WARNING: Not for Sensetive Viewers

After capturing a beautiful proposal at White Point Gardens, I had a few extra minutes. So I decided to stay and photograph the famous Black-crowned Night Herons. I wish I hadn’t!!!
 
During each hot and humid Charleston summer, the live oaks in White Point Gardens (also known as Battery Park) become the nesting grounds for Black-crowned Night Herons. Seemingly unafraid of the public, they start acting like they own the place, making them easy to approach and photograph. Even though the park is said to be haunted, the night herons don’t seem to mind. In fact they nest in the very trees that the pirate Stede Bonnet and his men were hanged from!
 
In all my years photographing wildlife, I’ve only ever witnessed one other occasion so brutal and violent. While I was wandering around, a major disturbance began unfolding overhead. A mother decided to reject one of her chicks. Ejecting it out of the nest, pecking it to near death in the branches, and then pushing it out of the tree…the poor chick plunging to certain death below. The mother then returned to tend to it’s other chicks as if nothing had happened.
 
Why do birds reject babies? The main reason is to enhance the survival probability of her other chicks. It’s believed that the mother senses something is wrong in the development of that chick. Or they realize they don’t have the resources to raise all of their young successfully. Eliminating one mouth to feed is their only solution.
 
Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to witness such a seemingly violent act. But such are the laws of nature! Fortunately, I was able to ease the conflict in my soul by photographing a few other herons peacefully preening as the sun began to fade.
 
(Nikon Z9 + FTZII + 500mm PF)

Tres Surprises Keri with a Secret Proposal

I owe a HUGE “Thank You” to Tres’ mom, who called to vet photographers in Charleston for her son, and decided we were worthy of this special event!

Tres and Keri met online and have been inseparable since. Tres has known for a while that Keri was “the one”. In fact, he’s had her engagement ring since August!!! He wanted to wait for the right moment, and to make sure Keri had a very special proposal. I would say he pulled that off in spades!

Tres is from Alabama. But he and Keri now live in Charlotte. This weekend, they planned a fun “get-away” for a few days in Port Royal, with a side-trip to historic Charleston. It’s been so much fun working with Tres the last couple months, secretly scheming about how to make his proposal absolutely perfect!

Arriving at White Point Garden early, I scouted our location under the avenue of oak trees, and placed two branches in an “X” formation so Tres knew the right spot. I took my position on the curb, hid my cameras under a towel, and pretended to be a tourist reading a map. Arriving right on cue, Tres led Keri to the beautiful location he had picked, dropped to his knee underneath the gorgeous cathedral of oaks, and asked Keri to be his wife!!! 🙂

Getting to know Tres & Keri afterwards, as we walked around historic downtown, was so much fun! We captured a ton of fun engagement photos for them. These were “authentic” engagement photos because they weren’t staged months later, but actually took place moments after she said YES!!!

Eventually it was time for this amazing couple to head off to the next part of Tres’ surprise…a fantastic dinner cruise around Charleston Harbor.

Please help me in saying CONGRATULATIONS to Tres & Keri!!! We wish you all the best as you begin this new journey together…

Tyler & Melody’s Surprise Waterfront Proposal

Melody got a new Fuji XE4 and has turned into quite an amazing photo buff. So Tyler thought hiring me to give her one of my private photography mentoring sessions (https://chrisandcami.com/workshops/private-mentoring/) would be the perfect ruse for his proposal. HE WAS RIGHT!!!

It’s been so much fun secretly scheming with Tyler over the last few weeks to come up with the perfect plan to surprise the love of his life. Finally the BIG DAY arrived! I met up with Tyler & Melody at the famous Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park. After going over Melody’s camera settings, and practicing a few techniques, we went on a fun walk-about around the picturesque back alleys and colorful walkways of our historic city. Melody and I would stop periodically to shoot photos together. And I would suggest they do a nice portrait in front of whatever backdrop had caught our eyes. Since they are moving into a new house soon, and wanted photos to decorate it with, the “let me get a shot of you guys here for your house” excuse was a natural part of Tyler’s plan.

Now let me back up here for a minute. Believe it or not, Tyler & Melody got together because of the pandemic! Originally from L.A., Melody moved to Dallas, where she enjoys her career as a financial planner. Tyler travels a lot for his work as a medical consultant.  Originally from Michigan, he lived in the same apartment complex as Melody. In fact, they were neighbors on the same floor, and kind of knew each other in passing. When the pandemic shuttered a lot of travel, forced everyone to quarantine indoors, and curtailed extra curricular activities, Tyler & Melody began hanging out and became good friends. Then they began hanging out a LOT MORE!!! Until…well…here we are today.

Tyler really wanted to propose with the gorgeous Charleston Harbor behind them. So we had planned to conclude our photo walk down at the dock with the soft glow of twilight. Arriving at our location, it was miraculously void of all tourists and fishermen! Tyler and I had a secret sign arranged so that he would know when to make his move. Right on cue, as we stood on the open dock with the famous Arthur Ravenel Bridge standing as witness, Tyler NAILED IT!!! Melody was so surprised!  It was a beautiful moment I’ll never forget.

