Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Recharging Batteries

After a very exciting and successful year, Cami & I FINALLY took a little break. I lovingly call Cami "my little travel agent" because she always finds these neat trips to take and places for us to visit. This one was no different! We took a cruise that actually left from right here in Charleston! How cool is THAT!?! We sailed on the Norwegian Majesty down to Grand Cayman, on to Cozumel, then to Key West, and finally back home. I think Cami's favorite port was in Grand Cayman because of her new feathered friend. :-) Personally, I enjoyed the ATV Jungle Adventure in Cozumel waaaay too much, as evidenced by the mud that covered me head to toe at the finish line. Of course we touched the southern most tip of the United States while in Key West. And we had plenty of other good times both on the ship and off. It was WONDERFUL to get away, relax, and recharge our batteries in preparation for all the exciting surprises that 2007 will have in store for us. See ya next year!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Magic

Larry Lipov, president of Pearlstine Distributors, was so pleased with the photography we provided at his son's Bar Mitzvah last month, that he asked us to cover another big event for him! He had worked and worked to book the famous Budweiser Clydesdale Horses to come to Charleston this year. While they were in town, he was having a special "Holiday Magic" luncheon in honor of all his employees and their families. He wanted each of those families to have the gift of a holiday portrait they would never forget. So we set up a little scene with the lead Clydesdale and his shiny red wagon. As we photographed each family, the camera wirelessly transmitted their images to a computer inside the big tent where the lunch was to be served. The event logo was added to the image and a 5x7 print was made on our high-speed portable photographic printer. The image was slipped into a professional folio to frame and protect it. By the time each family had wandered inside for lunch, their portrait was already completed and on display for them to pick up. They were amazed by OUR "Holiday Magic"! But giving each family this unique portrait they would never forget was the REAL magic moment for us!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Season's Greetings

The Christmas Season is almost here! Each December, Cami, Henry, and I try to get a nice photo taken that we can share with family and friends. (You can take a look at last year's, here.) This time we decided to do an "Old Charleston" scene. We asked our good friend, Gary Coleman, to photograph it for us. And we picked one of our favorite picturesque alleys, just off the lower end of Church St. The old brick homes, narrow walkways, and black iron fences have a real Charleston charm that's hard to beat. Henry LOVES to ride in the car. So he was happy to pose for a few photos in exchange for us letting him hang his furry head out the window while we drove. It always cracks me up when the wind gets under his lips and those jowls start to flap back and forth! :-) Anyway, we want to wish all of you a blessed Christmas Season!!!

Friday, December 8, 2006

AVP Volleyball

Today, I was invited by Mike Saia, Media Director of the Family Circle Cup, to get exclusive coverage of a major press conference at their facility. The AVP Professional Beach Volleyball Tour announced that Charleston would be the LATEST addition to the circuit. That's PRETTY COOL!!! Mayor Joe Riley was there to welcome the tour. And super stars Holly McPeak and Stein Metzger flew in to say a few words and pose for a few photos. You can see several other photos from the conference on the FCC website here and on the Beach Volleyball Magazine website here. In addition to being given exclusive coverage of a private shoot with Holly & Stein on Stadium Center Court, I was invited to photograph the tournament when it arrives June 14-17. I grew up playing volleyball, and even played competitively my freshman year in college. So this is a HUGE TREAT for me to see some of my idols like Misty May, Karch Kiraly, & Kerri Walsh in action!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Healthcare Heroes

Many thanks to my good friend and fellow photographer, Gary Coleman. Since he was unable to photograph the annual Healthcare Heroes Banquet for the Charleston Regional Business Journal, he passed the assignment on to me. I've worked with the CRBJ on many projects before, but this was probably one of the most classy affairs I've covered for them. Everyone was dressed to impress and the venue, the Charleston Performing Arts Center, was decorated no different. The ever upbeat and always-entertaining Dean Stephens, of ABC News Channel 4 fame, was the Master of Ceremonies. I also have to tip my hat to Ruthie Sullivan for doing an impeccable job of organizing and keeping everyone on schedule!

