Our Weekend Escape to Charleston

My first encounter with this beauty was during my "gap year" between high school and college.  My work required a lot of travel (which I loved!).  Somehow my 19-year-old self didn't quite grasp the scope of all that is Charleston.  Don't get me wrong, I remember loving it, but I also remember thinking how boring it was to hear about types of architectural columns on house tours.  

Ever since, I've wanted to return, with Ben.  I would think back to the incredible seafood, the upscale nightlife, and moonlit walks on the pier.  It is a city for lovers.  Perhaps this is why the magic was a little lost on a single 19-year-old.  

Visiting historic Charleston, South Carolina, for a day

This time, the city was brimming with magic.  Somehow, we were fortunate enough to be there on the final day of the annual Spoleto Festival.  Everywhere we looked we found culture, art in the park, and we even managed to walk into The Dock Street Theater, purchase tickets spontaneously.  You guys, this concert was waaay out of our league.  But, it was fun pretending I was well acquainted with the works of famous Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.  

Hominy Grill

We arrived in Charleston late on a Friday night.  I'd finished shooting an elopement in Savannah and we were getting hungry.  I give full credit to Ben for unearthing this treasure.  You guys!  The swordfish and grits at this cafe, well, I still dream about it.  Ben still raves about the famous Charleston Nasty Biscuit (a brief hiatus from his hard core Keto lifestyle).  He promises me it was worth every delicious carb and calorie.

High Cotton

Saturday morning we decided to stroll around historic Charleston in search of the best brunch locale.  Um, yeah, sooo brunch is very busy in this historic romantic town.  We were picturing something more light and cafe-ish and less white linen tablecloth elegance.  But, with the crowds increasing at the same rapid rate as my hunger, we opted for something more posh.  Ahhh, best decision ever.  High Cotton played instrumental bluegrass in the background, with high ceilings graced with chandeliers and a fireplace in the center of the dining room.  The coffee was perfect and my Crab Cake Eggs Benedict to die for.  I was in Scarlet O'Hara heaven. 

Low Country Olive Oil

One place we popped into while in the city was this amazing Olive Oil establishment.  I was mildly curious until I began taste-testing.  I was amazed by how much flavor was packed into these olive oils and balsamic.  It was crazy.  We came home with their Strawberry Champagne White Balsamic and I've already ordered my second bottle (free shipping!).  I use it on my fave salad and it only has 15 calories - winning!  

Charleston Farmer's Market

As I mentioned, we were in town for the final day of the Spoleto Festival, so this market was brimming with art.  We perused the tents with prize winning pieces of artwork.  Just as I was getting a bit too warm for comfort, low and behold, a fresh lemonade and tea stand.  I had freshly squeezed lemon juice sweetened with cane sugar mixed with unsweet tea.  Uh. Mazing.  As live bluegrass played in the background, we rounded the corner finding an artist's work that completely captured my heart.  Amanda McLenon creates maps of cities with watercolor overlays.  Sooo pretty, definitely check out her work!  The piece that I bought is a map of Charleston with a watercolor overlay of Rainbow Row.  I'm obsessed.  

Rainbow Row

This was high on my "to see again" list.  A perfect line of pastel houses in southern architectural glory.  Yes, please!  They did not disappoint.  I wanted to move all of the parked cars so that I could get a perfect shot of the homes in all their rainbow glory.  No such luck.

The Vendue

We walked down the romantic waterfront vista portion of the city.  Large oak trees with low hanging moss line Waterfront Park, we strolled past a Saturday afternoon wedding ceremony.  We reached the famous Pineapple fountain where children squealed in glee splashing in the summer heat.  Oh, that summer heat.  We were ready for a respite.  Rounding the corner on Vendue Range, we discovered The Vendue.  While we didn't stay here on this visit, we hope to be back for a legit overnight stay.  Inside is the perfect blend of modern meets historic charm.  We enjoyed a coffee break inside of this boutique hotel's air conditioned Starbucks.  



Charleston is the kind of city that makes you fall in love all over again.  It is romance, charm, and everything southern grace.  I so hope this is just the beginning of many weekend Charleston escapes.  

Oh So Pretty Savannah

Oh, you Low Country, you.  Every time I visit the historic southern coastal cities I fall a little more in love.  

A dash of Paris in Savannah.  A table and two chairs outside Cafe M in Historic Savannah, Georgia.

Thanks to a sweet elopement, work brought me back to Savannah.  This time, I brought Ben along with me - which always adds more romance.  I don't know about you, but my fave kind of date includes strolling downtown with a well crafted coffee in hand.  Savannah offers plenty of eye candy with local shops and cafe's lined with moss laden oaks.  

Apparently, we were feeling a little Parisian inspired because the two big stops for the day were The Paris Market and Café M.  