Some heartfelt words were spoken by Tyler. A GORGEOUS ring was placed on Melody’s finger. And SHE SAID YES!!! Please help me in congratulating this amazing couple! 🙂

Paulina & Ben’s Engagement

You may remember Paulina & Ben from one of the most unique secret proposals I’ve ever had the honor of capturing: https://chrisandcami.com/ben-proposes-to-paulina-at-the-holiday-festival-of-lights/. Fast forward to springtime, when I had the pleasure of photographing their beautiful engagement photos last evening!!!

We met up at White Point Garden to take advantage of the gorgeous spring sunshine, and the amazing backdrops that this historic park and surrounding neighborhood has to offer. To make it extra special, Paulina & Ben brought their adorable 2 year-old Goldendoodle, Cooper. We all know what a big dog-lover Cami is. So of course she jumped at the chance to join us so she could play with Cooper when we didn’t need him. 🙂

For this session, I brought the flagship Nikon Z9, coupled with the incredibly versatile new 24-120 f4 Z-mount lens. This lens is in such high demand that it’s very hard to get. I’m lucky to have it in the bag! Attaching the WR-R11 wireless transmitter to the Z9 allowed me full control of the off-camera SB-5000 when needed.

We had an absolute BLAST exploring downtown Charleston and strolling along The Battery, photographing tons of great shots as we went! Paulina & Ben are such a perfect couple. I can’t wait to photograph their FABULOUS wedding!!!

Charleston Charm in Infrared

After shooting a small wedding at White Point Garden yesterday, I decided it was too nice an afternoon not to go for a walk around charming downtown Charleston.
We put away the “heavy stuff” and I grabbed my lightweight Coolpix A that I had converted to see infrared light by Kolari Vision. I did a video about this camera and what I had done to it if anyone is interested in converting an old camera to infrared: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FsuIRK90wY&t=21s.

Being the last day of the South Eastern Wildlife Expo, there were a lot of tourists along The Battery. So I threaded my way through Stolls Alley, up to Tradd Street, and down the less-traveled parts of the old historic district.

Evan Surprises Brianna with his Proposal

Brianna & Even met and fell in love at Winthrop University. Now living in Charlotte, he’s a financial advisor, and she’s a flight instructor. This week they came to Charleston to run the city’s half-marathon race, and to celebrate 6 years together. Evan thought this would be the PERFECT time to ask Brianna to be his wife!!! 🙂
 
I was so excited when Evan called a few weeks ago to ask me to photograph this special occasion for the two of them. He told me all about their story and how much he adored Brianna. I was hooked! So we began secretly coming up with the perfect plan on how to pull this off without her finding out.
 
When the big day arrived, I went down to White Point Garden early to scout it out and get set up. We had picked one of the beautiful avenues of oaks as the spot for him to propose. Finding the perfect angle with the best light, I placed a marker so that he knew exactly where to stop and do his magic! Then I settled into “hiding in plain sight”, sitting on the curb, pretending I was a random tourist just resting and checking his map. Later, Brianna said, “You are so sneaky…I never even noticed you sitting there!!!”.
 
Once they arrived, Even led her down a couple paths to keep Brianna guessing. Then he took her into the alley where he dropped to one knee under the majestic cathedral of giant oak limbs towering above them, and asked Brianna for her hand in marriage! It was incredibly MAGICAL!!!
 
But the surprise didn’t end there! Evan had also secretly arranged for Brianna’s twin sister, Marissa, to fly in that afternoon and hide around the corner. After he proposed, he signaled for Marissa to come out from hiding and the look on Brianna’s face was absolutely PRICELESS!!!
 
Before the three of them went off to celebrate, we strolled around the park, and up some of the old historic alleys, capturing some beautiful engagement photos to commemorate this special time in their lives. CONGARULATIONS Evan & Brianna!!! We wish you all the best as you begin your new journey together!

Ben & Kyle’s Wedding Upstairs at Rue de Jean

It was such an honor for me to photograph Ben’s surprise proposal to Kyle last summer: https://chrisandcami.com/ben-kyles-secret-garden-proposal/. So imagine my excitement when they called to ask if I would photograph their wedding?!? 🙂

When the Big Day finally arrived, I met Ben at Hampton Park, where Kyle would be dropped off for their First Look. It was a truly magical moment! After which the three of us stepped across the street and into some of the old historic alleys and charming streets that Charleston is so known for. When we got back, their wedding entourage with family and friends had arrived for some fun “portraits in the park”. We all had a great time and came away with a variety of great photos!

