• Insight
  • Oct5

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    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-8

    Today was the 6th annual World Wide Photo Walk organized annually by Scott Kelby. I’ve been walking in these for a few years now, check out this and this. Last year my daughter joined me and she had a blast, so she signed up once again for this year’s event.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-4

    Last year we did the evening walk at Shem Creek, so this year we went on the morning walk in historic downtown Charleston. We started out in Waterfront park and made are way through the streets of the lower peninsula.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-5

    To shake things up this year, I decided to stick with one fixed length lens. My choice? A 50mm f/1.4.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-36

    Only having one lens to choose from at one focal length is quite freeing. I had to pick my shots carefully and instead of working it and solving problems like I do on a daily basis, I either had a shot, or I didn’t. My feet are my zoom, and there are no ultra wide angles either. Just one normal focal range. It’s kind of like drawing with just one pencil. The limitations free you up to keep it simple. And that’s what most of the shots I took reflect.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-30

    My first lesson for my daughter was to isolate the subject. “How?” she asked. Composition. Move around until you can see just the subject of the photo with the least amount of distractions.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-3

    Lesson two was to look for contrasts. Big and small, light and dark, and also contrasting colors. Reds and blues are one of my favorite. Add some green, and I’m excited!

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-15

    I did look for some people to shoot as well. A mother and daughter were sitting in a pastry shop that we had stopped in to grab a drink in. I was taking a shot of my coffee cup and the mom said, “Why don’t you take a picture of us? We’re more interesting than an inanimate object!” I couldn’t agree more. She then said I should Instagram it. Unfortunately Nikon hasn’t figured out how to post to Instagram from their DSLR’s directly, but that didn’t stop me from giving her some instant gratification. iPhone to the rescue!

    @skyfran 's mom told me to post this. I don't know these ladies! #wwpw #wwph2013 #CHS #strangers #streetphotography

    I saw this guy power-washing a building and loved how the spray was glowing in the sun:

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-22

    We took a detour looking for some graveyards because my daughter wanted to shoot an angel statue. She said it was because of the “Weeping Angels” from Doctor Who. Who am I to say no? Unfortunately, all of the cemeteries that we went to were chained up. As we were leaving the walk, we came up this awesome little magic shop, and guess what was outside?

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-33

    I guess it was magic? Whatever you believe, I had a great time shooting with my kid. You can see all of the shots I took in this Flickr set.

  • Sep8

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    Here is #sketch no. 2 of @emmawatson that I got a little more ambitious with #drawinglaceishard #moleskine #sketchbook #art #graphite #drawing #draw #pencil #fabercastell #emmawatson #orlando #florida

    One of the most important things I’ve learned about photography is that the equipment is not ultimately important. The overall image is. I’ve hammered it in so many blog posts that I’m not even gonna bother linking to them here. Just choose any month from the right-hand list and you’ll find me ranting about some facet of photography that has nothing to do with lenses or light modifiers.

    Tonight's #sketch is of #AngelinaJolie - I dig her more now than ever for promoting women's health #art #sketchbook #moleskine #fabercastell #graphite #pencil #draw #drawing #portrait #girl #actress #bighair

    So, I’ve recently rekindled my love for drawing with graphite – Something I did back in high school but never really pursued again until now. The whole process has inadvertently turned into an advanced lesson in portraiture. I scour through Pinterest feeds looking for faces that move me, and before I know it, I’m studying. I’m learning about which photos appeal to me, but more importantly why they appeal to me. Expressions, quality of light, overall mood, etc.

    Tonight's #sketch of @nottildaswinton was made in 3 different airports and caught the attention of the TSA (in a good way).  #TildaSwinton #moleskine #sketchbook #art #drawing #draw #graphite #pencil #portrait #face #actress #artist #woman #girl #shorthai

    Once I’ve settled on a portrait to sketch, I then get a chance to slow down and really tear the image apart so that I can put it back together again. Every facial feature, every shadow, and every highlight gets meticulously recreated.