The Paris Market

Even the outside of this Parisian shop has me ohhing and ahhing.  Cafe tables with marble tops, gilded edging around the windows, it's right out of a European dream.  Inside, you find a delicious coffeeshop along with two stories of artisan books, furniture, APOTHECARY, candles, and even a children's corner (where I literally wanted to buy it out and redecorate our playroom).  

They even have citrus flavored ice water to appease that the scorching southern heat.  It's more than a shop, it''s about entering a different world, one where you never want to leave.  

Café M

Ben and I love a good local cafe that offers hand crafted cuisine.  Café M did not disappoint!  Parisian mouth-watering CROISSANTS ordered with a server boasting a French accent, all of the restaurant details were oh so white and pretty.  Even a fireplace!  We opted to sit outside to take in the bustling city.  

The Elopement was in the Victorian District, which was a new part of the city for me to explore.  The architecture and charm were the perfect backdrop to intimate nuptials.  After the ceremony, we simply walked the southern streets, down by Forsyth Park, for all of our portraits.   More on that Later!

xoxo and "au revoir" Lovelies

Tips for Making Pretty iPhone Pictures

While having a fancy camera is pretty amazing, I can honestly say that my iPhone does a fabulous job for those daily moment captures.  Convenience usually trumps lugging out all the gear for a sweet moment with my littles.  Especially since that moment is usually long gone by the time I get everything ready.  

Learning to use basic tools is a really valuable skill, especially if you do want to graduate to higher quality camera equipment.  Here are a few tips on how I maximize the quality of my iPhone camera.  

Tips for making pretty iPhone pictures | Debra Eby Photography Co.

1. Find the Light

Lighting is critical with any type of photography.  If you don't have good lighting, your image will be grainy, dark, and shadow-y.  If you like a moodier look, that's okay, you still have to find a way to harness that light so that it's not simply muddy.  

Natural light is the prettiest.  Find a large window or glass door if you are indoors.  If you are outside (and it isn't soft evening light), find open shade.  Meaning, no dappled lighting.  You can also shoot with full sun, but that's more atmospheric, don't try to get anyone to "cheese" for that picture (all the squinty eyes).  

White, pale blush, and light tans all work really well as reflectors to enhance the light and natural skin tones.  

iPhone lay flat image of whites and golds.  | Debra Eby Photography Co.
White posterboard is a cheap and easy solution for a backdrop.

White posterboard is a cheap and easy solution for a backdrop.

When renovating our house, we filled it with all the shades of white to maximize that studio look.  

When renovating our house, we filled it with all the shades of white to maximize that studio look.  


2. Angles Are Everything

Most of us girls know that the phone better go up high for that fabulous selfie.  But, also think about your arm placement as well, keep it out from your body so there isn't "arm squish".  Do a 360 to see where the sun falls best on your face and what the ground looks like around you.  

I love tips from Tyra Banks.  My go-to's are:

  • Keep your chin up and out
  • Elongate your neck
  • Lean forward
  • If you don't have heels, stand on your tip toes for muscular calves.  
  • Knees facing in

You got this, girl!

Practice is the best way to master the angle and awkward arm stance.  If you're super hard core there's always the selfie stick.  A sense of humor is always necessary, of course.  

Tips for taking selfies | Debra Eby Photography Co.

The best way to get great iPhone angles is by moving around.  Get out of that chair, walk to the other side of the room, play around until it looks right.  Sometimes a flat, direct shot, is best.  Try an aerial view of food, beverages, or interesting textures and textiles.    

Images from The Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida | Debra Eby Photography Co.

3. Edit

A little tweak with simple editing tools can go a long way.  I love using the ColorStory app.  It gives me the simple tools that I need to tweak my iPhone images.  Play around with it to find your style.  Personally, I raise the curve, add a little contrast, and sometimes use one of the filters.   

iPhone editing using ColorStory | Debra Eby Photography Co.

4. Moments Trump Perfection

The beauty of an iPhone is that it can be so quick to capture an otherwise lost moment.  Don't allow rules or an ideal to keep you from documenting life.  There are many pictures taken on my phone that simply melt my heart or take me back to a special moment in time.  They aren't "instagram" lovable, but they speak to me.  That is art, something you see, touch, feel, or hear that moves you.  

A little tip?  Black and white edits always make it feel more documentary when colors and clutter collide.  

This is one of my favorite images of my children.  It is messy, but full of emotion.  My Juliet (pictured right) is a bit of a drama queen and my Larissa (pictured left) is my peacemaker.  I don't remember what happened, but I love that two sisters are sharing a moment.  

This is one of my favorite images of my children.  It is messy, but full of emotion.  My Juliet (pictured right) is a bit of a drama queen and my Larissa (pictured left) is my peacemaker.  I don't remember what happened, but I love that two sisters are sharing a moment.  

Go get started!  Follow me on Insta so I can see all of your amazing shots.  

xoxo Lovelies