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's a Personal Thing

One question I get a lot is "since photography is your profession, what do you do for a hobby?" Well...PHOTOGRPHY...what else?!? :-) On my day off or when I get all my work caught up and I have a couple extra hours to go "play", I often grab my camera and find something to photograph for FUN! This particular Sunday, I heard about a Civil War Reenactment of the Battle of Secessionville being held at Boone Hall Plantation. Sounded interesting, so off I went! I sure am glad I did...these folks put on a first class show. Every detail is authentic, right down to their belt buckles and muskets. I HIGHLY encourage you to visit their website and mark next year's event on your calendar - you won't regret it!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Window Light

The term Photography comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (drawing). So we often hear this art form described as "drawing with light". There are a number of ways to light a subject to create an image. One of my favorites is through the use of window light. This type of lighting was often used by classic painters like Rembrandt from the 1600's. Yet even today, artists all over the world continue to light their subjects by window light because of the soft three-dimensionality it imparts. I created this image at Jennifer & Troy's wedding this weekend in Alhambra Hall as she watched the seagulls glide in the air over Charleston Bay. They had a BEAUTIFUL service outside underneath the oak tree, followed by a wonderful reception upstairs. Congratulations Jennifer & Troy!

Sunday, November 5, 2006

It's Game Time

This weekend I had a fun time with our Greenscreen Technology at Winn's Bar Mitzvah. Winn is the son of Larry Lipov, president of Pearlstine Distributors, Inc. So you can believe this was a "pull-out-all-the-stops" party! Held at their huge distribution center on Daniel Island, the theme of the party was "It's Game Time". So we used a variety of sports related computer-generated backgrounds to support this. The Wave Rider magazine cover was a HUGE HIT...that's Larry in the front steering the surfboard. :-) The lovely Tara Geurard, of Soiree, did a fantastic job organizing everything. And our friends Ben & Sharon Hough of Artistic Eye Productions were there to create a memorable video of the entire event for the Lipov's. Congratulations Winn!!! It was a PLEASURE being a part of your big day!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Class Reunion

As many of you know, I grew up in Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). This is the large country in central Africa, which you may be aware of through such movies as "Gorillas in the Mist" and books like "The Heart of Darkness". My parents were missionaries for International Ministries and my three brothers and I attended The American School of Kinshasa. It was such an eclectic group of international students, which I'm very thankful for. I believe the diversity gave me a keen appreciation and understanding for other cultures, races, and creeds. Anyway, periodically different students from the school organize class reunions. This month I attended one in Buffalo, TX. We had an AWESOME time catching up on each other's lives, reminiscing about old times, and rekindling our friendships. This shot was taken around the huge bonfire we had one night. That's Eric Lindland in the middle, one of my good friends who helped organize the event. Many thanks to him and Lora Swanson for all their work in putting this reunion together! Zaire Oye!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


My Dad is a professor of African History and is very well informed on local and world politics. I, on the other hand, tend to shy away from such matters. So I thought it ironic that I ended up covering Senator John Kerry's visit to Charleston in support of Randy Maata's run for Congress. Many thanks to Yve Assad, my friend and fellow photographer, for recommending me for the assignment. It was also nice to bump into Wade Spees again, photographer for the Post and Courier.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Diversify Your Portfolio

My younger brother is a Financial Advisor and takes excellent care of all our investments. He's always telling us to "diversify your portfolio". So this week, Cami & I decided to do just that! We took a little break and headed to a wonderful little B&B on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, TN. It was just about peak fall color in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and we spent the entire time hiking in the beautiful outdoors. It was fun to relax, get away from Charleston for a few days, and enjoy the time together. While we were at it, we did a little nature and wildlife photography. Oh, I know my brother's advice was in reference to our financial planning. But I believe testing myself in other fields of photography only make me a BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER. So here's one of my scenic images of Ramsey Cascades. What do you think - does this help diversify my portfolio?

Saturday, October 7, 2006

First Time for Everything

There's always a first time for EVERYTHING! This week I got to photograph the christening of a brand new Oil Tanker for Stena Bulk/Concordia Meritime. I have never done that before. I must say, it was a pretty cool affair. The ship had been built in Sweden and had already completed it's maiden voyage over here to Charleston. Once in dock, the crew cleaned it up like new. Then there was a beautiful ceremony, complete with dignitaries and Honor Guard, where the ship's "Grandmother" broke the ceremonial champagne bottle over the bow as thousands of red, white, and blue balloons were released into the sky. (I found out later that an environmentalist group called to complain about the balloons.) The lady that had been selected for the honor of Grandmother was the wife of Captain Douglas Uhles of the Hess Corporation. After the ceremony there was a wonderful luncheon at the famous Charleston Place Hotel. Of course there were a lot of big-wigs present...company CEO, captain of the ship, head of the Coast Guard, etc. Anyway, it was very exciting for me to be able to preserve this historic occasion.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Who I Am

