Early 1900s painter Alfred Hutty described Charleston best in a letter to his wife: “Come quickly, have found heaven.” Whether you call it heaven or just an incredibly beautiful city to live in, the fact remains that Charleston continues to enchant people from both near and far. But even with our combined love of this town and the English language, we have yet to capture the Holy City’s special charm in words. Which is why for our annual Charleston City Paper Photo Contest we asked shutterbugs to sum it up in an image. The results are as diverse as our population — for one it was the contrast of cumulus clouds in a piercing blue sky above the Ravenel Bridge, for another it was a freak fog at Folly Beach. The one common denominator was each photograph paused time on a specifically Lowcountry moment. We may not have been present for the pictures, but they still feel familiar — exclusively Charleston. Enjoy.

NOTE: The City Paper Photo Contest practices blind judging, meaning, we didn’t know who’s work it was when judging it. Prize amounts awarded are based on the number of entries.

“Noodle & Eden: Catching the Holiday Spirit” First Place — Professional

By Micheline Callicott

“Noodle and Eden are part of the V-Tones, a local band. I shot this image for Noodle and Eden’s annual holiday card. They are great friends and performers.”

From the Judges: “Great lighting setup. It draws the viewer’s eyes to look deeper into what is actually going on in the shot. This image keeps my eyes longer than any. What exactly is going on? The image brings anticipation for what would happen next. Why would he be trying to catch her? She seems defiant to his posture. This image captures a moment.”


“Colonial Lake” First Place — Amateur ($250)

By Chris Thompson


“I was roaming around downtown with a new camera, looking for things I thought were cool, and it was a calm night so the water’s reflections caught my eye.”

From the Judges: “The clouds lead the viewer’s eyes directly to the stoic building, then makes you search for more hidden gems. Great exposure. The blocky non-aesthetically pleasing Sergeant Jasper is made beautiful by the wispy clouds and the sunset. Great juxtaposition of the skyline and the apartments.”

“Into The Abyss” Second Place — Professional ($125)

By Nickie Cutrona


“The beach is kind of my safe place, where I get recharged. I go out to Folly all the time and love taking long exposures of the waves. Usually I’ll focus on the water, but I found this spot with rocks at sunset one day and thought it sort of looked like Mother Nature’s backbone and felt I had to capture it.”

From the Judges: “Good use of a dark ND filter to get that smooth water look, and the black and white fits perfectly. This photo has great long exposure. It shows the effort that went into shooting at the right time of the day.”

“We Inherit the Past Into Our Present” Third Place — Amateur ($75)

By Martha Watson


“I live between Brooklyn and Charleston, so I have two addresses. I am originally from Charleston. I was born in what are now condos on a building on Colonial Lake. My grandparents had a house on East Bay Street. My step-grandmother was Lila Rhett, and she grew up in the Aiken Rhett house. As you probably kvnow, china is a great tradition in the South, and it is handed down and cherished throughout the generations. My grandmother, Lila, was so proud of her set of Crown Derby china that she had collected and she lovingly handed it down to me.”

From the Judges: “A creative look into off the wall ideas and deep story telling of a creative photographer. Great light and scene.”

“‘Foggy’ Beach” Second Place — Amateur ($125)

By Andrew Kallman


“My girlfriend and I went down to the beach to ride bikes, and it was just kind of crazy how when we walked to the other side of the dunes it was so foggy, when it had been total sunshine before. We didn’t expect it at all, but we were just goofing around on bikes, and I thought it looked really cool. I snapped the photo with my phone first and then had her do a couple loops around me to get an actual photo of the scene. It was a great moment.”

From the Judges: “It makes you wonder what and where this picture is and when. I love that it’s ghost like. This is a great image that has a ghostly effect. It was exposed perfectly. I love the girl on the bike in the background. It makes the image complete.”

“Hanging On Sullivan’s” Honorable Mention — Amateur

By Michael McAdams


“This is one of my favorite spots to take photos. There are large rocks on the beach that get me 10-15 feet off the ground and I get a great view of a lot of interesting things like downtown Charleston, the port, the Ravenel bridge, ships/boats, beach, etc. This one was great because the weather was very calm and there were very few waves. People were wading in the water as if it was a lake. Then I also got lucky with the seagull flying in at the right time.”

From the Judges: “Love the story behind this, even if not direct. The image uses great color and exposure. Great use of foreground, middle, and background. It’s a different angle from the ever so common bridge.”

“Botany Bay” Honorable Mention — Professional

By Frank Haeussler


“It was back in March, and I just happened upon this spot. The low tide, the trees in the water, and everything was just perfect, as well as the sunrise itself. I’ve gone out there many times, and the cloudless sky and the sunrise itself was a once-in-a-lifetime shot that I can’t duplicate, as many times as I’ve tried.”

From the Judges: “It shows that if you take effort to take a great photo and have patience, that you can turn out some amazing photos. The glint of the sun makes this composition sing.”

“Bridge Perspective” Third Place — Professional ($75)

By Cliff Lavelle


“I walk the bridge from time to time, and I’ve always liked the cables at the top of the bridge and how they converge. On that day in September, the sky was especially blue and the cumulus clouds were very white and the dark blue sky and the white clouds and cables — it seemed like a great backdrop to show off the bridge’s beauty.”

From the Judges: “Great approach to a Charleston landmark. Composition and color are spot on. This is a unique view of a common subject in Charleston, and technically sound.”

About the Judges

Jonathon Stout


Jonathon has been creating photos for over 14 years. His biggest passion is capturing the essence of old abandoned buildings and urban decay. He is always scouting and learning the history behind a building to bring out its energy. He also likes lifestyle, music, events, and street art photography. 

Jonathan Boncek

Staff Photographer, Charleston City Paper

After relocating to Charleston from Northern California, Jonathan started working with the City Paper. From his time as a fine art photographer at the University of Georgia to his countless days as the official photographer for the World Series of Poker, Boncek’s creative side is constantly evolving. He’s currently focused on environmental portraiture and food photography, which recently earned him a James Beard Award nomination.

Scott Suchy

Art Director, Charleston City Paper

With more than 900 career newspaper issues under his belt, Scott has been collaborating with photographers for the past two decades to bring to life stories of all kinds. In addition to art direction, his work in photo illustration has led to multiple awards over the years. He has no life outside of the office as far as we are aware.