Why is Charleston special to you? What is your quintessential Holy City experience? These are the questions that we posed to City Paper readers when we announced this year's photography contest, our ninth endeavor. They are tough questions for sure. For some, the answer could be a scenic sunset walk along the Battery. For others, it could be marching in lockstep on the grounds of the Citadel. And for a few — OK, more than a few — it's chowing down on brunch at A.C.'s while nursing a really nasty hangover. It doesn't matter. It's your Charleston. Enjoy.
First Place ($200) - Diana Deaver, "Vertex"
Judges' comments: "Vertex" is a well-crafted photograph that brings to life a seldom-seen view of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. The dusky hues work perfectly for this unconventional, late-night take on a Charleston icon.
Second Place ($100) - Stephen Blackmon, "Diana"
Judges' comments: A colorful entry with a strong palette. Judges were particularly impressed with its composition and how well it conveyed a real moment in time.
Third Place ($50) - Diana Deaver, "Charleston Bay"
Judges' comments: Sunsets are a photographic mainstay — perhaps too much so. But here the panel was sold on this image of a "non-beach" sunset. With the horizon low and the sky dominant in the frame, this shot is a strong, richly hued interpretation of a snapshot cliche.
Honorable Mention ($25) - Abigail Marie Miller, "Friends in Folly"
Judges' comments: A composition that drew strong responses for its timeless depiction of a human moment.
Honorable Mention ($25) - Hank James, "Full-Dress Uniform"
Judges' comments: This photo won praise for making a connection to Charleston history. With its shallow depth of field and vibrant color palette, the judges felt it pulled viewers into the subject.
First Place ($200) - Bridget Hinkebein, "Looking Down"
Judges' comments: The judges felt this was an immediately striking image and noted the textural quality of the watery foam. The blue/orange contrast struck one panel member — "Fabulous!"
Second Place ($100) - LeAnn Cannon, "Lily's Red Balloon"
Judges' comments: "Thank you for color!" said one of the judges. A monochromatic feel lends iconic status to this photographic moment.
Third Place ($50) - Charlie Todd Nunn, Untitled
Judges' comments: With its "powerful, deep colors," this image impressed the panel who also noted the patience required to achieve this level of simplicity.
Honorable Mention ($25) - Charlie Todd Nunn, Untitled (stairs in the sand dunes)
Judges' comments: A classic composition with a muted palette lending it a nostalgic feel. "This," one of the judges remarked, "is how to use Photoshop filters."
Honorable Mention ($25) - Robert Donovan, "Big Honkin'"
Judges' comments: The panel noted how effective lighting helped to create what appeared to be an entertaining fantasy: a steampunk moment drawn from real life.
Photographer Ben Williams arrived in Charleston just over three years ago and quickly made a name for himself. Since settling in the Holy City, Williams has been busy shooting for the City Paper and Charleston magazine. When he's not working behind the lens, Williams can be found relaxing at downtown coffee shops or cruising around town on his bike.
Leslie Ryann McKellar decided she wanted to be a photographer well after she earned a degree in English. After pretending to be a writer for a few post-college years, she picked up a camera and hasn't seen the world the same since. Her work has been featured in Charleston magazine, the Charleston City Paper, College of Charleston Magazine, and Oblique.
Photographer Joshua Curry got his start shooting skateboarding for Santa Cruz Skateboards in the late '80s. Since then, he's covered the Rodney King riots, hurricanes, and the odd plate of food. Joshua works as the web editor at Charleston City Paper.