DCharles Photography | Minneapolis St. Paul Wedding + Family Portrait Lifestyles » Minneapolis Wedding Photography Blog

Como is one of the jewels of St. Paul. This Como wedding was also a jewel. Beautiful September wedding weather, many guests arriving from out of state, and a fun bunch to spend the day with.

Like many weddings you’ll find a variety of photo styles here. For one style, I attempt to shoot spontaneously, capturing a photojournalistic feel. Like the bride’s head resting on the groom’s chest, or the bride and her father sharing a moment shortly before the ceremony.

For another portion of the wedding day, portraits are the norm. Like the bride on the walk bridge, or the entire bridal party.

Then there’s everything in between. Scenes that are guided along, yet mostly casual, arriving on the door step of photojournalism.

Congrats to Kelly + Trey!

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This past autumn was beautiful and mild, to say the least. Enough to make you think about climate change. Even after winter arrived, there haven’t been many bone chilling days, save for a few.

Here are a few portraits from our various archery sessions, from mid autumn into early winter.

Oh yeah, there’s also the one gardener-pitch fork-portrait. I pulled MP away from her end of season, garden clean up chores, for a few photos. One of the many perfect days this fall.

This photography style is graphic, rich in color and intensity,  similar to my fitness photography. Whereas the wedding photography is softer with more high key backgrounds, yet still graphic.


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47 degrees and wet. The rain stopped at dusk.  The fitness models never complained, but they were happy to exercise and warm up. Great shoot! Action and angular lines combine with a gritty look. On the second photo, notice the water spaying off Katie’s shoes. The last photo shows the strain of the workout.


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The heat and humidity, combined with high winds forced us to change most of our outdoor photo plans. That’s the way weddings are some days, plan B style, go with the flow. Everybody stayed cool, calm. Nice! Megan & Austin kept a great attitude at the Minneapolis Event Center. When the sun dropped and it cooled down later that evening, we finally headed to the Stone Arch Bridge and other parts for outdoor photos.

Good luck, Megan & Austin!

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Once the four of us decided to take a vacation in New Orleans, Lousiana (NOLA), it didn’t take long for Susanne to find a VRBO on Algiers Point, just across the river from the French Quarter. The VRBO is in a quiet residential area with a wonderful breakfast spot around the corner called Toot de Suite Cafe.

The VRBO is run by Mark and Angela from Maison Touriste New Orleans. Mark and Angela also run TeachMe Tours of New Orleans. We booked two of their walking tours, the Cocktail History tour and the VooDoo Tour, which was lead by James. Both tours were historical, educational, and well worth the money.

To travel from Algiers Point to the French Quarter, we would walk four blocks to the Ferry Terminal, then take the five minute ferry ride across the Mississippi.  If you are headed in the opposite direction, to Algiers Point for the day from the French Quarter, the first business you encounter is the Dry Dock Cafe, below left. A fine spot to begin your day for food or drink. While wandering the levee on Algiers Point you might run into Gene, as we did several times during our stay. The first time meeting Gene I took one exposure, in fact that’s the only exposure of Gene the whole vacation. The second time we bumped into Gene at the local convenience store, where he gave us some after dark advice. We never had any problems, but we did wander in a group, nowhere near the area Gene indicated.

Old Point Bar (below) was the best dive bar we encountered. Old Point Bar is a few blocks downstream from the Ferry Terminal on Algiers Point. This bar has plenty of character, and has nightly music.

Fritzel’s (below) claims to be the oldest operated jazz club in New Orleans. We didn’t catch any music at Fritzel’s, but we did view the history decorating the walls.

Antoine’s Restaurant (below), circa 1840, is the old world grand dame of fine French-Creole dining and birthplace of oysters Rockefeller. Antoine’s has 14 dining rooms of various sizes. The dining room below is called (you guessed it) the Escargot Room.

We had our first Sazerac Cocktail here at Antoine’s. The Sazerac Cocktail was invented by a nearby apothecary in 1838.

