• Event Photography
  • Jul14

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    Last fall I came to an important decision in regards to my photography career. I realized I do not love shooting weddings. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see a couple make a commitment to each other. But, I don’t like the traditions. I don’t like to see a young couple start their life together with a giant expense for what amounts to a party they feel obligated to throw. There’s this pressure to keep up with the ever expanding Disney-style princess wedding day that they’ve been brainwashed to believe they’re destined to experience through a lifetime assault of commercialized popular culture. The fire is fueled with Pinterest boards to find the perfect decorations and party favors, and countless wedding blogs telling you what you have to spend your money on. Not to mention local, regional, national, & global bridal magazines to make every decision feel inadequate unless you go all out.

    So I stopped taking wedding jobs altogether. I would rather someone pay their hard earned money with a photographer who’s passionate about wedding photography, of which there are plenty in the Charleston area.

    It was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders – I gave something my all and learned that it wasn’t for me.


    There’s always a but.


    Look at that face on the groom as he catches his first look at his new bride-to-be walking down the isle. That’s my brother-in-law Chip. How could I not shoot this guy’s wedding? Look at him – He’s awesome. So, I strapped on my 70-200 and decided to ride that horse into battle one more time. Besides, look at his wife – She gorgeous! This won’t be hard at all.


    The Wedding of Chip & Pie | May 30th, 2015 | The Martha Washington Hotel in Abingdon, VA


    The Bride & Her Bridesmaids:


    The Groom & His Groomsmen:


    The Wedding Ceremony:


    With this ring…


    Just married:


    The Reception:


    Dinner, dancing, & this guy:


    So, this Grinch still managed to let his heart grow a few sizes bigger that day.

    I’ll admit, I had a lot of anxiety about writing this. It’s not fair to the couple to attach my personal baggage, but I just didn’t want to publish a wedding blog post and have the brides I’ve turned down see it and think I was a liar. I’ve been nothing but honest on this blog about my journey in photography and art, so I hope you understand.

    Good luck Chip & Pie, you guys rock.


  • Nov10

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    I’ve led a photographically themed session at the annual BarCamp “unconference” in Charleston since 2010, with sessions on post-processing, lighting, retouching, and iPhonography. This year I tried to tap into the technical aspects of creative photography that have existed since the film days – Multiple exposures. We explored two different techniques, one involving a long exposure with multiple speedlights, and the other using the in-camera multiple exposure feature.

    The first demonstration involved off-camera lighting. I used two speedlights and radio triggers to get this effect. I use Cactus v5 radio triggers, which allow me to assign a separate channel to each flash as well as fire them both at the same time. I set the flash on camera left to channel 3 and the one on camera right to channel 2. I set the camera to bulb mode, shut off all of the lights, and shot at ISO 100 and f/9 from a tripod. Rachel is the model, and her brother controlled the radio channels. As I held the shutter open, I had her do each pose and had her brother switch to the appropriate channel and fire the flash. This was the result:

    Rachel - BarCampCHS

    That’s not a Photoshopped image. It’s all one exposure as far as the shutter actuations are concerned. The multiple exposures come from the separate speedlight actuations. Pretty cool, huh?

    The next technique is a function of most DSLRs – a feature called “Multiple Exposure”. I learned something new about this feature on my Nikon – It’s not available when you’re shooting tethered! Oh well, after a long minute of trying to figure out why I couldn’t get it to work, I unplugged my camera from the presentation computer and got started. The way I set my camera up this time was to set the Multiple Exposure setting to 2 images in a series and then disable the auto-gain. For the effect of constraining the 2nd exposure within the 1st exposure’s silhouette, I wanted the background to be blown out (which is why you want to disable the auto-gain). This technique doesn’t require any special lighting, but since we were in a classroom, I used my speedlights to blow out a white wall behind my subjects.

