Tag Archives: Hilton Head Photographer

A Year Living in the Light | Meaning and Milestones

Milestones are important. These are the moments in life when we pause, reflect and are made aware of the beauty and mystery that is both grace and life. At the beginning of each year there’s always the question – “what will the next 12 months hold in store for me?” And then always on December 31st the answers that surprise.

In no way could I have predicted the experiences during 2012 that would lead me to where I am now, but without a doubt I can now look back with nothing but thankfulness.

As a photographer I have the added blessing of visually recording those times and experiences when I become completely lost within the light and the spirit of my subject. At the end of each year I try to make a “top 10” list of those images that truly reflect who I am as an artist while telling the story of my life experiences. It can be tough to narrow-down the selections. The temptation is always there to include those images that received the most “likes” and shares on Facebook or the ones that resulted in the most print sales on my storefront. But in these end-of-the-year lists I try to emphasize those few images that have more depth of personal story behind them, the ones that are infused with deeper meaning and reflect what I was feeling and thinking at the moment and in the place where the camera shutter was released.

Sure I could just simply include the technical data involved with each of the following photographs (and that’s available if anyone would like to know – email me and I’ll be happy to answer) but I’d rather share the story, the meaning, of what was happening and changing within my life and my style of photography at the moment of the image.

Indeed what an amazing year of discovery, emotion, reawakening and ultimately a turning in the right direction. All of it means even more to me now that I see my time on Hilton Head Island coming to an end and a new chapter opening westward, in Texas and beyond. The previous year and this place (Hilton Head) was a time and location of reflection and learning, more of a crossroads than anything else. Many new friends and the haunting beauty of the tidelands. I am thankful for the lessons both have taught me and the opportunity to capture and share the unique light and character of coastal South Carolina. But also during 2012 I was fortunate to have a few initial previews of what is in store for me during 2013.

In marking the conclusion of 2012 here are my top 12 photographs –

Blessed in Morning Light | Hilton Head Island

The crabbing dock behind the building where I rent my apartment. March 17, 2012. The sunrises over the marshland that borders Broad Creek have a calm beauty and peacefulness that endures despite the development of the Island and the hustle and flow of visitor traffic. To experience sunrise from this location is a living prayer set to light. This is a place to go and meet the incoming tide with peaceful reflection. The time I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with here on Hilton Head has for the most part been a period of contemplation, prayer and redirection. There is a reason why I was moved in this direction at this point in my life, perhaps to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of what truly matters, through perhaps one or two painful lessons but mostly quiet observation.

January Moonrise | Hilton Head Island

To appreciate the true beauty of the nature of the area you HAVE to get out on the water, whether by boat or paddle board. This where the spirit of the Lowcountry is met on an intimate level. The water, the water, the water. Sunlight dances but moonlight enthralls. I am very thankful for the opportunity to own a boat and explore the local creeks, sounds and offshore ocean. This is the source of all positive energy that flows over and through the islands. In preparing for my move to Texas – and to gather the funds for the move – I had to sell my boat. That was the first time in my life that I found it hard to part with something material but the fact is that boat – a 23′ Century – was my access to the water, from swimming and tubing with my daughters and son to cruising out alone to the open waters of Port Royal Sound at sunrise and coming back in at nightfall under the light of a rising Moon. It was freedom and an investment in memories for a lifetime.

May Rain at Cedar Falls | Hocking Hills, Ohio

I’m thankful for the opportunity to return to Hocking Hills, Ohio at least twice each year, to teach weekend workshops on photography at The Inn at Cedar Falls. On the Sunday afternoon portion of the program last May I took my group out in the rain to demonstrate how wet weather often can be a benefit with spring landscape photography in this area. The lady with the umbrella was not part of our group nor was she asked to stand in that location. I was just sitting up on a ledge under a rock overhang, talking with one of my students, when she just appeared with this purple/pink umbrella. I thought to myself “this is too good to be true.” She also stood still long enough for the longer exposure I needed to capture the flow of the water off of Cedar Falls. Every year my top 10 list includes at least one image from Hocking Hills. The place has become a part of who I am and for good reason. It is home.

Jim Crotty’s Top 13 Tips for Nature Photography | Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusive

Jim Crotty’s Top 13 Tips for Nature Photography Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be featured in the December 2012 issue of “Professional Photographer,” the monthly magazine of the Professional Photographers of America. Accompanying the article is a “top tips” list published as a web exclusive of “Professional photographer.” Both the web exclusive and the print article include recent samples of my work with nature and landscape photography, particularly from here on Hilton Head Island.

I’m honored to have this kind of exposure and attention to my photography, especially from the largest organization representing my profession. I’ve been an active member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America) since 2006. PPA serves as an excellent resource for education and training, insurance, certification and industry advocacy, something that’s especially important in today’s environment when professional photographers are competing with a growing number of hobbyists who dabble in photography-for-hire on the side.

