These are the photos we should’ve run, says City Paper Photographer Jonathan Boncek 

Screw the Art Director

 When you’re the only staff photographer at the city’s only alternative weekly, you get sent on a diverse number of assignments. One week I’m shooting vegetable plates at FIG, the next week it’s a group of hobo clowns for our Best of Charleston issue. But just because I took a photo doesn’t mean it always makes it in print. And, if it does, it doesn’t necessarily mean it runs the way I intended it to. Here are a few of my favorites from 2014 that got the shaft one way or the other.

On the Cover: I’d never met Ayoka Lucas prior to this session. I decided to shoot the fashionista in a contrasting construction site. We only shot for about 20 minutes, but we nailed it. City Paper had so many options to run for her story, that this image never saw the light of day.

click to enlarge JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

We all have those days, when we feel depleted of ideas, low on energy, and frankly, just don’t care. I met Jack Burg at a friend’s studio home in West Ashley. After a short conversation on the direction of the shoot (or lack there of), Jack and his friend could tell I was exhausted. They offered me a beer. Sometimes the muse comes in a variety of forms.

Often when a photographer is in between ideas during a shoot, the best moments happen. One just has to be ready for them. Case in point, the photoshoot with Elise Testone and Wallace Mullinax.

Jennifer Davis gave me a parting gift at the conclusion of our time together. It was a copy of her children’s book, Before You were Born. I could tell that the real estate mogul was a sharp woman prior to the gift, but afterward I realized that she was the total package.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

For Summer DISH 2014, we wanted to get a lovely shot of Leon’s fried chicken for the cover. I loved this image of Chef Ari Kolender serving up one of Leon’s signature dishes.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

For the April 24 review of Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen I wanted to give some attitude to the dishes. Not every dish needs to be shot pretty and plated as it comes out from the kitchen. For the lettuce wraps I shot it as if the diner was about to eat it.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

The buzz was louder than ever when Shepard Fairey dotted the city with giant murals for the 2014 Spoleto festival. I was fortunate enough to have a quick photoshoot with him while he painted a mural at Tivoli.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

I loved the light inside the little house that contains Chez Nous. Every day Chef Jill Mathis curates a small menu that is released via Instagram. This shot is of Assistant General Manager Angela Stroman photographing the day’s menu at the quaint French restaurant.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

Alison Piepmeier’s cancer fight motivated me to capture her with a sense of strength. Alison had been sleeping before I arrived, and I felt I shouldn’t wake her. She had brain surgery just three days prior, but she was a rock star on the shoot. This image was a quick light test that I fell in love with. I could see the challenges that Allison was facing just with her posture. I also could see her will to overcome them.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

Eric Doksa sent me a text a week before I was to shoot the now-closed Line Street establishment Georgean’s. He urged me that I had to go and eat there right away. I took his advice without hesitation. Here Tim Jackson works the flattop to prepare the jerk chicken. Georgean’s quickly became one of my go-tos for lunch.

The Granary is Brannon Floire’s baby. It’s his idea, his vision, his blood, sweat, and tears. This image accompanied the review, but it was cropped to fit the page. We lost the top section of the image. I love how the normally large presence of Florie is challenged by the simple interior of The Granary. To me, it personifies the challenges of being a self-made man.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

For a SWIG article on expensive cocktails, I had the pleasure of tasting the Van-Hatten at the Bar at Husk, made with bourbon, rye, carpona antica, and blood orange bitters. There’s nothing like three ounces of high quality spirits before 2 p.m.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

I arrived at our Band Swap shoot at The Royal American with enough time to set up my lights for the first musician. The problem was I didn’t have anyone to stand in for a light test. The lovely Jordan Igoe was gracious enough to chat it up with me while I cajoled her into being my test subject.

I hate clowns. For the 2014 Best of Charleston issue, I ran around with this bunch of hobo clowns for two weeks. Let’s just say that it was interesting. We spent two hours at Club Pantheon setting up an opening shot for the Drink section. I didn’t know that Sippy had come prepared. Clearly, he wanted to show off his best dance moves.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

Prior to this shoot, I had pretty much given up on gin. That is until I tried a Charleston-grown cocktail of Hat Trick gin and Jack Rudy Tonic. High Wire Distillery’s gin is not your typical London Dry, pine- tree spirit. With this image, I wanted to capture a product shot for our Winter DISH, that encompasses the complexity of Hat Trick’s profile.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

The owners of Carmen y Juan work six days a week, 12 hours a day alongside one another. Carmen Gonzalez mans the kitchen while her husband Juan runs the front of the house. You can feel the love that they have for one another as soon as you walk in the door.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

Some of the best coffee in the city used to come from the now-closed Ethiopian Taste and Coffee on Dorchester Road. This cup wasn’t your typical grab and go. The process took a good 15 minutes. That time was worth every drop of delicious Ethiopian gold.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

I met councilman Robert Mitchell at a playground on Columbus Street on the Eastside. The councilman took me for a walk around his neighborhood. This was a treat for me. Mr. Mitchell schooled me on the history, challenges, and future of the area he represents.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

During college I was lucky enough to study abroad in Cuba for three months. Traveling in the island nation, one is inundated by remnants of the Revolution. I came to love the documentary photography of this era. Here Rebekah Jacob displays an iconic Che photograph.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

It’s always a pleasure to photograph PURE Theatre’s Sharon Graci. I wanted to light her in a dramatic fashion, but thought her smile brought out a light-heartedness to her portrait.

Often when I photograph musicians I’m given a copy of the songwriter’s latest. I have to say that I listened to SUSTO for a solid week. Justin Osborne has a laidback sound with deeply rooted lyrics.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

For a little comic relief, here’s one of my favorites. Our American Apparel-themed Summer Guide was a blast to shoot. These models played the part to a T. Our main direction for the models was simple: “Act dead inside”.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

The Royal American lends itself to great portraiture, and Charleston singer/songwriter Estee Gabay knows how to command the camera. I wound up with a stack of great images of the songstress.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

Corey Humak raises chickens at his newly built home on America Street, located in Charleston’s Eastside neighborhood. The Coast Guard sailor represents the new generation of Charleston home owners.

I met Logan Venderlic in the midday sun of an August afternoon. We were both sweating through our clothes. I knew I didn’t have a long time to get the images before he would be a sweaty mess. I set up the lights while Logan was strumming and singing. This light test better captures his spirit than later photos.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

Presentations typically don’t lend themselves to great photos. But this one hosted by Charleston Area Justice Ministries was particularly interesting. Mayor Joe Riley was up to the challenges of hearing the demands of the group, but the graciousness was not reciprocated. I loved the intensity of this moment. The image depicts the frustration of Riley and the steadfastness of Justice Ministries.

JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

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