Retirement Reception at William Aiken House

Sweeping ballrooms, lush private grounds, and open-air piazzas make this historic 1807 mansion one of Charleston’s most sought-after venues for weddings and events. Tucked behind it’s ornate black iron gates on King Street, the William Aiken House is a peaceful retreat that carries guests back in time to the 19th century. The formal dining rooms, museum caliber artwork, and giant 200 year old magnolia tree are highlights of the many wonders of this beautiful property!

I always enjoy working events and weddings at this venue. And this recent corporate event in honor of the retirement of one of it’s esteemed members was no exception! The evening actually started down the block with cocktails on the rooftop bar at Stars. As dusk fell, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll down King Street to enter those beautiful gates for the main event. Everyone paused on the lawn for a few shots of the whole group which I captured from the 2nd floor piazza. Drinks and hors-d’oeuvres continued as historians shared interesting anecdotes about Charleston and details about the William Aiken House. Dinner was upstairs in the main dining hall. Finally wonderful words were shared, and a fine gift was unveiled for the guest of honor!

It was a beautiful evening and a delightful celebration I was delighted to be a part of.

First Event with the Nikon Z9

Prior to the deliver of my Z9 from NPS, I had a chance to borrow my friend Gary’s for an event. It was a chilly evening, with extremely low-light conditions. So I figured it would be the PERFECT test for this new flagship camera from Nikon!

The event was held at the beautiful yet rustic Hart Meadows Ranch on John’s Island. I arrived early to get a couple shots with the drone as the sun set over the horizon. I had about 30 minutes of twilight after that to get some establishing shots during “blue hour” before guests arrived. It was a new moon. So after that it was completely dark except for the string lights, up-lighting, and bonfires dotted around the property.

I slung my tried-and-true D5 on one hip, and Gary’s Z9 on the other. That way I could do a real-world comparison between the two models, switching back and forth as needed. I carried the 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 105 f2.8 Micro.  These were all Nikkor F-mount lenses to keep things consistent, using the FTZ adapter to mount them on the Z9.

It was a fantastic evening! The Z9 was AMAZING. For example, the shots of Tiera Kennedy, who is an incredibly talented up-and-coming country artist from Nashville, were shot at ISO 8000!!!  Yet the files look incredibly sharp and noise-free.  When there was enough light, the new Eye-detect Auto Focus was pretty awesome.  However, it did struggle to acquire focus in pitch black conditions where I had to use flash. I don’t know why mirrorless cameras don’t “see” the Infrared Auto Focus Assist beam from our flashes! Can anyone answer this? That is my ONLY wish for the Z9 is that it could see that AF Assist beam when things are pitch black.  Maybe I needed to switch to a different auto-focus mode.  But I usually ended up just pulling out the trusty D5 for those conditions.

Other than that, the Z9 performed flawlessly! I didn’t want to give it back to Gary that night on my way home. HA!!! And I’m excited to finally have received mine from NPS last week. 🙂

Awards Ceremony at The Ocean Course

Kiawah Island is such an amazing paradise! Whenever I have an assignment out there, I can feel my blood pressure dropping as I drive the scenic road out to the island. Then once I’m on the island, I love slowing down and looking for alligators, egrets, and osprey, which hang out in the many ponds and marshes.

A few weeks ago I had a fantastic time photographing a very special awards banquet at The Ocean Course. Cocktails took place on the back porch, overlooking the historic 18th hole where so many Ryder Cup and PGA moments have taken place. As the beautiful sunset faded into blue hour, everyone moved inside for dinner. Heartfelt speeches were made about each incredibly deserving award recipient. The room was truly filled with warmth and appreciation for their dedication and service!

For smaller events like this, I choose to wield my Nikon D5 + 24-70 f2.8, Nikon D500 + 105 f2.8, and Nikon SB-5000 Speedlights.  Of course the DJI Mavic Pro 2 comes in handy for those hard-to-reach angles!

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 3

The 3rd and final day of the 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville was a time to celebrate!

All the Advisory Team Leaders shared the progress reports and final results from their intense break-out meetings. Recognition Awards for exemplary service were handed out to deserving recipients. And final words of inspiration were shared before the conference was finally adjourned.

It was an absolute pleasure being back in person, photographing another fabulous event for the US Grains Council!

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 2

Day 2 of the 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville begin with some fantastic presentations. But the majority of the day was spent in break-out meetings, focusing on different sectors of the market.

That night, everyone got to blow off some steam during an off-site reception at the famous BBQ at Zen!

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 1

Day 1 of the 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville started off with a bang!

A very full schedule included highlight appearances from Mayor Pro Tem of Greenville, Lillian Flemming…Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO of the USGC…Ambassador Katherine Tai…Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs…Sharon Yuan, President of The Asia Group…and many more!

