Jeff and Jessa came up to me one afternoon in Summerville, a small town just outside of the famous downtown Charleston, South Carolina. We’re all from the area and have known each other for a few years through mutual friends. I’ve done several Downtown Charleston Family Photography shoots for them in and around the Charleston-area.
I know them quite well, especially for their amazing high-energy. But today they were a little timid. I was a little confused but remained patient.
Jessa asked slowly, “Do you think a black-tie-themed photoshoot would work for our family photos this year?”
I didn’t even hesitate. “YES!” I replied enthusiastically.
The Carter family, Jeff, Jessa, and their two kids, Reese and Huck, is a perfect example of why I love family photography so much. Everywhere on my website and every single time I talk about my job, I make sure to stress my core mission when it comes to family portrait photography: I want to capture the connections in a family.
Connections look different for every family, though. That’s why every photoshoot brings something different to the table and what makes each one so special. It’s also why I love my job so much — it’s never the same.
Before every family photo session, I make sure to get to know a family first so I can best suit their needs. Every portrait photographer has their own style that makes them stand out, but it’s still the duty of the photographer to bring out the unique characteristics of your subjects.
So, I usually go over what kind of theme they are going for, what sort of characteristics are attached to each family member, what wardrobe they envision, and many more factors.
In the Carter family’s case, I was faced with a creative challenge I’ve definitely never planned out before for any previous family photoshoots.
I couldn’t wait to get planning!
Luckily, the distance wasn’t an issue since we all lived close. And so picking their photoshoot location was a no-brainer — it had to be done in downtown Charleston.
The vibes of their formal wardrobe would fit perfectly with the colonial-style architecture that Charleston is known for.
Jessa also said it was, surprisingly, the easiest family photo session she ever planned — all they had to do was get black-and-white matching outfits, and boom! Done.
Of course, in true Carter fashion, they dressed up their looks a bit for some interest and fun.
Jessa and Reese wore matching cheetah-print shoes to add a pop of pattern, while still maintaining an air of elegance.
Jeff and Huck were sporting bow ties. Huck wore a dashing peacock-feather bow tie, while Jeff neatly tied on a deep brown and jewel-toned textured bowtie. He even added a pop of texture with his vest.
We all met in the hub of downtown Charleston, and I was blown away by their magnificent matching outfits. They looked ready for a gala.
We started shooting and Huck was a little nervous in front of the camera at first. But after (quite a few) strangers came up to the family, complimenting their outfits and the brilliant formal-family-photoshoot idea, he warmed up.
Both Reese and Huck said that after the photo session, they felt like stars!
Downtown Charleston made for the perfect backdrop. It’s a history-rich town with many Victorian-style, Georgian-style, Gothic-style, and other varieties of architecture. That, mixed with their exquisite formal attire brought a certain magic to their family photoshoot.
Because of all this, it didn’t take long for the family to get in the rhythm of things.
We explored everywhere, but my favorites were the cobble-stone sidewalks of Chalmers Street and the incredible marbling, tiling, and textures that you can find all around Charleston’s historical buildings.
They were all gleaming with confidence and delight after our session. I couldn’t help but smile at this — this is the energy that I strive to achieve for every family.
Jeff and Jessa’s family are always a blast to be around. And I think that really shows in their family photos. Take a look below and I hope you enjoy this gallery of my favorite photos!