Downtown Family Session | Charleston, SC

I was excited to see this family again this year.  Soon they will be a family of 5!

family in front of rainbow row in charleston


Sarah Goldman is a family photographer in Charleston, SC.


Hampton Park Family Session | Visser Family

I love extended family sessions!  I’m always impressed that one family member takes the lead and gets everyone together, coordinates outfits, and helps to give their family members a gift that will truly last a lifetime in the form of photographs. The Visser Family traveled from Tennessee for a vacation in Charleston, and I had so much fun getting to know everyone!


Sarah Goldman is a family photographer in Charleston, SC.

Reflecting on State Photographic Competition

For the past few years I have been actively participating in photographic competitions at the state, district, and national level.  It is challenging and helps me to be creative and constantly improve my photography and editing techniques. We had our state photographic competition last month, and I’ve spent this week going over my images that did well, listening to the judge’s feedback, and planning what 4 images I will submit to PPA’s Southeast District Competition.  Sometimes no amount of editing can “fix” an image and after a round of judging a photo comes to the end of the road competition-wise.  I wanted to share a few of those.

I have photographed a couple rodeos and I decided to edit a couple of my favorite rodeo images to see how they would do.  In the state competition you can enter up to 8 images, so it’s a good place to “try out” photos to see how they will do with the judges.

Holding On For Dear Life

“Holding on for Dear Life”  received a 78 – The above average category. (You are aiming for 80 or above, deserving of a merit). I struggled with editing this image.  I tried to make the audience fade into the background and the rider and horse stand out. You can see my poor attempt at this – especially around the horse’s legs!  The feedback I got on this was that some parts of the subject are out of focus and there’s a lot of noise.  Since I can’t fix an out of focus image, that’s the end of the print competition road for this photo.  Bull and broc riding usually takes place in low light and the movement is incredibly fast. You have to increase your ISO in order to have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the motion.  I think I was at 1/400 and this still wasn’t quite fast enough.

It Takes Three

“It Takes Three” received a 79 – the above average category.  The feedback I got with this one was that my focus was slightly off and I needed a higher depth of field so that both the cowboy’s faces and the horses heads were in sharp focus. Also, lots of grain due to high ISO (5000). The judge also saw some dust spots I should seen and removed and pointed out my bad Photoshop job on the light post in the back.

My take aways with rodeo images – consider going earlier in the night when there is more light so I don’t have to have my ISO so high.  Make sure I’m using AI-Servo for focusing, faster shutter speed, and get better at Photoshop!


“Victoria” scored a 78.  I knew this one would not merit when I entered it, but I’ve only had a couple portraits score 80 or above and I wanted some feedback.  Feedback:  lacked impact, mat color did not complement the dress and therefore took away from the image, and not a strong composition.

Home Sweet Homestead

“Home Sweet Homestead” – scored a 78.  I love this image, but as soon as I listened to the feedback it was obvious why this didn’t do well.  There is no impact. Due to the overcast day the lighting is not exciting.  I thought that the path helped lead your eye to the barn, but the judge thought that the bottom half of the image should be cropped out!  They also didn’t like the shadows losing detail on the left side of the barn.  I’ve tried making this image black and white, cropping differently, etc., but I don’t think any of these things improve the image.

I have 3 or 4 images from the state competition that are going on to the Southeast District competition and hopefully IPC (International Photographic Competition), so I can’t share those until after.  Stay tuned…

If you are interested in what makes a merit image, you can read about the 12 Elements of  Merit Image here:

Thank you to Professional Photographers of South Carolina (PPSC) and all the judges for putting on a great print competition!


Sarah Goldman is a photographer in Charleston, SC.

Old Santee Canal Park Engagement | Jenna + Garrett

It’s not often I get to go to a new place for a photography session.  Typically I’m running a circuit between downtown Charleston (Waterfront Park, the Battery), Hampton Park, Folly Beach and Isle of Palms.  All incredibly beautiful places, but I do get excited about a new location idea.  Jenna and Garrett live in Cordesville and they suggested Old Santee Canal Park.  And it is LOVELY!  The park has an interpretive center, grand trees, a dock, and a plantation house dating to 1840. There was no shortage of beautiful backdrops for Jenna and Garrett’s engagement photos!



Sarah Goldman is a photographer in Charleston, SC.




Healing Portraits | Guest Blog Post by Peck Law Firm

Many of the families I work with have been impacted by divorce.  I was glad to be contacted by Peck Law Firm who wrote this guest blog post on how new family portraits can provide some healing after a difficult time.

Healing Portraits

Getting divorced is difficult. Even a relatively straightforward divorce often leaves both partners feeling stressed and emotionally drained. As an individual going through the divorce process, you know your Charleston divorce lawyer is your biggest advocate. Your lawyer is the one who makes sure you’re aware of your rights and all your legal options and gives you valuable advice as you work through the process of ending your marriage.

There’s another way your lawyer can help you that you might not realize: connecting you with a professional photographer who can help you heal from the divorce by taking your portrait. Your divorce isn’t the end of your life; it’s just the end of your marriage.

family beach photos with palm trees

Portraits as a Means to Reclaim Power

A divorce can leave you feeling powerless and out of touch with yourself. A portrait can help you get to know yourself again and reclaim your power by making you the focal point of the image.