A casual Welcome Reception Welcome Reception was held in Noma Square that evening so everyone could de-compress from the days events.

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 0

Following two years of cancellations, postponements, virtual, and hybrid meetings, the US Grains Council was finally back to having in-person meetings!

The 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting was held at the Hyatt Regency Greenville. The Greenville downtown area has been completely revitalized over the last decade. It’s a beautiful city, with tons to offer. And this year’s conference was held right in the middle of it!

Arriving in town the day before the conference began, I was able to photograph a wonderful reception hosted by the outgoing chairman of the board, Jim Raben. It was a wonderful evening at Jack n’ Diane’s Dualing Piano Bar. Spirits were high as everyone re-connected with one another, and prepared for the 3 days of intense presentations and meetings that lay ahead.

CTAR Event – Harbour Club at Westedge

Getting to see and experience all the beautiful venues around Charleston is one of the highlights of my job!

It’s been a pleasure working with the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors for many years. Everyone is always so fun and friendly. I always enjoy photographing their programs. And Claire does an AMAZING job of organizing everything!

Last week I had the pleasure of photographing their end-of-year holiday luncheon at the new Harbour Club at Westedge. It’s a gorgeous location with an amazing view of the city skyline. The staff was wonderful to work with. And I loved all the natural light from the massive windows that wrap around the room!

I’d like to congratulate all the new inductees into their new roles for the coming year!

WP Chrysler Club Conference

It was great to be back at Belmond Charleston Place this week, photographing the WP Chrysler Club sales meeting.

The program started off with a welcome reception for all the sales leaders and their significant others. My friend Gary and I partnered up to provide couples portraits, which Gary printed and delivered on-site for the guests to take home as a memento of the evening. We also photographed head-shots for the various dealership owners. Then everyone enjoyed a beautiful cocktail hour, followed by a fabulous dinner!

The next morning I photographed the business meeting, including all the networking opportunities, the keynote speakers, and of course the award presentations to the top sales leaders.  CONGRATULATIONS to Chris & Joel for their achievements!

At the end of the day, everyone gathered for a big group photo on the famous Grand Staircase. That was the last “official” duty before everyone dispersed to partake in their various free-time activities, including golf, shopping, carriage tours, etc.  As soon as I snapped the last frame, everyone scattered like school kids on the last day of class before summer break!  😉

I’ve been slowly incorporating the new Nikon Z system into some of my shooting. Although most of these images were photographed with my trusty Nikon D5, many were captured with the Z6II, which I’m very impressed with. However, there are still a few things that have left me wondering “why did they do that?!?”. The jury is still out as to whether I will fully switch over to mirrorless.  But so far it’s been fun to play with.  So stay tuned…

Elanco Livestock Legend at Middleton Place

Earlier this week I had the priviledge of photographing the Elanco Livestock Legend event at Middleton Plantation.

It was a beautiful fall evening with clear skies and perfect temperatures. As soon as the group arrived, I was able to photograph candid portraits of the award winners with their spouses. Then with drinks in hand, they strolled the grounds with personal guides telling about the history of this amazing plantation. Arriving at the Stableyards just after sunset, a casual cocktail hour included more interesting history told by blacksmiths and potters. Then it was off to The Pavilion for good food, lively conversation, and dancing. Plus of course the various regions got to have their group photos made!

It was a lovely evening celebrating the company’s accomplishments. Many thanks to Missy at Absolutely Charleston, and Samantha at Middleton Place for making it such a successful event!

Bird Songs at Center for Birds of Prey

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of photographing an intimate event called “Bird Songs” at the Center for Birds of Prey!

This special music event has become one of Charleston’s most anticipated experiences with Nashville singer songwriters performing in the round on the Center’s beautiful campus. Held in a relaxed and comfortable setting on the, surrounded by trees in the Owl Woods, this event has sold out every year. Past performers have included Grammy nominees, chart-topping performers, and some of country music’s most promising new stars. Guests enjoy an intimate and personal musical performance as well as a well-appointed open bar and a satisfying Lowcountry supper. One attendee described it this way: “Just like Austin City Limits in the woods!”

This year’s performers included:
– Phillip Lammonds, who has penned numerous tunes for and with artists like Darius Rucker, Lee Brice, Edwin McCain, Blake Shelton, and Hootie and The Blowfish
– Aaron Raitiere, who is an amazing lyricist, performer, and visual artist from Danville, Kentucky.
– Singer / Songwriter Barrett Baber who gave millions of viewers an unforgettable introduction to a rising new artist when he appeared on Season 9 of The Voice.
– Emily Brooke, who is a country/pop artist who has opened for nationally- renowned artists like Kelsea Ballerini, Old Dominion, Ryan Hurd, Charles Kelley, Craig Campbell and Randy Houser.

It was an absolutely magical evening! I would HIGHLY recommend getting your tickets for next year as soon as they become available!!!