    This is John, who certainly had the best beard in the whole conference (probably in all of the Charleston peninsula for that matter). Another attendee had this vibrant purple paisley laptop bag with her that I used for the second exposure. Together they made quite the juxtaposition:

    John - BarCampCHS

    We had time for one more example, so using the same technique, I had this idea that came from something I saw that day at the College of Charleston campus. All over the walkways there were messages about speaking out about rape. There were hashtag messages such as #nomeansno and #itsnotyourfault written in chalk everywhere.

    I asked my daughter Mackenzie to pose with a very sad and angry expression, and then I got a few people to stick their hands out for the second exposure. The idea of the shot was to see where you can take the technique creatively. In trying to make a visual interpretation of these messages we all saw that day, this was the result. I didn’t let on that that was what I was going for while we were setting this up because we were having fun during the session, so I hope that anyone who was there didn’t misinterpret my light-hearted presentation as making light of the seriousness of sexual assault in all of its forms.

    Mackenzie - BarCampCHS

    Finally, I once again had the pleasure of shooting the group photo for the conference. Here’s most of the attendees and volunteers who make BarCampCHS happen every year:

    BarCampCHS 2014 Group Photo

    And here’s a photo of me taking that photo, courtesy of Andy Paras form the Post & Courier:


  • Sep8


    I’m not a wildlife photographer…


    But I love to shoot the birds and bugs in my backyard.

    I’m not a landscape photographer…

    Hanging Rock State Park 2012-72

    But I love to capture the beauty around me.

    I’m not a sports photographer…


    But I love to witness mad skillz, yo.

    I’m not a street photographer…

    Manhattan 2011

    But I love to find art in the moment.

    I’m not a fashion photographer…


    But I love to collaborate with artists to make something interesting.

    I’m not an architectural photographer…

    Day 146 - United States Customs House

    But I love to witness man’s feats of greatness.

    I’m not a portrait photographer…


    But I love to see a part of a person’s personality conveyed in an image.

    I’m not a wedding photographer…

    Eileen Bridal-19

    But I love to see a bride looking her best.

    I’m not an abstract photographer…

    Bass Strings

    But I love to see the Devil in the details.

    I’m not a maternity photographer…


    But I love to see a woman becoming a new mother.

    I’m not a pet photographer…

    Day 144 - Goodbye Max

    But I love to capture an old man saying goodbye to his old best friend.

    I’m not a music photographer…


    But I love music and I think it’s what saved my life.

    I’m not a headshot photographer…

    Sue Campbell's Head Shot

    But I love to capture a person the way I see them.

    I’m not a fitness photographer…


    But I love to capture a person in the best physical shape they can be in.

    I’m not an editorial photographer…


    But I love to make a portrait that tells a story.

    I’m not an event photographer…

    Charleston Brewvival 2011

    But I love an opportunity to score a free beer (or seven).

    I’m not a fireworks photographer…

    4th of July 2012 U.S.S. Yorktown-2

    But I love to see things that go boom!

    I’m not a travel photographer…


    But I love to see new places and faces.

    I’m not a fine art photographer…


    But I love to stretch my imagination.

    I’m not a family photographer…

    Family 2013

    But I sure do love my family.

    I’m not any single kind of photographer.

    I’m all of them and none of them.

    I’m just a person who loves to capture life in a bottle so I can open it up and share it with everyone else every once in a while.

  • May29

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    Willie Nelson B&W
    Willie Nelson | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Last year I entered the world of mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras with a score on the Canon EOS-M. I love that camera. The touch-to-focus LCD screen is amazing only because it’s just like the way I use a camera phone, but it also has the option to actuate the shutter when you touch-to-focus (which is doing my phone one better). Anyway, the love affair with the EOS-M got cut short because of one glaring issue – Canon gave up on the system and there’s no glass for the damn thing. I looked at the options out there and as far as lens selection goes for a APS-C mirror-less class of camera, it really came down to Sony or Fuji. I’ll just say it – I have no love for Sony’s cameras (even though they make excellent ones). They’re just not for me.