The Mighty Mississippi! This turn in the river where the Ferry crosses is 200′ deep with an 11 knot current. That’s intense. We watched one day as a tugboat with 12 barges seemed to lose its direction, then aggressively reverse engines to straighten the haul back downstream.

Street performers are plentiful in the French Quarter. Some how we became engaged with this street performer below, she appeared out of thin air. After a donation to the performer, I had my own 20 second street performance.

New Orleans is know for its music scene, much of it jazz related. The Spotted Cat is a small but well known jazz club. We listened to and danced to the klezmer like, Panorama Jazz Band. There were maybe 100 people standing and 6 folks dancing on what floor room was left. We were 3 of the 6 dancers. The Spotted Cat is a cool cat!

The VooDoo tour, by TeachMe Tours, is historical, taking you back to the slave trade and early New Orleans. You’ll learn fact from fiction about VooDoo, Marie Laveau, fortune telling, and zombies.

The weather was beautiful again for our swamp tour, warm enough to see plenty of alligators. The largest we spotted was 12′ long, just laying on a log, soaking up the sun. This tour was on Lake Martin, near Lafayette. The only disappointment here was the lack of birds. The weather has been so warm, many birds don’t migrate this far south any more. We spotted egrits and cormorants and that was about it, not very exciting on the birding front.

Our friends Mike and Susanne, taking a short break for a photo in front of this painterly wall in the French Quarter.

I couldn’t resist three Cafe Du Monde employees taking a break, facing away from the action of the Cafe and Jackson Square. I’m sure they’ve seen it all, so facing the wall provided some peace. That’s my guess, anyway.

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After the wedding, what do you do with the all the wedding images? Many couples receive a disk or thumb drive, post a few images to social media, then place the storage device in a drawer and forget about it. Why not make a wedding book. Once you have a book you can easily show off your wedding for generations.

The wedding book featured below comes with a custom Art Box (first photo) that stores your book. Display the Art Box and book on your coffee table or book shelf.

The book itself has a classic leather cover featuring a photo window. Many cover options are available, including metal, acrylic, satin and more. You can also order a parent book, which is a smaller version of the primary wedding book.

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One of the benefits of this photography life is when your clients become your friends. Here are a few thank you cards from photo sessions this past year in which my client/friends were appreciative of my work and our relationship. One of these cards is from a family photo shoot, the others are all from weddings. I love getting cards in the mail!


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Nicole and Tim had their ceremony and reception at the venerable Germanic American Institute on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Nicole wore a vintage wedding dress which matched the motif of GAI. What was unmatched, was their first dance. The First Dance was a choreographed, artistic, athletic endeavor, synced to the music. The dance included spins, throws, ariels, overheads……you name it, they did it. They definitely put their heart and soul into a beautiful day and dance.

Bravo!! Nicole and Tim

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Canvas Wall Portrait and Family Album from our family photo shoot on Madeline Island.

This photo session was part family portrait and part “day in the life” of the Brown family. Portions of the day were staged, while others were spontaneous. The rest of the day was a mixture of whatever lies between these two bookends. We had some specific ideas of where to shoot on Madeline Island,  places where the family likes to spend time during summer vacation. Although it was a bit cold for jumping into Lake Superior (a summer past time), we were able to capture beautiful autumn color, with a bonus of rain clouds in the background.

The first two images below show a canvas wall portrait. As the name implies, its canvas stretched around a 1 1/2″ wooden frame, and comes ready to hang. No framing required.

The rest of the photos in this post show the family album we produced. The album is a lay flat design with a quarter leather cover and spine with photos front and back. This album consists of 10 spreads, 20 pages. Due to the lay flat design, photos can carry over across the spread without any worry about a gutter, like a typical magazine.

If you are looking to capture family memories, a family legacy that will be passed on for generations, call me. We can set up a family portrait session or a “day in the life” record. Create your legacy today.


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Lisa and Dell met on a cruise, then married on a cruise.

