best bokeh image and why?

the-bokeh-pot-faves-7-of-9118-70, 70mm, 1/60, f5.0, ISO 200

This image doesn’t have wide open bokeh circles, but more subtle.  This has always been one of my favorite images because of the larger reflection in the mirror… you can see her pulling in her dress as her mother ties the sash and the expression on her face is perfect.

Favorite book?
I love everything by Wally Lamb and Julia Alvarez.  I also love “I was Amelia Earhart” by Anne Mendelsohn and “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” by Mark Twain, and I am currently really enjoying “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffeneger.

Favorite movie?
When Harry Met Sally, Me You and Everyone We Know, Best in Show,  and Wild Strawberries

the-bokeh-pot-faves-74-of-9150mm, 1/90, f1.4, ISO 640

Where do you find inspiration?
Things from the past tend to inspire me a lot on a personal level, even new things that remind me of the past (mine or others). When I feel homesick for the old days… memories.  Old photographs (mine or ones I pick up at the flea market).  New photographs that look old.  My notion of what the deep south is or was like, would/have be/been like to live there.  Trees, especially evergreens… old weepy ones.  I’m not saying that any of this is reflected in my work, rather these random things tend to spring me to action.  They get my passion sparking.  And I love looking thru photographers work that is not wedding related, Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Laurie Simmons, and Seydou Keita are my favorites.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-21-of-9118-70, 18mm, 1/8, f3.5, ISO 320

What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
My eyeballs and eyesight. Seriously, not a day goes by that I don’t worry about damaging my eyes. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this at all. I would wear safety glasses all the time if people wouldn’t think I was crazy. Also, if I lost an arm, how would I hold the camera? If I lost a leg, or both legs, how would I manage? Of course, my clients are very valuable as well, because without them, I wouldn’t be anything either, but I wouldn’t even be able to get clients if I didn’t have eyesight.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-87-of-9150mm, 1/500, f1.4, ISO 200

Do you use a second shooter?
Yes, my fabulous boyfriend, Ben, when he is available (since he’s back in school it’s a little more difficult). Hopefully when he’s done, he’ll join me full time as well:)  But, I am constantly on the lookout for backup second shooters!

How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
They need to be dedicated and responsible and thorough to begin with… they need to have work to show that they can produce nice images, and they need to really explain why they want to work with ME specifically:)  And gifts are always nice too:)

dsc_305412-24, 18mm, 1/90, f3.5, ISO 100

If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Tracy, Cliff Mautner, Image is Found

Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
PPA.  I did have a solo show in college in the student gallery, and had work displayed in Hayes McMillan Art Gallery, and Wilkesboro Art Gallery.  One of my goals for this year is to win at least one award of sorts.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-37-of-9118-70, 70mm, 1/250, f8.0, ISO 100

What did you have to do to actually take the leap?  Did you have any hoops to jump through?
I have not yet officially taken the full leap.  I do dream about it every second of the day though.  I know what I have to do before I can take that next step, it’s just a matter of acheiving the first part first.  I calculated every little bill I have in a year (rent, utilities, car, insurance, netflix, etc…), added in a few estimations like gas for my car, food, and came up with a number that is the bare minimum I can survive on.  Then I tacked on to that about 25 percent more to account for federal/state taxes and 8 percent more to account for sales tax.  Once I’ve booked enough jobs to make that number, I can make the leap and jump thru the hoop.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-56-of-91112-24, 19mm, 1/1500, f4.0, ISO 100

Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Dedication.  You have to have it.  At least during the transitioning stage.  It’s not going to be easy at first and you’ll have a lot of dirty work to do before it gets easy, so you have to have enough passion and long term dedication to your goal to get there.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-29-of-9150mm, 1/320, f1.4, ISO 100

