• Archives
  • Nov28


    I just wanted to share this photo of my family supporting the Movember movement. How awesome are they? You could be awesome too – just head on over to my MoSpace page and donate a few bucks today. There’s only a couple more days left to show some support for men’s health via this very studly drive. If you’ve been holding out, please do it today. It won’t hurt, I promise.

  • Nov28


    I just wanted to share a few of my favorite shots from this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I spent it with family at Tugaloo State Park in Lavonia, GA, which is on Lake Hartwell (link opens up right on the cabins we stayed in).

    Due to a drought, the shore of the lake was quite receded, which made for some cool photo opportunities. The photo above is taken from the receded shores of the lake and you can see where the water level used to be – all of the docks are sitting on the dried up lake bed. You’ll want to view it bigger to see the scale of the shot with my son playing with his toy sword in the bottom corner.


    In the early morning fog, I was able to isolate these branches against a foggy sky in the photo above. It was so thick on the lake that visibility was a real issue. I’m not sure how it happened, but one inlet was filled with tree stumps. As the sun rose and the fog lifted, I was able to get some shots like this:


    The sky was so clear at night that you could see the Milky Way above the water. I made this shot by painting the barren tree branches above with an LED flashlight:


    Here’s a young boy fishing in the lake. I don’t think the fishing at the shore was very good, but I did see a guy out in a Jon Boat capture a pretty sizable looking fish.


    We took a day trip out to Helen, GA and passed by the Nacoochee Indian Mound where it is said that a ceremonial Cherokee sacred fire burned unceasingly.

    Helen, Georgia

    I have a ton of photos over on Flickr (mostly of the family variety). I just wanted to share some of my faves from the trip. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  • Nov21

    Movember Week 3

    All right loyal photo enthusiasts, friends, family members, lurkers, and internet bots. I know you’re reading this (I see the analytics reports). It’s time to give back! Help me raise money for men’s health charities through my Movember page. Even if it’s a couple of dollars. Anything you can afford to donate will help.

    Movember Week 2

    Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve gone through the effort of making self portraits to document my facial hair growth. I do have an ulterior motive though – I’m trying to get your attention with them. Much like the actual mustache on my face starts conversations with the people I see on a regular basis, I’m posting these pics online to spark your interest in helping us men folk out.

    Movember Week #1

    The time is here and now. Head on over to my MoSpace page and help out if you’re planning on helping. We’ve only got this last week to go, and I’d really like to see just how much of a difference this little website can make.

    Thanks for reading,

    Joseph W. Nienstedt

  • Nov19

    Emily & Joe

    Last month I shot a really cool wedding on Folly Beach in South Carolina. The couple was amazing as they were willing to do just about anything – they truly had fun at their wedding and it shows in their pictures. Lets be honest, how many people have a wedding party photo like this?

    Emily & Joe

    I did do a lot of more formal portraits such as this (which is probably one of my favorite shots of the day because of that amazing southern sunset):

    Emily & Joe Sunset

    But I’m sure a shot like this will make them smile pretty wide when they’re old and gray:

    Emily & Joe

    Joe & Emily really weren’t your traditional couple, which is a perfect fit for me since I’m not a traditional photographer! I did make sure to cover the basics of wedding photography though, such as capturing the elements of an American wedding.


    Here’s the bride getting prepared:


    And the first look:

    Emily & Joe

    The respective wedding party portraits:


    The ceremony:


    And the first kiss:


    The signing:

    Emily & Joe

    And then of course, everybody’s favorite part of the wedding, the reception. Here are some elements of their tables:


    The first dance:


    I did grab the newlyweds to do some sunset portraits during the reception. Joe didn’t know that he was going to be my movable sandbag for a few shots:


    After the sun went down, they partied:


    And Joe found the garter and Emily fed him some cake:


    I can honestly say that with couples as fun to shoot as this, wedding photography can be a blast. I consider myself lucky to have been their photographer for their special day.

    Emily & Joe

  • Nov13

    It’s been almost a year since we held our Help-Portrait MUSC Kids events (last year we did 2 – you can read about those here and here). This year, I’ll be leading our team on Friday, December 9th at the MUSC Children’s Hospital. We can’t do weekends at the hospital, so this was the closest we could get to the actual event. The Charleston, SC Group is also planning to host 4 events simultaneously on the official day in North Charleston, Charleston, James Island, & Johns Island. So if you can’t help us out on Friday, I’m sure they could use it on Saturday.

    This year the Help-Portrait organizers want everybody to be a bit more interactive with their subjects. To best understand what they mean, Jeremy Cowart tells us in this video:

    I think we can do some exciting stuff with these children since we don’t have a large amount of kids that we shoot. We can really spend some time getting to know their stories and spreading the word about Help-Portrait. Some ideas I have are to do some video, which would mean that a videographer could help us out this year. Since we can’t really do hair and makeup, maybe we could incorporate some really awesome hats as props – if anyone can pull together a unique hat collection, that would be cool (maybe we could ask a local thrift store to lend some to us). How about some frames that the kids can paint? I’ll be bringing a 5×7 photo printer, so the kids can make their photos into an art project (the atrium has painting supplies). If you have any ideas, I’d really appreciate them (either here in the comments, on the Help-Portrait Community site, or on Facebook).

