The difference between the drag of 2021 and the bolts of life that spirited through the Lowcountry in 2022 is nothing short of amazing.

The days of canceled events, restaurant closures and dark uncertainty are long gone.

“When I look back at 2022, all I can remember are faces,” said City Paper photographer Ruta Smith. “Looking at the photos on these pages is like a quick movie thriller that reminds me of all the new businesses and folks who took chances and moved here. Or they’re the emerging artists or familiar businesses celebrating big anniversaries and our new normal!”

For us, a big part of the year was celebrating the Best of Charleston in May and our 25th anniversary in July. And at the root of the celebration was a renewed interest in reconnecting with people we’d missed throughout the pandemic. This vibrance showed up routinely in portraits. 

“People weren’t afraid to let us in their spaces and be raw in front of the camera and smile wide,” Smith observed. “If you end up in front of my lens in 2023 and wonder, should I smile for the picture, the answer is always yes.”

Enjoy these pictures by Smith and other contributors, including Ashley Rose Stanol, Chelsea Grinstead, Herb Frazier and Skyler Baldwin. —Andy Brack

Gritty Flyright, Aug. 19 | Photo by Ruta Smith
Margo Venomous, July 20 | photo by Ruta Smith
Hunter Park, Aug. 3 | Photo by Ashley Rose Stanol
Mike Quinn, March 30 | Photo by Ruta Smith
Abortion protest at Charleston City Hall, June 25 | Photo by Chelsea Grinstead
Uncle Mingo, April 13 | Photo by Ruta Smith
The West Ashley Palms Apartments fire, Feb. 7 | Photo by Skyler Baldwin
Angel Oak, Aug. 10 | photo by Ashley Rose Stanol
Greg Johnsman, June 8 | Photo by Ruta Smith
Poraa, Feb. 23 | Photo by Ruta Smith
Chris DiMattia, Aug. 10 | Photo by Ashley Rose Stanol
Chris Holly, Feb. 22 | Photo by Ruta Smith
Patch Whisky, May 11 | Photo by Ruta Smith
Remembrance Program, June 7 | Photo by Herb Frazier

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