• Street Photography
  • Oct16

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    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Welcome to the 300th post on my blog! I’ve had some posts here that have been pretty popular, a lot that have been virtually ignored, and hopefully some that have struck a chord with my readers.

    But this isn’t about that, this is about Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2014. Just take a look at this crew of local photographers who ventured out on the historic streets of the lower Charleston peninsula:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Weather-wise, it may have been the most perfect day ever conceived. It was like San Francisco perfect. I brought my daughter again this year, and she invited 4 of her art-school friends who all took to the streets in true teenage fashion.

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    I was sporting my trusty Fuji X-T1 camera, and my approach this year was a little different than the past. Possibly because I was herding 5 teenage girls around, or maybe because I was carrying a smaller camera, but I just let the pictures come to me instead of seeking them out. Plus, I was able to get the girls involved to make a memorable and creative experience with them.

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Using the environment to influence a photo, I was able to setup a shot with the girls, but then this woman walked into the frame walking this massive dog, making for a cool street photo:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    It’s pretty common this time of year to see another photographer earning their living by shooting a beautiful couple. When I stumbled upon this scene, I thought to myself, “What better street photo in the French Quarter than one of a wedding photographer at work?”

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Cooler still, the entourage had a limousine complete with a silver-haired driver in a tuxedo. I asked the driver if I could make a portrait of him, and asked him to stand naturally just like he was before I approached him:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    My favorite shot of the walk came by the harbor in the reeds. I saw this cool lone purple flower in the reeds and decided to get low and shoot it. One of the girls came walking into frame and this photo came together – I asked her to turn around and look back in my direction to capture this:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Strange thing about this photo – It became one of the most viewed photos of all of the photos in my Flickr stream overnight. Sometimes the less you try to create something special, the more likely something special will present itself to you. You just need to have the eyes to see it when it happens and enough skill to capture it in a concise fashion that lets the photo do the talking. As Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

  • Sep28

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    Dream Mural Mac

    Last weekend I took a trip with my daughter to see one of my favorite reunited bands, The Replacements, play at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. It was their first show in NY in 23 years, and it was the 3rd Replacements show I’ve been lucky enough to see since they reunited in Toronto last year. It was also the best one yet, but that might be influenced by all of the friends that were there to witness it with us.

    The Replacements 9/19/2014

    The Replacements Group Photo

    Traveling with my daughter, I didn’t want to impose ourselves on my friends’ couches and spare rooms, so we used airbnb to get a sweet apartment in Brooklyn. Just a block away from McCarrren Park & Pool, we were in a great location for wandering around and checking out the Brooklyn scene.

    Brooklyn, NY

    Brooklyn, NY

    We took full advantage of the great weather and spent a lot of time walking/shopping/eating in lower Manhattan as well.

    Marta on the High Line

    We also caught a nice Sunset over NJ from the High Line:

    High Line Sunset

    It’s hard not to miss my old stomping grounds when you’re sharing a bottle of wine with friends on a rooftop in Brooklyn while looking at the Manhattan skyline. Good food, good music, and good people. That’s a good life right there…

    Manhattan Skyline

    You can check out the rest of my photos from our weekend trip on this Flickr set.

    One last thing – I’ve joined Ello (thanks for the invite Patch Whisky), which is branding itself as the Anti-Facebook – an effort to cure all of the evils of the biggest social network. Check me out here.

  • Sep9

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    Sunset Venice Beach
    Sunset Surfers | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach Sunrise
    Sunrise Declaration | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach Sunrise
    Early Morning | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach
    Late Day Skate Park | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    These four photographs I made in Venice Beach, CA are ones I keep going back to. I don’t think they need much context, they’re just images that speak to me personally and artistically and I thought I’d share them here with you.

  • 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.