You’re not the same person you were before your marriage. You’re also not the same person you were during your marriage or while you were working through your divorce. Your experiences shaped you, so embrace them and draw power from them. And any time you need a power boost, your portrait is there to provide it.

Showcasing Who you are, At this Moment in Time

You might not feel like you look your best right now. You might have gained weight or you might not be wearing the latest fashions. That’s okay; a big part of healing from a divorce is accepting yourself for who you are. No matter what you’re wearing or how you’re styled, there’s one thing every well-executed portrait captures: confidence. Trust your photographer to create an image that showcases your strength and resilience and pushes your style into the background.

Illustrate your Life’s Progression in Portraits

One important way a portrait can help you heal from a divorce is showing how your life’s changed after the divorce. Take a portrait with just your children or with your parents and siblings to replace your family portrait with your former spouse.

Years down the road, you might want to update your family portrait to celebrate your new marriage, birth of a new baby, new pets, addition of stepchildren to your family, and births of your grandchildren.

Mount Pleasant Photographer (3)

Finding the Ideal Photographer for your Portrait

Don’t just choose any photographer to take your healing portrait. Take the time to really shop around to find the photographer who fits your budget and your style. Some photographers specialize an innovative, fun portraits that feel modern and even avant garde. That’s great if it matches your style, but if you’re more of a traditionalist, even the best avant garde portrait photographer isn’t the right photographer for you.

When you ask your lawyer to connect you with a portrait photographer, tell him or her about your style preferences and budget to help him or her connect you with the ideal photographer for your project.


Thank you, Peck Law Firm, for your thoughtful article on healing portraits.

Sarah Goldman is a family photographer in Charleston, SC.


Win a Free (mini) Engagement Session!

Win a Free Engagement Session is back for the 5th year running!  This is always a fun contest that I run during my slow month of January.  It’s so fun to meet a new couple who is recently engaged and hear their proposal story and wedding plans.

To enter the contest, go here:

fill out the form and then wait to hear from me the end of this month. 

engagement photos with sweetgrass

Here’s the fine print:

The session must take place before March 30, 2019.

The session will be a “mini” engagement session – about 30 minutes.

Good luck!


Sarah Goldman is a photographer in Charleston, SC

Moonshine County Christmas | 34 West

34 West Theater Company is currently running a hilarious new musical comedy: Moonshine County Christmas! Sarah Callahan Black’s character reminded me of Ruth on Ozark. And for long time 34 Westies, the cat is back! The show has been sold out for weeks, but if you are still hoping to grab a seat, try checking the day of in case they’ve had a cancellation. Last night is Dec 31st.

Their next show is a short run of their summer sellout, She Drives Me Crazy.

Sarah Goldman is a photographer in Charleston, SC

In Home Family Session | Charleston, SC

Last month I got to photograph my good friend and neighbor and her super fun family!  With kids under 5 you have to be ready for anything, and we were.  From making music with moracas to blowing bubbles, to making silly faces in the window, to Miles holding a back scratcher in all the photos, we all followed the children’s lead and got some cute photos.

White Point Gardens Proposal | Cody + Kelsie

Cody’s mom contacted me in November when she was tasked with finding the perfect proposal photographer for her son and his girlfriend while they were in Charleston.  As I looked at the weekend forecast – another wet one – Cody and I began planning how his secret proposal would go down.  He planned to take Kelsie on a bike ride Saturday morning from their hotel (The Vendue) to Waterfront Park and finally to White Point Gardens where I would be waiting.  The forecast looked worse and worse so we changed the date to Friday afternoon.  I think Cody was relieved to get it over with earlier in their trip so he could relax!

I contacted 2 trusted photographer friends and we hid behind live oaks and tried to blend in with tourists.  Right on cue, Cody and Kelsie rode up and strolled through the live oaks to the spot I had marked for him with 2 sticks.

Afterwards they toasted with champagne and we walked around South of Broad and took some engagement photos.


Congrats, Cody + Kelsie!

Special thanks to Rick Dean and Charles Merry for second shooting this happy moment!



Sarah Goldman is a photographer in Charleston, SC.


James Island Town Hall Opening | The Marshlands House

The Town of James Island has moved into their new town hall building on Dills Bluff.  Earlier in the year they were accepting photo submissions to decorate their new space.  Although I’ve lived on James Island for 14 years, I don’t have that many photos on the island.  After scouring my hard drives I found some of Pinckney Park and some of the Marshlands House on the SC-DNR (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources) property at the end of Fort Johnson Rd where I used to work. You could only submit one image so I entered the one of the Marshlands House, and it was accepted.

The Marshlands House serves as the educational headquarters at SC-DNR.  It is a beautiful Federal-era mansion built around 1810 by planter Edward Ball.  It was originally built near rice impoundments on what is now the old Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard where it used as officer’s quarters.  In 1961 the Navy planned to tear it down, but in the end it was floated down the Cooper River to its new home at Fort Johnson.

Marshlands House at Fort Johnson in Charleston, SC.

I’m so glad this photo of the Marshlands House will be displayed at James Island Town Hall for years to come!

Here are some photos from the Grand Opening:

James Island town Hall (8)

It was great to see my friend (and wildlife photographer!) Keith McCullough and his bluegrass band playing some tunes and to see yummy cupcakes by my favorite bakeshop, The Cake Stand!  It was a great event – congrats to the town!

Sarah Goldman is a photographer in Charleston, SC.