Earlier this week I attended the annual Professional Photographers of South Carolina convention. It's so much fun to be a part of all the professional associations I belong to. But more than that, it gives me an opportunity to feed that voracious appetite I have for ANYTHING dealing with my craft. Sure, you might say I've had a formal education on the subject, I've been doing it for over a decade, why bother?!? Well, I have a BURNING passion for what I do. Many of you have heard me say this before..."Being a photographer is not WHAT I DO, it's WHO I AM!" Belonging to excellent organizations like the PPSC is one of the many ways I keep in touch with fellow photographers who I trust and admire, share new techniques and skills with others, gain insights, and garner inspiration. I don't have any photos from the event to share with you. So here's one of my favorites of Paige & Perry's wedding as they did a little gig and drew gales of laughter from all their friends! :-) Congratulations you two!!!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fast Glass

As a professional photographer, I'm often faced with less than ideal lighting situations. In many of those cases, I'm not allowed to augment the existing light (what little there is) with any sort of flash. Many of these situations include indoor sporting events, like the Southern Conference basketball tournament I shot earlier this year, where the flash would distract the athletes. Others include formal church weddings where a flash would take the focus off the bride & groom. Finally, like in this corporate conference for the American Council of Engineering Companies, it would simply be in poor taste. People ask me all the time, "why do certain lenses cost so much?". Well, some lenses are simply designed and built with larger maximum apertures and larger glass elements so they can "see" better in dim light. Often referred to as "fast glass", these lenses allow more light into the camera the same way those huge pupils from an owl's eyes allow it to see better at night. I carry an arsenal of fast lenses to every assignment so that when the other photographers don't have enough light to get the shot, I switch to one of these gems and keep on shooting. Check out my gear box if you're interested in this sort of thing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

To Be In Love

Engagement Sessions are a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know a couple before their wedding day. It's always fun to pick a casual setting like the beach or a local park and just go have fun! Brandon & Stacia didn't need ANY of my usual coaxing to get them to relax. We hit it off right from the start. They are very much in love and completely comfortable being themselves in front of the camera. I had a GREAT time getting to know them and creating some beautiful images that reflect their personalities and their relationship. Here's one of my favorites from the end of the session as the setting sun sent vibrant colors skimming across the sky behind them while the moon hung omnisciently in the distance. I CAN'T WAIT to photograph their wedding this coming spring - it's going to be AWESOME!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Grand Scheme of Things

Grand Ideas is another one of my favorite clients. They market promotional products, including a special line of SUPER COOL Palmetto Ideas for the true South-Carolinian in you. The owner, Grandee (how fitting), has more energy than a four year old! She's always got a smile on her face and her bubbly personality is VERY CONTAGIOUS!!! I do all the product photography, head shots, and team photos for their website. This was a recent one I took while all her sales people from around the state were in town for one of their Grand Meetings. :-)

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Happy Tails

Many of you know that Cami & I adopted our beloved Golden Retriever, Henry, from a wonderful organization called Pet Helpers. He's truly become a special part of our lives. To this day we still feel grateful towards, and keep in touch with the wonderful folks we got him from! So when the opportunity arose to photograph an editorial piece about Pet Helpers, I jumped at the chance. This was another feature article for Charleston Magazine and showcased a number of wonderful pets who have found loving homes through the assistance of Pet Helpers. If your heart is ready to adopt a new family member, don't hesitate to give these wonderful folks a call!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Friends in Strategic Places

I used to HATE going to the dentist. Now I don't mind it so much! :-) Since switching to Hilton Dental, I've been treated with the utmost respect by Dr. Hilton, given top notch care by his staff, and experienced a quality of service that far exceeds any other health care I've ever received. As we've gotten to know each other over the years, I now look at my dentist as a friend rather than a tyrant (HA!) He uses modern technology and refined techniques to do a thorough job WITHOUT leaving me bleeding. I LIKE THAT! My teeth have never looked healthier. It's nice to have friends in strategic places! This was a staff portrait I did for their office this week. Thanks for the great service, guys!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ambassadors of Their Craft

