Standing at the opening to one of the Lowcountry’s oak allee's can leave you breathless. If you aren’t familiar with the allee’s, they are roads (oftentimes dirt) with Live Oak trees. These trees and the roads were intentionally planted and planned. In some locations, the branches will drip with Spanish Moss that blows with the wind and becomes kissed with the evening sunlight.
Over the years as these oaks mature, the branches reach up to heaven and stretch out over the road to create an intricate cathedral of limbs and leaves. We often stand, stare and admire the forethought the plantation owners would have had to invest in the cost and time that these oaks require to reach the beauty of maturity. For most, planting these majestic oaks wasn’t for themselves, their children or in some cases, even their grandchildren. These planters had the long term vision of what it would look like generations from where they personally stood.
This brings us to a position that we can no longer be silent about. The history of Charleston and it’s surrounding areas is unmatched and unlike anything you will experience. Whether it’s the oak alee’s, the majestic seascapes, or the Lowcountry marshlands, Charleston is utterly and simply charming. It’s been 2+ years now since we have been in the business of teaching and leading visitors of Charleston to these special locations. During this time, we’ve hosted a great many people. It’s also no secret that as spring blooms, many workshop instructors bring groups ofpeople here with them to educate and show their guests the beauty of Charleston.
Before we get into things, we want to very clearly express one thing: We love the tourism industry of Charleston, and as many of you know, we are very happy to befriend and support any photographer who wants to come to Charleston and share the beauty of our Lowcountry. However, they need to respect it. Herein likes our issue.
This spring, we saw no less than 20 different workshop companies (that we know of) come to Charleston with their guests to host workshops. Most of them are top notch people, who are talented, genuine, respectful and good folks who have integrity and the interest of their participates in mind.
We are very sorry to report that during the last month, we have come upon two different locations here in Charleston who have expressed concern, distrust, and feelings of being violated by a workshop instructor who failed to show respect where respect was due.
When we heard the first complaint, we wrote it off as someone possibly having a bad day. We then heard it for the second time from another very large reputable location, and it was obvious that it could not go unaddressed. Especially when it was made known to us that location policies were being changed because of the rude and disrespectful behavior of one instructor. We don’t have any desire to name names here, or conduct a public flogging, but we do have one clear message that we want to spread: This is our home. If you come here, respect it and the people in it.
We live and do business here 365 days a year and we are honored that you come here with your workshop participants, but please respect the locations here and owners of the properties that you attend. Follow the rules, respect them, and do right by them. Leave the location better than when you arrived. We’d even go so far as to say that if you see trash, pick it up. Don’t be rude. Be courteous to other workshops around you.
Charleston is preserved in time because of the people who have loved, cared and valued it. As a company, Charleston Photography Tours stands with the local business owners and we will openly support both your existing and new rules, policies and procedures.
To all the local companies who have been treated with disrespect, on behalf of all upstanding photography workshop providers we want to publicly apologize to the city of Charleston, the entire Lowcountry, locals, businesses and other tour operators for any negative experiences you’ve had with photographers. We can confidently say that any negative experiences you’ve had is the exception, not the rule.
To workshop providers who come and respect the locations and people here, you have our utmost respect and if you are ever in need, we would be honored and eager to help you however we can to make sure your entire experience here in Charleston is exceptional. When you return next year, expect policy changes with some of the locations, which you normally attend.
Until next year or your next return to Charleston, we wish you much success and great light.