Diana and Andrew's Wedding: Fort Mill and Charlotte

On Thursday, Diana became an alumna of Clemson’s engineering school. On Saturday, she became Andrew’s wife. I did this Clemson couple’s engagement photos on a cold January day in Clemson.  Here are their wedding pictures from a 90-something degree clear day in May!

The wedding ceremony took place in the Fort Mill church Diana grew up in and a priest from Andrew’s church delivered the sermon. Diana wore the same veil that her mother and her mother’s sisters all wore on their wedding days, except Diana added a pretty gold headband to it. And how beautiful are these rings? Diana’s yellow-gold rings look so pretty together!  Diana’s favorite color is gray, so her bridesmaids wore gray, but most of Diana’s accessories were gold and there were hints of blue in their bouquets, with Diana’s rosary wrapped around the bridal bouquet. 

After the ceremony, we found a shaded area by a pond near the church for bride and groom portraits, then crossed the border of the Carolinas to Diana’s aunt’s house in Charlotte for the reception.  Diana and Andrew love the movie Up, so “adventure” was a common theme throughout the reception.  They had a few single-tier cakes from All In, a coffee shop in Clemson where everything tastes amazing, including their cakes.  After a night of line dancing and partner dancing in the backyard, Diana and Andrew walked through a tunnel of their family and friends blowing bubbles that came from champagne bottle-shaped bubble containers, which I thought was adorable, before heading to Asheville for their first adventure as husband and wife. 

Enjoy the photos of this beautiful celebration of love between two sweet people!

Ceremony venue:  St. Phillip Neri Catholic Church, Fort Mill, SC

Reception Venue: Private residence, Charlotte, NC

Photographer: Christine Scott Photography

Florist:  Fresh Blossom

Catering: Famous Toastery of Dilworth

Clemson Graduation Portraits: Spring 2018

For the Spring 2018 semester, I had 8 Clemson graduation portrait sessions, with 2 more happening after graduation. Here are some of my favorites of each session at the best university. 

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Holly

Holly is graduating with a degree in health sciences. She grew up near University of Georgia and became interested in Clemson after they beat Georgia in football.   We rescheduled her session for a cloudy afternoon that turned into a bright and sunny afternoon, which made the lighting a little different, and some gorgeous blossoms!

 

Logan and Connor

Logan is a political science major and Connor is a computer science major. They were also part of my wedding; we all met through Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. These were also the guys I spent the College Football National Championship with, as well as a lot of that football season. 

Kinsey

Kinsey is graduating with a degree in chemistry. We arrived at the stadium to find out that the football team had decided to move their practice into the stadium at the last minute, meaning we couldn’t go inside and we had songs like Back in Black blasting through the stadium to pump us up for our other pictures. She did get to come during my next session and get her stadium photos, though! 

Peter

Peter is a management major who will move to Atlanta after graduation. He paid tribute to the football team’s national title from his junior year by wearing a Deshaun Watson jersey for some of his shots around the stadium. 

Mindy and Megan

Mindy and Megan grew up in Tennessee. Although they didn’t have any family ties to Clemson, they both fell in love with the school and are graduating with engineering degrees. 

Taron

Taron is also a chemistry major and wanted to explore the botanical gardens for the first time during her session. We were originally scheduled to have the session when the trees would be blooming, but it poured down rain on the day we scheduled. Her yellow dress looks so perfect in the gardens though! 

Tracy and Katie

Tracy and Katie have already graduated from Clemson once, but now they’re graduating with their Masters in Business Administration. Since all their MBA classes are in Greenville, they wanted to have a session in Greenville instead, which was a new experience for me!

Glenn

Glenn is graduating with a degree in history. His session was right after most people moved out, so the campus was so quiet that day. Since there were no cars and his girlfriend had come along, I tried a shot of the two of them on the paw print at the 4-way stop. 

 

Congratulations to Holly, Logan, Connor, Kinsey, Peter, Mindy, Megan, Taron, Tracy, Katie, and Glenn (and Alexa and Christine, who will be featured once their sessions happen) on their graduation from Clemson! 

Tara, Miss Clemson University 2018

One of my first Clemson portrait sessions was for my friend Tracy when she was crowned Miss Clemson University 2016.  Two years later, I got to cover the pageant and see Tara become Miss Clemson University.  As the representative for the Clemson Rally Cats dance team, she had such an awesome dance routine to a Gloria Estefan mix, taking home the overall talent award in addition to the crown.

I finally got to get to know Tara on what was probably the most perfect day ever for a portrait session—it was a quiet, 65-degree and sunny day with the trees and flowers in full bloom.  Tara is a health sciences major and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi.  She was the 2016 Distinguished Young Woman of America.  A few weeks before our session, she was on the basketball court with the Rally Cats when Clemson men’s basketball team made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in over 20 years.  A few days after our session, Tara and the Rally Cats went to Disney World to compete at Nationals.

Of course we had to have some photos of Tara in the stadium with her Rally Cat uniform, where she also posed for some pictures with excited Clemson fans who had come to take some pictures with Howard’s Rock.  When we were taking pictures over by Tillman Hall, there was a group of little girls playing on Bowman Field who kept running up to us, then saying to each other, “I think she’s a REAL beauty queen!”  They finally came close enough for Tara to show them the crown.

Here are some of my favorites from this beautiful day with this sweet lady!

For more information about Miss Clemson University, visit my Miss Clemson University page or contact the Clemson University Mortar Board.