Aboard the Bella Vista, from Al & Alma’s on Lake Minnetonka, Lisa and Dell were married. We started the day at their home on the Lake, then proceeded to Al & Alma’s for the cruise and dinner. The night finished off with a surprise, ten minute fireworks show over the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Great Day, Great Wedding, Great Night!

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Farrah & Brian had a beautiful, but rather warm day for their wedding at the Earle Brown Center. Most of the day went as planned, even Brian’s final dance, proving his worth. As you’ll see, this wedding had more than its share of adorable children.

Congrats! Farrah & Brian

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Couldn’t help it…..I just became enamored with this ceremony site for Sara & Ryan. I wasn’t shooting the wedding, non the less, I couldn’t stop myself from shooting at this site on private property. The red pine, pine needles, the summer breeze and friends were all to motivating. Then the windows, what a metaphor.



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Generally I shoot family portraits outdoors. However, this light and lovely, sunroom on Lake Minnetonka drew me inside for a portion of the session. When we cut little Lyndon loose, he found my assistants sunglasses to play with. Whatever makes him happy! Totally love the portraits in sunroom.

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It rained most of the afternoon……. That worked out just GREAT!

Don’t let a little rain get in the way. Our initial plans were all scuttled for the day, so plan B it was. Morgan and Brady went with the flow, having a great day at the MN Landscape Arboretum.

Good Luck Morgan + Brady!


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The entire family together? It doesn’t happen often for us, so I took this casual, impromptu family portrait, on the backside of the Valkyrie brewery. I tend to shoot in locations similar to this anyway, but not for family portraits. We were running short on time, so we only took three exposures.

The second version has the added scratches and dog eared corners for more of the vintage look.



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This day didn’t go anything like we planned. It was even better! Don’t let a little rain get in the way.

We had previously scouted the MN Landscape Arboretum to check out what plants were blooming, and what backgrounds would work for our photos. The morning of the wedding was cloudy with rain predicted. We kept holding onto the hope that the outdoor ceremony and photos would work out. Eventually the rain came, a sprinkle at first, then moderate, yet steady rain. No definition in the sky. Radar confirming the rain wasn’t going to stop. The patient and helpful crew from the Arboretum finally moved the ceremony indoors. We had already been taking photos under the cover of a  porch. The light was beautiful. Everybody was in a great mood. I love the rain!



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A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet, and then photograph, the wedding of Abbie and Jesse. Recently, I had another chance to photograph them as a growing family. Both days were so much fun. Meeting their daughter, who is very patient with her photographer, was a kick. We had the photo session on a beautiful, sunny morning around the Mill City Museum, then headed into the Guthrie for a change of pace.


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Join us at the Art 4 Shelter, one night only, benefit sale. The sale features over a 1000 original works of art on paper. The sale is Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at the Burnet Gallery, Le Meridien Chambers Hotel located at 901 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. Preview at 6:00 p.m. Art Sale at 7:00 p.m. The Art 4 Shelter event benefits Simpson Housing Services, whose mission is to house, support and advocate for people experiencing homelessness.

Below are some of my submissions for this event.

Learn more about Art 4 Shelter here.

See you Wednesday. Don

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We are unleashing these extreme fitness photos from author Mike Gillette, taken for his Rings of Power fitness book. Besides being an author, Mike is a former SWAT commander, paratrooper and executive bodyguard. Also featured here is the amazing Adrienne Harvey, who seems to have no limits to her talent. If your fitness routine is lacking a spark, or is boring you with repetition, try adding weights, or hanging upside down, using the Rings of Power style of fitness. It was a pleasure working with Mike and Adrienne, along with Dragon Door on this incredible photo shoot. Good luck team!



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What a pleasure it was to photograph the book, Master the Kettlebell, with author Max Shank, Master RKC, and Beth Andrews, RKC.  Max and Beth make each exercise look so easy. Believe me, its not! And don’t even try playing catch with a kettlebell, like Max does further down this post. Before shooting this exercise, I asked Max if he wanted a bit of practice to warm up before we started shooting. No he says, lets go. So be it. We photographed that short series in one sequence, studio flashes repeatedly going off as Max nailed every rotation of the kettlebell, flawlessly.