What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
I try to do little things to get my friends talking about me. At my job, we help a lot of brides, so if I hear a coworker talking to a bride about whether or not she’s already booked a photographer and they end up leaving with my card, I will buy my coworker any kind of coffee drink they want.  It’s a fun exchange and I love to hear it when it happens.  I also send out $5 coffee cards and Crystal Genes Photography referral cards to past clients.  The client gives the referral card to someone interested in photograhpy services and if it makes it back to me with a booking, the new client gets 10% off, and the old client gets either $20 cash for a portrait session booked or $100 cash for a wedding booked.  At the end of the year, the person who gave out the most cards that came back to me will get something super special.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-76-of-9112-24, 19mm, 1/60, f4.0, ISO 250

Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)?  If for, who have you had the most success with?
I’m not really sure about this one right now.  I dished out a lot of my savings when I took that first step to purchase an online ad on a company’s site that had been recommended highly to me.  I have booked zero clients from that expensive ad.  I have however had luck with facebook advertising.  2 weeks after I signed up for it (I get charged an average of 5-8 dollars per week based on pay per clicks) I booked one of my highest wedding collections.  I think it’s a matter of what site it is and what area that site is most popular in.  Maybe if I was in another city, the expensive ad would be fruitful, maybe not.  I think though, at any rate, it’s a matter of figuring out what works for you.  Don’t do something or don’t do something just because it’s what works for someone else.  It’s all about trial and error and trial and error is all about what makes you more successful.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-15-of-9118-70, 34mm, 1/160, f4.0, ISO 400

What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
I enjoy early mornings out to get the day started.  Coffee and desert would be nice, maybe followed by a little photo shoot, or not.  On the other hand, I enjoy going out with other photographers and not talking much about photography at all.  Driving around location scouting is fun too, and always better with someone else.

the-bokeh-pot-faves-53-of-9112-24, 19mm, 1/250, f4.0, ISO 200

Anything else you would like to share?
I’m a vegetarian, I love decorating magazines and books, I love food, especially authentic ethnic foods usually found in the more sketchy neighborhoods, I love to cook, I love contra dancing, and I love the banjo:)

the-bokeh-pot-faves-48-of-9112-24, 18mm, 1/40, f3.5, ISO 500


Laura Meyer Photography – Chicago, IL

Meet Laura Meyer, a wedding and portrait photographer in the Chicago metro area.  Laura is a right-eyed Nikon shooter.


Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?

It really was a series of events that lead me into photography. In High School I wanted to take photography, but my parents could not afford to buy me a camera. My uncle had inherited my grandfathers Pentax SLR kit when he past away almost ten year before and surprised me with it one afternoon. He thought that I could give it some use, and that I should have it.  It was an amazing, a perfect setup. A great body from 1979, perfect condition and six fast lenses, from macro to telephoto. I learned the magic of B&W photography in high school. I graduated and went to college not sure what I was going to do with my life. I took a month long trip with my college to Africa, I brought my camera and 30 rolls of film. It was an amazing experience!! It was then and there that I decided to change majors and learn as much as I could about photography. Photography is my passion and I feel so lucky to be able to pursue it as a career!

bokehNikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/1250, ISO200, 140mm

What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?

Network, network, NETWORK! Get to know other area photographers. My first two years as a recent grad and new professional were so lonely! I was trying to take on the photography world alone and inexperienced. I met a couple photographers that took me under their wing and shared so much with me. In the last two years I have become really involved in the photography community, attending seminars, meeting with other area photographers, shooting with each other and sharing my ideas.  The photography community is really open, so many experienced photographers are willing to share so much information with you, it is amazing!! I have never heard of another market were competitors are great friends and there are no secrets, makes me love photography even more!

0012Nikon D300, 24-70mm f2.8, 1/125, f/4, ISO400, 28mm

What makes you different from everyone else?

Every photographer has their own unique style and “eye.” I am working on developing my brand to fit my style which is still in the works. Still being new to the wedding industry I am still developing my style, overtime I hope to develop into a unique brand here in Chicago.

Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?

