Magnolia Plantation in Infrared

Work is good. Busy is good. But occasionally when I shoot too many assignments in a row and don’t have enough room to “breathe”, I feel my creativity getting stifled. It’s during those times that taking an afternoon off for a hike around Magnolia Plantation with nothing but my infrared camera can feel like a brilliant breath of fresh air!!!

Nikkor 500mm f5.6E PF ED VR

My good friend and AMAZING photographer, David Archer (, was kind enough to loan me his new Nikon Nikkor 500mm f5.6 PF ED VR lens for evaluation!

Unfortunately it was during a busy time of year. So I didn’t get to do a full review or a comparison video against it’s younger sibling, the 300mm f4.0E PF ED VR. Hopefully I’ll have time to get back and do that with David.

But for now, let me just say that I am VERY impressed!!! In fact, I’m probably even more impressed with this lens than when I bought the 300mm PF, which I thought was absolutely ground-breaking! This new technology Nikon is throwing into their ultra compact and light-weight Phase Fresnel series of lenses is just magnificent!!!

I really enjoyed shooting with this super lightweight, wickedly sharp, and extremely portable telephoto lens. Most of the time I used it on the Nikon D500, giving me an effective focal length of 750mm. I even tried some with the TC14eIII 1.4x converter, giving me 1050mm of reach!

300mm f4 = 420mm f5.6 with TC14eIII
300mm f4 = 450mm f4 on DX
300mm f4 = 630mm f5.6 with TC14eIII on DX

500mm f5.6 = 700mm f8 with TC14eIII
500mm f5.6 = 750mm on DX
500mm f5.6 = 1050mm f8 with TC14eIII on DX

All total, I probably only had about 90 minutes of actual shooting time with the 500mm PF in less-than-optimal lighting conditions. Here are some of the results. I can’t imagine what I’d be able to capture if this lens somehow found a permanent place in my bag…

500mm, 500mm f5.6 PF, Audubon Swamp Garden, Bulls Island, Charleston Nature Photographer, Charleston Photographer, Charleston Stock Photographer, Charleston Wildlife Photographer, D500, Kiawah Island, Magnolia Plantation, Nikkor, Nikon, Nikon Pro, Nikon USA

Kyle & Brittany’s Surprise Proposal at Magnolia Plantation

Hailing from Florida, Kyle and I have been secretly corresponding over the last few months about his PERFECT plan to surprise Brittany by proposing to her on the famous white bridge at Magnolia Plantation! 🙂

Kyle & Brittany have known each other since high-school. But life’s twists and turns found them heading in separate directions. Then a couple years ago, fate brought them back together again! Kyle knew she was THE ONE and decided to ask for her hand in marriage during this special long-weekend get-away to Charleston!

With every detail worked out, Kyle’s carefully laid out plans went into motion this morning. I arrived early at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and got set up with a beautiful view of the historic white bridge. Right on cue, Kyle and Brittany arrived for him to expertly guide her out into the picturesque overlook, surrounded by cypress trees draped in billowy Spanish moss. They were the FIRST ones on the bridge this morning. So it was quite funny when Brittany ran smack into a spider web. The distraction gave Kyle the perfect opportunity to drop to his knee and surprise her with the ring! It was an absolutely magical moment!!!

For my setup, I used the venerable Nikon D5, and his younger brother the D500. I had the D500 on the Nikkor 200-400 f4 VR, effectively making it a 300-600mm lens. This gave me the tight angle I wanted for capturing their expressions. The D5 was fitted with the 70-200 f2.8 VRII, setting the stage by revealing the entire scene. Each camera had a WR-R10 controller plugged in. The controllers were synchronized so that each time I took a picture with the D500…the D5 instantly fired at the same time. This allowed me to capture two different perspectives at the same exact time.

After Brittany said “YES”, I came out of hiding and met up with them. We had a BLAST photographing tons of beautiful engagement photos for them, while wandering the gorgeous plantation together! Couples who don’t hire a photographer to capture their actual proposal have to “stage” an engagement shoot later on. But Kyle & Brittany were able to have an “authentic” engagement shoot on the actual day of their engagement!!! How cool is that?

CONGRATULATIONS Kyle & Brittany! You guys are so perfect together. We wish you all the best as you begin this new and exciting journey together!!!

