When Image is Key

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This story was originally published in the February/March 2015 issue of Chattanooga Magazine.

Brad Cansler is in the business of making important memories last for a lifetime. After over 20 years in the photography business, Cansler has built a reputation of providing creative and inspiring quality images to clients from Chattanooga and the surrounding area.

A pivotal event in his own life sparked an interest in the world of photography. “Honestly, the photographs of my own wedding were just so bad that I figured I could do better,” explains Cansler. After going to several photography workshops, it was obvious that Cansler had a great deal of natural talent and the course instructor recommended that he continue studying.

What started as a creative outlet and personal challenge turned into a way to make a living in the early 90s when Cansler officially went into business and began capturing, literally, picture-perfect moments for high school seniors, couples and families, to name a few of his specialties.

Much of the work, about forty percent, is done from his visually stunning headquarters. Setting up a flexible studio in a Victorian–era house in the Fortwood Historic District in Chattanooga, Cansler is able to offer clients custom settings for photo shoots that appeal to a variety of portraiture styles.

“When I bought this place in 1994, I had been looking for a beautiful commercial space with nice offices, but also something that was comfortable and more like a home in which I could showcase portraits,” says Cansler. “This enables clients to be able to picture how a portrait would look in their own home. I just wanted people to feel comfortable in this space.”

One room in the house is set up as a bedroom to better facilitate mother and newborn portraiture, as it provides a peaceful, comforting and natural environment. However none of the rooms in the house are themed in any way, since Cansler likes to provide each client with a unique experience.

“I like to tell my clients that we are obsessed with creating something different for everyone as opposed to just plugging in their face to a pre-designed set or look,” explains Cansler. “This is especially important in our work with high school seniors, as we like to really bring out their personality in the photographs.”

Corporate photography and non-traditional family portraits make up the bulk of the studio’s work.

To be able to provide this kind of personalized service, Cansler and his team go to great lengths to make sure they understand what the client wants. He typically requires an in-person meeting before the actual photo shoot takes place so that he can meet the client or family in advance to discuss details, like whether the shoot will take place at the house or if the client has another outside location in mind.

“If we are doing a family shoot, I also like to get a feel for everyone’s personalities, what the kids are into, and where the family hopes to display the final portrait. All these details will affect how the actual photo shoot is set up,” explains Cansler.

Besides working with families and individuals, Cansler also excels in corporate photography and hopes to continue growing that part of his business in the future, both in Chattanooga and other surrounding cities like Nashville, Atlanta and Knoxville. While Cansler realizes that many companies may not see the need for a professional photography in an effort to cut costs, he thinks there is definitely a value in hiring someone who does the job correctly the first time.

“I really think for a corporation, image is key. It’s important for a company to ask themselves, ‘What do we want this photograph to say about our business? What kind of statement are we trying to make?’ If you want to convey an image of professionalism and quality, investing in a professional really is essential,” says Cansler. “Because corporate photography can be challenging in terms of lighting and setting up the photo, hiring someone with experience in that area is even more crucial so that the money spent isn’t wasted.”

Whether Cansler is working with a family, an individual or a corporate group, the work doesn’t stop when the photo shoot is complete. After the images are retouched, clients also decide what type of print they want, from printing on museum quality papers to custom oil-glazed canvases, broad options make the decisions for clients a bit more challenging. The studio also works with a custom framing company based in Chicago to ensure that the frame is as high a quality as the image and that it enhances the photograph. Many of the frames are hand made or hand gilded, ensuring that every detail of the finished portrait meets a standard of excellence. Cansler’s studio even offers home delivery to make sure that wall portraits are hung correctly in a client’s home or office.

Commercial client, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel Managing Partner Dana Perry, chose Cansler Photography to do associate’s portraits for the firm. “Brad’s work as a professional portrait photographer transcends the norm,” says Perry. “His skill and artistry bring out his subject’s essence in the portraits he does.”

“Our business is founded on relationships. People have many options when choosing a photographer, so we feel a certain level of responsibility when they choose us,” says Cansler. “Our goal is to provide a very personalized service to our clients so that they are thrilled when they leave and will recommend our services to others.”

For more information, go online to canslerphotography.com.

Photography courtesy of Candler Photography

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Lindsey Mitchell is a frequent contributor to Chattanooga Magazine.

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