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It seems like ages since our first family visit to Botany Bay, a serene Wildlife Management Area on the edge of Edisto Island. Our first trip was almost five years ago, but we’d been wanting to spend another afternoon on this pristine swath of coastal preserve. Our last trip has been wrongfully associated with my husband’s onset of swine flu, which landed him in ICU for a week. Thankfully, finding a summer afternoon where bedtime for school wasn’t a concern, we picked my birthday weekend to revisit this blissful beach.

We loaded up bikes, chairs, fishing gear, fried chicken and shoes for the amazing beach lined with prickly trees and sharp shells. We checked the radar, which showed some isolated showers, but nothing serious enough to threaten our outdoor plans. Of course, Mother Nature had her own ideas, and the showers intensified throughout the hour drive toward Edisto. A little lightning followed white-out conditions from horizontal sheets of rain were bumming us out, but we didn’t turn back, figuring we could have a picnic in the car before heading home.

As we drove down the sand road through the tunnel of oaks, the rain started to let up. We checked in at the entrance, and I watched a few cars exit as Pearsall chatted up the ranger. As we made our way to the Jason’s lake, the showers turned to drizzle and a blue patch of sky appeared. Although we didn’t reel in any redfish this time, it was fun chasing fiddler crabs and watching all the birds collect their supper at the dive-in eatery.

Pristine Botany Bay WMA © Carolina Photosmithbotany002botany003botany004botany005botany006botany007botany008botany009Coastal Living on the Wild and Natural Side © Carolina Photosmithbotany012As luck would have it, we met an awesome woman named Scott, who was kind enough to let Cidney hop up on Tucker. Not only was this Cid’s first time on a western saddle (also a Tucker), shorts and flops were riding gear novelties. As we chatted about my gal’s love of horses, we learned that Scott also went to Camp Cheerio, the gorgeous YMCA camp Cidney returned from a couple of weeks ago. Small world! After sending Tucker on his merry way, Cid and I pedaled over to some sunflower fields. Next year, I need to visit a week earlier, but even in their droopy state, the supersize flowers were lovely.botany013botany014botany015botany016botany017botany018Botany Bay panorama © Carolina PhotosmithGet Lost, Close to Home. © Carolina Photosmithbotany020botany022botany023botany025botany026Black and white photography at pristine Botany Bay Beach near Edisto © Carolina Photosmithbotany027botany029botany031Sunset panorama of Botany Bay Beach in South Carolina. © Carolina PhotosmithEventually, we packed up fishing gear and headed toward the beach for the amazing sunset. There were a handful of other people heading back to their cars when we got there. So amazing to have an island so wild all to ourselves! What a blissful afternoon. So glad we waited out the rain.Wild and wonderful South Carolina coastline at Botany Bay WMA © Carolina Photosmithbotany030botany035Beach bliss at Botany Bay. Pristine, wild, nature galore. © Carolina Photosmithbotany034
All the photos in this post were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III, except for the panoramas, which I love to capture on my iPhone 5. If you enjoy field trips and serene stretches of beach, I hope you’ll recommend this post, and contact me when you need a wedding or portrait photographer. Happy summer, y’all!

  • Judy Oshinski - You are amazing.. Just beautiful !!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Thanks for the note, Judy. Nature is amazing! We’re just grateful the rain stopped so we could enjoy the early evening here!ReplyCancel

Every year around our wedding anniversary, I think I should dig out old photos and scan them for a blog post. As it’s always wedding season and I’m immersed in editing and end-of-school-year activities, it never really happens. So today, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and my wedding album (long before flush-mounts, there were matted albums), and I pixelized some photos that were taken by our wedding photographer, David Edwards.  At the time (1999!), he was the only photographer I met with who didn’t show me a dozen standard shots and say “Here is where we do the hand and ring shot.” Even before “photojournalistic” was a wedding photography descriptor, I knew I wasn’t keen on being told how and when to do stiff poses on my wedding day.

We married by the Ashley River at Lowndes Grove, long before Patrick Properties bought it and made it even more wonderful. We opted for a daytime wedding — crazy, I know, having an outdoor ceremony at 11:30, with the sun beaming down everyone’s noses and unflattering shadows all over the place. I wore my mom’s silk organza wedding gown, which we tweaked by removing the brittle lace elbow-length sleeves and by adding a couple of inches at the waistline. Even though I was svelte at 30, she was positively tiny when she married at 19. My bridesmaids wore ivory linen dresses my mom found on the rack at Lord & Taylor. I’m pretty sure my petite DC-based friend could have made a second dress with the leftovers from her alterations.

