Posted on April 23, 2012

I met this wonderful family out at Mepkin Abbey on Saint Patricks Day. I’d never been, so we brought my whole family out so they could explore the property while I worked.

My husband says they encountered a baby alligator on the path, and had to turn around and walk all the way around the long, meandering garden pond. I asked him why they didn’t just step around the gator and proceed, and I got The Look. What can I say-I’ve always had an unnatural, unwise lack of fear of all types of wildlife. (Except that giant erratically hopping grasshopper in our kitchen the other night that almost landed on my head. That unglued me.)

I love this family. They were lots of fun, and awesome sports.

It started sprinkling the moment we got there, but thankfully the rain was short-lived.

Family portrait under red and blue umbrella

This is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, ever ever.

50th anniversary photographs

family portrait under live oak white shirts and jeans

I always stress to clients how important timing is. Ideally, you want to shoot at sunrise, or about an hour before sunset. However, that’s not always feasible. This whole session took place in fairly harsh lighting, and I actually love the results. We just have to be a little more creative with angles and locations and posing, and wait for clouds to pass over the sun here and there.

older couple hugging in portrait mepkin abbey

Charleston family photographer big family portrait

Family portrait by the Cooper River Mepkin Abbey Moncks Corner SC photographer

Candid father in law and son in law

Portrait with St Patricks Day hat

Father and two grown children hugging photograph

Little girl with headband Summerville SC

Portrait of three sisters Charleston SC

Portrait of teenage brothers posing

Mepkin Abbey flowers garden butterfly

Teenager portrait posing idea

Grandfather and granddaughter on bench by the river

Family candid portrait Charleston SC photographer

Modern vintage photojournalism Charleston SC

This was after the session. I didn’t even see the family praying together. My husband did, and urged me to go snap a pic. I didn’t want to intrude, but I’m glad I caught this anyway.

family praying

man praying at statue of virgin mary mepkin abbey

Posted on March 22, 2012

I met up with sweet Sloan over Christmas break and took a few portraits of her at her mother’s childhood home. Absolutely adorable child, blessed to be born to a Mom who dresses her in perfect style!

Poor baby was a bit sick and not really in the mood for portraits. This was the signal to take her inside. I love it though. I love a good occasional frown-y picture-I think they’re adorable.

baby in yellow dress sitting on grass The Crescent

baby playing piano reflection

black and white baby dress

baby hand black and white portrait

Baby playing grand piano

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Posted on January 9, 2012

Didn’t Jessie have the greatest dress ever? Seriously, the best. It had this casual luxurious vibe that suited her so well and was so different. And it had *pockets*!

The dress is Amsale, from White on Daniel Island.

college of charleston bridal portraits

bridal portrait ivy wall

Jessie’s necklace and earrings were worn in honor of her grandmother.

bridal portrait profile

bride braided updo

bride kissing sister

bride back of dress

bride doing hair

bridal portait under ivy stairs glebe street charleston

bride in charleston house doorway

bride by charleston gate

This was the first bridal session I’ve ever done. All my other couples have opted for an engagement session instead, so I was really excited about being able to focus on the girl in the white dress. After we experimented with traditional poses and looks, we had some fun with it.

bride laughing

whimsical bride

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Posted on November 3, 2011

Karmen and Nazar booked me to photograph their wedding from another state via email, so apart from a brief meeting in person this summer, we didn’t have much time to get to know each other before their big day. However, Karmen and I chatted a lot over email in all the months leading up to the wedding, and so by the time September 24th and their Charleston destination wedding rolled around, I felt like we were practically old friends.

Karmen emailed me shortly after the wedding to say that I was in the background of a lot of their friends’ snapshots, and I was smiling in every frame.

I felt a little dorky, but it’s true. I had a great time.

Who wouldn’t, with Karmen and Nazar, who are just fun and stylish and awesome, and their closest friends and family?

Karmen strung these crystals herself to hang from the tree and reception light fixtures.

Sigh. Killer Choos.

I asked Karmen if she runs. She said no, but her mother and best friend were quick to inform me that she was voted “Best Legs” in high school. Not surprised!

Happy anticipation!

Love this of Nazar and his Mom.

I loved the use of grapes. Very cool.

Mother and daughter, taking a quick symmetrical dance break.

Venue: Getting ready in the Grand Mansion Suite at the Wentworth Mansion, reception at Circa 1886

Officiant: Pamela Dewitt

Cake: Rozebud’s Custom Cakes, Charlotte NC

Flowers: Yia Yang at the Charlotte NC Farmers Market

DJ: Arthur Brouthers

And special thanks to the lovely Tara at Red Shutter Studio for helping me by locating a babysitter for Karmen and Nazar’s good friends so they could party late into the night. Check out their work if you don’t already know it. Awesome!