Last night Christopher Teves (respected local guitarist) & Tacy Edwards (acclaimed local flutist) invited me to attend the Release Party of their new CD! Last year they had seen the cover I photographed for country music star Paul Parr's "Family Tree" album, and had hired me to photograph some images for THEIR new album. Chris & Tacy are true artists and ambassador's of their craft. So it was an honor to be invited and to be recognized for my tiny contribution to their new CD. Check out their website at http://www.classicallycharleston.com/ and order your copy of the "The Water is Wide" while you're at it!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Celebrities are People Too

You would not BELIEVE the background checks and security clearance I had to go through to get this job. But I had the privilege of covering the National Governor's Association this week. It was very interesting and I got to meet a lot of powerful people. (I was secretly hoping Arnold Schwarzenegger would be there, but he couldn't make it.) This is a shot of Governor Mark Sanford with his son, enjoying the huge fish tank at the South Carolina Aquarium. I don't know why as a society we single out celebrities and put them on such a high pedestal? Deep down, they're just people too. They deserve all the same courtesy, privacy, and respect that you and I take for granted every day. Instead of mobbing him like the rest of the paparazzi, I just quietly approached him like a regular guy. The Governor was kind, friendly, approachable...and had a great time showing his son all the wonders of the aquatic world while I clicked away!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

The Fisheye

I had a GREAT TIME at Anna & Jared's wedding this weekend. They both have so much enthusiasm and charisma! I remember sitting down with them last year and talking about all their plans for the "big day". Anna mentioned that she really liked the unique perspective of a special lens she had seen another photographer use...The Fisheye. I did not own a Fisheye at the time. I guess I just sort of thought it wasn't a "real" lens, just a gimmick. And at $650, an EXPENSIVE gimmick at that! But we truly aim to please - so after they left I immediately ordered Nikon's famous 10.5mm Fisheye. Over the next year as I started practicing with this new lens, I realized it was the KEY to a whole NEW way of looking at the world. Now it's one of my favorite lenses for fun candid shots like this one! Thanks, Anna!!! :-)

Friday, August 4, 2006

If I Had a Million Dollars...

I know it seems like I've been shooting a lot of editorial work recently. It's a challenge I thoroughly enjoy. This was another Charleston Magazine shoot about remodeled carriage houses. This particular shot is from the historic Edmonston-Alston House at 21 East Battery. Mindy Crawford, the caretaker, was very helpful and told me all kinds of amazing details about the property. This carriage house has been fully remodeled into a beautiful B&B. Another one I shot had been converted to an indoor swimming pool. It simply BLEW ME AWAY how much money had been invested in these old carriage houses! I guess if you have it you might as well spend it. How does that song go? "If I had a million dollars...I'd be rich!"

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sectional Championships

After winning our State Championships last month, the local tennis team I play on competed against the best teams from all the other states in our section. The prize included bragging rights...and a chance to compete in the National Championships being held in Hawaii later this year! That's me on the right and my doubles partner, Dan, in the red hat. Many thanks to Dan's friend, George Ellin (an excellent photographer as well) for taking a few shots of our match. Our team did fairly well until the 100+ degree heat got to us on the 3rd day. One of our teammates got so dehydrated he had to be taken to the hospital after his match for an IV injection! Needless to say, we didn't win the tournament. Still, we had a great time competing and playing the game we love.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Elizabeth & Andy's wedding this weekend was SUCH A BLAST! They are such a fun couple and just wonderful to be around. Several weeks before the wedding, Elizabeth & I went down to Waterfront Park to photograph her Bridal Portrait. I always encourage brides to make these portraits unique and meaningful to them. Since she's such a perfect "southern lady", I thought it was fitting that she selected this beautiful park with it's historic views of the harbor. I always like to work during MAGIC HOUR...that last hour of light before sunset. I had already created over a hundred images in different corners of the park, and was about to wrap it up as the day turned to dusk. But when we turned to leave, THERE in front of us was this GORGEOUS scene with the moon rising over Charleston Bay in the waining light of day. Immediately, we re-grouped, re-posed, and created a handful of TRULY unique images before the twilight slipped away! Now THAT'S what I call serendipity!!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Carolina Lanterns

Jan Clouse, owner of Carolina Lanterns, has been one of my favorite clients over the years. I get to photograph their company Christmas Card each year, periodic shots of Jan for press releases, and of course images of their unique products. Although they offer a wide range of items for the home, the company is MOST known for their famous gas lanterns. They come in all shapes and sizes. But as we drove to a home for a shoot one summer evening, Jan told me she can ALWAYS spot one of THEIR lanterns out of all the "copycats" by the unique shape of the FLAME! Isn't that cool?!? Check out more of my images on their website. And stop in their showroom to see posters of my images on their walls. When you do, give Jan a hug and tell the gang I said "Hello".