Jasmine Star although she is pretty well known in the industry now she is still relatively new. I love her style and her personality, it really shows through in her brand and her portfolio. I am striving for that in my brand.

0037Nikon D300, 24-70mm f2.8, 1/640, f/3.5, ISO400, 42mm

One item you can’t live without?

My iPhone, it is AMAZING! I have all the information that I need anytime and from anywhere, it is really like a ultra small laptop.

Your own favorite bokeh image?


Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 135mm, 1/320, f/2.8, ISO400

Favorite book?

I am not sure of my favorite book, I am currently reading What I Know Now, Letters to My Younger Self, edited by Ellyn Spragins.  It is a grouping of letters written by extraordinary women of our time sharing their wisdom and what they wish they would have had when they were younger. It really interesting.

Favorite movie?

So many…this is a hard one! Since we just finished the holiday season I would have to say Love Actually, a grouping of funny love stories based around the holidays.


Nikon D300, 24-70mm f/5, 1/125, ISO200, 70mm

Where do you find inspiration?

The Internet, blogs, web forums, Magazines and everyday life. There is inspiration everywhere!

If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?

Jasmine Star…and so many others!!

0063Nikon D300, 24-70mm f2.8, 1/100, f/5, ISO800, 38mm

Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?

I am a member of PPA, WPPI, DWF, and the b-school.

What did you have to do to actually take the leap?  Did you have any hoops to jump through?

I graduated college and made a very bumpy transition from student to professional. I wish I would have networked more while still in college, but I was a working student with no extra time. After college I left my “day job” and jumped into Photography as a career going down many roads before finding the wedding and portrait road was the road I was meant to be on. It was a very hard time in my life, I was broke and struggling to find work.  I made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned a lot from them.

0245Nikon D300, 24-70mm f2.8, 1/200, f/5, ISO400, 70mm

Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?

My advice would be not to be afraid to try things and make mistakes, take that leap and look for a support team. I met a lot of people in similar situations as I was and together we found a way to pursue or dreams as photographer. I love getting together with this group of photographers and looking back at how far we have all come as individual artists!!

Anything else you would like to share?

I am excited to be at WPPI for the first time this February!!

dsc_4817Nikon D300, 24-70mm f2.8, 1/500, f/14, ISO640, 36mm


Laura Manzare Photography – Charlotte, NC

April 2, 2009
First, let me say that I hope you all enjoyed the April Fool’s feature yesterday.  I debated whether or not to do it, but when I realized the schedule for a wednesday posting fell on April 1, I just couldn’t resist!  Many thanks to my friend Ryan for allowing me to use his name and likeness.  He was very proud to be a part of the joke.

I don’t want to leave the prank up for a whole week on top, so it’s perfect timing to welcome back our fabulous contributor Laura Manzare!  She took a little hiatus for a few weeks, but she’s back and ready to help keep the blog’s events updated.  Please welcome her back and help her by emailing her any events/seminars/workshops you know about!  Without further delay…


Meet Laura, a wedding and portrait photographer in Charlotte, NC who shoots with Nikon with her left eye.  She shoots fully manual in RAW and loves Kubota Actions.

crystals-las-vegas-wppi-2009-232-of-333Photo by Crystal Genes




Twitter – lauramanzare

Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?

About a year after I bought my D200 I really wanted to find any job related to photography. I missed working in the studio.  I saw an ad for a local company to be there in house photographer.  It was for a bridal one stop shop sort of thing.  I had never wanted to shoot weddings before, but I decided to see what the owner had to offer.  During my interview I saw the work other wedding photographers had produced and said to myself “just try it”.  After my first wedding I was stoked.  I loved everything about shooting weddings. The amount of love and energy that aluminate on a wedding day is magnificent.


What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?

I learned that in the beginning you will make mistakes.  You have to see how things work best for you and you alone.  Just because Joe Schmo does things one way, doesn’t mean that way will work for you. I also learned to research research research before making a purchase or commitment. The thing I wish I did do in the very beginning is research great lenses.  I have lenses I like, however when I first began I did not plan on shooting weddings.  I never dreamed I would even like to.  When I bought a lot of my equipment, it was for personal use.