I don’t remember much about the food except that it was catered by Hamby’s and that the shrimp and grits were a hit. Brunch is my favorite meal, so I think there were also omelets and such at the food stations. I opted for purple and green flowers, and I took a photo from Martha Stewart Weddings to the florist to show what kind of bouquet I wanted. It was mostly white and green, but like some of the brides I’ve worked with, the bouquet that was delivered didn’t really include the flowers I thought we’d discussed. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I remember that each time a client seems a little shocked how her bouquet differs from the photo she’s had on her phone for a year.

My brother played his guitar and sang a few songs, and then we also had a DJ, who played Lyle Lovett’s version of Stand By Your Man followed by Aretha’s Respect. Despite having few single friends (um, late bloomers!), we went ahead and did the bouquet and garter tosses because they were traditional and no one had really skipped it back in the 90s. I still think they are a pretty awkward tradition, so by all means, skip it if you’re not up for it. Or if it looks like the flower girl may be the only one going for the bouquet. Sorry, Cody, I should have let you keep it. Kristi didn’t want it anyway!

I changed into a champagne silk shift so we could hop on Pearsall’s boat as we left the reception. Guests threw handfuls of lavender, which I sourced online, long before Pinterest. Some friends drove us down the Ashley for a champagne toast and then to City Marina. That night, we met friends at Magnolia’s for dinner. The night before, Pearsall’s parents hosted a fun rehearsal dinner at the Harbour Club followed by a cocktail or two at Blind Tiger. Funny how much as restaurants come and go in Charleston, all these places are still there. Nancy and her mom hosted a yummy bridesmaids lunch on Folly, but that little spot, across from current Taco Boy, is no longer there.

Thanks to everyone who celebrated our wedding day with us! And to my dear maidens, I am truly sorry for leaving you to pack up my apartment so we could catch our plane to California. Procrastination remains a challenge to me, but I really feel bad about that and for leaving Lyle in charge of Two Men and a Truck. How they moved my bed down the tiny spiral staircase is beyond me.

We honeymooned in California, hopping about from San Francisco to Yosemite (where it snowed!) to Sonoma (70 and perfect) and wrapped up in a little hippie cabin in Point Reyes where elk roamed the foggy cliffs over the Pacific. Good stuff.

And without further ado, here are some photos of photos from the last millennium.

jenpip001I like this one of the girls in what is now the yellow room by the entry.jenpip045jenpip002jenpip003jenpip004jenpip005jenpip006jenpip007jenpip008jenpip009jenpip010jenpip011jenpip012jenpip013jenpip014jenpip015jenpip016jenpip017jenpip018jenpip019jenpip020jenpip021jenpip022jenpip023jenpip024jenpip025jenpip027jenpip029My dear friend Meredith and her hubby Eric — they look the same as when I photographed their son’s bar mitzvah a few months ago!jenpip030My Blackbaud co-workers.jenpip031jenpip032jenpip033jenpip034jenpip035jenpip036jenpip037jenpip038jenpip039jenpip040jenpip041jenpip042jenpip043jenpip044

Check out the next post and be whisked to Ashley and Mark’s gorgeous day at the same venue, 15 years later. Time flies, y’all. Enjoy every minute. Or most of them!


This couple was absolutely radiant throughout their wedding day! A perfect Charleston spring afternoon, the stunning location (which is all the more special to me since I married there, too), the lush florals, fantastic food and wonderful families were a magical mix for a Lowndes Grove wedding that was truly a joy to photograph. You know those halfway hugs that equate to the dreaded limp-fish handshake? I assure you there was not a single one of those exchanges with this bride. Ashley’s energy is infectious, and I loved seeing her embrace everyone like they were long lost friends. Then there’s Mark — watching him laugh heartily with his mom and look adoringly at Ashley was so great.

These two are so easygoing — probably why they’re a good fit for working at Patagonia in Ventura, CA. We’re just glad they came east to wed beside the river with the same name as the bride. It’s so easy to get caught up in the timeline and being shuffled about from makeup to hair to ceremony to photos and first dances and cake cutting; honestly, a wedding day can be a bit of a blur, which is why good wedding photography is important. Choosing the right event designer is critical, too — Jerri and the Out of Hand crew really pulled it all together so well. Even the bride’s bouquet was perfectly suited to her personality — sunny and lush with a touch of whimsy with little daisies bubbling out the top.