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Delicate Beauty

While on a recent shoot for Charleston Magazine covering a story about a Seabrook Garden and it's Gardner, I happened upon this dragonfly. I barely had time to squeeze off a couple frames before it flew away. So I didn't really appreciate it at the time. But later, while editing the images, I was BLOWN AWAY at the delicate beauty of this creature. Check out those wings - they are fully transparent! Did you know each one of its four wings operates independently? Dragonflies have been around for some 200 Million years. The larvae is actually an aquatic creature, which emerges from the water at the end of this cycle. After splitting it's last larval skin, it emerges as the insect we are familiar with. The wings expand and must cure for several hours before the dragonfly takes off on it's maiden flight. Pretty amazing, huh?!?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ode to A Brother

OK, I never kissed the Blarney Stone, and I didn't inherit the gift of eloquence from my mother...so this isn't a true "ode". However, my youngest brother, Eric, and his wife, Martha, left this week for a new job in Uganda. (Yes, this is their Halloween photo - he doesn't really smoke and she isn't really related to Joan Baez.) Anyway, they'll be working for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee on a two year renewable contract toward the relief, development, and education of the people in and around Arua, Uganda. So I wanted to wish them well and let everyone know about their new blog. I understand Internet service is sketchy in that part of Africa. But they'll be doing their best to journal about their journey. So check it out at www.ericnmarthasmith.blogspot.com.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Charleston Charm

One of the BEST parts about living in Charleston is all it's historic charm! I was hired to photograph a recognition banquet for Verizon Wireless where they were honoring all their top sales people from across the country! It was an all-expense paid trip for them, culminating in this fantastic banquet at the end of their stay. The banquet was held at The Old Exchange Building, considered to be one of the three most historically significant Colonial buildings in the United States! The attendees were all in awe of our great city, it's hospitality, and it's history. This is a shot of their event coordinator with one of the hostesses all dressed in period attire. What a privilege it was to capture all the details and to preserve this moment of recognition for each of them!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Beautiful Game

Often referred to as "The Beautiful Game", soccer (or football, if you're from anywhere other than the US) is the world's most popular sport. It's no wonder since all you need to strike up a game is a ball and two poles to form a goal. You don't need all the football pads, lacrosse sticks, or leather mitts that other sports require. So even in underdeveloped countries, like the Congo where I grew up playing, the local schools can afford to field a team. We used to play barefoot. In fact, in a pinch we didn't even need a ball...we just wrapped a bunch of plastic bags with string and made our own ball. I went on to play college soccer. But too many injuries forced me to move tennis (a less than full-contact sport) up on my priority list. Now, with the World Cup starting later this month, my attention drifts back to this great sport. I've photographed world class players like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Julie Foudy. This is a shot taken for the Charleston Sports Insider from a recent game where our hometown team, the Charleston Battery, took on the Rochester Rhinos.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Signature Kitchens

Jim & Linda McLain are long time clients and owners of Signature Kitchens & Baths. They needed a new photo for an upcoming add. So we decided to do a shot of this corner of their beautiful showroom. They've won all kinds of accolades and awards from Wolfe, Sub-Zero, and other top manufacturers in the industry for their designs. I'm honored that my images have been instrumental in showcasing their talent. I'm always excited to get a call from Linda because that means they've completed another project and I get to go photograph it!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wedding in a Wine Vineyard