  • Jul4

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    Mackenzie With A Sparkler

    It’s been a very busy year so far – July 4th seems to sneak up and remind me just how fast time slips by. I’ve been busy growing my other business while still working this one. In fact, I surprised my crew yesterday by dragging in a light and a backdrop to the office for some surprise headshots:



    Speaking of headshots, I’ve been doing a lot lately for various professionals in the area. A few years ago, you could only thrive from doing headshots in a major market, but because of social media every professional needs one, not just actors and comedians.

    Here’s a couple I did this past week:

    Dr. Kelsey Harris Headshot
    Dr. Kelsey Harris

    Molly Slade
    Dr. Molly Slade

    I’ve also discovered that my Fuji X-T1 is quite the capable headshot camera. The two headshots of the guys in my crew were taken with the Fuji, while the two doctors were taken using my Nikon D800. While the flexibility gained by the controls, full frame sensor, and lens selection of the Nikon are paramount to shooting professionally, the Fuji’s results are almost indistinguishable when the output is simply an internet profile picture. The only drawback I found with my current lighting rig is that I need to close down the aperture on the Fuji a couple of stops because it shoots natively at ISO 200 and it’s a cropped sensor. That leads to more depth of field when shooting with strobe lights. For headshots like these, it’s not a problem though. For creative portraiture using these strobes it might be limiting, but I think a ND filter or two would help in that case. The look of a lens at it’s proper focal length that you get from a full frame sensor when compared to a cropped one can’t be beat, but like the US Soccer team’s performance in the World Cup game against Belgium, it comes really close by giving it its all – And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    Sorry, I fell into a technical wormhole. Back to the photos…

    Sottile Theater Installation Obey
    Shepard Fairey Installation At The Sottile Theater

    If you haven’t stopped by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art to see the exhibit of Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns, you’ve got ’til July 12th to do so. The work is amazing and inspiring. Shepard Fairey has a few installations in the Charleston area, including the one above at the storefront of the Sottile Theater on King Street. There’s also a few murals that he’s put up, such as this one on one of the College of Charleston’s dormitories:

    Shepard Fairey Mural in Charleston, SC
    Selective Color Still Lives!

    I do love some street art. In the right places, like the back alleys of the city where people store their trash, they bring color and joy. I find the story told by the street artists to be just as compelling as the story told by the architects on the main streets.

    Fire Escape
    The Other Part Of King Street

    On another note, every once in a while I get reminded of just how amazing the camera in my pocket (the iPhone) is. I snapped this little dragonfly while walking into a client’s office the other day:

    Dragonfly posing for an pic!
    Dragonfly Instagram

    I also got to go to a wedding that I wasn’t working at for the first time in a looooong time. I still managed to take a few photos, but only because I wanted to, not because I had to!

    Samantha & Jerry
    Samantha & Jerry

    Samantha & Jerry
    Samantha & Jerry

    I’ve been seeing as much music as possible and spending some great time with my daughter in the process. We had front row center seats to see the Head and the Heart and Valerie June recently:

    The Head and the Heart in Charleston 2014
    The Head and the Heart

    "Time tells all, but we only get a little slice of it... Then we gotta change" #ValerieJune
    Valerie June

    At the start of the summer I surprised my daughter during our “school’s out weekend trip to Disney World” with a visit to Universal Studios to see Huey Lewis & The News!

    Huey Lewis & The News at Universal Studios
    Huey Lewis & the News

    Speaking of Disney World, I captured this family photo with a Rokinon fish-eye lens on my Fuji X-T1 while we rode Primeval Whirl in the Animal Kingdom:

    Animal Kingdom 2014
    The Nienstedt Family

    And while we were walking through Epcot’s World Showcase, we ran into some old friends. It’s Paulie Latex and Jenny Jelly of Latex Generation fame! Paul used to sing and play guitar in my band and Jen was our merch girl. I wrote a song about them when we were teenagers about how they would never last. I then wrote a song a few years later about being astonished that they were still together. Now they’ve got 3 girls and have been together for somewhere near 20 years. Holy crap was I wrong!