These two just absorbed everything around them with sheer delight. And a Phish/Widespread cover band and sugar magnolia cake? Pretty great. Congratulations, y’all! Thanks so much for choosing me to document your day.

ashmark005Lowndes Grove wedding captured by Carolina Photosmithstoryboard014storyboard015

One of Ashley’s bridesmaids (with the ginger bob) made all the jewelry for the bridesmaids! The girls who chose strapless got a necklace and drop earrings; other maidens received chandelier earrings and a bracelet. I’ll share her Etsy page if I can find it.
storyboard016storyboard017storyboard018storyboard019storyboard020storyboard021storyboard022storyboard023storyboard024storyboard025storyboard026storyboard027storyboard028storyboard029storyboard030storyboard031storyboard032© Carolina Photosmith | Lowndes Grove wedding in Charleston, South Carolinaashmark023storyboard033storyboard034storyboard035storyboard036storyboard037storyboard038storyboard039storyboard040storyboard041storyboard042storyboard043

Thanks to my friend Jennings King, for joining the fun, taking great shots (like this perfect head table!) and chauffeuring us around town so we could maximize portrait time between first look and ceremony.
Colorful, happy Lowndes Grove wedding with a bride who shares same name as the river. © Carolina Photosmithashmark022First dance awesomeness at Charleston wedding © Carolina Photosmithashmark016ashmark017© Carolina Photosmith | Lowndes Grove wedding in Charleston, South Carolinaashmark002ashmark003ashmark004ashmark006ashmark007ashmark008ashmark018ashmark019ashmark020ashmark009ashmark010Young wedding guest snags brideashmark011ashmark012ashmark025ashmark024ashmark027ashmark026ashmark013ashmark014

A huge thanks to everyone who contributed to making this day fun, beautiful and stress-free: Patrick Properties; styling, coordination and florals by OOH Events; Polished Tabletop; catering by FISH; on-site hair and makeup by Charlotte Belk, cake by Elaine’s Events, reception music by Buddhist Prodigies, horse-drawn carriage by Charleston Coach. Ashley’s asymmetrical silk organza gown is from Watters, and her gorgeous something blue? Elegant ankle-straps with gigantabows by Kate Spade (Izzie). Bridesmaid dresses are available at J Crew.

If you enjoyed this riverside wedding or wish you had your own room of oysters, I hope you’ll recommend this post and spread the word about fun wedding photography in Charleston. (Or any other beautiful place!)


In honor of moms throughout the land, I hastily pulled together a sampling of photos that give me the warm fuzzies. By quickly sifting through some older catalogs, I realize how much gold is digitized on my hard drives. Mothers do so much and inspire us in ways we may not realize or acknowledge until years later. They prepare us for what’s to come. They cheer for us, pray for us, sing with us, wipe our tears, hold our hands, light our path and let us go. I’m grateful to be able to spend some significant days with celebrating families like these. And it’s not just wedding days. Any day you manage to snag a decent photo of you with your kids is a pretty special one. I hope to do that myself on Mother’s Day!

storyboard011In Honor of Mothers © Carolina Photosmithstoryboard009storyboard008storyboard007storyboard006storyboard005storyboard004storyboard003storyboard002storyboard001Happy Motherstoryboard013storyboard014
Moms are the bomb. Happy Motherstoryboard002storyboard003storyboard004storyboard005storyboard006storyboard007storyboard009storyboard010storyboard015storyboard016

storyboard012storyboard017storyboard019storyboard020A grandmama. We honor those who came before us. © Carolina Photosmithstoryboard021

Happy Mom’s Day out there to my friends, clients and anyone else who has shone a light for your offspring. I apologize for not including more of you in this post. There are several of you I’m thinking of whose photos are not within reach. And I know I could have included lots of first dance shots with sons and their moms, but it’s getting late.

Of course, I’m grateful to my own mom and for my family. And if it weren’t for thoughtful teachers, we’d be without handmade crafts celebrating our ability to nag and nurture. My sweet Alden was most proud of his fill-in-the-blank sheet that listed my favorite color (green) and wrapped up with how much he thinks I’m worth. “Infinity dollars!” Guess that’s what we get for loving them to the moon and back.

Grateful to have a mom and to be a mom. © Carolina Photosmith
If you’re like Kid President and think Mom upside down spells WOW, I hope you’ll recommend this post. And put a picture of you and your mom in a frame. I’m gonna get on that myself.




I really enjoyed having Magnolia Plantation to ourselves when I scooped up this California couple downtown for our drive to the river road housing several of Charleston’s most popular plantations. Many thanks to Two Bright Lights, a wonderful national blog, for this featured plantation engagement session beneath mossy oaks.

Carolina Photosmith engagement session featured on Two Bright Lights blog

Please check out my other engagement sessions and wedding photography, and please reach out when you’re searching for a fun, experienced Lowcountry photographer.