There's a reason that tourists flock to the Holy City day after day. It's a town where the past and the present collide in a way that is simply intoxicating, especially if you're from Ohio. (It seems that residents of the Buckeye State are junkies for our Southern charms.) We've got one heckuva special town here, and with this year's photo contest, we asked you to show us why that's the case. For some, it's the majesty of the Battery. For others, it's the quaint and secluded Philadelphia Alley. And for a few — OK, more than a few — it's sitting in the dark at the Rec Room, tossing back PBRs and eating tachos. It doesn't matter. It's your Charleston. Enjoy.
First Place ($300) - Katie Fischer, "Courtyard"
- Katie Fischer
- "Courtyard" - I'm from a small town in the mountains in North Carolina and graduated from a college that was on the border of Virginia and Tennessee. To say that Charleston was a complete 180 is an understatement. I believe this picture captures the rush of excitement that I felt when I first moved here and what keeps me here. Charleston is literally a place that is bursting with life.
From the Judges: Judges immediately reacted positively to "Courtyard," noting its warmth, the focus effect, and the photographer's eye for seeing things that happen naturally and composing them in a real artistic way.
Second Place ($125) - Michael Beach, "The Dock"
- Michael Beach
- "The Dock" - The picture is of a dock on Daniel Island. I think anyone that has spent a lot of time in Charleston knows how special that smell of pluff mud is and enjoys that walk up the dock to the boat. For me, that walk down the dock always marks both the beginning and end of a great day.
From the Judges: The combination of the natural diagonal that is splitting the picture in half and the two really organic compositional elements is well balanced. "The entire thing looks in control," said one of the judges.
Third Place ($75) - Bette Walker, "Summer Afternoon"
- Bette Walker
- "Summer Afternoon" - What I love most about Charleston are the summer storms, and I feel this picture captured one of those moments. I have tons of pictures of all over Charleston before storms, but this one is on the way back into Charleston from Folly. The black of the rain clouds is just an awesome departure from the normal blue of the sky.
From the Judges: The judges felt that the rain and palmettos created a moment very familiar to everyone who lives in the Charleston area. "I think it's a great nontraditional take on a very traditional South Carolina and Charleston scene," they said.
Honorable Mention ($50) - Dan Xeller "Dog Days"
- Dan Xeller
- "Dog Days" - I was walking down the beach with my Holga film camera that I keep in my car. I laid down to relax and noticed the dog sprinting toward me. I quickly set up my camera in the sand and got the shot just before the dog tackled and started licking me. I never had a dog until I moved here nine years ago, and now I have three. Walking on the beach with my dogs is one of the most relaxing things I can do. Charleston is being on the beach with my dogs.
From the Judges: "It's nostalgia, that feeling of you and your best friend out on the beach.
"After seeing so many pictures of dogs, I think this survives beyond that dog and that person. It evokes a memory and an emotion."
First Place ($300) - DAVID DIX, "Pineapple Fountain"
- David Dix
- "Pineapple Fountain" - This photo is a good representation of Charleston because it exemplifies some of the characteristics of this beautiful city. First, this fountain is in a park, and Charleston has some wonderful parks for all ages. Second, the beautiful scene of the fountain is a representation of all of the beautiful landscapes you see in and around Charleston. And lastly, the beautiful architecture that you see in the photograph represents all of the wonderful sights you see throughout the entire city, like the wrought iron and historic churches and other buildings in Charleston."
From the Judges: The judges saw many entries of the pineapple fountain but felt that this one stood out as a very creative take on a traditional subject. "It's clearly a processed image," one of the judges noted. "But how they chose to illustrate what they saw showed creativity and command of technique."
Second Place ($125) - Keegan Spera, "Melancholy"
- Keegan Spera
- "Melancholy" - I have a passion for history and photographing around Charleston. It is my favorite way to get a hands-on lesson in our rich and dramatic past. I wanted my photograph to be a reflection of the melancholy history that Charleston has — to create a stirring of memories of times long ago and to show the healing through the pain, the pillars of strength among the weakness that afflicted our home, and the beauty of a city still standing strong and offering hope for the future."
From the Judges: A beautiful composition of the lighthouse, judges raved about the framing and mood of the photo.
Third Place ($75) - Jessica McFadden, "Escape"
- Jessica McFadden
- "Escape" - The unlocked gate and empty dock are an invitation — and a reminder — to let go of everyday worries and appreciate something like the simple tranquility of a sunset over the marsh. You don't have to go too far to find something like this in Charleston, either.
From the Judges: Compositionally strong, it is an exploration of form and color that confronts a viewer's expectation of what the photo should be, the judges noted. They were drawn to the implied future and warm lighting.
Honorable Mention ($50) - Marty Morganello, "Blue Herons at Sunset"
- Marty Morganello
- "Blue Herons at Sunset" - I took the picture at sunset at the James Island County Park. I'm a bit of a bird freak and love being out there at sunset when the birds go to roost. I didn't have to do any editing to the color at all. I just lucked out. But the wildlife is what Charleston is really about to me, especially the birds. Everywhere you look, there are gorgeous birds in their naturally beautiful habitats."
From the Judges: The panel was struck by the mood of this photograph. They felt that the juxtaposition by the two birds in flight works well with the beautiful warm-toned sky.
Steven Hyatt is a fine art printer at the photography gallery Imaging Arts, located at 175 King St. He is also currently working on the Churches of America Project, the-churchesofamerica.com. He has been involved with photography, be it photographing, selling cameras, or printing, since he was a teenager. In November, he will be speaking at Charleston Center for Photography.
Joshua Curry got his start shooting skateboarding in the late '80s. Since then, he's covered everything from the Rodney King riots to Obama's election campaign and regular features for us. Curry works as the web editor at Charleston City Paper.
Shawn Weismiller is an award-winning military photojournalist and has been covering military operations around the world for more than seven years. His work from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq has received praise by both the White House Press Photographers Association and the National Press Photographers Association. He is currently working as a freelance photographer in Charleston and is a regular contributor to the Charleston City Paper.