Disney Engagement Session: Amethyst and Matt

Matt and Amethyst are not just a couple who likes Disney enough to have their engagement session in Disney World.  They are a couple who have such a significant part of their story in Disney World, so of course their engagement session would be at “the happiest place on Earth.”  

Amethyst and Matt first met while working at the same Disney World resort.  This past February, Matt got all of Amethyst’s friends in on his plan to propose at the top of the Orlando Eye, a giant Ferris wheel. When the ride was delayed due to a fire alarm going off, the group decided to take some pictures in front of the Ferris wheel while they were waiting. When it was Matt and Amethyst’s turn to have their picture taken, Matt popped the question.  Fast forward to the day of the engagement session: seeing the Winnie the Pooh characters react to a couple saying they’re engaged is the cutest thing ever.

We started the session on the beaches by some of their favorite resorts.   Yes, we had a beach and Cinderella’s Castle in the same shots!  That Winnie the Pooh song that says “and the rain rain rain came down down down” is a perfect description of what happened partway through.  Amethyst and Matt pulled out their Mickey and Minnie umbrellas, which was not only adorable, they looked especially gorgeous when a little patch of golden hour sun peeked out for a few minutes. To top it off, we saw a rainbow for a minute!  Luckily, there were lots of gazebos in the area, so Matt and Amethyst could stay dry while dancing to Disney songs.  Keep an eye out for a hidden Mickey in one of the gazebos!

I don’t normally shoot after the sun goes down, but we were in Disney.  We headed to Main Street and watched the fireworks and light show at the castle.  I asked Matt and Amethyst if they wanted some pictures with it.  They said to wait until the grand finale, when there would be the most fireworks.  There may have been a ton of people around, but the rush of catching the right moment was incredible.

I knew as soon as Matt and Amethyst told me where they wanted their engagement photos that this would be so much fun.  Hope you love looking through these photos from the most magical location!

 

“People do crazy things when they’re in love.” –Hercules

Miss Clemson University 2018

I had the pleasure of shooting the Miss Clemson University pageant once again!  This time, I'm sharing some of my favorite photos of each contestant in a blog post.

After the opening dance in which all 19 contestants introduced themselves, Miss Clemson University 2017, Brooklyn, entered with the Tiger and Miss Clemson Life, Megan.  Brooklyn was an MC for the event with Rachel, who was Miss Clemson 2016, which led her to become Miss South Carolina and the runner-up for Miss America 2016.

(for information about purchasing photos, visit my Miss Clemson University page).

I had the pleasure of meeting Caroline a few weeks before the pageant to do her pageant headshots.  She was given the Miss Congeniality award at the pageant.

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Reese represented the Clemson cheerleaders and performed the cheer routine to Tiger Rag, the Clemson fight song.

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I'm loving this shot from Johanna's dance!  She was awarded the 4th runner up.

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Laney looked like she was having so much fun with her belly dance routine!

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I had to post a shot of Kyndall's dress from the back because that cape is just so cool!

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Alyx sang Orange Colored Sky with an orange jumpsuit.  Perfect for Clemson!

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I also did Margaret's pageant headshots a few weeks before the pageant.  She received the People's Choice award at the pageant.

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As a lover of all things vintage, I loved Carlyle's evening gown with her hair!

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Tiffany's gown looks so sparkly in the stage lights!

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Shea represented Clemson Dancers, the only organization represented at the pageant that I was part of during my time at Clemson.

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Katherine played one of my favorite Disney songs (When You Wish Upon a Star) and had the perfect dress to go with it!

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Claire had such a fun Irish dance for her talent!

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I have so many favorite photos from Logan's dance routine!  She was the first runner up and had the most ad sales.

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Tara's Gloria Esetefan dance routine won the award for best talent.  It was a compilation of songs I used to dance to in elementary school, but of course Tara looked better :)

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This is my new favorite evening gown photo!  Morgan was given the philanthropy award.

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It's not my best picture of Cara's talent, but it's the one that shows off her outfit the best.

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Nicole's dance routine and gorgeous white evening gown helped get her to 3rd runner up as just a freshman.

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Abigail also sang jazz in a Clemson colored jumpsuit, wearing purple and singing Fly Me to the Moon.

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The interview portion of the pageant took place earlier in the day, so I didn't see the interview for which Makenzie was given an award.  She also was named second runner-up.

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Brooklyn made her final walk as Miss Clemson University.  She was joined onstage by her dad and brother.

The contestants returned to the stage for the award ceremony, which started with the first-ever crowning of Miss Clemson Life, Megan.  Brooklyn passed on the crown she was given for Miss Clemson University 2016.

After all of the other awards were given, Tara of the Rally Cats was crowned Miss Clemson University 2018!

To see more, and for more information on purchasing photos, visit my Miss Clemson University page.

Happy New Year!

Another year over, a new one just begun.

2017 was quite the year for pictures!  Clemson football won the national championship in January, I shot the Miss Clemson University pageant, Dan and I got married in July and took our honeymoon to British Columbia, there was a total solar eclipse in August, and there were all sorts of awesome people in front of my camera in between.  So what's happening in 2018?

If you've been following me for a while, you may have noticed this year that there's been a shift in my focus from individuals to couples.  I think getting married has given me the desire to help more people have the best first day of marriage possible with pictures everyone can look back on for years to come.  There will be more weddings and engagements on the blog in 2018 and I couldn't be more excited to be part of these couples' stories.  I'll still be taking portraits though, so 

I will be shooting the Miss Clemson University pageant again this year!  If you're competing and you don't have professional headshots for the program yet, let me know and we can set up a session.