    The Replacements in Atlanta
    The Replacements | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    My first digital camera ever was a Fuji Finepix (which I still have stuffed in a drawer) and I’ve always had fond memories of that P&S. I had no hesitation diving right into the Fuji X system of cameras and lenses. There are things about the Canon I wish existed on the Fuji (mostly the touch screen), but everything else on the Fuji blows it out of the water. I’m happy to have a useable viewfinder in such a small camera. I’m impressed with its tilting screen (It was used a lot for the images in this post). I’m overjoyed at the WiFi capabilities. But most importantly – There are amazing lenses galore and they keep on coming out with new ones!

    Avett Brothers at First Flush Festival 2014
    The Avett Brothers | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    The Fuji X-T1 really has the ability to blur the line between fun camera and work camera because for a lot of applications, it’s results are of professional quality. It’s also lightweight, I can push photos right to my iPhone and post them just as I would from my phone’s camera, and I’m able to tackle difficult lighting conditions because it gives me choices. Not only choices in fast lenses, but expandability due to it’s hot shoe, PC port, and WiFi remote control. It’s also the first camera I’ve ever owned where I enjoy using it to convert RAW files right in camera. I can quickly get a great looking jpeg out of the camera and post it online immediately. It’s truly revolutionary in that respect.

    Cusses Live At The Charleston Pour House 4/19/14
    Cusses | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 18-55mm

    There comes a point with professional photography when it all turns into actual work. When you start looking at your camera as a tool that you use to do a job, and not as a magical box that you create memories and artwork with, that’s when you start justifying “play” cameras. The truth is, modern pro cameras and lenses are too damn good. They’re very efficient and they are designed to be world-class tools of a trade. The size, control system, and aesthetics of the Fuji X-T1 make you want to experiment. I know when I put it up to my eye in public, nobody is asking if I’m working. It’s under the radar enough that I can walk into almost any location with it on my shoulder without so much as a cursory glance from the powers that be. The only time I get comments on the camera is when I hold it up at a show and the people behind me can see the review images on the LCD screen. I’ve received business cards and/or email addresses scribbled on scraps of paper from the people standing or sitting near me at every show that I’ve shot for this post.

    The Replacements in Atlanta
    The Replacements W/ Billie Joe Armstrong | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    So, enough gear talk. You can see what lenses I’ve been sporting underneath each image in this post. Part of the fun of going to a show for me is capturing a piece of the performers while they’re in their zone. I’ve shot from the photographers pit in the past, and it’s not the same as being out in the audience. Sure it’s safer, but it then begins to feel like work. I’m not there to work – I’m there to have an experience… To have fun. I love music and I love photography. They’re a perfect match for me to have fun with. Hopefully you can get a sense of that from these images – They’re truly a labor of love.

    Gillian Welch
    Gillian Welch | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 18-55mm

    And The Devil Makes Three
    The Devil Makes Three | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Fitz & The Tantrums at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC 5/15/2014
    Fitz & The Tantrums | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Alison Krauss & Union Station
    Alison Krauss & Union Station | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Avett Brothers at First Flush Festival 2014
    The Avett Brothers | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Hayes Carl in Atlanta 2014
    Hayes Carl | Fuji X-T1 | Rokinon 8mm Ultra Wide Angle Fisheye

    Fitz & The Tantrums at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC 5/15/2014
    Fitz & The Tantrums | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Avett Brothers at Charleston Tea Plantation @theavettbros
    The Avett Brothers | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

  • Dec7

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    Dereon - Help-Portrait 2013

    That picture says it all. Little Dereon was the first to come visit us in the atrium at MUSC Children’s Hospital on Friday for our annual Help-Portrait event that we organize there every December. She was also the last to get her photo taken! It took her a while to warm up to me, and she wanted to watch the other children with a curious eye to see what the deal was. The whole morning she was wearing a mask that covered her beautiful smile, and when she finally built up the courage to get her picture taken, she took off that mask and instantly transformed into an excited and confident little girl. I couldn’t think of a better story to explain what our Help-Portrait event at the children’s hospital means – It’s a way to make these kids and their families feel normal.