This shoot took place in the basement of a now defunct workout facility in the St. Paul area. Master the Kettlebell can be purchased at Dragon Door for $19.95.

Extreme fitness photography for extremely fit athletes!

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What a great wedding day for Kate and Michael!

The wedding day started and ended at the venerable Calhoun Beach Club, one of the classic venues in the area. The beautiful arching windows, along with the sweeping staircase make for wonderful backdrops. The ceremony was held at another classic, Incarnation Catholic Church in Minneapolis. In between, we stopped at The Local, which is rather spectacular in its own way with their impressive interior architecture.

Good luck Kate & Michael!


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Just a short time ago we were having fun with this engagement session on a beautiful autumn day. That’s how life flies by. Once you get married, the clock seems to tick faster than ever.

What a lovely couple! This engagement photo session took place along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. We started out walking along one bridge, shooting below another bridge, then finished the session at dusk with the city lights aglow. I’m looking forward to their MN Landscape Aboretum wedding this summer.

“Brady and I love the pictures.”


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Earlier this summer I received this thank you note from Minnesota Heart Gallery for my volunteer photography services. Minnesota Heart Gallery is a photographic exhibit featuring portraits of youth who are, or have at some time been, in need of an adoptive family.

Due to the nature of the project, I can’t show any photos, but I can post the thank you card.

In the past I’ve traveled to the subjects location or a location close to them. In this last case we met at the Mall of America, which was the subjects preference. We then contacted MOA security for approval of this photo session. It was a relaxed photo session, as we walked around MOA and created images as we found items of interest for the background, or found sweet light. Our young subject was such a pleasant, beautiful person, with an incredible smile, that I found myself talking about adoption when I arrived home.



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What a wonderful wedding day for Sophie and Peter in Mankato! We had such a great time with them! The Old Main Village architecture, with the arches, is a beautiful backdrop for the first look, and photos in general.

Here is what Sophie and Peter said in a card they mailed to me after seeing all of their wedding photos.

“Don, We just have to thank you one more time. You are a rockstar! Not only are the pictures true art, but you kept us moving and on schedule all day without ever letting us know you were! Amazing! You will be our #1 call when its family photo time. Thanks for everything.”

Sophie & Peter

Well, thank you Sophie and Peter for showing us such a great time on your wedding day. You are truly wonderful, warm hearted people, and a JOY to work with. Much appreciated!






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While this building, built in 1869 served as a wonderful drop for our “first look”, it is the bride’s hands that say it all. The straightened fingers and bent wrists at 90˙ help you feel the excitement, anticipation and energy of the moment. This beautiful location is the Old Main Village in Mankato.


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We arrived at noon, knocked on the door at the Hilton, and waited. There wasn’t much sound inside, although I could hear some rustling around. A young lady came to the door as I could hear more shuffling in the background. Then I hear “it’s the photographers” in an excited voice. The bride then says they, Mom and her, ” just had a moment”, but she’ll pull herself back together for the photos.

That special moment had already passed, but I kept it in the back of my mind as we carried on with the rest of the photos. As everyone was leaving the hotel for our next location, I asked if I could get a couple photos of Mom with daughter-bride in the other room. This is the emotional result.

Mother-Daughter Moment

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This senior photo shoot features beautiful, autumn color. There is a hint of impressionism coming through these images. I love the fading path with shadows cutting across right to left. Then the prominent tree and Catherine crossing at a 90˙ angle. The muted colors, the soft backlighting and short depth of field offer a gorgeous backdrop for our senior.

Good luck Catherine!




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When I schedule a senior photo shoot, either on location or in studio, I request that a parent or friend accompany us on the shoot. In Pete’s case, the family was on their way to the State Fair that day, so the whole family joined us for the shoot. There we were, firing away in the early morning light at Mears Park in downtown St. Paul, with everyone excited to hit the Fair.