Thank you so much to everyone who's supported me in my photography so far.  Whether you've chosen me as your photographer or you've given me some words of encouragement, it means so much to me.  I wouldn't have reached this point without your support.

Here are some of my favorite photos from everything I shot in 2017.  I'm always striving to be better at what I do, and I can't wait for all the pictures 2018 has in store!

December 2017 Clemson Graduates

Another semester has gone by!  It was wonderful to be back in such a sentimental place to walk through college memories with these awesome ladies.  These were two of the most beautiful days that this November had to offer.  The stadium looked a little different; the gate had been redesigned to commemorate both championship titles and the tiger paw replaced the tiger.  I was also happy to see that the paw was painted on the field for both of these sessions.  Congratulations to Kate and Aria for finishing this chapter of their lives and receiving their diplomas from this amazing university.

Kate

Kate is graduating with a degree in biology.  She asked for one picture in the life sciences building with artwork inspired by Petri dishes.  Not only was Kate the service vice president for Clemson's chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, she was a co-chair for the Blood Bowl, an annual competition between Clemson and University of South Carolina to collect the most blood donations on campus in the last full week before the Clemson-USC game.  The year that Kate was co-chair, the Blood Bowl trophy came back to Clemson for the first time in 9 years!

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Aria

Aria is graduating with a degree in civil engineering.  Not only did she spend a semester in an engineering co-op, she spent her second-to-last semester studying abroad in Spain--I could see from our email interactions that she has her email set to Spanish.  After her semester in Spain ended, Aria spent the summer backpacking through Europe, sometimes a new country every day, then came back to Clemson for her last semester and graduation.  

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Downtown Greenville Christmas Engagement Session: Noel and Graham

Graham proposed to Noel last December.  Between that and having a name like Noel, how could we not have an engagement session in December in front of a Christmas tree?

We didn't know until that day that we had scheduled the session on the day of the Christmas parade, so after spending a while looking around for parking and wondering whether we'd be able to get to the tree, we found a parking garage (where we were given candy canes), and we discovered that the tree wasn't blocked off after all! There was a crowd of people near the tree.  When we asked if they were waiting to take pictures there, they said they just wanted to watch, and then they left when we were finished.

We were offered hot chocolate, we heard Christmas music playing, and we saw Christmas lights turning on.  Only the weather could have made the day more festive, but we couldn't complain about it being 60 degrees and sunny.  As we walked through Falls Park, it started to seem more like a fall engagement session.  There were still a few trees with red, orange, and yellow leaves left, which also complemented the outfits they'd picked out to go with the Christmas tree.

Noel and Graham have been together since high school! I heard them say "I love you" so many times during the session.  Things like that are what make engagement sessions so much fun!

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"Never Mind the Great Ideas, Just Life Itself"

When I was a freshman in college, I was part of a play with the theatre department called Hotel Cassiopeia by Charles Mee.  There were many parts of this abstract play and its existential dialogue that pulled at our heartstrings, but one scene stood out to us as we prepared for our final performance, the last time we would all be together onstage, the last time we would play a part in this story, and when the beautiful experience of putting together this show would all come to an end.  Here’s the dialogue from that scene (exactly as it is written):

MATTA
What sort of future do you see?
what sort of future of humanity and of the world

DUCHAMP
what new forms

MATTA
what new visions

DUCHAMP
this will be the job of the artist

MATTA
this will be the artist's only job

DUCHAMP
because the great changes in the world
the changes of consciousness
the changes of our sense of life itself
will not come from the reasoned arguments
of political scientists or philosophers
but from the visions of artists
not by arguing well
but by speaking differently

MATTA
or is this a promise that has failed, or is failing?
new visions are easy to come up with
but the world goes on ignoring the best of them
the world is littered with so many utopias

DUCHAMP
so many visions of wondrousness
so many great ideas

MATTA
and even ideas that were possible at one time or another
beautiful things

DUCHAMP
or never mind the great ideas
just life itself
the moments of life itself
transporting things
things that will last a moment
and then vanish forever
vanish forever
how does one cherish even what has happened
let alone what might have happened
how does one relish it
how does one relish life itself
it slips through the fingers so quickly

MATTA
this is where the work comes from
if one is an artist
from the shooting stars
water in a stream
a love
a young girl
a woman
a ballerina on the stage
snow flakes
the lifespan of a butterfly
all gone

The whole script is available for you to read online here.

One of my first photography adventures (and one of my first meetings with Clemson Photography) was to the penthouse of Clemson House.  Clemson House was built as a hotel in the 50s, but was later converted into a dorm.  We needed special permission to go up there and the view was stunning, especially at sunset.  I met Alex, who quickly became my friend and later became my co-president of the club, my roommate, and a trusted fellow photographer.

 We've tried to recreate this picture because I was still new to using a DSLR, but he still likes this one the best, and edited it to look a little more vintage.

We've tried to recreate this picture because I was still new to using a DSLR, but he still likes this one the best, and edited it to look a little more vintage.

We went back to the penthouse with the club a few more times.  We somehow all climbed on the actual roof, which was one of my favorite memories of college.

 Photo by Madeline Hemmingson

Photo by Madeline Hemmingson

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We played with light after sunset, which was always a good time. 

 Playing with the steam from the laundry room coming through the pipe.  Photo by  Alex Stewart

Playing with the steam from the laundry room coming through the pipe.  Photo by Alex Stewart

 Same spot, different day.  Photo by  Alex Stewart

Same spot, different day.  Photo by Alex Stewart

Here’s the photo that eventually went on my business card was taken at the penthouse.