    Latex Generation Family Photo Disney World 2014
    Photo by Mrs. Edel

    Local artist Patch Whisky asked me to shoot some of his artwork to be reproduced as prints that he’s now selling on his website. It was a different animal to shoot his monsters, but they sat well for the shoot…

    Patch Whisky
    Patch Whisky

    On the topic of artists, I sadly had to say goodbye to one of my favorite artists who gathered his family up and moved to the West Coast. Here I am getting one last tattoo from Rob Junod at Holy City Tattooing Collective:

    Getting the Junod one last time (In Charleston) #holycitytattooingcollective #tattoo #IWantYourSkull #nipslip #organicsweater
    Rob Junod & a Shirtless Me

    Rob’s wife, Amanda Rose, is a talented hair & make-up artist. I worked with with her recently for Shelly Waters, who hired me to shoot the cover of her upcoming CD. I’m bummed that the Junods had to leave, but I’m happy to see where their journey takes them as they are both immensely talented.

    Shelly Waters and Amanda Rose
    Shelly Waters and Amanda Rose

    And finally, since we’re on the topic of tattoos and art, my wife Amy paid a visit to Margo at Holy CIty Tattooing Collective just yesterday to start work on a new piece on her bicep. It’s just an outline in this picture and it already looks amazing!

    Amy's New Tat Sunset

    I think that about wraps it up for this post. We’re planning a road trip later in the summer, so hopefully I’ll capture some fun photos of that adventure. It’s gonna be filled with plains, trains, and automobiles for sure!

  • Jan4

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    White Keys

    It has been awhile since I’ve added images to my Fine Art Gallery. The image above is a brand new image that I created just moments ago, while the other four images are ones I created in 2013. The following two images were created recently while staying at Occoneechee State Park in Virginia. The first was at sunrise on Christmas Eve, while the other was taken the day before during a rainy sunset.

    Occoneechee State Park Sunrise

    Occoneechee State Park Rainy Day Sunset

    This next image was taken during a commercial shoot for a local magazine here in Charleston. It’s a group of Citadel cadets standing in front of a construction wall off of King Street that people have been writing their dreams on. I happened to get a girl walking by in this shot:

    Citadel Cadets

    And finally, this is an image I’ve posted here before. It’s Sullivan’s Island at sunset on a glorious summer day:

    Sullivans Island Sunset in July

  • 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

  • Oct27

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    I was super excited to walk into the photography/art building at the Ladson Fair Grounds this week to find that my photo above, taken for Eco Fitness in Mount Pleasant, won 1st prize in the division 1 photo contest at this year’s Coastal Carolina Fair! Two of my other photos received honorable mentions as well.

    This is one of my favorite shots I made this year, which was at the Change For Change benefit art show:


    This third entry was from the photo shoot I did last month for Stella Nova Salon & Spa. I’ll share more about that shoot in a future post.


    While I was extremely flattered to receive these awards, the big win for my family was to see my daughter take 3rd place in the division 3 contest with this photo that she made during the recent Worldwide Photowalk:

    Mac Shem Creek-2
    Photo by Mackenzie Nienstedt

    And she also received an honorable mention for this photo:

    Mac Shem Creek-1>
    Photo by Mackenzie Nienstedt

    We had prepared my daughter as best we could for a loss since this was her first time entering an art competition like this. We did the same with my son Kegan, who had entered a 3-D art sculpture through his art class at school. So when she won, it was truly a fantastic moment as a parent to see her surprise. Not only that, but Kegan received a 1st place ribbon for his piece as well!