Recently I've been doing a lot more Destination Weddings. Since Charleston is such a huge destination location, I guess it was only a matter of time. What we see happening is that brides who come to Charleston to get married often have young & single friends, family members, and bridal attendants who come from all over the country to attend the wedding. A few years later when THEY become engaged, they remember what a great job we did at their friend's wedding and call to ask if we travel. Since Cami & I both enjoy traveling, the answer of course is always a resounding "YES"! Ryan & Sarah held their wedding at a famous vineyard in the northern hills of Georgia. Ryan's brother, Stan, and his beautiful fiance, Holly, got married here in Charleston last year. Both Ryan & Sarah and Stan & Holly were so much FUN! I feel like I've gotten to know their family and become a friend instead of just "the photographer". It's always a pleasure working with such WONDERFUL people. And it's so INSPIRING to work in new and exciting locations. I've shot weddings as far as Phoenix, Dayton, and Norfolk...and all over North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Now I'm just waiting for that call from the couple getting married in Barbados!!! :-)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Maybank Monsters

WOW! What an adrenaline rush! The local tennis team I play on, the Maybank Monsters, FINALLY won the State Championships in our division. We've made it to the State Playoffs several times before. But never won it. Can you tell we're pretty excited about the accomplishment?!? We all play at the USTA 4.0 level. That's me kneeling down on the right. That's Chuck DeLorme, our team captain, standing on the far right. And the guy in the red cap standing behind me is my long-time doubles partner, Dan Harris. Dan and I actually won the final deciding match by a difference of only TWO POINTS in a tiebreaker! James Beck, the sports writer for the Charleston Post & Courier, even had a little blurb about Dan & I clinching that cliff-hanger match. So now it's on to the Sectional Championships...wish us luck...

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Treehouse

Mel, the editor from Charleston Magazine sent me an email the other day saying: "I do have another house we need to shoot on May 4th. Very Colorful, a little funky. And I'd very much like to shoot it with the bright, open feeling you shot the VanDyke house with. Are you in?????" What a silly question! If the words "colorful" and "funky" fall in the same sentence describing a subject...I'm DEFINITELY IN! :-) The house was totally unique. And Susan Simons, the owner, was such an eloquent, artistic, and well traveled individual. We had a great time working together and talking about the different countries and cultures we'd visited. Just to give you a taste, this shot is the master bedroom. The huge door to the left leads out onto a wrap-around deck that's literally built around the tree trunks that grow up that side of the house. The fresh sea breeze comes from beyond the branches where the view of Sullivan's Island and the ocean beyond that is spectacular. Make sure you pick up the next issue of Charleston Magazine to see the rest of the images!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Popcorn Photography

I know a lot of photographers call this "Popcorn" photography or "Cruise Ship" photography, as if it's of a lesser class than "real" photography. Sure, I agree it may not be the most artistic or creative expression of one's imagination. But you know what, even within those precious few minutes I'm given with each couple, there is always room to provide a BETTER experience for them...and create a portrait that EXCEEDS their expectations! It doesn't matter that the session is over in the blink of an eye. I can find out their names, ask where they're from, and make a little joke to loosen them up. Sometimes, taking that personal interest in them is all it takes to make their experience a positive one. By knowing what I'm doing, paying attention to the details, and anticipating that moment of peek expression, their portrait can turn out better than they ever imagined. This was just one of HUNDREDS of images created at an Awards Banquet I shot at The Sanctuary for all the top General Motors dealerships in Canada. They loved their portraits and were amazed that we had them ready for them that evening!

Monday, May 8, 2006

Lifestyle Series

Britt Gilbert has been steering his company, Commonwealth Financial Group, in the right direction. He's a great guy and a long-time client. He asked me to shoot a whole series of lifestyle images for use in their new ad campaign. He and his daughter enjoy playing soccer together. This was one of my favorites of them...isn't she ADORABLE? Check out several of the other ads created with his principals at http://www.commonwealthfg.com/!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Change of Pace

As much as I enjoy working with people, every now and then the quiet solitude and more meticulous pace of a large architectural assignment can be a welcome change. Having built a reputation for the diversity of subjects we cover, I frequently get calls for architectural and interior photography. I covered the Hilton Garden Inn earlier this year and the Francis Marion Hotel last year. We have numerous other clients who are architects, interior designers, home theater installers, cabinet designers, etc. But this project was particularly personal to me because my old friend, Dan Blumenstock, was now the GM at this hotel! I had done an exterior shot at sunrise of the Hampton Inn & Suites for him when he was the GM over there many years ago. It was great to work with Dan again. And I admire what he's done with this new facility...truly 1st class! Check out tons of other photos from the shoot on their website here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Family Circle Cup