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Clemson House was Dan’s freshman dorm (where he lived when we first started to become friends) and he eventually proposed to me at the penthouse. 

 Photo by Michael Scott

Photo by Michael Scott

On our wedding day, we took some time to drive to the main part of campus for some pictures.  We went to Bowman to get Clemson House in the background.  We knew for a while that there were plans to demolish it, but we found out a little before the wedding that the demolition would start within the week after our wedding.  Right before it started storming, we took some wedding pictures with this building that meant so much to us and held so many important memories. 

One day on the honeymoon, not even a week after our wedding, we were just lying on the bed talking.  At some point, one of us was on Facebook and saw a Facebook Live video of the first step of the Clemson House demolition: removing the iconic neon sign.  This was where I met Alex and so many of my photography club friends, and where we climbed on the roof and collaborated on photo ideas we had.  This was where I took so many photos.  This was where Dan proposed to me.  This was where we took some of our wedding photos as the thunder started.  And now we were watching that place go away, and nobody else would get to experience what we did.

We were two of thousands who watched as this iconic part of campus was slowly taken apart.  We saw the Facebook comments rolling in:

“I lived here all 4 years!”

“I was married in the penthouse in 1974.”

“I made some of my best friends on the 4th floor.”

Throughout the day, several Clemson Photography alumni who shared some of those memories with me tagged me in some Instagram posts from our trips up there.  We saw that day that even though our connection to the building was unique, we were far from the only ones who felt such a strong connection to this place.

What was unique, though, was that our engagement was PROBABLY the last reservation made at the penthouse, and we MAY have been in the last photos ever taken of the building before the demolition.

Someday, our grandkids will be showing their kids our wedding pictures in front of a building they never got to see in person, and telling them, “That’s back when Clemson House was still there.  That’s where they got engaged and they think they were the last to reserve the penthouse and the last people to take pictures with it.”  If our descendants are Tigers, that’ll be something they can show their friends.  Future Tigers will see those pictures the same way we look at pictures taken with the “Hollywoodland” letters, Old Man on the Mountain, or the Pont des Arts.  I was in Clemson last week and saw that the windows have been removed from Clemson House.  We’ve been married for four months and our wedding portraits are practically already antiquities.

The thing is, we don’t always know when we take a picture that something in it won’t be there in a year.  It could be a building, a person, a connection, a time in your life, or a feeling.  That’s why it’s so important to have pictures, and that’s why so many of us have the drive to give people the best pictures possible. 

Note: Everything in this blog about Clemson House and my own wedding day was drafted before I actually started shooting weddings myself.  I hadn’t published it yet, but now I have something to add to it.

I was recently a second shooter for a major wedding photography company.  With this company, I’m hired to shoot for the whole day and then upload all my RAW (unedited and uncompressed) files for someone else to edit.  The couple receives their whole gallery within six weeks.  One night, a little under three weeks after that wedding, I got a text from the main shooter:

“Hey Christine, sorry for the late text, but can you check your email?”

Well, that’s a text that normally signifies something important.  I nervously opened my email.

“Hey Christine, do you have any pictures of the guy with the glasses?  He passed away and the couple would like some pictures to be able to show at his funeral.”

I froze when I saw the picture he attached.  It was a picture of the groom standing next to a guy with glasses holding his son, the little boy who’d caught the garter.  I remembered that he’d held his son on his shoulders so he could catch the garter.  The main shooter knew that I had pictures of this guy because he was a groomsman and I’d been assigned to take pictures of them getting ready and take group pictures of them.    I couldn’t even remember this guy’s name, but I apparently had some of the last pictures ever taken of him.  I knew that I’d have a picture of just him and the groom and a picture of him getting ready with the groom.  I looked through my pictures and saw pictures of him dancing with his young daughter at the reception, and then a few of him holding hands with his wife as they danced around their son and daughter.  They just seemed like sweet photo ops at the time I decided to take them, not very different from photos from other wedding receptions, but now they were so much more than that.  These moments were how he would be remembered because there are pictures of them.  

Things happen and it’s sometimes hard to explain to other people what life was like before then, but seeing pictures on a wall or in an album doesn’t always require an explanation. The groomsman’s children are 8 and 4.  They won’t have as many memories of him as they’d like, but they can look back on pictures of him to remember how he smiled or that day they all danced together at the wedding reception.  I won’t be able to show my future children where Dan proposed to me, but they’ll be able to see pictures from that day, and they’ll have a better understanding how perfect of a view that was for a proposal.  This is why I do what I do: of course we want to remember the significant events of life, but the little moments that aren't pre-planned or talked about are just as important to us to remember.

"Never mind the great ideas, just life itself." 

-- Charles Mee, Hotel Cassiopeia

Eva's Senior Portraits--Keswick Vineyards

I don’t normally take a weekend trip for portraits, but this was a little different.  First of all, it was in my hometown, where I could stay with my parents.  Second, despite being from the Monticello Wine Trail area, I’d never actually done a portrait session in one of the gorgeous vineyards that surround the city.  Third, it was for Eva.

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Not only did I used to babysit Eva, her mom babysat me.  I think I was actually a baby when Cindy and I first met, so we go way back.  Cindy had asked me around December about doing Eva’s senior pictures.  We decided on doing them in September in a vineyard.  We eventually chose Keswick Vineyards, where I actually had my own senior portrait session.  Eva and I explored the vines and the pond while our moms caught up on the porch over a glass of wine.

