Family Photographer in Bluffton, SC

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We've all heard the expression "a picture is worth a thousand words". And photos really are a special way to help tell the story of our lives - who we are and what's important to us.

And, of course, some images speak to us more strongly than others. More often than not we love a photo not so much because it shows us how we look but because it captures a very human element that is hard to express in words an authentic connection with those we love or with ourselves and how we show up or want to be seen in the world.

Whether you're looking to capture someone's attention with a professional headshot or want to commemorate the beautiful connection with your partner or family, I can help.

My name is Adam Chandler, and as a professional photographer in Bluffton, SC. I truly find joy and fulfillment in the work I do. I love the adventure of photography and I continually immerse myself in learning and exploring how to improve my craft which includes learning new ways to connect with and capture my subjects. I truly understand that, for many people (if not most), even the idea of having your picture taken can cause a good bit of discomfort and anxiety. That's why I place so much importance on putting my subjects at ease while also really listening to any concerns or wants they have for their session.

I draw upon my technical knowledge of photography, my ability to connect with people, and my creativity to produce beautifully memorable photos for my clients. I believe that my unique creative vision and many years of experience combined with the way I strive to give my clients the most enjoyable experience possible sets me apart from some of the other great photographers in Bluffton.


Service Areas

Family Photography Bluffton, SC  Photographer Bluffton, SC


Now that you know a little about my background, let's take a look at some of
my most popular photography services in Bluffton: My mission is to beautifully capture the joy and connection of each unique family while also creating a fun experience for my clients.

 Portrait Photographer Bluffton, SC

The importance of family is hard to overstate. From children to grandparents to nieces and nephews, families and the family dynamic can grow and change before you know it, with many beautiful milestones taking place along the way.

I think that one of the best ways to remember some of these important moments of togetherness is with a fun family photo session.

I absolutely love photographing families and, while no two families are the same, I always strive to give each session my all in order to best connect with and capture the uniqueness of each family. Even though each session is somewhat different, I approach each one with the same goal: to capture the distinct personality, affection, and energy of each family in order to provide authentic, engaging pictures and a joyful experience.

Whether you have a toddler that you want to celebrate or have grandparents in town for a visit, Bluffton is an amazing city for family photography. There are so many locations in the Lowcountry that make for great family photography backdrops:

  • Beaches - Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, Kiawah, Seabrook, Isle of Palms, Hilton Head, Edisto Beach
  • Popular Places - Washington Square, Broad Street, Hampton Park, Waterfront Park, Shem Creek, The Cistern at College of Bluffton
  • Historical Sites - Bluffton Battery, Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Rainbow Row

Whatever location you choose for family photography in Bluffton, the Holy City is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy with friends and family.

As a family photographer in Bluffton, one of the reasons why I love working with families so much (in addition to getting to meet some really awesome people) is the opportunity to combine my creativity with my ever-evolving technical skill. I also gladly accommodate the style preferences my clients are looking for - be it more traditional, posed images, or candid, playful pictures.

I use a clear yet relaxed style of direction to get you and your family engaged in our photography session, to help get authentic expressions that really show the unique dynamic and relationships of each family.

Here are just a few reasons why families choose Adam Chandler Photography for their family portraits:

Document Family Growth

Change, of course, is part of life and with each passing year families, too, change and often grow. Each stage is beautiful in its own way and having annual family photographs is a fun way to document the different seasons of family life. Be it a new baby, a birthday or anniversary or simply wanting to capture your kids at each special age, I'd be honored to be chosen to help tell the story of your family over the years.

Remember Milestones

With each year that passes, new milestones are reached. From a child's first steps to a sibling getting married, there is no better way to remember these wonderful occasions than with quality photographs. Whether you're welcoming a new puppy into your life, are celebrating an anniversary or finally have gathered your extended family together in one place, capturing these special times in your life is a great way to ensure you'll be able to enjoy and relive these moments years from now.

Create Memories

Many families tell me before their sessions that it's not often that they are all able to be together and they emphasize how special and important this session is. Or, perhaps, a mom or dad will talk about how fleetingly special a certain age of their child is and how they really want to capture their children's personalities. Even if you capture lots of great moments of your family throughout the year it's likely not very often that all of you are in the pictures at once (other than maybe having a stranger tell you to "say cheese" after you hand them your phone. Having a time that's dedicated to capturing the special bonds between family members - parents and their children, grandparents and their grandchildren, siblings and maybe extended family as well - is so important. We all know just how special these people and moments are and how we tend to treasure these memories more with each passing year.