    I also wanted to share with you some great news from the boy who was our inspiration to do this at MUSC Children’s Hospital. Jessie Dasinger has passed the 280+ day mark after his bone marrow transplant and he’s doing great. He’s back in school and back to being a normal kid again. His story is an inspiration considering that just a year ago at this time he wasn’t well enough to participate in the event.

    Make sure to check our community page for all planning info regarding the event. It’s less than a month away, so please don’t be shy – lets get the conversation started!

  • Nov9


    Posted in: Insight

    Grandma meets Kegan

    When I was in grammar school, the teachers would always ask me, “Joseph, why do you talk SO LOUD??” and my reply was simple and honest; “Try living with my Grandparents”. Yelling was the standard form of communication in my childhood home. My grandmother would start every conversation with “You need to speak loudly and s-l-o-w-l-y”.

    Being raised by your Grandparents is not an easy thing for a kid. My daughter asked me just this past weekend if I ever had sleepovers at my house when I was a kid, to which I replied “No honey, I lived with my grandparents and my room used to be their closet before I moved in” Those are two things that make for an unattractive sleepover situation.

    My Grandmother was a force to be reckoned with. She was the lady who called the cops on the local kids when they set off fireworks on the 4th of July (It’s quite illegal to do that in NY). She would send me to the corner grocery store and add up the receipt – if I was a penny short she would send me back to the store to get that penny just because of the principle of it. She once wrote a letter to a trucking company stating that two of their male drivers must have had a deep love interest with each other because they were driving next to each other and talking to each other through their windows, and they couldn’t get enough of each other to the point that they were holding up the passing lane. There was also the time I watched her lay down on the floor in the hallway and then when she was in the right position, she yelled bloody murder. She cried out that she had tripped over one of my toys that was on the floor where it didn’t belong! She didn’t know that I was behind her watching the whole thing unfold, and I didn’t bother telling her that either – it was always better to go along with her version of events.

    My grandmother loved to cook, but unfortunately my grandparents both had special diets that older people tend to be on, and therefore most of her food had the consistency of leather boot soles with a side of soggy vegetables. It didn’t taste much better than that sounds either. My brother used to hide his food on the expansion slats underneath the dining room table because he couldn’t bring himself to eat some nights. The day she found his stash, she piled up the rotting food on his plate and made him sit there in front of it until bedtime. I was well known in high school as being the only senior that still ate cafeteria food every day because I thought it was amazing stuff! My friends thought I was weird.

    My Grandparents

    It may sound like I’m being hard on this woman, but she was a hard woman. She was also a caring and loving mother to me who spent her retirement raising my brother and I when we needed someone the most. She never had children of her own (she was my grandfather’s second wife), and she never once treated us like anything other than her own children. She never held it over our heads that she was doing us the biggest favor in the world by sacrificing her golden years for us – even when we went through our complete asshole teenage years. She always sincerely told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be and I never doubted it. She instilled a confidence in me that prevailed over the deep feelings of rejection and depression that can easily overcome those of us who come from a broken family. She genuinely loved me, and I loved her. It was through her that I learned the determination to become an artist, the work ethic to become an entrepreneur, and the courage to become a husband and father.

    Thank you Grandma, I miss you.

  • Nov5

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    After a year of patiently waiting, Heaven on Earth has returned to Charleston, SC. Bakers from around the low country freely give away their sugary treats to local cupcake lovers in hopes of winning the title of best tasting, most original, or best Thanksgiving themed cupcake at CupcakeCamp Charleston.

    Mac & Lauren

    After learning our lesson from last year, we arrived early to the event and jumped on the line outside of Spirit Moves Dance Studio.

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    Once inside the studio, tables filled with cupcakes lined the walls. Throughout the event cupcakes came and went – what you tasted was based on what was available when it was your turn to go inside. A big improvement was the inclusion of sponsored beverages from Fiery Ron’s Home team BBQ and Coastal Coffee Roasters (who were also sponsors at BarCampCHS).

    As I moved down the line, I began to notice a trend in pumpkin flavored cupcakes. At the time, I didn’t realize that there was a Thanksgiving category, so I was perplexed by the amount of pumpkiny variations. The good news is that I love pumpkin flavored stuff.

    CupcakeCamp Charleston CupcakeCamp Charleston CupcakeCamp Charleston

    Just like last year, there was no shortage of happiness. I swear that you could end all wars with free cupcakes. Look at those campers. The bakers and volunteers were also as friendly as can be – nothing but good feelings around the studio.