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Before Eva and Cindy arrived, my mom and I took a walk through the vines and marked the numbers of the ones that looked like they had the most grapes so I could come back to those with Eva.  What I wasn’t expecting was for a whole section of one row to turn red in mid-September. 

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Eva had a whole bag of outfits that fit a fall color scheme, so we had fun looking through that to pick out which ones to use.  I loved the burgundy against the blue and green of the landscape!

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 Not pictured: me straddling the fence like a horse.  She's much taller than me so standing on the ground wasn't really an option.

Not pictured: me straddling the fence like a horse.  She's much taller than me so standing on the ground wasn't really an option.

I had so much fun with Eva's session and I hope to come back to Virginia for more vineyard sessions!

 

If you're interested in a portrait or headshot session in the Greenville, SC or Charlottesville, VA area, click here to get in touch.

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Logan

They say to dress for the job you want.  When Logan came over to my table at Panera before our session, it really looked like the president was coming to my table, and it was a little intimidating.

We had decided on a location, but upon arriving at that location, we saw a sign that said that professional photographers had to have a permit to take pictures there.  We quickly came up with a Plan B: Furman University was about 20 minutes away and I already knew I liked shooting there after doing a session there with Tracy.

How do you pose someone who wants to be President of the United States?  Like a President of the United States!  A lot of my sources of inspiration are actually hanging in the White House or the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.  I think "normal" photographers find inspiration from places like Pinterest, but they probably didn't grow up in Virginia and see portraits like these in person on practically every field trip.

 I thought that we would stick to the poses from the more modern presidents since a lot of the older ones are either just generic headshots or poses that looked old-fashioned and uncomfortable.  We were surprised that our favorite pose out of all the portraits of presidents we looked at was from an 1880 portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.  

I thought that we would stick to the poses from the more modern presidents since a lot of the older ones are either just generic headshots or poses that looked old-fashioned and uncomfortable.  We were surprised that our favorite pose out of all the portraits of presidents we looked at was from an 1880 portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.  

 One of our favorites ended up being the pose from John F. Kennedy's official portrait.  Not one for something like a headshot, but  it's iconic because it's different.

One of our favorites ended up being the pose from John F. Kennedy's official portrait.  Not one for something like a headshot, but it's iconic because it's different.

 Since presidential portraits usually are released about a year or two after the term ends, we can't look to Obama's for inspiration yet, so George W. Bush's portrait was the one released the most recently.  I remember all the talk about how his portrait was so different from the presidents who came before him because of how casually he chose to pose for it in comparison to his predecessors. 

Since presidential portraits usually are released about a year or two after the term ends, we can't look to Obama's for inspiration yet, so George W. Bush's portrait was the one released the most recently.  I remember all the talk about how his portrait was so different from the presidents who came before him because of how casually he chose to pose for it in comparison to his predecessors. 

This was definitely a little out of my comfort zone since my portraits aren't normally this formal, but I guess having the future president in front of the camera made it easier.

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It was so much fun to do Logan's portraits, and you'll be seeing these from me again as a throwback anytime LBK gets elected to office.

 

 

Tracy at Furman

Tracy and I did a session for fun with a few outfits we both liked.  I ended up getting some of my favorite pictures I’ve had in a while!

 

We went to Furman University in Greenville, which has a variety of cool backgrounds. 

 

I had fun pairing outfits with backgrounds.  Some of these pairings were planned and some were not.  Here we have green and gold.  The latter comes from the angle of the sun at that time of day.  We thought this part of campus looked like something out of a Disney movie.

I changed the angle between the previous one and the next one just a little and there’s a huge difference in color.  They both have the similar minor edits (like cropping), but the second one looks like it has a Photoshop layer over it.  This is why I love shooting right before the sunset is supposed to start.

Here we have bright blue and almost white.  This combination was planned, but we were so lost and couldn't remember how to get back to this fountain.  She’s actually facing a really orange sunset, which reflected some orange onto her.

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I like the red against the green here, and the vine design on the railing just happened to work perfectly with the style of the dress.

Here we have my favorite color combination in photography: red, blue, and green.  It looks like more of a December picture than a May picture.

Although I was looking for the other fountain to use with the dark blue dress, the shots by this fountain ended up being some of my favorites.  It reminds me of Greece for some reason, not that I've ever been there.

That's all for now!  Hopefully we get an opportunity to do another session soon.  But who says we need a reason?  

Also, I'm perfectly happy with going to Furman for another session if anyone wants to do that, even if you're not affiliated with Furman at all.

Spring 2017 Clemson Graduates

Spring 2017 Clemson Graduates

Highlights from Clemson's spring 2017 graduating class.

Tracy

 This is one of the few shots I've ever posed Tracy for.

This is one of the few shots I've ever posed Tracy for.

I’ve known Tracy for a few years; our moms met through a mutual friend after we both committed to Clemson, we both danced there, and she helped me get my grade back up in the hardest psych class I ever took.  She was active in Clemson Miracle and helped raise something like $71,000 for Children’s Miracle Network.  And oh yeah, she competed to be Miss South Carolina and was Miss Clemson University.  So she’s pretty cool.

I had thought about asking Tracy if I could do her portraits so I could practice, but I wasn’t expecting her to ask me to do her portraits because I knew she had studio headshots done prior to competing for Miss South Carolina by someone presumably better at portraits than I was.  I’d never tried doing glamour shots and I don’t have much experience with indoor portraits and setting up artificial lighting.  She said she liked the work she had seen from me and would feel more comfortable if she knew the photographer, which I totally understand, and I thought it would help to get some portrait experience with someone I knew and someone who I wouldn’t have to pose much.  She also wanted portraits done on Clemson’s campus, and there aren’t a lot of professional photographers who actually live within 20 minutes of the campus.