    Joe Help-Portrait 2013

    The holidays are an emotional time, and to add the struggle that these kids are going through is not easy to say the least. To give them any experience that lets them feel like regular kids is important in keeping them hopeful and strong. We’re just but one event of the hundreds of different kinds that are held every year for the hospital, but to see the happiness in Danielle’s face and the gratitude from her mom, you can see why we get so excited for this event every year:

    Danielle - Help-Portrait 2013

    How about little Kloeiann, who came out like a rock star? We had her and her mom design a sign for her to hold up for one of her pictures, and very awesome is quite appropriate for her 🙂

    Kloeiann - Help-Portrait 2013

    We also had a frame crafting station set up for the kids to design their own picture frame to put one of their photos in.

    Crystal - Help-Portrait 2013

    Thanks to Amy, Crystal, & Christina who volunteered to make this happen with me again this year. Also, thanks to the staff at MUSC Children’s hospital for letting us do this every year!

    The photos are up on my gallery here, and there’s also a set on Flickr.

  • Nov11

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    Ashley And Set

    Gotta Love a Low Country wedding in the fall. On a beautiful day back in September, Ashley and the ladies in her wedding party polished up their boots…

    Ashley And Set Boots

    Ashley Set Prep

    It was a perfect day out at The Gatherings of Dorchester to get married. It can be a gamble having a wedding outside in the south, but this day was absolutely perfect.

    Ashley Set hands

    Ashley And Set

    Ashley Set Cake

    Ashley Set hands2

    Ashley And Set

    Ashley And Set

    Ahh, to be so young and in love. So much energy & passion. I hope one day, when they’re old and gray, they can look back at these photos and smile like it was yesterday. Congratulations Ashley & Set!

    Ashley And Set

  • Nov3

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    Movember 2013 JoeL8X - Week 1

    It’s that time of year again folks. The air’s a little crisper, the trees are full of color, and I’ve shaved my mustache in an effort to raise awareness about men’s health issues as well as raise money for the organizations that are fighting the good fight.

    This year I’m flying solo as a “MoBro”. Can we lose the “bro” monicker though? Seriously, the term “bro” makes me think of beer coozies and fist bumps, and that’s just not me. Anyway, here’s the link to donate through my page: MoBro.co/joeL8X. I’m thinking of doing some fun stuff to raise money this year, so be sure to follow me here, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

    If you don’t know about Movember yet, you can read all about the organizations vision, values, and goals here.

    Swingin' at the #coastalcarolinafair with @frostymac #fair #swing #ride #charleston #sc

    While I’ve got your attention, the Coastal Carolina Fair is in effect again. All the rides, attractions, and deep fried things that probably shouldn’t be allowed near a deep frier are available for your enjoyment at the Ladson Fairgrounds.

    More importantly, I’m proud to announce that my daughter Mackenzie has won 2nd place in this year’s photography contest for division 3 (Students)!!! She entered shots she made during last month’s World Wide Photo Walk, and her shot of a rusty old bicycle bell earned her a red ribbon.

    Mackenzie Wins 2nd Place at the Coastal Carolina Fair Photography Contest

    Next up in the information department is that Halloween was this week, and of course my family had to pose for pictures in our costumes:

    Halloween 2013

    Kegan’s buddies came over and were promptly stuck in front of my camera. Some kids are so cooperative in getting into character. These kids rule.

    Kids Halloween 2013

    My Satyr costume was inspired by this new Halloween themed tattoo I got from Rob Junod over at Holy City Tattooing Collective:

    I got my #Halloween #tattoo by @robjunod at #HolyCityTattooingCollective in #Charleston #SC Check out that #Satyr fiddling the night away! I admire his goatee...

