Neighborhood Nomad: Charlotte of Charleston


December 12, 2011: Washington, DC: Charlotte and I first became friends at Hampton Pool in Maryland in 1984. We were summertime friends first, classmates second, and have remained lifelong friends ever since. Charlotte is now a photographer living in Charleston, SC. In addition to photographing weddings, (including ours!), she is a true neighborhood nomad. Photography is her literal lens through which to explore her city and continuously view her surroundings with a fresh eye. I thought it would be interesting to see Charleston through the eyes of a photographer, so I asked Charlotte if she'd like to participate. She was more than happy to oblige.

Hometown(s): Baltimore, MD and now Charleston, SC

Where else you've lived: Pinedale, Wyoming; Harrisonburg, Virginia; Paris, France; nearly every island in Hawaii; Wilmington, Delaware; and my new hometown Charleston, South Carolina.

Last time you moved: Well, we moved two years ago from little Wilmo to Chucktown (my favorite place on earth) ...bought a big house in the 'burbs, decided it wasn't for us, purged the house, gave away LOTS of boxes to Goodwill and the Kidney Foundation, and downsized to a one bedroom in the heart of historic Charleston. It was the best! We lived there for nearly a year and then moved this past summer to a new home in our favorite neighborhood in Charleston called the Old Village.

Next time you're moving: Hopefully, not for a LONG time! Although, I'm a huge fan of The 4-Hour Work Week and Timothy Ferriss' idea of taking mini-retirements throughout your lifetime instead of one big one at the end of your career. Right now, Steph and I are planning a long stay somewhere next year -- maybe Bali, maybe Argentina, maybe Nantucket so we can take our dogs. Wherever it is, hopefully, it will really happen!

What's your neighborhood and your home like? If you had asked me a few months ago, my answer would have been drastically different. We just moved from a teeny tiny apartment in the heart of historic Charleston to a sweet little neighborhood called the Old Village. I love it because all of the houses are different: most are old, some are new... they are mostly sweet little ranchers and bungalows and lots of them have beautiful old wrap around porches. The neighborhood is old, so the trees are huge! There are two large oak trees in our backyard that are just beautiful. There's an old fashioned pharmacy down the street where we get root beer floats and grilled cheeses, true Americana. There's also a restaurant/inn. It's where we stayed on our wedding night. There are only six rooms and it's very comfortable. There's an old bridge at the end of our neighborhood that the town has converted into a public park. We take our dog out there for walks and would love to get a fishing pole to sit there with some beer and catch fish. We can launch our paddle boards and explore the marsh from there too.

Our home decor style is very simple, slightly rustic and warm with simple lines and lots of white with pops of color. We love it when people come over and feel like they can walk around barefoot and put their feet on the couch. We want it to be inviting and not too stuffy.

Your favorite places to photograph in Charleston: Oh! Just about EVERYWHERE! This town is full of beauty: the beach, the marsh, the interesting nooks downtown. You can literally walk one city block and find 100 places for a unique photo session -- with the wrought iron gates, beautiful old Charleston singles, the creeping fig and flowers and cobblestone roads... I still pinch myself that I live here and get to take pictures for a living!

Your favorite places to photograph in Baltimore: I never really got a chance to explore Baltimore with my camera. I was just starting photography when we moved to Wilmington, DE. I asked several friends if they would let me shoot their kids as practice so I mostly went to their homes. But I guess, if I had to choose, I love the countryside in Maryland, same with Delaware. The Brandywine Valley is one of the most beautiful places, in my opinion.

As a photographer, what visual elements do you look for selecting a place for a photograph? What catches your eye?: Light! I'm always looking for the best light in which to position my clients. Since I like a shallow depth of field (i.e. to blur out the background), I love walls with a rich texture or color or beautiful flowers and greenery behind my subjects.

Any other favorite towns/cities to photograph? I love to travel - so really, anywhere! We spent a few weeks in Wyoming this summer and I took my film cameras. You can view images from our trip here and here.

Why do you love Charleston? Where do I begin? The quality of life is simply amazing. To live near the beach and such a vibrant city is a dream come true. Most of our friends here are from somewhere else and they moved here because they love it! It's amazing to be friends with so many people who are so proud of the town in which they live. So if I had to sum it up, I would say the beautiful landscape and the wonderful people are what makes me love Charleston so much. I'm in the process of creating my very own "Charlotte's Favorite Things" guide for my clients. It's an extension of my "Favorite Things Map".

What do you miss about Charleston when you're in Baltimore? The beach.

What do you miss about Baltimore when you're in Charleston? Mom and Dad.

Where is your family from? My husband is from Wilmington, DE. My mom is from Charlotte, NC. She was born and raised on a dairy farm, one of seven children. My father is from Baltimore, MD. He lived in the inner city for most of his life. Most of my family still lives in North Carolina. My mom was the only one of her siblings to travel north. She moved to Baltimore so my father could attend law school.

Where do you think you'll settle? Charleston, for sure. We always had this idea that we would retire here, and then we thought, 'Why don't we just move there and enjoy it NOW and not wait?!' It was scary to make the leap, but I'm so glad we did. We've made wonderful friends, gotten very involved in the community and have enjoyed all that Charleston has to offer.

Any other places you can see yourself living? I hope to take mini-retirements around the globe. I'm not a "repeater" at this time in my life, meaning, I don't like to repeat my vacations if I can help it. I like to experience new places each time. If I had to choose, I could see us living in Austria. We love Saltzburg!

All photos courtesy of Charlotte Elizabeth Photographer.