Portraits And Headshots In Bluffton, SC

A great headshot shows you at your best - whether you want to impress a prospective employer or need professional photography for your website. In today's digitally-intensive society, having a professional headshot or portrait of you or your team that stands out for all the right reasons is becoming a necessity. It's no surprise, then, that headshots and portraits are among the most popular genres of photography.

Headshots can be tricky, mostly because many (if not most) people don't like being in front of the camera (trust me, I totally get that). I know that for some clients, it can be hard to know what to do, what to wear or how to relax enough to let their authentic selves come through so that they can end up with a professional photo or headshot that inspires authenticity and confidence.

Fortunately, I have years of experience taking professional headshots of all types of people. No matter what your comfort level is with having your picture taken, I pride myself on being able to create the conditions necessary to help capture my clients as you want to be seen. Through lighting, posing and direct yet relaxed interaction I'll help guide you to great photos that you’ll be proud to showcase and share with others.

A professional headshot or portrait is an investment into your personal brand, and here is why:

 Portrait Photographer Bluffton, SC
 Best Photographer Bluffton, SC

Show Your Personality

Not all headshots should be approached the same way. Depending on your industry or how you'll be using the photos, there are certain things to consider. A great headshot reflects not just how you look but also how you show up in the world. It can help give people an idea of the kind of person you are before you sit down to meet them. Oftentimes, too, people may want a variety of "looks" to suit different needs and uses. My goal is to listen to your expectations and then deliver results that will serve you will in your professional and/or personal life.

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Show Your Professionalism

Clients, collaborators, investors, and employers are typically much more likely to interview you or to contact you or your business if you look professional. If you've taken the time to invest in your brand, in part by making the effort to arrange a professional headshot, people notice that. And who doesn't want to make a great first (or second or third) impression?

 Family Portrait Photographer Bluffton, SC

Stand Out on Social Media

Many of my clients make appointments for headshots and portraits when they want to stand out from the crowd on social media. Whether you own a business and need to create new social media pages or you're looking to network with recruiters on LinkedIn or, perhaps, update your website, a professional headshot can definitely set you apart in the modern sea of selfies and snapshots that you often see out there.

 Wedding Photographer Bluffton, SC

Show Off Your Current Look

None of us look the same as we did 10 or 15 years ago yet some of us keep the same photo up for decades. Having outdated headshots can send a message of inauthenticity. When you have up-to-date, professional headshots, you're showing clients and employers that you are confident, committed, and authentic.

 Headshots Bluffton, SC

Qualities Of A Great Photographer In Bluffton, SC

Being a great photographer means more than owning fancy equipment. While having expensive gear can be quite helpful, the real test of a professional, for me, has a lot more to do with being able to draw upon my deep understanding of the craft of photography so that I can focus more on connecting with and beautifully capturing my subjects without getting bogged down in figuring out the technical side of things. It's taken me many years to get where I am and I'm always striving to improve in order to continue to deliver the best pictures and most enjoyable experience possible for my clients.

Clients choose Adam Chandler Photography because my experience shows and they trust me to always give them the results and experience that they're looking for. Here are just a few qualities that my clients appreciate:

 Engagement Photography Bluffton, SC


I wholeheartedly consider photography to be an artform - one that requires lots of curiosity and imagination along with a good bit of technique. A great photographer knows how to get beautiful results no matter what the conditions or circumstances are and this only comes with experience and preparation.

Family Photography Bluffton, SC


This quality might seem obvious but I can't tell you how many times I've seen photography that may be technically good but is missing something. My passion for photography largely comes from my passion for connecting with people in a way that helps them feel comfortable letting their guard down so they can enjoy the process. And this almost always leads to exceptional, authentic images.

 Photographer Bluffton, SC


Patience can also be essential for great photos. As in life, there are many things that we just can't control. Sometimes the best photos come from patiently going with the flow and not trying to force something to happen. I find that when I'm patient yet prepared - ready to capture the right moment or expression when the time is right - that's often the best approach. As a professional with many years of experience, I understand the importance of having the patience to deal with whatever comes my way as well as the flexibility and preparedness to make the most out of any situation.

 Portrait Photographer Bluffton, SC

People Skills

If ever there was a business where people skills were important I think portrait photography is definitely one of them. Knowing how uncomfortable many people can be when getting their pictures taken, I put every effort into helping ensure the best possible experience for my clients and communication is such a big part of that. I love interacting with my clients to build trust and rapport as well as a deep understanding of your expectations including any concerns you may have. As I've said, for me my job is not just about delivering beautiful images but also a wonderful client experience. That's why I focus so much on each and every interaction with my clients. Yes, people skills are a must in this business. Luckily for me, it's one of my favorite parts of the job!