    Tonight's #sketch is of @gilliananderson #sketchbook #moleskine #art #drawing #draw #graphite #portrait #hair #pencil #fabercastell

    I even started adding my own little adjustments, such as the tears in this sketch of Benedict Cumberbatch that I did for my daughter:

    Tonight's #sketch of a sad #BenedictCumberbatch @cumberbatchb was commissioned by my daughter @frostymac for a school research project.  #art #moleskine #sketchbook #draw #drawing #graphite #pencil #sherlock #necromancer #fabercastell #portrait #tears #fa

    The real trick is in translating that inspiration and effort back into photography. I find that getting people to slow down with me is helping me get some deeper images of their faces. Here’s an photo I shot recently after a head shot session where I just asked Christina to relax a bit and look at the camera without any predisposition. Just take it easy and let the face tell the story without forcing it.

    Christina Dramatic B&W

    If you want to keep up with what I’m doing in my sketchbook, follow me on my Instagram feed

  • 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

  • Sep6

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    Posted in: Insight, News, Projects

    Black Swamp Girl

    I woke up one Saturday morning with this image in my head. Inspired by my friend Katie’s new venture called “Black Swamp” in which she re-purposes the wood shavings from her & her husband’s woodworking business into jewelry, I saw that the pieces she’s producing look much like the curls of her own hair. The idea was almost too easy! I drove out to Eutawville, SC that afternoon to make it happen.

    Of course, nothing worth doing comes without a price, and Katie did not come out of this squeaky clean.

    Black Swamp Co.

    I like to “warm up” for something like this to get a feel for the location, loosen up the subject, and get my brain on the correct frequency. I shot a few environmental portraits in Katie and her husband Joe’s new shop space. Here’s my favorite of those shots:

    Black Swamp Co.

    You can check out the rest of the photos on this Flickr Set.

  • Jul18

    1 Comment

    Amanda Cruz Portrait

    There’s a fine line between a portrait and a headshot. The main difference being that a headshot is a professional representation of the subject for the desired use of the photograph, while a portrait tells more of a story. It doesn’t have to be a complicated story either, just something that makes you wonder what’s going on. Dramatic lighting, coloring, and expressive poses can take the same subject wearing the same outfit with the same hair and make-up and transform the image completely.

    The photo above is of Amanda Cruz, who came by to get this headshot made for her new real estate business:

    Amanda Cruz Headshot

    These shots are only a few moments apart – The difference in her pose and expression coupled with a change in the lighting setup and you have a completely different product. Sometimes the difference can be subtle, so the best way to determine whether you’re making a headshot or portrait is in the story. Is the photo showing the subject being themselves? Is it displaying something in their character? Then it’s most likely a headshot. On the other hand, if the shot is implying an emotion, or leading you to imagine a scenario that is playing out for or in view of the subject, then you’re most likely looking at a portrait.

  • 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

  • Apr6


    The Charleston SC Gallery Art Scene In A Nutshell

    All art has a voice, and sometimes that voice is in some alien language that I can’t understand.

    On Friday I had to park quite a ways away from my destination while doing some work downtown and found myself walking though Charleston’s art gallery district. Now, this isn’t a blanket statement of the Charleston art scene, but there are a plethora of galleries that sell only paintings of Egrets, Blue Herons, & old Charleston buildings. Like most of them. It’s weird, really. A lot of these paintings look like the stuff you get at Hobby Lobby, or the art section of Wal-Mart. Obviously, there’s a huge market for this stuff too, because real estate downtown isn’t cheap and there are a lot of these galleries.

    So, I got to thinking – what if I took one of my shots of a classic doorway of an old house on Church Street and put some birds in there. Maybe an Egret and a Blue Heron. And then, a quick click of the Oil Paint effect in Photoshop and… BAM!!! Mainstream art! Print it out on some matte paper, sign it and add a few artistic embellishments with a paint pen, and then throw it in a metal document frame from Garden Ridge that costs $5.99. Take that bad boy and hang it in plain sight and… Profit?


    Nah… But if you happen to find your self on a “royal” street corner in the next day or two, please help yourself to this fine piece of artwork by yours truly. Maybe someone will sell it to one of the many people who like paintings of birds and houses and give the money to the Center For Birds of Prey.

    If you do happen to see it, please send me a pic of it!