Samantha and Todd’s Extended Engagement Session

Flying in all the way from Missouri, it was just wonderful to see our good friend Samantha again last weekend! It was also such a pleasure to finally meet her fiance, Todd. He’s an amazing guy! They are absolutely perfect together!!!

Recently graduating from Veterinarian School and Dental School, respectively, Samantha and Todd can finally turn their attention to wedding plans. It’s an absolute honor that they have selected Cami and I to capture this special time in their lives for them.

As part of that process, we hosted them here in Charleston for a really fun extended engagement session! The entire weekend could be described as part reunion (we haven’t seen Samantha for several years), part introduction (we had so much fun getting to know Todd), part vacation (Samantha and Todd were celebrating finally earning their degrees), part tourist trap (Cami and I made sure to take them to all the best tourist attractions and iconic restaurants in town), and of course part engagement session (we photographed beautiful portraits of them all around Charleston everywhere we went). As such, we had an absolute BLAST the entire weekend, while capturing more variety than any other engagement session we’ve ever photographed!!!

CONGRATULATIONS Samantha and Todd! We love you guys, and can’t wait to be there for you on your beautiful wedding day!!!

Pat & Adrienne’s Surprise Proposal at Magnolia Plantation

Sometimes I feel like I get MORE nervous than my clients when they are about to pop the big surprise marriage proposal!!!

This morning, Pat was as cool as a cucumber as he escorted his beautiful girlfriend, Adrienne, onto the famous White Bridge at Magnolia Plantation! He and I had been working out the details for me to capture this very special moment for the two of them. He had carefully picked out the PERFECT spot, with a gorgeous southern background, that would take her breath away. My heart pounded in my chest as they reached the top of the bridge. But Pat calmly dropped to his knee and surprised her with a GORGEOUS diamond!!!

Afterwards, we enjoyed a fun walk-about together. While exploring the plantation, I captured some AUTHENTIC engagement photos for them to remember this amazing day and this special time in their lives!

CONGRATULATIONS Adrienne & Pat! We wish you all the best as you begin this new journey together!!!

Cody’s Proposal to KC at Magnolia Plantation

Cody is an AMAZING guy. And he’s head over heals in love with KC!!! He and I have spent the last few weeks going back and forth to plan and prepare, making sure everything would be perfect for his Surprise Proposal to KC. 🙂

The big day finally arrived. Earlier this morning, on a beautiful summer day, on the magical white bridge at the picturesque Magnolia Plantation, Cody asked KC to be his bride!!!

Afterwards, we wandered around the gorgeous grounds, photographing their AUTHENTIC Engagement Session. KC is absolutely gorgeous! I can see why Cody is smitten. But the truth is, their love runs even deeper. Finishing each other’s sentences, stealing knowing glances at each other, laughing quietly and hugging each other as we explored avenues of oaks draped in Spanish moss…I could tell these two truly share something special!

Visit to see more of their delightful photos.

CONGRATULATIONS Cody & KC!!! We wish you two all the best as you begin your new journey together!

Larry & Joanna’s Surprise Proposal at Magnolia Plantation

Larry & Joanna first met at CrossFit. Joanna had moved from New York to Tennessee and started attending some classes at the gym where Larry was a trainer. She says he used to pick on her more than the others. Which, as we all know from our days in grade-school, when a boy picks on a girl it means he REALLY likes her!!! Am I right? 🙂

Sure enough, Joanna put out a couple vibes, and next thing you know Larry asked her out. The rest, as they say, is history!!!

Fast forward about a year and Larry knew in his heart that Joanna was “the one”. He booked a fun vacation for the two of them to charming Charleston. And he connected with me to help him capture that very special moment when he asked Joanna to be his wife.  It was such a beautiful secret proposal under a cathedral of giant oak trees at Magnolia Plantation.

To see the rest of their photos, visit:

I’m so honored to have been a part of this AMAZING day!!! Congratulations Larry & Joanna! We wish you all the happiness in the world as you begin your new journey together…

Preston’s Secret Proposal to Stevie at Magnolia Plantation

Preston is quite the gentleman! He contacted me way back in October to set plans in motion for his Surprise Proposal to his beautiful girlfriend, Stevie. He wanted everything to be PERFECT for her!!!