Eye for Detail

As a professional photographer in Bluffton, SC I am meticulous when it comes to details. Through my many years of photographing many different types of subjects under many different circumstances I've come to learn just how important details are. Whether it's finding or creating the best quality of light for my clients, eliciting a great expression or
adjusting the background or, perhaps, a piece of clothing, all of these things impact the overall look and feel of a photo. Whether I'm photographing a family, a business professional or a couple in love I always look for all the ways I can create the best image possible.

 Portrait Photographer Bluffton, SC
 Best Photographer Bluffton, SC

"As I hope you can tell by looking at my work, I really love my job. And most of all I love the people I get to meet and work with. I'd be honored and delighted to be chosen for your photography needs."

Adam Chandler

Ready to Get Started?

One of my favorite things to do is to talk to clients about what they're looking for and how I can serve them. If you are in need of professional photography, let's talk today about what you have in mind. Whether you're looking for family or couples' photography in Bluffton or want great new headshots for you or your team, I'm here to help every step of the way!  

Latest News in Bluffton, SC

45K gallons of wastewater spilled in Bluffton neighborhood. Here’s what happened

An estimated 45,000 gallons of wastewater were released from a gravity main Saturday in Bluffton, according to a Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority news release Monday evening, but the spill did not impact the water system in the area and water coming into homes is safe to use and drink.The cause? A structural failure of the main at the manhole located in The Farm neighborhood.Dirt got into the failed section, and the weight of the dir...

An estimated 45,000 gallons of wastewater were released from a gravity main Saturday in Bluffton, according to a Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority news release Monday evening, but the spill did not impact the water system in the area and water coming into homes is safe to use and drink.

The cause? A structural failure of the main at the manhole located in The Farm neighborhood.

Dirt got into the failed section, and the weight of the dirt, as well as the actual sediment, led to a blockage precipitating the overflow of thousands of gallons of wastewater. The sewage flowed into the ponds of adjacent neighborhoods, the authority said, which was diluted by the deluge of rain Saturday night and Sunday.

BJWSA notified the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control of the break, which the authority said did not impact the water system in the area.

Wastewater overflows of more than 5,000 gallons of untreated or partially treated domestic sewage “could cause” a serious adverse impact on the environment or public health, according to SCDHEC’s website.

About a year ago, a spill over 10 times that size happened in Beaufort. Then, in late January 2022, an estimated 500,000 gallons of sewage spilled from a sewer main into a tidal ditch that leads to Battery Creek in Beaufort. The spill occurred near the intersection of Parris Island Gateway and the Savannah Highway and prompted an immediate closure of shellfish harvest beds.

However, the Saturday wastewater overflow in The Farm neighborhood has not caused those types of impacts.

Pam Flasch, BJWSA director of public affairs, said Tuesday morning that the wastewater break has “absolutely no relation” to the authority’s water system, meaning water flowing in homes is safe to use and drink.

Because of the somewhat fortuitous weekend rainfall, the sheer volume of rain diluted what could’ve affected the ponds. Flasch said the break’s impact couldn’t have reached the May River.

While the Saturday overflow in The Farm neighborhood has been stopped and crews are continuing cleanup, Flasch said the biggest issue remains a traffic detour to avoid the break for safety reasons. The detour will remain in place until repairs are finished.

Because the manhole couldn’t be saved, the area is served with a bypass pump to ensure service isn’t disrupted, the BJWSA said. The authority expects repairs will take “several weeks.”

According to BJWSA, it continues to communicate with residents at The Farm and the Homeowners Association on the repair schedule and potential impacts.

The authority delivers about 10 million gallons of wastewater each day to eight wastewater treatment facilities for treatment and disposal. For any suspected or seen sewer collection system spills, call BJWSA at 843-987-9200.

This story was originally published February 14, 2023, 1:05 PM.

Bluffton, South Carolina’s Old Town Offers Charming, Down-Home Living

Old Town, a down-home upscale neighborhood in the South Carolina river town of Bluffton, is defined by i...

Old Town, a down-home upscale neighborhood in the South Carolina river town of Bluffton, is defined by its Southern hospitality and luxurious lifestyle.

“It’s the heartbeat of Beaufort County and what draws many people to the area,” said Dave Jarman, a broker with Corcoran HM Properties. “‘Charming’ is the first word that comes to mind. ‘Welcoming’ is a close second.”