What makes you different from everyone else?

I am who I am.  There will never be someone just like me.  This is what sets everyone apart from each other.

Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?

Crystal Genes, she is so creative in ways I only dream to be and she has drive that goes beyond obsession.


One item you can’t live without?

A pen. I make lists like it is my job.  I write on napkins, envelopes, my hands, paper, post it’s… the list goes on and on.  If I cannot write lists of ideas or to dos or doodle…I am useless.  This is business and personal wise.

Your best bokeh image and why?


It’s my favorite because I had this image in my head and it came out just as I wanted it to.  It was one of the first times I had bokeh on purpose.

Favorite book?

I absolutely love the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I also am smitten with Eat Pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert and of course I am a sucker for Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

Favorite movie?

Fried Green Tomatoes, Can’t Buy me love, Say Anything, The Notebook.


Where do you find inspiration?

I like to read other photographer blogs (just as everyone else) but I find inspiration with my clients.  A session I do with one client, I probably could not pull off with another.  Each individual or couple are so unique, I pull from their energy!


What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?

I am an overly organized person.  I need a schedule and a plan.  I need all my ducks in a row or I will feel like I cannot accomplish anything.  (You may think this isn’t a very good thing to share or something to be valuable…).  I say this is the best aspect of my business.  Anyone one can take great photographs.  A person needs organization and plans to run a business.

If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?

Jessica Claire, the Image is found, Gabriel Ryan photographers, Jasmine Star…they are all absolutely amazing in so many ways.


Do you use a second shooter?

I do use second shooters.  I love second shooters. I am only one pair of eyes; I can only be in one place at a time.


How would you recommend someone who wants to second shoot with you get the gig?

If you want to second shoot with me then tell me.  I am a very blunt outgoing person and I cannot read minds.  I am looking for people who have their own equipment, who I love their work, who I enjoy their time (this is where friends come in).  I would much rather shoot a wedding with a friend than someone I don’t know very well. And someone who is dependable.

Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?

I am a first year member of WPPI.  I have not put myself out there, honestly, to even win an award. (I need to bite the bullet and just do it)


What did you have to do to actually take the leap?  Did you have any hoops to jump through?

I am still very much part time.  I am currently taking the leap.  I started off slow and bumpy.  I think everyone (in the beginning) doesn’t know where to start.  I also had trouble deciding what I wanted for my business and how I would go about doing so.


Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?

Have an idea and a plan of where you want to go.  Even if you do not end up exactly in the place you wanted, at least you had a path to get there.


What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?

This is really not creative at all and it is very small.  When I eat out at a restaurant I leave a good tip and also leave my business card.  Its worked out so far.  It beats the lame conversation “I am a photographer…no really I am”.

Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)? If so what have you been successful with?

I currently do not advertise.  I have heard a lot of negative that goes along with it.  I’m sure it works for some.  I would rather build a client base off of word of mouth, that way a prospective client has someone else telling them how their experience was.   For anything, just not photography, I would buy something a friend suggested and loved, before going blindly into a purchase.


What is your idea of the perfect photographer network date?

The more I hear networking the more nervous I get.  I honestly do not like that word.  I was at WPPI this February and Jessica Claire spoke about how she doesn’t really “network” she has friends.  I’d rather make friends than make business associates.  So if I was going to have a friend date… I’d like to do something that my friend and I enjoy doing together.  Example, Crystal Genes has taken me all over town trying crazy meals I never would have planned.  Ethiopian cuisine!

Anything else you would like to share?

What else do you want to know?  I am an open book.


2 Responses to Who are we?

  1. […] were to ask me “Name one thing you can’t live without.” Well, believe it or not, the Bokeh ladies asked. And are you ready for my response? I SAID […]

  2. I love the one of the little girl looking up – it is very precious!

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