    BTW, I have a lot of friends who love to photograph birds and take photos of classic Charleston buildings, hell, I obviously do on occasion as well (the source material for that masterpiece up top wasn’t stolen – it’s all mine). I don’t mean any disrespect for your love of birds and stuff. Well, that’s not entirely true, I guess. I’m making fun of someone’s art. That’s pretty disrespectful. So screw me, I’m a jerk.

    Just remember the golden rule of art: If everyone likes it, it’s not art.

    OK, the print up above was gone very quickly, so now I’ve put up a new one. This is an iPhone shot of my awesome dog Jackson running through my yard. It’s called “Run Jack Run“. I put it up here while attending Second Sunday on King Street:

    Run Jack Run - Second Sunday on King Street 3.14.2013

    Go get it if you want it!

  • Mar12

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    Karson B&W

    It doesn’t feel like that long ago when I decided that my passion in photography involved the connection to people. I dabbled and still dabble in still life, landscape, and architectural photography, but the photos that mean the most to me are those frozen moments of humanity that I’ve captured. And I think I’ve figured out why. It’s something that isn’t entirely tangible. It’s the magic that happens between the subject and the 4th wall (which is usually the photographer).

    This is not a spiritual thing, but there is certainly an emotional bond that photographers have with their subjects. There’s a trust and a connection that radiates in their expression, whether it’s a candid shot or a completely staged portrait. If that connection is lost or broken, the image is cold. The subject looks out of place. It’s like they don’t want to be there, or worse, it’s like they don’t believe in the photographer.

    This is something I’ve been struggling to identify for a while now. Why do some photogs take amazing scenic shots, but fail miserably with people shots? Why do some people know every single lighting and exposure rule and live by proven compositional theories but come up with off-putting portraits? I think it comes down to personality.


    There are photographers that can make a building come to life, and others that can make you feel like you’re in the habitat of a wild animal. There are ones that will make huge sacrifices and fly all over the world capturing the perfect light at the perfect time of year. Then there are those that can peel back the walls and bring out a person’s soul. An introvert may not be the best person to capture the light of humanity. They might be amazing at seeing leading lines and balancing the exposure of natural light with artificial light. But, they make people nervous when they attempt a portrait.

    On the flip-side, I see a lot of photographers struggling with the technical side of things, yet they make amazing portraits. I was reading a thread on one of the photo forums the other day about a photographer who was upset by the popularity of a local photographer in his area who he thought was terrible because she didn’t know the difference between a RAW file or a jpeg. He then posted a gallery of some of her shots and they were really good. He didn’t get it because he didn’t have it when it comes to shooting people.

    What is “it”? I think it’s a deep love for your subject – an appreciation for their inner beauty as well as their outer beauty. “It” is also something that someone who lights up a room has because “It” is a drive to bring everyone up a notch. “It” is not just one thing, it’s also a creative eye, an eye for detail, and an eye for spotting a good story and conveying it in a single image. Whatever you believe “It” is, I don’t think you can find it in a manual. I don’t know if “It” can be taught in a class. That special attraction that some people possess is different for different people. I do think “It” can be nurtured and grown. I do think everybody is capable of their own version of “It”. Confidence, skill, experience, morality, emotion – these are some of the key ingredients. The recipe is unique to all of us and it’s our job to be honest with ourselves in realizing what our passions are and if we’re serving the art over some unrelated motive.

    It makes me cringe when I see people obsess over F-stops and focal lengths. There are articles written about what aperture is most used in the most popular photos. While the technical information is very important to learn and it’s great that there is so much educational info available, I feel like many people never escape from it. They’re so concerned with technical perfection that they’ve never tried to capture a meaningful photo. In a perfect world, you’d use that information to help you capture an image you’re envisioning, not capture a photo to demonstrate technical skill.

    The magical moment that a beautiful image comes together because of the personality and interaction between the photographer and the subject, combined with technical skill and artistry is what we should all be hoping to achieve. Those images are the culmination of lots of hard work both with the camera and more importantly with relationships. What it all boils down to in my opinion is that the moment and the “It” factor are far more important than the technical stuff will ever be when it comes to shooting people. It’s what I’m currently focusing all of my attention on. How can I be a better communicator and make images that resonate?