To have my work and experience considered worthy of attention and publication by my peer group on a national level is indeed something of which I am very grateful.

The Art of Photography on Hilton Head Island | Being Persistent

UPDATE 12-24-13: Since writing this post I have returned to living and working near Dayton, Ohio. I now provide photography services, print sales and lessons/workshops from my farm home in Beavercreek Township, Ohio

Visitors to my studio on Hilton Head are always amazed to find out that the 30″x40″ canvas prints on the walls are indeed photographs. I think it’s because most people are not accustomed to seeing photographic prints with such detail in that size. When it comes to fine art nature photography for the discerning buyer of art, I honestly feel I have some of the best images of nature and landscape subjects captured in and around Hilton Head Island. I’m not being boastful. That’s not part of my personality. In fact those who are closest to me and know me the best are becoming more and more agitated that I’m not boastful enough when it comes to marketing and promoting my work.

Hilton Head Island is a tough market when trying to sell fine art photography. There’s a “closed loop” so to say that often has more to do with factors other than the quality and originality of the artwork. But I keep going at it, chipping away. I may be more on the quiet side when it comes to sales and marketing but I do have determination.

The following web galleries – links listed below – were recently updated with images captured as recently as last week. It’s one thing to view an impressive photograph on a computer screen. Were quality can be accurately measured as how well these images reproduce as large format prints. Anyone who has seen my prints will attest to the fact that my photography more than measures-up.

All of the images presented in the following online galleries are available as fine art prints crafted by a lab that caters to professional photographers. I’ve been working with this lab for over six years now, and their attention to detail is second to none, so much so that another more well-established professional photographer here on Hilton Head recently contacted me to find out the identity of that particular lab.

Gee, I wonder why ?

Hilton Head Digital Art Photography –

Hilton Head Fine Art Nature and Landscape Photography –

And not only impressive looking large format prints but stock licensing as well. My nature and landscape photography of Hilton Head Island and the surrounding area can serve as excellent additions to local business web sites, print advertisements, brochures and even billboards. The images on the web site, brochures and billboards for Hilton Head’s newest attraction – Zip Line Hilton Head at Broad Creek Marina – is almost entirely Photography by Jim Crotty, both stock and assignment.


A Tale of Two Nights | The Ethereal Between Sky and Sea

In this area of South Carolina, on the far bottom “corner” of the map, more often than not it is the dance of light between sea and sky that result in the landscape photographs that have the most visual impact and strongest emotional connection between photographer and viewer. Actual “land” is kept at a minimum. Just a sliver of shoreline or beach or perhaps a wandering marshland. Horizons are minimal. The eye of the landscape photographer is pulled skyward, or below along a watery expanse of ocean or estuary. Sometimes rules are broken and the thin line of horizon is stretched right across the middle of the frame, in those moments when there’s a balance in the dance of light and color from above and below.

April through May along the coast of South Carolina is only matched by October through November in the quality of light for landscape photography. It has always been during those times when I find myself in the midst of sea, sky and light that literally takes my breath away. I’ll stand wide-eyed in unbelief of the beauty that I find myself within. I grapple with camera, lens and tripod while thinking “yes, this is what I’m meant to do. There’s a reason I’m here to capture this.”

Last week presented two of those experiences, on successive evenings at sunset. What was truly fascinating was the contrast between the light and scenes captured while on the water Thursday evening to the photographs of Friday at sunset. Thursday was a storm front passing overhead with shapes, shadows and filtered light that changed the color on the waves to something I’ve never seen before. On Friday calm prevailed in the sky with the hypnotic stare of an enormous full Moon rising over the Atlantic while the waves of a high tide in spring reached all the way to the forward edge of the dunes.

Grace. That’s what keeps coming to mind when I think of the experience of being present in these places and in those moments of ethereal light. Whether on the coast of South Carolina or in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio or the high desert and mountains of New Mexico. Grace through gratitude for the opportunity to be lost within the light.

Thursday evening, April 5 2012, on Broad Creek | Hilton Head Island:


Friday evening, April 6 2012 @ Burke’s Beach | Hilton Head Island:


Gift of the Good Light | Spring Nature Photography on Hilton Head Island

Spring came early to Hilton Head Island. What normally would be considered May weather conditions has settled-in here in the Low Country of South Carolina, and with it has come some incredible light, particularly at sunrise and sunset. The gift of the good light awaits the photographer who gets up early and stays out late. The following are images I captured during the weekend of March 17 – 18, 2012 with locations that include Broad Creek, Broad Creek Marina and Burke’s Beach Park.

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety”. ~Ansel Adams