Magazine Article


State of the Union
Boutwells Commit to Novel & Edgy Images

bride dancing on beach
© Boutwell Studio

couple in the water
© Boutwell Studio

couple spinning
© Boutwell Studio

bride in the laundromat
© Boutwell Studio

couple being toasted
© Boutwell Studio

couple seated on sofa
© Boutwell Studio

couple dancing
© Boutwell Studio

couple on the beach
© Boutwell Studio

"I was looking for something really unique—something to just hit me in the face, visually. Their style was ultimately the top choice, and I think their personality and energy as a couple is intertwined with that style."

While the big day is still months away, Chin is very happy with his engagement pictures. "The intensity of color, the composition, the uses of natural light and shadows, and even just the memories of running around old town Orange for the first time were things we really liked looking at in our pictures.

"Going in, the expectation was to have one fantastic picture come out of our set. Within the first dozen pictures, we had already found a great photo we loved, and then we found more of them as we kept looking. We're totally stoked about having our wedding shot by Doug and Chenin."

The Know-How
Another key difference in how Boutwell Studio serves clients is that they start the album design process with a finished design in mind. Instead of telling clients to select photos and get back to them —usually months, sometimes years later—Chenin and Doug create the album the way they would like it to look, then have the couple come to the studio to review the book.

"We proof the album proposal on a Polaroid 30-inch wide-screen LCD, which makes the images really pop," says Doug. "They can change as much as they want, or approve it as is. We go page by page with them, and help make any changes. We've always felt that guiding our clients through the process is important because it allows us to give them an album we're thrilled with."

The twosome won first place at the WPPI Album competition this year for an album submitted in the studio category (album submitted by two or more photographers). It wouldn't be Boutwell if their design weren't a little different. They offer one style of album they call their monograph.

"We coined the term because we wanted to make a distinction between what we're doing, and the magazine-style books that potential clients see when they're choosing a photographer," Chenin says.

While they use the Leather Craftsmen 3500 series flush-mount books as a platform, the Boutwells typically place one photo per side throughout their albums.

"As often as possible, we like to have photos run double-truck or full-page and we leave white space if they don't. It's a minimalist design, but we feel that good photos don't need to be dressed up," Doug says. "It's been a smash with our clients, who often say that the albums were an important part of their decision to hire us."

Bludomain ( designed the Boutwells' website with a built-in client proofing area and shopping cart. This is essential for their destination weddings, specifically, clients living in Taiwan, the Netherlands, or the U.K., who are getting hitched in Southern California.

"We use the very flexible EOS cart by Peter Berger ( to provide all our clients with online proofing, album ordering, and cover choices," says Doug. "We have an integrated payment gateway where clients can pay their bills directly online with their credit card. Our site is a very important part of why we can attract and service international clients and bookings."

Digital Duo
Using their Canon collection of 20Ds and 1Ds, Chenin and Doug shoot 100% in raw, allowing them to nail the color every time, even in mixed-light situations. "The 20Ds are especially great, because we can shoot in low-light situations without using flash," Doug says.

They photograph almost exclusively with prime lenses for the low-light options and sense of intimacy that can be lost by using a long telephoto lens.

"By 'zooming with our feet,' we become physically involved in the creation of every image and are forced to use background elements, which are often eliminated by the use of a zoom lens, to enhance the composition of the photo," Chenin says.