What can I say...10 hours a day...10 days straight...10,000 images! I just get such an adrenaline rush out of covering the Family Circle Cup each year. I don't know if it would be as exciting if I wasn't a tennis player. But I relish the opportunity to challenge myself and stretch my photographic capabilities. As the final Tier 1 event played on clay before the French Open, all the top players are there. In like fashion, all the top sports photographers are drawn like bees to a beehive. The media tent is a constant buzz of activity. Photographers and writers are rushing from one match to the next, trying to stay on the edge of the latest developments...an upset of a big star, a rising new talent, an emotional meltdown, a fist-pumping moment of triumph. As the Official Photographer of the tournament, it's my job to provide the most comprehensive coverage possible. On top of all the court action, I get to cover exclusive, behind-the-scenes events that most of the media doesn't even know about...the player's ice-cream social...the baby shower for Jennifer Russell (one of the players who just found out she's pregnant and will be retiring after this tournament)...the Meredith Inspiration Award with Mary Pierce...the Lacoste fashion show with Natalie Dechy and Luke Jensen...the Player's Party at Saks Fifth Avenue where the players trade in their sports clothes for fashion outfits and their competitive spirits for camaraderie and friendship. All in all, it's a CRAZY hectic week, but I love it! You can see more of my photos and purchase your tickets for next year's tournament at www.familycirclecup.com.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Spring Color

I got a call early this month from my friends at Charleston Magazine (http://www.charlestonmag.com/), asking me to photograph the spring color at Middleton Place for an up-coming article about Sidney Frazier, the head gardner. Well, as you know, peak season is almost over by then! And with a full spring schedule already on the books, I was a little worried that we'd miss it. But when I finally got out there about a week later, my worries went away. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Sidney was fantastic to work with. He's from Africa. So we had that in common and were able to discuss some African history and politics. He's also been at Middleton Place (http://www.middletonplace.org/) a very long time and was able to share all kinds of neat information with me about the plantation. If you haven't been, go visit there next spring!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

The Charleston Miracle League

I recently had the privaledge of photographing Channing Proctor, champion of The Charleston Miracle League (www.charlestonmiracleleague.org) for a supplemental issue of the Charleston Regional Business Journal. The Charleston Miracle League is an organization whose mission is to offer accessible recreational opportunities for all children with physical and mental challenges so they can participate firsthand, as team members, in an organized baseball league. Their spring season had just kicked off and Channing was very excited about how well things were going. In the article, he was being honored as one of the "40 Under 40", which is a pretty big deal hear in town. It honors the 40 top business men & women under 40 years of age. Each of them was asked to bring to their portrait session something that was representative of an activity, value, or past-time that was important to them. Of course Channing brought an old baseball bat. I also photographed the other 39 winners and really got a kick out of all the props they brought in. I saw everything from rock-climbing shoes to german shephards!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

When a Plan Comes Together

Corporate Events are always a lot of fun! These are usually Awards Presentations or Banquets to honor employees for a job well done. So, naturally everybody's in a good mood! And as long as their photographer is fast, friendly, and professional...they STAY in that good mood. This event was no different. The Daimler Crysler Corporation had flown all these over-acheivers into town for a huge banquet at the prestigious Charleston Place Hotel. We had been asked to take portraits of each of the decked-out couples, print the photo on site, put them in nice waterford crystal frames, and have them on display for them to take home that evening. No problem, right? Well...come to find out there were 120 couples and Chrysler had given us less than an hour to do it in! Needless to say, I have never photographed so fast. But the portraits came out great....we had them on display in time...the guests loved them, and everybody was AMAZED that we had them finished so quickly!!! You gotta love it when a plan comes together...

Monday, March 27, 2006

40x47 Foot Banner

I've been photographing the Family Circle Cup woman's professional tennis tournament for the last five years in a row for various publications. In 2005 I was asked to be on that esteemed crew of "Official Photographers" for the tournament. That was an honor in itself! So imagine how elated I was when Robin Reynolds, the Tournament Director, called to tell me that one of my images had been selected for this year's BANNER!!! The Banner is a 4-story tall display of the previous year's champion that hangs from the top of the stands outside Center Court Stadium. It's literally 40-feet tall x 47-feet wide! As we gear up for this year's tournament, April 8th-15th, I am humbled by this great honor. And I feel privileged to be a part of this incredible sporting event and the amazingly talented photographers who literally work around the clock during that week to capture all the excitement and bring it to the fans!