    In sadder news, we lost a New York legend last week. Lou Reed passed away after losing a battle with liver disease. When the kids and I carved our pumpkins, I decided to make mine a tribute to one of rock n’ roll’s most influential people. From the left to right, it’s Mackenzie’s “Hedgehog-O-Lantern”, my “Lou-O-Lantern”, and my son Kegan’s “Boo-O-Lantern”:

    Pumpkins 2013-6

    The sadness didn’t last long in our family though, because the day after Lou passed away, Karlina Josephine joined the world:

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

    Welcome to the family, kiddo. Brian & Mira are going to be great parents to you, and you will have more professional photos of yourself than any other kid in your neighborhood, so just accept it and be prepared!

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

  • Sep7


    Ben Folds Five in Charleston, SC

    I love shooting live performances for my own personal enjoyment. I love music, and I love watching musicians perform. I also love photography. Why wouldn’t I want to marry the two passions? Years ago, people thought that taking professional photos at a concert was a bad thing because you might do something detrimental to the artist’s bottom line with them. I guess there was a market for nice photos of Jimmy Page on the black market. Who knows? But today you can watch a concert minutes after it happens on YouTube because everyone in attendance is Martin Scorsese with their cell phones.

    There is so much punk rock in this photo it hurts... Oh, and your belt's upside down Mr. Pop.   #riotfest #toronto #iggyandthestooges #iggypop #mikewatt #theminutemen #rawpower #punkrock #rocknroll #legends #music

    Most venues won’t even bother mentioning anything about a shitty camera, but if you have a nice camera with you then you must be a bootlegging son-of-a-bitch and not someone who enjoys the art of photography. I don’t know, it all seems silly to carry old ways of thinking into modern times. You don’t like that people are holding their phones up to snap pictures at every event? Too bad – it’s what we do in 2013. In 2020 we’ll be shooting it with our Google Contact Lenses, so you won’t have to worry about people having to lift their hands in the air like they just don’t care. The world has changed and we’re all being photographed and videoed everywhere we go.


    I’m not even trying to be rebellious or anything, I just find it strange that venues try to control the creation of well executed photography but have no problem with truly shitty cell phone pics. If the artist themselves wishes to not be photographed, then that’s a completely different story. People have the right to say no and we should respect that.


    So, what’s my secret for bringing in a DSLR to just about any venue? I just walk in with it strapped on my shoulder and pay no attention to it. Most security guards don’t care, and more importantly most can’t tell the difference between a professional or consumer camera anyway. The most recent festival I went to, the security guard asked me what kind of camera I had and I told her it was a fixed lens still camera. She looked at me funny and said “OK, as long as it’s not one of those cameras you can change lenses on”. I just smiled and walked on by. I didn’t lie – it had a 50mm fixed lens on it – I just didn’t elaborate on it at all. It’s pretty easy if you don’t make a big deal about it. The worst that can happen is that they tell you that you can’t bring it in. I’m still waiting for the day when that happens!

    Why not another @thereplacements photo? #paulwesterberg & #daveminehan #thereplacements   #reunion #toronto #canada #riotfest #rocknroll #guitar #singing #music #live

  • Jul8


    Sullivans Island Sunset in July

    This has been the longest I’ve waited between blog posts since I’ve launched this site – What happened? Nothing at all. I think the distractions of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, etc have been satisfying my need to communicate in a very basic and concise way. I’ve also been busy with my businesses, my family, and trying to enjoy the summer (albeit a wet soggy one so far). So, I’m going to share some of my photos since last we spoke on this old blog of mine…

    That photo at the top was taken this weekend. For the first time since summer began, we made it out to the beach! I went specifically to capture a sunset on Sullivans Island, and I didn’t come home empty handed. A few days before was the 4th of July, where we went to Folly Beach to check out the fireworks. Here’s a shot I made that evening:


    More importantly, my brother-in-law & his girlfriend are having a baby, and Mira’s finally started to look the part of an expectant mother:

    Mira's Maternity Shots at Folly Beach

    I’ve also been shooting lots of headshots and commercial stuff. During one shoot for a local veterinary hospital, one of the vets may have posed for a shot of her latest tattoo…

