Raleigh Editorial Photography

The History of My Personal Creative Projects

I started my business back in the summer of 2006, with my focus just being on weddings. Wedding photography taught me a lot about still life, action and portrait photography. At the time wedding photography had a particular look and going outside of that was not what brides wanted. Outside of the classic wedding look, the trend was to make skies and peoples skin color a green or yellow color. I’m not going to say I didn’t participate in the trend; it’s just going to be hard for you to prove that I did. The wedding industry goes through a lot of trends but in my 12 years that was one of the worst. From the start, I never saw myself shooting Raleigh editorial photography.

The Early Years

After about two or three years, I could tell my photography was becoming stale. I was shooting the same images and posing people the same way. I started to look for a way to change my photography. Still being in the late 2000’s there weren’t a lot of resources for photographers just starting off. Social media was still in its infancy, and there wasn’t a great way to communicate with the photography world without going to conventions out of state or local meet up groups. Without any other recourse, I turned to the one thing I had that I could shoot whenever I wanted; My children.

The Benefits of Children

My children became my go-to models/test subjects when I wanted to try out new poses, new lighting, or new ideas. At the time I felt that I was wasting my time doing these fun portraits and not focusing on wedding portraits. I would dress up the oldest kids in togas and pose them with random items or make dress them up in full suits and make them stand out in the middle of a field. Looking back on the shoots I did with my kids I realized it had all been practice for future shoots. I had unknowingly sharpened my skills at composite photography and off camera lighting during full sun. What I first had taken to be silly or time-wasting became the way I grew and learned new techniques

Time Wasting

Once I had come to the realization that my little time-wasting shoots were helping me to develop as a photographer, I started to shoot them more purposefully. In 2012 I started doing a lot more with lighting and off camera lighting. By that time social media was a part of everyday life and communicating with other photographers was easier than ever. Being exposed to new lighting set-ups, gelling, constant lights, and photoshop techniques. I would often try and reverse engineer lighting setups and try it out. Doing multi-light setups, adding in backgrounds, or freezing motion while my kids jumped on the living-room couch. Starting off I was purely a natural light photographer, and if it were a bright day, I would run to the shade to shoot in. Raleigh editorial photography was the farthest thing from my mind.

No Restrictions

I was never really interested in shooting my clients in a studio. One reason for that was because I didn’t have access to a studio space but more than that I enjoyed landscapes and outdoor photography. All that being said, my at home practicing started to be applied to my wedding photography and portrait work with my paying clients. Now I could shoot at noon on the brightest day, or I could shoot at night and create equally dynamic and compelling portraits. Early on I would fear shooting bridal portraits, not at “golden hour” or someone asking for a studio shoot. I don’t want to give the impression that I was shooting excellent portraits only after a few practice shoots. My current portrait style took about four to five years to get to a point where I was satisfied and that it was convenient to shoot with my clients.

The Start

After years of practicing everything on my kids, I slowly started to give them a break and moved on to shooting styled bridal shoots or my version of a trash the dress sessions. All my creative photography become centered around weddings. Every shoot was either in a wedding dress or a suit. These types of shoots led me to realize what I wanted to achieve for my wedding clients. By this time in the wedding world, the must-have photography style was bright and airy. While this was a simple enough style it didn’t challenge me creatively and it wasn’t always possible when you are shooting a wedding on a stormy day or if you are in a hotel ballroom.

Styled shoots and my creative bridal shoots became a way to show off that bright and airy wasn’t the only way to shoot. Moody and cinematic became my go-to style for my creative photography. I was hoping to be able to show future clients that there were other options as far as style.

The Eno River

My approach to my creative photography became to do studio styled lighting in outdoor locations. My first series started off at the Eno River in Durham, NC. I was reintroduced to this location by a bride and groom who wanted to shoot their engagement portraits at the river.  The summer of 2015, I decided to shoot bridal portraits at the Eno River and also in the Eno River. I asked around to friends to see if they had any wedding gowns they were willing to part with. After several weeks I was able to find five or six gowns that people were willing to part with. On a very hot summer day nine models, three assistants, and I went down to the Eno River and shot for about six hours. It felt really good to be chest deep in the river. The result was my first collaborative creative project.

Personal Growth

My personal projects have ranged from shooting my kids to standing in the middle of a river shooting a bride. I try to actively be shooting for personal growth each month. Whether it is one of my “In Progress” projects or some new technique that I want to master. It helps to keep my skills sharp and the creative juices flowing. Be on the lookout for new Raleigh editorial photography projects involving gold and movie monsters.

Art in Bloom

A 2017 and 2018 creative project involving Raleigh makeup artist, hair stylist, and florist. Unbelievable creativity from all involved.

Dispersion (Coming Soon)

New Athletic Project in the works.

Mothers through the Decades

A 2016 project I worked on with hairstylist Cheri Leathers and makeup artist, Ashley Bromerski. Spotlighting styles and looks from mothers and daughters over the decades.


A series focusing on brides and non-bridal hair and makeup. Most shot against the backdrop of junkyards and junk cars. This was my first big collaborative Raleigh editorial photography series.

Sugar Skull Sisters

A project started with my two oldest daughters and carried on with my younger ones. Hair, makeup, and design by Wink Hair & Makeup.

Yoga in the Road

First editorial athletic series. Kept it simple. Yoga + Road.

Retro Project

Working with bridal hair and makeup is my main job. From bridals to the wedding day. The “Retro Project” is a continuous personal project of mine, that focuses on styles of the past. Trying to capture the feel of past.

Eno River Project

2015 & 2016

My first personal project that didn’t involve my children and my first try at editorial photography. I spent two summers in the Eno River shooting bridal portraits. I look back on some of these and wonder why I was so crazy.

Thank you for visiting my Raleigh editorial photography page. To see my commercial work from past clients follow the link or if you want to see publications I have been featured in.

If you have any questions about my creative photography projects or if you are interested in collaborating feel free to contact me.

Chris@nietophotography.com | 9194955916