Well, the big day finally arrived. And everything DID turn out perfect. We had beautiful weather, very few tourists, and Stevie said “YES”!!! What could be better than that?!?

Preston proposed at the middle of the famous white bridge at Magnolia Plantation. What an iconic location to become engaged, right? Hailing from Kansas, he and Stevie have been dating for 8 years now. We wish them all the happiness in the world as they begin this NEW journey together as husband and wife!  🙂

Ally & Matt’s Surprise Proposal at Magnolia Plantation

I woke up this morning before the alarm…butterflies in my stomach…excitement in my veins. It wasn’t for me. The anticipation of being a part of Matt’s Surprise Proposal to his beautiful girlfriend, Ally, had my adrenaline pumping before my feet hit the floor. It’s hard to believe that 9 years of dating had finally led these two soulmates to this perfect moment!

Matt and I have been secretly corresponding for weeks…planning out every detail of this AMAZING day! We selected a gorgeous avenue of oaks at the picturesque Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. Arriving early, I got all set up and settled into my hiding spot. A small group of tourists walked by and, hesitant at first, asked me why I was hiding in the bushes. After I explained my situation, the men wandered off slightly bemused, while the ladies burst into smiles and giggles, chattering among themselves as they strolled on: “isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard of?!?”

Matt and Ally arrived right on cue! The first shot of them walking towards “the spot” cracks me up. You can see Matt’s brain is on high alert as he scans the brush to get a bead on my location. But more importantly, I LOVE ALLY’S REACTION when Matt dropped to his knee and asked her to be his wife!!! 🙂

After she said “Yes”, the three of us enjoyed a wonderful stroll around the plantation, stopping to photograph authentic Engagement Photos along the way. It was a beautiful morning with perfect fall temperatures and gorgeous southern light.  We had a BLAST!!!

CONGRATULATIONS Ally & Matt! You guys are a very special couple. I am truly honored to be forever linked to this beautiful day in your lives!!!

Rebekah at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

It was a real pleasure photographing Rebekah at the picturesque Magnolia Plantation & Gardens yesterday! She’s a beautiful model with a sweet disposition, a generous heart, and an enthusiastic spirit. We had a BLAST exploring the grounds and creating some wonderful images together! Thanks, Rebekah!!!

Ella at Magnolia Plantation

One of the many joys in my life is teaching and inspiring others who share my love for the art of photography.

This weekend I had the priviledge of mentoring Ella Crawford as she shadowed me for her 8th grade career day project in school. Since she loves wildlife, we spent the afternoon at Magnolia Plantation and it’s amazing Audubon Swamp Garden.  This beautiful young lady is more mature than most high-schoolers I know. She has a deep passion for art in its many forms. And she DEFINITELY has a gift!!!

Thank you for spending your afternoon with me, Ella! I wish you all the happiness in the world as you follow your heart and fulfill your dreams, whatever they may be.

Katie & Grayson at Magnolia Plantation

Last weekend, Katie & Grayson’s dream of a picture-perfect southern plantation wedding came true!!!

The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, and excitement filled the air! Magnolia Plantation was the gorgeous backdrop for the day. And Katie was absolutely stunning in her gown. What more could a photographer ask for?!? 🙂

To see the rest of their photos, visit  And to see some of Katie’s beautiful bridal portraits, check out

Originally from Arkansas, Katie & Grayson are the most amazing couple you could ever hope to meet! Katie is a stunning lawyer and athlete, with an infectious laugh, and a fun mischievous streak. Grayson’s devilish good looks and strong-but-quiet demeanor could land him on the cover of GQ magazine someday. Together they are a match made in heaven!

Many thanks to my amazing second-shooter, Robbin, to Leanza at Magnolia Plantation, to Loraine at Invitation Only Charleston, to Angela at First Impressions, to John at Watering Hole, to Thomas at 326 Films, to Janice at Pretty Petals, to Steve at Coastal Hospitality, to Andrew at Classical Charleston, to Monica at Cake Sablee, to Ron at RCB Audio, and to the many other helping hands and smiling faces of friends and family who helped make this day so special!

CONGRATULATIONS Katie & Grayson!!!

“Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead
and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion,
and your days together be good and long upon the earth.”
– Apache Wedding Blessing