We had the Miss Clemson session on what I think was the first nice day of 2016.  I eventually got tired of the lens I was using and ended up using my least favorite lens at the time—the 50 mm f/1.8 lens.  For the record, this is a good lens for portraits, but doesn’t always focus quickly enough for action shots, so I didn’t like it before I started doing portraits.   It was much sharper than I realized, since I bought it to use in difficult lighting situations and we were now outside on a sunny day, so that made me very happy.  Tracy’s session was the first portrait session I really felt confident editing and made me feel more ready to take on a spring graduation season.  She told me she wanted me to do her graduation portraits in the fall, and I was excited to do it all again with everything I had learned since that session. 

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 This is both of our favorites, and the one she uses for her autograph cards.

This is both of our favorites, and the one she uses for her autograph cards.

 

Tracy texted me in July saying that she had gotten in touch with someone in the athletic department about when the stadium would be open for her to have Miss Clemson pictures.  The stadium is open during weekly business hours (which are difficult for me because of my job) and until 4 on the days after home games, so we decided to combine her Miss Clemson pictures with her graduation pictures and scheduled to have the session after the first home game.  At that time of year, 4 PM is not ideal for taking outdoor pictures because the light is still so harsh, so we decided to go to the stadium at 3, get something to eat, and then head back out at the golden hour (softer lighting as the sun is going down).  She asked me that a few hours before if she could get some pictures in her evening gown to surprise her mom for her birthday.  She showed up at the stadium in her gown and crown and everyone, including the security guard, got excited and wanted pictures with her.  Someone asked if he could have a picture with her for his daughter, and she offered him an autograph card, which happened to be my photo of her.  I guess having my picture signed and handed out is a cool milestone for me. 

The security guard eventually went from “you’re not allowed on the field” to “I’ll ask them to stop watering the field for a few minutes if you want to go down there.”  That’s the only portrait session where I got to go on the field.  I was scared when I remembered that the dress she wore to the Miss Clemson pageant was white because white is a difficult color to photograph without blowing out the details, especially in that lighting.  I caved in and used a flash, and I was happy with it.

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 Trying not to drag that white gown through the trash that was left in the bleachers from the game the day before

Trying not to drag that white gown through the trash that was left in the bleachers from the game the day before

 Trying to incorporate the cap before getting kicked off the field

Trying to incorporate the cap before getting kicked off the field

 "You have to come back up now!"  "Do I have time to stand on the paw?"  "No."  "That's a paw.  Go stand there for a sec."

"You have to come back up now!"

"Do I have time to stand on the paw?"

"No."

"That's a paw.  Go stand there for a sec."

 She changed out of her evening gown in her car (???) so she wouldn't burn up.  Turf fields at the beginning of football season are the worst, and I can't imagine how bad it would be in that gown.

She changed out of her evening gown in her car (???) so she wouldn't burn up.  Turf fields at the beginning of football season are the worst, and I can't imagine how bad it would be in that gown.

 I was trying to be artsy before I burned up.

I was trying to be artsy before I burned up.

We both probably would have overheated if we’d been out there any longer, since Tracy was in a floor-length and long-sleeved evening gown and I was trying to get detail shots on the hot brick.  We went to McAllister’s where there was AC and headed back out to recreate some of our favorite pictures from the last session. 

 This is the most fun picture I have at the carillon bell.

This is the most fun picture I have at the carillon bell.

 This is the most fun picture I have at Sikes.

This is the most fun picture I have at Sikes.

 Revisiting her autograph card picture, except the fountains weren’t on this time.

Revisiting her autograph card picture, except the fountains weren’t on this time.

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 This is one of the best sunsets I've ever had for a portrait session.  I'm not the greatest with flash, but I had to get some of that color.

This is one of the best sunsets I've ever had for a portrait session.  I'm not the greatest with flash, but I had to get some of that color.

 Not my best shot, but I do this shot with everyone now, so it would only make sense to do it again with her since she was the first one I did it with.

Not my best shot, but I do this shot with everyone now, so it would only make sense to do it again with her since she was the first one I did it with.

I (logically) set aside January for the side of photography that doesn’t involve my camera, since nobody wants outdoor portraits in January.  One of my fraternity brothers from college messaged me and told me that she was the director of this year’s Miss Clemson University pageant and asked if I wanted to be the photographer this year.  It was just a few hours after my Registered Behavior Technician exam in Greenville, but the timing worked out just right.

She led the opening dance number looking like a runway model.

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I took this as she was thanking me for perfectly exposing a white evening gown outside in midday.  No pressure here!

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After reflecting on her experience of holding the title of Miss Clemson University for the past year, Tracy crowned Brooklyn Garrett as the new Miss Clemson University.

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 Miss Clemson University 2015, 2016, and 2017--yet another cute pageant photo idea I wouldn't have come up with myself.

Miss Clemson University 2015, 2016, and 2017--yet another cute pageant photo idea I wouldn't have come up with myself.