    Dr. Davis' new tattoo #DSLR #Nikon #JWNPhoto #Tattoo

    Speaking of headshots, it only took a year to get Dr. Colleen Boylston in front of my camera again to update her headshot:

    Dr. Boylston's Headshot

    I’ve recently started watercolor painting stuff on a whim. I found some $12 kit at the bookstore and found it utterly relaxing and fun. Here’s a close-up of one of my creations:

    Another watercolor painting based on another photograph I made - This one was at Kiawah Island in the spring. The pollen created a lot of cool shapes on the sand. #watercolor #art #painting #CHS #Kiawah

    I had one of the most unfortunately soggy and stormy beach weddings ever to shoot, and the couple certainly made the best of it. Here’s a shot of their muddy feet underneath the gazebo on Sullivans Island:

    Shannon & Edward

    I continue to add ink into my left arm. Margo has been a blessing in this department. She’s really turning my arm into a fleshy art gallery, and I couldn’t be more excited as I have a lot of skin to color in before this sleeve is done.

    Adding background to my arm tonight - As always @MargoVenomous rules! #roadtofullsleeve #Tattoo #water #Flames #patchwhiskey #CaiaKoopman #TatianaSuarez

    Of course, we took another trip to Disney World. I believe this was trip #4 on the year (I got the family annual passes this past Christmas). In an effort to keep things fresh, I’ve resorted to street style photography of people in the park. I love this shot because it truly doesn’t look like we’re in a theme park (which is not an easy feat to pull off):

    Safari Girl

    We took a trip upstate to Freedom Weekend Aloft to check out the hot air balloons. I may have had drank some bravery during the festival as I was running right up to the balloons and snapping away. This was my favorite balloon shot from the trip:


    As far as my other favorite past time is concerned (live music), there has been no shortage of fun this summer in that department. One of the lowcountry’s best events is the annual First Flush Festival out on Wadmalaw Island. This year’s headliners were Old Crow Medicine Show and they were pretty damn awesome.


    And I couldn’t help but take advantage of the scenery at the tea plantation and the tattooed attendees. I love this shot of to willing subjects:


    Over at the Music Farm, on of my favorite singer/songwriters, Ryan Bingham put on a kick-ass show:


    Those are just some of the highlights of my summer so far. I’ll be back to regularly updating this blog now that I’ve had a little break. Thanks for having me back. TTYS

  • Mar21

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    Last night I shot the runway show at Charleston Fashion Week again for TheDigitel.com. I wanted to write up my own post to focus on some of the shots I like from the show – mainly the little moments of expression and surprise.


    Here’s Cassidy Elizabeth Mae Brown taking a rare walk to the end of the runway shortly before she won the people’s choice award in the Emerging Designer contest.


    Speaking of winners, this is the line of Wednesday night’s Emerging Designer contest winner Serena Da Conceição just above. Local designer/retailer JLinsnider always brings the sexy and provocative to the show. This outfit received a roar of applause from the crowd:


    The job of the runway model is to be a stoic moving frame to showcase the art of the fashion designer. Every now and then they throw in a hint of personality, but for the most part the designer is the star. Last night, between designers Lulu Long, Neve / Hawk, & Ike Behar who featured children’s lines, I think as far as showmanship goes that the kids stole the whole thing. Fashion is about change, right? Maybe the world of fashion could learn a few things by the spontaneity of children and introduce a little more personality and character in the big shows. These are the moments that the crowd embraces!


    This was a great scene – the little girl in red stalled out halfway down the runway, and the other girl came out to her rescue and brought to the end and even showed her how to do a little curtsey. The crowd when wild for these two guys, especially when the adult helped the boy remove his coat and throw it over his shoulder like a boss.


    And this little guy got so into it that he just stayed there hamming it up even while other models came up to pose:



    Here’s a slideshow of all of the runway show images I took last night. If you want to see some of the red carpet and candid shots, please check out this facebook album.