We started out with portraits in the park, then moved on to “street” photography, shooting and walking, shooting and talking, exploring as we moved along. These are some of my favorite photos, with the extreme out of focus street scenes for backgrounds. It has the look of a photojournalistic approach, with images that are spontaneous, unfettered, real, truthful.

Congratulations and good luck to Pete as he enters The Carlson School of Management.

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This senior photo shoot started out in Cassie’s back yard. We wandered around the surrounding woods and fields, stopping to shoot here and there, then headed over to great Grandma Elaine’s to capture some of the lake feeling with the cattails.

This shoot unexpectedly  featured a few different animals. At first there was Ron the Rooster, then a bit later a coyote walked out from behind the big boulder we were headed to. Then to my surprise they took me into an old deer stand elevated in the tree. Inside this tree house like stand was a baby vulture, about the size of a chicken. That baby vulture didn’t like us one bit as it hissed away, telling us to scatter. I was looking around, a bit nervous, not sure if the parent vulture would be coming to protect the baby.

You never know what’s going to happen during a senior photo shoot in Sugar Camp, WI.

Cassie is my sisters grand child, my grand niece, I guess. Good luck next year at UW Stout Cassie! Hope you don’t hear any stories about me while you’re there!

The Story in in the Image.

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Years ago Bob and Karen planted the boxelder tree in the backyard when they started their home.  The kids would play under and climb up the boxelder tree. Now the grand kids play in the same tree, which features elegant, tenuous branches reaching out for sunlight beyond the frame of the photo. This family portrait session took place last summer. This winter, the elegant branches were broken off by a heavy snowfall. What timing! After all these years to have the family portrait taken shortly before the branches were snapped off by the snow burden. Now Bob and Karen have the memories of this tree in its glory, along with the family, hanging on the wall forever. This is why I prefer sessions that reflect who you are. Stories that incorporate your interests, hobby, or history. The Story is in the Image.

This ready to hang family portrait is printed on classic canvas. No framing required. DSC_8438-900Opti

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When Derek was born prematurely, his arm fit through his dad’s wedding ring. He spent months in the hospital fighting to get bigger and stronger, one ounce at a time. That tiny infant is now a healthy, strong, active young man who plays sports and hunts when he can with his buddy, Bailey.

If a photo is worth a thousand words, then a photo of Derek, at this passage, is a thousand words plus many emotions and memories. But aren’t all passage photos like this? The drama may play out in different ways, but we all have memories and stories of our kids from day one. To me each senior photo session is dramatic in its own way.

What worked perfectly in this senior photo shoot is the variety of Derek’s looks. In the first photo with the basketball, Derek looks calm and confident, feeling sure of himself. In the next set of photos he is smiling, then concentrating during the end of a golf swing. This wasn’t a posed swing; he was out there really striking the golf ball. Follow this with the quiet happiness of hunting with Bailey. The final photo reflects the drama of his birth, holding his Dad’s wedding ring.

This senior photo shoot was taken on location at our Turtle Creek property in western Wisconsin.

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Model photography, while fun, should hopefully lead to photography work for the model. Sure, its fun to model, but lets make some money while we’re at it. In the Twin Cities much of the model work is related to business, and a portion of that business work is in the medical field. That’s why we started this model shoot with a simple medical feeling, with Martine wearing a medical smock. We followed the medical look with a business outfit, to grab the attention of the large array of business photo shoots that take place in the Twin Cites. Then it was time for some creativity, as we moved on to the beauty and fashion look. Showing off Martine’s beautiful Peruvian looks and attitude were going to make this model shoot. I believe we captured those looks quite well!

All photos were taken with window light, with a few of the photos featuring Rembrandt lighting. Rembrandt lighting has that triangle of light on the shadow side of the face.

If you’re looking to earn extra money in the modeling field, contact DCharles Photography. We can set up a model shoot and produce a composite to get you headed in the right direction. I can tell you which model agencies to contact so you can start having fun, and earning money in the modeling world too.


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