Posted on September 15, 2011


Shawn is the cousin of a church friend of mine, and she and her ridiculously adorable and happy family made the trip from Kentucky to spend a few days relaxing at the beach this summer.

Posted on August 1, 2011


Finn’s family came to Folly Beach for vacation this summer.  He’s ridiculously cute, and he owned his photo shoot. His mother told me she wanted vintage modern photojournalism, and I can see why. Finn has a dapper sort of look that really lends itself to that style.

charleston beach photographer

mother and child candid beach photo charleston sc

blonde toddler beach

toddler playing at Folly Beach

Next Mom and Dad changed his clothes. No fun.

toddler frown candid photography Charleston SC

And we went up to the Folly Beach Pier

grandfather and grandson portrait

And shortly thereafter, little guy indicated that it was a wrap. :)

Posted on July 7, 2011

This is Jane. She’s my sweet newly 6 year old daughter, and she’s outstanding in the field. (Sorry, can’t resist occasional bad puns.)

She’s been my main muse for so long that she really knows how to work the camera, if she’s in the mood to listen, that is, so we wrapped this session in less than 15 minutes.

Rock on, baby girl!

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photo session portrait shoot field grass sunset seagull tlr rosalina dress

child portrait black and white candid keepsake

fort moultrie photo shoot child family session lifestyle

six year old lost tooth

sun flare cartwheel field grass child

beach rocks candid portrait vintage

beach portrait rocks sunset charleston beach photographer

modern vintage photojournalism

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Posted on July 4, 2011


Happy Fourth!

I don’t have any particularly patriotic-themed imagery to celebrate the day. Heck, I may not even bring my camera to the party tonight.

But I thought this session was a perfect slice of millenium Americana.

When Millie’s Mom said she wanted some portraits done by the blooming hydrangeas out by Kiawah, I knew we had to finish off the portrait session at Freshfields Village. Not only is it one of my very favorite Charleston spots (we love taking the kids out to the concerts on the green on Friday nights in the summertime), but it’s got a lot of visual diversity within walking distance, which is ideal for getting varied looks and lighting during a shoot.

child charleston traditional white smocked dress portrait

black and white candid portrait modern vintage photojournalism charleston sc

Leapster break

girl white dress portrait candid leapster charleston cedar shingles blue rocker

These were her “thinking fingers”. So cute!

child fingers

Ice cream break! The staff at Vincent’s was so great, and I knew it would be the perfect spot for our session.

vincent's ice cream shop vintage

ice cream shop

old fashioned ice cream parlor counter charleston kiawah vincents

hand in the candy jar old fashioned taffy

child portrait with black eyes susan flowers

child candid portrait session silly face

Somersault break!

Millie’s proud parents ordered a giant gallery-wrapped canvas of this image. I thought it was a wonderful choice. The picture of childhood, content and innocent.

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Posted on June 22, 2011


Jodi and Justin’s wedding was magical for me because there were so many scenes that I felt like could have been captured in any age at all.

It had this old world understated elegance that I just loved.

And they’re such a great couple. Justin has this fabulous sardonic wit that I just love and appreciate, and not only is Jodi breathtakingly beautiful, but she’s definitely an individual. A quiet, sweet, meditating, cat-loving social worker who-surprise!-loves ambient trance techno music so much that they planned their honeymoon around a Vegas trance concert.

francis marion hotel hallway bride vintage

francis marion hotel balcony bride and groom

Justin carved and burned the chuppah by hand. I love the way they incorporated the Lowcountry element of palmetto roses and spanish moss.

chuppah hand carved burned by groom jewish wedding charleston sc sweetgrass roses spanish moss

bridal party formal portrait francis marion hotel lobby king street charleston

I don’t normally get nervous while I’m shooting, but I was stressed out about getting the glass shot, especially since I don’t use motion-freezing flash during ceremonies. I was so happy to see flying bits of glass when I was reviewing the files!

breaking glass jewish wedding

Justin, pantomiming the enthusiastic tourist bit:

This is Jodi, when I ask her to smile:

And this is Jodi when Justin joins the conversation. I don’t think he even said anything that super-hilarious. She’s just that smitten. :)

Posted on May 24, 2011

Jodi and Justin got married in a lovely ceremony at the Francis Marion Hotel.

Jodi has this delicate yet grounded sort of old world beauty about her.

Many of the images of the wedding look like they could be out of an Edith Wharton novel to me.

I took these shots while the happy married couple took a break. I knew I wanted some close-ups of her birdcage veil, and flowers and eyes and such, so I asked them if they wanted to take 10 minutes during the cocktail hour to just rest while I photographed them. They gratefully sank into two marshmallowy chairs in the hotel lobby and chatted aimlessly.

I think I’m going to try to include Flop Time in all future wedding portrait time slots.

This was freelensed.

birdcage veil vintage modern bride wedding photojournalism charleston sc

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copyright 2014 Sally Watts