If Tracy hadn’t asked me to do her pictures, I would not have had the confidence to put myself out there as a portrait photographer.  Being a portrait photographer is not something I saw myself doing, but it's been a wonderful experience to connect with people and share their stories through my photos. Also, I most likely would not have had this experience of shooting the Miss Clemson University pageant if it wasn't for Tracy.  I can thank her for believing in me when I didn’t have a lot of portrait work that I was proud of yet, for being open to me experimenting, for continuing to come to me when there are other photographers who know more about pageants than I do, and as always, for being a friend.  I may not have an auditorium full of people who will hear me talk about Tracy, but my blog is the best I can do.      

 Tracy and I with the ticket that has my photo of her.  

Tracy and I with the ticket that has my photo of her.  

To read more about Tracy's work with Children's Miracle Network and her time as Miss Clemson University 2016 and Miss Greater Easley 2015, to to tracyelizabethmcgee.com.

Don't Give Up

It's normal to lose your drive sometimes, especially if you're not happy with the work you've done recently.  The time I felt that the most was right after I got my first DSLR and I shot Tigerama, Clemson's homecoming pep rally, which isn't the most camera friendly thing  to shoot anyway.  I was so frustrated with these pictures that I gave up on editing and didn't look at them again until four years later before I shot the Miss Clemson University pageant.  If you need a reminder that it gets better if you don't give up, check out these two photos.  I know it looks like I edited one and purposefully edited the other one badly, but they're not edited at all.

This is the difference that can be made with 4 years of learning and experience (and also a change in gear).

 Canon Rebel T3 with 18-55mm kit lens  Settings: 35mm, f/5, 1/200 second, ISO 6400, custom white balance set before the lighting changed, no flash, manual focus, shot in JPEG  Side note: those dresses are all orange.

Canon Rebel T3 with 18-55mm kit lens

Settings: 35mm, f/5, 1/200 second, ISO 6400, custom white balance set before the lighting changed, no flash, manual focus, shot in JPEG

Side note: those dresses are all orange.

 Canon 7D, 50mm f/1.8 lens  Settings: 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250 second, ISO 640, auto white balance, no flash, auto focus shot in RAW and converted to JPEG for this post

Canon 7D, 50mm f/1.8 lens

Settings: 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250 second, ISO 640, auto white balance, no flash, auto focus shot in RAW and converted to JPEG for this post

I hope that helps motivate you a little in whatever you're doing.  I was laughing and snapchatting the 2012 photos to my fiance and my photographer friends. Good thing those photos never had to be used anywhere!   It's a nice reminder of how much I've improved and why it was a good idea to not give up.

Courtney's Graduation Session

No matter how many portrait sessions I have in the future, this one will always stand out to me.  Everything seemed to go wrong, but it's the one that made me laugh the hardest, and it made for some of my favorite Clemson senior pictures in the end.

After having a few weekends of portrait sessions, I had to take a weekend off because I was going to Arizona for a week.  I rented a wide-angle lens to take with me for some landscape shots, and decided to bring it back to South Carolina with me for my next portrait session with Courtney, since I didn’t have to ship the lens back until the day after that. I now have this lens and I'm excited to get wide-angle shots like these again. My new photography friend Jacob came to shadow me that day. 

 This is one shot I took with the wide-angle lens before things started to get crazy.

This is one shot I took with the wide-angle lens before things started to get crazy.

 At my last session before Courtney's, two weeks earlier, I had taken some pictures like this one with some beautiful spring flowers in President’s Park.

At my last session before Courtney's, two weeks earlier, I had taken some pictures like this one with some beautiful spring flowers in President’s Park.

 Somehow, to my disappointment, these flowers had all died before Courtney’s session, and all those lovely bushes were just gone.  This is Courtney sitting in a shady patch of mulch with the last remaining bush of flowers in President’s Park.  That was the first of many bumps in the road during that session.

Somehow, to my disappointment, these flowers had all died before Courtney’s session, and all those lovely bushes were just gone.  This is Courtney sitting in a shady patch of mulch with the last remaining bush of flowers in President’s Park.  That was the first of many bumps in the road during that session.

 After we finished this shot and Courtney moved, a group of LARPers with swords took over the amphitheater, so there was no going back for another picture there.

After we finished this shot and Courtney moved, a group of LARPers with swords took over the amphitheater, so there was no going back for another picture there.

 We discovered that the Reflection Pond had been drained, like it is at the beginning of every spring exam week. Since I've already graduated, I don’t really think in terms of semesters anymore, except for when it comes to graduation pictures, so it didn't occur to me that this would happen and I didn't have enough time to figure out how to pretend the background didn't look disgusting.

We discovered that the Reflection Pond had been drained, like it is at the beginning of every spring exam week. Since I've already graduated, I don’t really think in terms of semesters anymore, except for when it comes to graduation pictures, so it didn't occur to me that this would happen and I didn't have enough time to figure out how to pretend the background didn't look disgusting.

 This is Jacob’s picture of me looking sketchy in the grass between the empty pond and the LARPers, trying to find an angle that could hide how gross the empty pond looked, and laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was.

This is Jacob’s picture of me looking sketchy in the grass between the empty pond and the LARPers, trying to find an angle that could hide how gross the empty pond looked, and laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was.

 I told Courtney to put her hand on the railing, like I do with all the other seniors.  Then we realized that there were chiggers on it, so she put her hands like this.  I was happy with how it came out and she didn’t get eaten by chiggers.  And I just love the light on her hair!

I told Courtney to put her hand on the railing, like I do with all the other seniors.  Then we realized that there were chiggers on it, so she put her hands like this.  I was happy with how it came out and she didn’t get eaten by chiggers.  And I just love the light on her hair!