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    I had a plate full of cupcakes to taste, and a big cup of milk to wash it down. Here’s a pic of what I got:

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    While I was snapping away to capture this holy day, I had the pleasure of meeting CupcakeCamp Charleston’s organizer Heather MacKey. It was cool that she recognized me from my post about last year’s event. Of course, I asked her to pose for this picture with sponsor Hazel Rider:

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    Hey, it’s been a while since I showed a picture of cupcakes. Here’s some more cupcakes!

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    Local photog and technophile Eugene Mah was on hand wearing an interesting T-Shirt. I snapped this shot of him with the proprietor of Spirit Moves who was sporting some steam punk goggles:

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    I do not know who won the contests yet, but once again the people in attendance were the real winners because… FREE CUPCAKES!!! My personal favorite was the cupcake that had everyone talking. A banana nut, peanut butter, & bacon cupcake. Yes, I said bacon. It sounds disgusting, but it was a down-home wall-of-sound musical party in my mouth. I’m serious, it was amazing. Look at it. Want it. Love it.

    CupcakeCamp Charleston

    Check out my full set of photos on Flickr. Want some great news? Summerville is hosting their own CupcakeCamp event early next year, so now we don’t have to wait a whole year for this to happen again!

  • Nov4

    Kevin Seconds
    Kevin Seconds at Jimbo’s Rock Lounge

    Last night I attended two musical performances. One was a group of budding pianists performing in their first recital, while the other was a pair of more mature punk rockers playing acoustic sets.

    Mac's Piano Recital
    Mackenzie Performs At Rollings Middle School of the Arts

    I started off the evening at my daughter’s middle school, which is a local magnet school for arts. She auditioned to become accepted into the school as a pianist, and in just a couple of months her skill behind the keys has skyrocketed. She played an flawless rendition of “A Journey In The Arctic” by John Thompson.

    Mac’s performance (filmed by my wife on her iPhone)

    The kids in her class were amazing. These 11 year olds killed! They have a really good teacher, and Mac is lucky enough to have Mrs. Shelly, who helped prepare her for school and continues to show her support.

    Mac and Her Piano Teachers
    Mac & Her Piano Teachers

    After the recital, I jumped in my car and headed down to West Ashley to see punk rock legend Kevin Seconds from the band 7 Seconds perform at Jimbo’s Rock Lounge. The opening act was a couple of local punks from the band the 33’s who played very youthful punk songs about rebellion and fighting the man.

    Jimbo's Rock Lounge

    I was definitely no longer at a middle school recital anymore, with more “F*cks” in their first song than in a classic 80’s porn tape.

    David Dondero
    David Dondero

    Next up was David Dondero. I had never heard of David before, and he really floored me. The songs were all extremely well written and memorable. His voice is fantastic, he kind of reminded me of what Bright Eyes would sound like without the whining.

    David Dondero
    David Dondero

    Finally Kevin Seconds took the stage. Last time I saw his band 7 Seconds, I was a teenager in New York. Now, at the age of 50, Kevin tours around the world playing songs from throughout his career.

    Kevin Seconds
    Kevin Seconds

    As requested from the audience, Kevin played the 7 Seconds classic “Soul To Keep”. He preempted it by saying that for as much shit his band caught for the stuff they did in the mid-1980’s, it gets requested every night.

    Kevin Seconds filmed on my iPhone

    I really think these guys deserved to be playing to a packed house, but Charleston just isn’t a punk rock town. It’s quite unfortunate, because the music is really great. I don’t think they were bothered by the small turnout, in fact they seemed just happy to be out on the road playing.

    Kevin Seconds
    Kevin Seconds Blowing The Harp

    The comic relief came when some dude walked up on stage between songs and requested that Kevin play some Pink Floyd. Kevin laughed and respectfully declined. The staff however, did not appreciate the man’s actions. In fact, the bartender demanded that he leave immediately. He made the mistake of saying, “What are you gonna do about it?” and she jumped over the bar, grabbed him by the back of his neck and physically threw him out. Stupid me stood there mouth agape watching this unfold with a camera in my hand instead of up to my eye! I did manage to get this blurry shot though:

    Kick-Ass Bartender Boots Crackhead

    Kevin told her that she was hired as his road security if she wanted the job. I asked her if I could take a shot of her for this blog since I blew the action shot 😉

    Kick-Ass Bartender
    This Bartender Takes Crap From Nobody

    Check out all of yesterday’s photos here on Flickr.

  • Nov1

    Last year I participated in “No Shave November“, which was a fun way to spice up the month. Unfortunately, it didn’t mean anything! Well this November I’ve joined the local Movember team, which actually has a global movement behind it.

    During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Read more about Movember here.

    So, if you want to help raise awareness about men’s health, or if you find the prospect of my hairy lip interesting, visit my Movember page and donate today.