Amid stormy weather and a global pandemic

The pandemic took an already unpredictable field and made it more unpredictable. As my fellow photographers know, you can check the weather forecast all you want while planning a session but sometimes you are still surprised by stormy weather. Amy ,the beautiful bride, and I had been planning her bridal session in downtown Charleston, SC for months. She wanted to have the iconic Charleston charm represented in her portraits. Shooting bridal sessions can have many moving parts as you are typically coordinating for it to be on the day that the bride is doing her hair and make up trial. This way she can see her whole wedding day look and tweak it to be what she has envisioned for her wedding day. Some florist will provide a small mockup of the bridal bouquet to make sure the color combo and florals are what the bride wants. Now there are potentially four people to coordinate with and this must be coordinated with the photographer and bride's schedule. Then add in a location that requires you to schedule appointments and payment to shoot there now we are looking at five. Like I said, it can be extensive and overwhelming.

As the weekend approached we suddenly had a storm front roll in and this was the only weekend that we had available to do this shoot so I had to think fast. It might seem easy to find an indoor location for bridal sessions in one of the wedding capitals of the world, and normally it is, but not during a worldwide Covid Pandemic. During the height of the pandemic most locations wouldn't even allow any sort of indoor sessions because of mask mandates and social distancing. I spent hours looking at and reaching out to locations to see if, maybe by some miracle, they could accommodate us but I couldn't find a single thing. Then I posted in a local vendors group on facebook and someone from Ashley Hall commented and told me to give them a call.

I had never heard of Ashley Hall but after researching them a bit, it was clear that this was an answered prayer. Ashley Hall is still an all girls private school in Charleston SC that was founded in 1909 by Mary Vardrine McBee and is located in buildings as old as 1816 . The school started as a college preparatory school with the motto of Possunt Quae Volunt, or "Girls who have the will have the ability." Yes ma'am we are all for women empowerment! In the earlier days it offered boarding to students and hosted notable women like former First Lady, Barbra Bush (class of 1943). Along with some other greats like Madeleine L'Engle (class of 1936), you know the author of a little book called "A Wrinkle in Time". I think you are catching my drift though, this school was a place of empowerment for women, a piece of history and stunning. Truly the perfect shelter from the impending storms and a gorgeous, dreamy backdrop for a bridal session.

Since the Ashley Hall is still and operational school there were a few "off-limits" areas to make sure we were adhering to all the covid regulations schools had to follow during the shutdowns and there was a limit of how many people were allowed to be present. Overall they were super reasonable, accommodating and hospitable. Before we started they showed us around and noted all the fun historical relevance and then turned us loose.

As you can see from the photos we were absolutely spoiled for choices when it came to photo worthy backdrops and I was absolutely spoiled that I got to shoot with Amy! She was confident, poised and totally comfortable being in front of a camera which makes my job easy as pie and provided magazine worthy images. Plus we had a great time exploring the property and learning about the historical relevance Ashley Hall holds. It can be difficult to feel comfortable when you have a camera pointed at you even with candid prompts. My best advice is to do exactly what Amy did; just be your authentic self and I promise the beauty of who you are will shine through.

Here is the kind of funny part of the story. We desperately scoured Charleston for an indoor location because of scattered storms for that weekend right? Well it rained in the morning but by the time we were shooting the clouds had cleared and we were able to take advantage of the beautiful grounds Ashley Hall offers as well. And on my way home it began to torrentially downpour for the next 48 hours. The lesson from this, everything has a way of working exactly the way it should out somehow.

Gown from The Bridal House of Charleston

Florals by GAB Photography, I am not a florist but I will do whatever it takes to make a session what you envisioned.

Hair and Makeup by The Studio and Co.