 We had to wait to take this one because there were two high school guys at the gate posing weirdly for pictures for several minutes. The lighting hit the "Clemson" bleachers perfectly!

We had to wait to take this one because there were two high school guys at the gate posing weirdly for pictures for several minutes. The lighting hit the "Clemson" bleachers perfectly!

 Fun fact: since I was in Arizona for a week and didn’t have any sessions the weekend before, the entire sit-in on the steps of Sikes took place between two of my portrait sessions.   

Fun fact: since I was in Arizona for a week and didn’t have any sessions the weekend before, the entire sit-in on the steps of Sikes took place between two of my portrait sessions.   

 As many obstacles as we ran into that day, the three of us were able to laugh off everything that was going on.  I ended up having a wonderful day with Courtney and Jacob, and these pictures are some of my favorite portraits I've taken at Clemson.

As many obstacles as we ran into that day, the three of us were able to laugh off everything that was going on.  I ended up having a wonderful day with Courtney and Jacob, and these pictures are some of my favorite portraits I've taken at Clemson.

I think a good way to describe that day is from Pete the Cat and his white shoes: “No matter what you step in, just keep walking along and singing your song, because it’s all good.” 

To see Jacob’s pictures from that day, visit his website at jacobathompson.com.

Looking back on 2016

I'm happy to say that 2016 got progressively better from a rough start.

One big thing that happened is that I shifted more into the portrait field.  A year ago, I wouldn't believe that would be my main thing, but I love it.  

I was lucky that my friend Tracy asked me to do her Miss Clemson University portraits in March.  I wanted some more experience with portraits before advertising myself as a portrait photographer, and I knew she would be easy to pose.   She had competed to represent South Carolina in the Miss America pageant the year before.  I somehow turned to my least favorite lens during that session, and it became my favorite lens for portraits after that.  I surprised myself with how much I liked the end result, and it gave me more confidence in my portrait work. 

One thing that worried me before starting to do portraits for people I don't know was whether I would ever encounter an unfriendly client. That would make for an awkward session, and I would feel more pressured to make them happy from the beginning of the session to editing the last image.  I can honestly say that every single portrait client I’ve had so far has been amazing.  I’m so thankful to have met all of you and helped record your favorite parts of your Clemson experience before you go off to wherever you’re going next.  I’ve loved hearing all your stories, walking around campus with you, and meeting your animal friends.  I can’t wait to see the awesome things you do with your degree from the best school ever. 

Although I’ve gotten better at editing (shout-out to Connor for helping me upgrade my editing software when my hard drive gave out and took my editing software with it), I’ve also gotten better at avoiding things that I want to fix later so that I don’t have to spend as much time editing.  Editing can drive me crazy, so I try not to make myself need to do more than just basic edits, like cropping a little closer and slightly turning down some really bright highlights.  At the end of the post, I'll show my first and last portrait sessions of the year, because I don't know how to add them in the middle. 

Here are my first and last portrait sessions of the year, before and after editing.  Tracy (top) was in March and Victoria (bottom) was in December.   They’re both headshots taken at similar times of day and probably 30 feet from each other.  I’m still not content with how I edited Tracy’s because the shadow over her eye was difficult to remove, and as a result, I spent a lot of time on that photo and my eyes got worn out, so I wasn’t as in tune to how bad the color looked.  I also don't really like this background with the pole and the brick wall going right through her.  Victoria’s was pretty easy to edit, partly because I was more cautious about the things that bothered me about Tracy’s photo.  The only thing I would have  done differently with composing Victoria's is to maybe turn her a little more and adjust her gown so it wouldn't look as puffy as it does here.  

I’ve done my best to make each portrait session better than the last.   I’ve spent a lot more time watching webinars and reading other photographers' experiences.   While it’s cold outside, I’ve been working on things like making my website look cleaner and learning how to improve the overall client experience.  I’m on so many email lists right now, but that doesn’t bother me like it used to. I look forward to seeing what each person is offering me and how it could help me become a better photographer.  I take advantage of as many free educational opportunities as I can, but I just paid for a one-month Sue Bryce subscription on Thursday and I’m already so excited for my next portrait session!  Some of my other favorite portrait photographers to learn from are Amy and Jordan and Katelyn James, who do free webinars every once in a while.  I get so excited to come home from work, heat up some soup, and listen to them talk about doing what they love and making their clients happy.

2016 involved two adventures to Florida, one to Arizona, a gymnastics meet, and a bunch of portrait sessions.  I did one portrait session with wildfire smoke in the background and one with a python at the last minute.  I got to do five portrait sessions in the stadium, which I had never done before.  What’s in store for 2017?  Well, I’m going on a honeymoon to British Columbia and I'll get to shoot a part of the world I’ve never seen.  There will be a solar eclipse practically in my backyard, so that'll be a new photography experience.  I’m planning a dance photo session; shooting dance is one of my favorite things, but I don’t often have the opportunity to do it.  Hopefully I’ll get to be there for the Clemson club gymnastics team again, maybe more than once this year.  Of course, I’ll be doing more portraits, hopefully more than just graduation portraits, walking around and taking more pictures of random things, and taking pictures of more random things in my apartment.  I also have a new wide-angle lens that’s supposed to arrive any second now.  I rented one for Arizona and used it for a portrait session, and I’ve felt like I’m missing out ever since I returned it.  I'm pretty excited for the next year.

Shout-out to all you awesome people for making my day that much brighter! I wanted to say thank you to everyone who supported me this year, whether you just liked a photo on my Instagram or asked me to do your portraits.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.  Happy New Year!