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Gaggle of Cheerleaders

The Southern Conference (www.SoConSports.com) has been providing academic and athletic excellence since 1921. This year, the SoCon Basketball Championships were held at the Charleston Coliseum! One of the sponsors for the event was the Charleston Metro Sports Council. I've known and worked with their wonderful Executive Director, Kathleen Cartland, for several years. So it was a pleasure to photograph these championships for her! The Sports Insider is fantastic high-gloss magazine published by the Charleston Metro Sports Council. If you enjoy sports in the lowcountry, I highly recommend picking up a copy! The tournament was full of energy...the Wildcats won it for the first time since 2002...and this shot of a gaggle of cheerleaders really captured the exuberant emotion of the moment!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Steve Harvey Surprise

Over the years I've had the good fortune of being able to photograph a few celebrities. But NONE as funny as Steve Harvey! In addition to being a movie star, having his own clothing line, and appearing in his sit-com, Steve still does stand up comedy. Early this month I was asked to photography the Annual Awards Banquet for Prudential Carolina Real Estate. This is a HUGE black-tie affair, held at the Charleston Performing Arts Center, with something like 1,000 real-estate agents and their guests all being wined and dined in the most extravagant fashion possible! This is one party where there was no holding back!!! But I had no idea the extent of it until I was let in on a little "secret". Un-announced to everyone attending, Steve Harvey had been secured as the entertainer for the evening! Can you imagine the utter surprise and disbelief on 1000 faces in the crowd when he walked out on stage!?!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Forty Weddings in One Day

"Forty Weddings in One Day...are you Crazy?!?" That was my initial response when I was asked to photograph the seventh annual "Day Of Love". Touted as the largest mass wedding and vow-renewal ceremony in the lowcountry, this event, which is sponsored by Z-93Jamz, took place...you guessed it...on Valentines Day. It was pretty hectic getting everything set up and ready to go in time. The ceremony was a lot of fun and included live musicians and an officiate with a great sense of humor. Immediately afterwards, there was a mad rush of couples lining up to get their wedding portraits taken. I guess they all had plans to go out for dinner and celebrate afterwards. ;-) With the camera wirelessly sending images to a pair of LIVE preview stations, the couples were able to view their photos and place their orders IMMEDIATELY after they were taken! While they were doing that, I was already photographing the next couple. By working efficiently, we were able to help provide everyone with the quality portraits they deserve for such a memorable occasion!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Environmental Portrait

Another publication I work a great deal with is the Charleston Regional Business Journal. One of their most heralded supplements each year is the Profiles In Business. This advertorial piece highlights a number of the most prestigious businesses and organizations in the Charleston area. I've worked on this project for the past three years. It's always a privilege to meet these business owners and create the photograph that will accompany their article. One such gentleman is Jerry Bacon, a motivational speaker. As we began discussing ideas, I suggested the historic American Theater downtown. I had done some photography for Randall Goldman, the property owner, in the past. So a phone call later we had permission and private access to the theater. When I met Jerry the morning of the shoot, he had a very relaxed but confident personality. He exhibited a genuine interest in others. And his charismatic personality made it obvious why he's become such a successful speaker! With a pertinent setting, creative use of lighting, a long telephoto lens, shallow depth of field, and a few minutes of time...we created this winning photo for his article!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The $10,000 Butcher's Table

Although we've been freelancing for the Charleston Magazine group for some time now, we were pleased to have our first feature article and cover photo published in the winter issue of Charleston Home. Mel and the rest of the team at the magazine have always been wonderful to work with! And when they found out I had grown up in the Belgian Congo, had spent time in Belgium, and that my parents had studied French there - they knew I was perfectly suited for this assignment. Why? Well it turns out that the owner of this beautiful house we were covering was originally from Belgium! Needless to say, we hit it off right away when I greeted him with a properly accented "comment ca va?". As it turned out, his grandparents spent some time in the Congo. So we shared that in common. And since he's a gourmet chef...and I love to eat...we also had THAT in common. :-) At any rate, Thierry and his beautiful wife, Melinda were WONDERFUL to work with. And they've made a GORGEOUS home out of the house they bought near the Battery. Next time you're at Barnes & Noble, pick up a copy and admire the antique butcher's block that sits in their entryway. He was once offered $10,000 for it!!!