    Photo by Amy Nienstedt

    What a fantastic day for our family! We are so proud of our kids, and it made the rest of the night a blast as we were so happy about the contests. I left my DSLR at home for this trip, opting to hang with the family instead of hanging behind the lens. I did have my iPhone and couldn’t resist snapping some shots like this sunset using iOS 6’s new panoramic photo feature (be sure to click on it to open up a larger version):

    Sunset Pano at the Fair

    My wife, who had been having one of “Those” days, turned it around completely at the fair. I love how happy she looks here:

    Amy at the Fair

    Finally, I have never had a caricature done of myself before. I was walking by the caricature booth, and this pretty young artist was looking at me with puppy dog eyes. She enticed me! Well, not really, I walked over and asked her how much. I’m sure she was thrilled to have such an easy target subject. So without further ado, here I am as a cartoon:

    Caricature from the Coastal Carolina Fair

    I think everyone needs a little bit of kitsch in their life, it makes me smile. I’ve got a lot more to share with you all, so check back soon!

  • Sep1


    Patch Whiskey
    Charleston artist Patch Whiskey dominates the front of The Pour House

    Today was another Food Truck Rodeo here in Charleston. This one took place at The Pour House on James Island.

    Local food truck fans chow down on some good eats

    I took my family to the event for lunch to enjoy some Roti Rolls (our favorite truck of the bunch), and my wife got an amazing sandwich from The Foodie Truck. We finished off with some peach beignets from The Creole Food Truck.

    Maria Carlucci
    Maria Carlucci paints a flying frog mural on the backside of The Pour House

    Prior to our trip to the rodeo, I had been shooting photos of some real estate for my wife, so I had my camera with me. It didn’t take long for me to break it out (I had barely given my food order for my “Abe Froman” sausage Roti Roll before I headed back to the car to get it). There were a bunch of local artists painting murals all over the pour house, including Patch Whiskey (featured at the top of this post and below), which of course piqued my interest.

    Patch Whiskey


    Food Truck Rodeo

    Capturing artists making art while chowing down on local food truck cuisine – sounds like a good time to me 😉 See you all at the next rodeo!

  • Aug15

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    Kelby Training Live-2

    I drove up to Charlotte, NC on Monday night and found myself in a Howard Johnson’s just outside of town. Sometime after 3:00 AM after watching 3 consecutive episodes of Breaking Bad on my iPad, I finally got to bed. I haven’t suffered from insomnia since I was a teenager, and boy was I unable to sleep. I knew I shouldn’t have taken a B12 supplement after dinner, but I didn’t want to get noddy during my drive after a long day of work. I can’t imagine having to suffer like that on a regular basis – its an absolute nightmare to me. Even more frightening was my alarm that went off seemingly instantly after I finally closed my eyes.

    Kelby Training Live-1.jpg

    If you have ever seen the opening scene to Office Space, that was how my 20 minute drive that lasted almost an hour was as I headed to Charlotte’s convention center from my hotel. Regardless, I made it to the seminar in good time and got a great seat right up front behind the projector. The day long class, which was created by Scott Kelby, was being taught by none other than RC Conception.

    RC did a fantastic job, teaching not only the material that Scott had put together, but also elaborating on it with his own insights and tricks. He’s an extremely approachable guy and it’s no wonder he is beloved by the photography community. He’s got a great sense of humor that never makes him look smarmy – he comes off as a guy you’d like to hang out with, which makes a day-long class on a piece of software much more manageable.

    The photo at the top of the post is one I snapped of the classroom seconds before the start – RC is in the back of the class standing and waiting to be formally introduced by the Kelby Training tour manager. The shot directly above is of yours truly with RC. I handed my camera to one of the attendees (wasn’t hard finding a willing photographer there).


    After the seminar, I walked around the downtown area looking for a bite to eat and enjoying the architecture.


    There was this one mirrored sculture on a corner that this exchange student was getting her photo taken of in front of by her host family. A couple of us photogs were patiently waiting for them to be done, when I realized they were never going to be done! I walked away and came back 15 minutes later and they were still there! Well, now she became my subject!


    I asked her permission first, and then explained to her hosts that the shot I envision involving this interesting art piece is of the reflections themselves. I snapped a couple of shots like this:


    It was a nice little release of creativity after absorbing so much photographic knowledge all day! If you’re able to make it to one of the Kelby Training Live events, please do so. They’re not expensive at all and are a great experience.