Then it was off to Rue de Jean, where Ben & Kyle had rented out the upstairs ballroom for their wedding and reception. It’s a beautiful venue with rustic wooden beams, old brick walls, and great character! There was a heart-felt ceremony, led by Kyle’s good friend, Troy. Then Kyle, Ben, and I snuck down to the alley behind the restaurant for a few more photos while the room was flipped. The reception started with great conversations, delicious food, and joyous laughter. A fun introduction, a touching first dance, a great cake-cutting, and hilarious toasts kicked things up another notch. But the energy and excitement of the dancing took the level through the roof! It was an awesome party as everyone celebrated Ben & Kyle’s love for each other.

CONGRATULATIONS Ben & Kyle! We wish you all the best as you begin your new journey together…

Hunter & Sydney’s Surprise Proposal at White Point Garden

She was so surprised that she dropped her phone!!!

I had so much fun photographing Hunter’s surprise proposal to his beautiful girlfriend, Sydney! Hunter works on the nuclear subs in the Navy, and may be getting stationed in California soon. He and Sydney have been together for a year now, and are a match made in heaven! He knew in his heart this was the girl of his dreams. So he wanted to promise her his undying love before shipping out.

Hunter & Sydney had their first date at White Point Garden. So he and I arranged for him to propose in that beautiful park, underneath a giant oak tree, near the bench where they had their first kiss. It was a magical moment! And she was so surprised that she dropped her phone!!! 🙂

CONGRATULATIONS Hunter & Sydney! We wish you all the best as you begin your new journey together!!!

Izzy & Chance’s Senior Portrait Sessions

I love photographing Senior Portrait Sessions. But what’s even more fun is when I get to photograph a double-session for an AMAZING couple like Izzy & Chance!!!

I was so excited when Tena and Tammy (Izzy & Chance’s parents) called to set up a double photo shoot for these two. They are all from Thomson, GA, and had planned a family get-away this weekend. They thought it would be really cool to get some amazing photos of their kids that would be unique and different from the ones Izzy & Chance’s friends were getting back home. What a cool idea!

After driving into Charleston Friday afternoon, I met up with both families at Folly Beach for Part 1 of their photo shoot. We had decided to do some beach portraits. I love Folly Beach County Park for its perfect views of the sunset. We lucked out with a gorgeous evening and a fantastic sunset!

The next morning we all met at White Point Garden for Part 2. This was a great location from which to explore the heart of old historic downtown Charleston. We had a fun walk-about as we discovered great avenues of trees, black iron gates, and old brick walls to use for backdrops. As a grand-finale, we also zipped over to Rainbow Row to mix in some of those cotton-candy colored houses.

Izzy was so beautiful and had such a delightful smile. Chance was quite dashing and so much fun. We all had a BLAST and came away with some wonderful images to preserve this special time in their lives.  CONGRATULATIONS Izzy & Chance!!!

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Brendan Surprises Nina with a Proposal

One of my favorite things to photograph is a Secret Proposal!!!

Last week I got a call from Brendan, all excited and eager to chat about the possibilities of capturing that special moment when he asked his girlfriend of 3 years if she would marry him. It was so awesome working with Brendan to figure out the perfect spot, and the perfect time of day!  We worked out every detail down to the minute and the exact tree in the park under which he would pop the question.

Aaaaand then the rains came!!! We were so nervous as the rain was completely unexpected and unpredictable. An hour before our set time, a dark cloud appeared over Charleston without warning. The radar showed that it would pass through pretty quickly.  But we were on pins and needles right up to minutes before!

Luckily, it did blow through just in time, and everything went PERFECT!!! I couldn’t be happier for Brendan & Nina! They are such an amazing couple. And I truly enjoyed our time together as we photographed some fun engagement photos before they headed off to dinner to celebrate.

CONGRATULATIONS Brendan & Nina!!! 🙂

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Kristina & Rob at White Point Gardens

Kristina & Rob are the sweetest couple you could ever hope to meet!
 
This past weekend their wedding day finally arrived. Kristina and Rob had planned a beautiful intimate celebration, which they called the “Our Family Will Be There Elopement”. 🙂
 
The ceremony was held at the historic bandstand, also know as The Gazebo, in picturesque White Point Garden down by The Battery. It was a chilly day. But everyone’s energy and love warmed the park, leaving no room for the cold to enter in. Kristina was absolutely BEAUTIFUL in her elegant gown, complete with her mother’s wedding veil. After the ceremony, we had a great time photographing family portraits with all their guests. Then Kristina, Rob, and I took a stroll through the park, along The Battery, and up old historic Church Street towards the reception.
 
The reception was a delightful private dinner at 82 Queen. Tucked away in an upstairs room, the beautiful couple enjoyed a warm reception, a touching toast, delicious food, and lively conversations surrounded by their supportive family and friends.
 
CONGRATULATIONS Kristina & Rob!!! We wish you all the best as you begin your new journey together as husband and wife…

Peltier Family at White Point Garden

The Peltier Family was an absolute DELIGHT to work with! We met up at White Point Garden, and enjoyed a fun little walk-about through the park and the surrounding old historic district.

Then, as I was packing up to leave, I got a front-row seat of some really cool Coast Guard training exercises just off The Battery!