  • Feb25


    Brewvival Mud Fight!

    A couple of years ago, my buddies Chrys & Robert asked me to cover Charleston Brewvial. Last year I couldn’t make it, but this year I was determined to go as a participant so I could fully enjoy one of the greatest events in the greater Charleston area.

    Brewvival 2013

    I originally planned on taking my P&S P7000 with me, but when I woke up on Saturday morning I realized that the rain was not going to be forgiving and I would be happier using my free hand to hold an umbrella instead. The rain was such a presence, in fact, that it became one of the stars of the event.

    Brewvival Fuck Yeah!!!!

    Not one sit idly by without letting the photographic itch consume me, I did make proper use of my iPhone to capture my experiences. This shot just above was of the first of many who decided to not give any fucks and start playing in the mud. Put thousands of people on a muddy field and someone’s gonna get dirty. Add beer, and a whole lot of people will join in happily.

    Brewvival 2013
    Photo by Chrys Rynearson of me taking the shot above

    Lets not forget the true star of the event. Beer.

    Brewvival 120!

    This year, sour was all the rage. Most of the brewers had a signature sour beer and they were almost all fantastic. I only dumped one glass the whole day because I just didn’t like the taste at all. While that might sound sacrilegious to some, when you have a tasting event like this, if you don’t pace yourself you will most likely end up like the guys in the photos above. That means choosing wisely. The best part is when I found a beer I truly enjoyed, I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends (and even some strangers).

    Beer Geek #Brewvival

    There are countless articles written about the benefits of having a camera-phone like the iPhone because the best camera is indeed the one that you have with you. My piece of advice with iPhonography is the age old photographic wisdom of “If you think you’re too close, get in closer”. Be concise with your storytelling and know the limitations of the camera. For events like this, it’s all I need because the lighting was perfect (cloudy and outdoors), it fits in my pocket, and I can focus on the experience with friends because I’m “just another guy with a camera-phone”. Besides, it’s nice to let your photog friends do the heavy lifting while you tip a few back and act stupid:

    Brewvival 2013
    I could have sworn Robert took this photo, but I guess Chrys was standing next to him! I’ll give the credit to Robert Donovan anyway since I was exposing myself to him 😉

    Check out the rest of my photos in this Flickr set, also be sure to check out Chrys’ set, CHSBeer.org, and the official Brewvival Facebook Page.

  • Jan25

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    For my last post about my Caribbean trip, I wanted to showcase some “touristy” shots. That is about capturing the events, people, and places that make a trip special.


    I love a good landscape, but I love a pseudo-landscape shot with other people in it even better. The shot up at the top as we docked in Mexico, or the shot just above in Haiti as a tourist takes some landscape shots. This shot below is more subtle, but there’s a bartender in the background getting the bar ready for the day in this sunrise shot.


    And why not hand the camera off to somebody else to get yourself in the shot? In fact, I often go out of my way to offer up cameraman duties on trips like this to strangers because I know how important it is. Here’s a picture of my wife and I taken by our tour guide as we make a stop during our dune buggy adventure in Cozumel.


    And here’s a shot of me snorkeling – I handed the camera off to my wife for a while so I could play:

    Cruise-Grand Cayman-13

    Haitian fire-eater? Yes please!


    I also put some collages together from each excursion to showcase the moments from each day. Here’s one from Jamaica, where we visited Bob Marley’s childhood home and mausoleum.


    This particular trip was exciting – we took a 2 hour drive through Jamaica and got to see so much of the real countryside and villages. It’s a beautiful country. One of the things that make the Bob Marley Mausoleum an interesting place is that they honor his Rastafarian roots and allow the purchase and smoking of Marijuana. Even this cat looks like he partakes in the tradition:


    In fact, the first thing you see when you exit your vehicle upon arrival is this guy in the window selling his wares.


    And last, but not least, don’t forget to participate in any local customs or touristy attractions. Yes, that’s a healthy mixture of joy and fear on my face…

    Cruise-Grand Cayman-17

    – TTFN