As the staff photographer for the City Paper, I get to experience very unique situations as well as meet some of the coolest people in Charleston. The images that make the pages of the paper are picked for various reasons: crop sizes, orientation, feel, and color. But I have to admit, at times the images selected, while effective, are not my favorite. Thankfully CP gives me an opportunity to share some of my work that never saw the light of day. Here are a handful of images I wish had made the cut.
When I get assignments to shoot farmers at their farms it’s always an early wake up call. Celeste Albers said she would be ready around 7 a.m. This January morning the day was particularly cold. The brisk morning air was warmed by Celeste’s charm and her love for her cows.
I met Jeremy Darby in the tiny Tua Lingua gallery off Dorchester Road. Tua Lingua is a small building behind a Jamaican hair dresser. I wasn’t sure I was in the right place until Jeremy noticed that I was carrying a lot of photo gear and wandering in circles. The artist was just starting to hang the pieces for his “Black Like Me” show. The walls were bare. It didn’t matter. I wanted the focus to be Jeremy.
My favorite gallery in town is Robert Lange Studios. In February Robert and Megan Lange celebrated 10 years in Charleston. I love shooting other creatives as they bring ideas to the table. This image was the last scene before we wrapped up.
After my first shoot with singer/songwriter Johnny Delaware, I was happy with the portraits, but I knew I didn’t have that cover shot that the annual City Paper Music Awards issue needed. About three weeks after our shoot I got to see Delaware perform and was blown away by his stage presence. I knew I wanted to capture that personality in a photograph. During our weekly editorial meetings, our Editor Chris Haire made a reference to the classic Burt Reynolds photo of Burt in the buff on a bear skin rug, and when I saw Delaware again, I mentioned that photo to him. To my surprise, he was totally down for the full monty. It didn’t make the cover of the CPMA issue, but there was no way we at the City Paper were going to miss out on running that image.
Every year for our S3 summer guide we have a swimwear feature. We typically operate on a limited budget for these shoots and finding models that are cool with sunrise calls at the beach is one of the issues we encounter. Model English Burch was up to the task. She had natural energy in front of the camera. There were so many good images to choose from that I wanted to share at least one that didn’t make the cut. Not sure if Sports Illustrated is in my future, but I would entertain the offer, much to the chagrin of my wife of course….
I stay thirsty. Fortunately, we needed a cuisine story towards the end of summer. How about a summer cocktail roundup? Sure! This image of the Boulevardier at Leon’s looks as good as it tastes.
When the SWIG bar magazine comes around, I sometimes get to enjoy the fringe benefits of this job. This was my last shoot for this day. The American Rust cocktail at The Gin Joint packed a punch.
I love these images of Haley Mae Campbell. The 17-year-old country songstress was a natural in front of the camera. Luckily, the grounds in Awendaw Green offered a lovely backdrop.
When I have to meet a subject at night in a public area, I never know how it is going to turn out. Sometimes it can be like photographing in a lighting black hole. I met bassist of the year Justin Harper in Park Circle after nightfall. As fate would have it, there was a glow to the night. We set up a few different shots in a matter of 30 minutes. This was the first image I shot, and it’s still my favorite.
For the Gullah Geechee issue of DISH, I had the pleasure of going into restaurants I normally wouldn’t make it to. The real Gullah spots are sprinkled throughout Charleston, and unfortunately these spots are vanishing. Hannibal’s in the East Side neighborhood of Charleston is one of the old-school spots that has a strong foothold in the city. Their crab and shrimp sautée with peppers and onions over rice is one of the reasons this restaurant is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Last year I photographed Justin Osborne of SUSTO when he released the band’s self-titled album, and I’ve since become of big fan of his music. His lyrics and cadence within the songs drive the album, so I wanted to give the image a raw feeling similar to his sound. We were fighting rain and about to reschedule the shoot when we caught a break in the weather. We quickly took a walk around the block. While another image of Justin made the cover of the City Paper, this was one of my favorites from the shoot.
For our winter DISH dining guide, I wanted a cover image that was pulled back from our usual compositions. I intended to show the ingredients as well as the beauty of the plated dish. My plan was to give the image a dramatic feel by utilizing the light. This plate of potato and egg salad from Edmund’s Oast didn’t make the cover, but it still makes my favorites of 2015.
David Thompson made the cover of the City Paper during the Charleston Wine + Food festival. He has designed many of the top restaurants in town. We met in the space for Mercantile and Mash, which he was working on. The natural light that was peaking through the windows in the bottom floor got me excited to shoot. Photography is all about light, and this was one of the many solid images that resulted from this shoot.
At Pecha Kucha 20 I became a fan of Marcus Amaker’s poetry. A section of his poem, “A New Foundation” that he read aloud at the event struck a chord with me: “Be aware of the model you are building. Allow enough room for God, give Jesus the floor plan. Let Buddha have a spare key so that he may open up the blinds when you are blind to your own light.” All the more reason why I enjoyed shooting the poet, film maker, graphic designer, and musician at his home for the release of his interactive poetry book, Mantra.
I could feel the intensity of the scene upon arrival. Here, Walter Scott was murdered by a North Charleston Police officer. The crime scene was blocked off. I hung around for a while trying to figure out some angles to capture the overwhelming sadness of the situation. I was talking to a bystander when this young woman dropped to her knees. She was in tears. I wanted to console her, but I couldn’t move. I shot this image prior to getting the courage to speak to her. She was family friends with Walter Scott. These are the instances when I have an internal conflict to shoot pictures or to be a human being and console.
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