The memories photographer Carmen Heller-Chariton has of climbing up apple and cherry trees during the warm summers in the small villages of Poland have greatly influence her photography style as an adult.
“That’s why I love old, rustic - so run down but yet so lovely. Those are my favorite memories. That falling apart stuff,” says Chariton. “There is always something, somewhere. I find beauty in everything.”
Chariton lives in Crown Point and has two businesses: CHC Photography, Inc. and Tales of a Dream, which she has been running with her friend and photographer Jamie Skripac for the last four years. Chariton grew up in Germany and Poland and says something artistic was always happening in the house as her mom loved to draw and her dad made home décor items out of wood. Chariton was able to take her first photography class in 1999 in Michigan while she worked as an au pair.
Chariton was hooked after the first class.
“I took as many classes as I could fit in,” says Chariton. “My dad had an old camera, that I would take pictures with but in Germany you can’t take just study photography – classes are based on training for a skill. I got accepted into a school but I didn’t have enough money to attend. I went to the United States to visit my mom’s cousin for a month and I really liked it.”
Chariton says as she refines her approach to photography she likes to keep things simple. It’s because of this that some clients call her a magician.
Dara Grady, of Crown Point, says Chariton has been photographing her family for the last 8 years.
“Carmen is masterful at capturing those candid moments where children are being children. And that’s what pictures are about – memories.”
Business partner Skripac says there can be a lot of stress when you are photographing little kids.
“But it never mattered how crazy it felt, if my kids were awesome for one second Carmen was on it. And I’m thinking, did we get anything? Then she will send me our pictures and I’m always near tears looking at them,” says Skripac. “She just magically gets those awesome shots.”
Skripac agrees with Grady regarding Chariton’s skill with candid moments.
“Women can be very critical of themselves but Carmen knows how a woman wants to look. She knows how to pose someone the right way and she does the right amount of retouching – you still look like yourself but just way better,” says Skripac.
Chariton says she likes to keep the pictures about the people.
“I like to keep it natural, not unattainable. After a few hours with a family, magic usually happens. I don’t mind if kids are pouty or walking around. I like to accommodate my clients but still have my style,” says Chariton.
To learn more about Chariton and her photography businesses visit chc-photography.com