He added that Old Town is so darn friendly that “it’s common for strangers to say ‘hello’ or ‘how are ya’ll doing?’ as they pass by.”

The atmosphere, according to Mary Vaux Bell, an agent with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty, is “relaxed, chic and very down to earth.”

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Old Town, which may be accessed via car or boat, is bounded by Bridge Street and the May River waterway on the south, Burnt Church Road on the east, May River Road on the north and Verdier Cove Road on the west.

Price Range

Noting that properties in Old Town don’t come on the market very often, Ms. Vaux Bell said that riverfront or marsh-front single-family houses, which typically are on 0.75 of an acre to 2 acres, generally run $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

The inner streets of the community, whose houses are set on a quarter to a half acre, are also desirable places to live, she said, adding that they typically sell for around $1 million.

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Housing Stock

The houses in Old Town, which is in a National Register Historic District and a Preserve America Community, were originally built and used as summer residences and typically feature significant porch space as well as interior space. They date from the 1800s to the present, and generally are on lots starting at one-tenth of an acre.

The architectural styles and materials, which range from clapboard siding and brick to tabby, vary.

“While there are new homes, many of the older ones have been updated or restored for a relaxed and understated yet posh coastal-cottage aesthetic,” Ms. Vaux Bell said. “The homes in the inner streets are mostly new but custom designed to blend in with the Spanish moss, mature oaks and oyster-shell driveways.”

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What Makes It Unique

Old Town’s location—Bluffton is only 30 minutes from Hilton Head Island and a couple of hours from Charleston, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Charlotte—makes it a premier place to live, Ms. Vaux Bell said.

She noted that in addition to the historic structures and welcoming atmosphere, Old Town basks in Bluffton’s numerous accolades: It made Travel + Leisure’s 2022 list of “8 Charming Small Towns in SC” and Southern Living’s 2019 list of “The South’s Best Small Towns.”

Mr. Jarman added that Old Town’s “true appreciation for historic elements and restrictions in place on commercial properties” makes it “a picturesque section of Bluffton.”

Its walkability, its boutiques and numerous social events, festivals and markets, he said, are other attractions.

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Luxury Amenities

Old Town sets the scene for many of the town’s activities and is a dining and shopping destination.

There are several restaurants in the community. They include The Bluffton Room, which serves classic American cuisine; the coffee shop Corner Perk Brunch Cafe & Coffee Roasters; FARM Bluffton, whose menu is new-American cuisine; The Pearl Kitchen & Bar, which offers coastal cuisine; Nectar Farm Kitchen, which prepares dishes with ingredients from the Lowcountry and the South; and Calhoun Street Tavern, which specializes in comfort food.

Old Town Dispensary, a tavern with pub grub, “is where residents head for some live music and refreshing drink,” Mr. Jarman said.

Palmetto Bluff, a gated community across the May River from Old Town that has the highest-priced properties in the area, includes a Montage Resort and several fine-dining establishments.

Other amenities at Palmetto Bluff include an award-winning golf course, a marina that offers water excursions, several pools, a spa and wellness center, a shooting club and a working farm with educational programs and events for children.

The Bluffton Oyster Co., which has been providing fresh-harvested seafood to the community since 1899, is the last hand-shucking house in the state. In addition to the market, it has an eat-in restaurant.

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Heyward House, a historic museum built in 1841, doubles as the town’s official welcome center, offering tours.

In addition to a weekly farmer’s market filled with local vendors, Bluffton hosts more than 30 festivals and events annually.

Mr. Jarman noted that in addition to water activities, Old Town is “an incredible place to walk. Shops and restaurants are all a short distance from your home.”

Residents have a choice of private schools. May River Montessori is a high school in the community.

In Bluffton and Hilton Head, there are several more schools. Christian Academy is a coed college preparatory Christian school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade; the coed Cross Schools enrolls students from 12 months through 12th grade; and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School is a coed middle school.

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Who Lives There

The community, which traditionally attracted a slightly older crowd, has seen an influx of younger residents in recent years, Ms. Vaux Bell said, adding that there are celebrities and “a ton of major execs and sports players.”

Notable Residents

The Montage resort is a celebrity magnet. Chris Pratt and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, have spent time there, and Hailey and Justin Bieber held their wedding there, according to published reports. NASCAR driver Gus Dean and science writer Kitty Ferguson live in Bluffton, according to published reports.

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Noting that prices in the Town of Bluffton have risen by 44.6% since 2018 and 25.4% since 2021, Ms. Vaux Bell said that the town’s market “has not slowed down. The inventory has waned a bit, but the demand is very much present.”

Even during the pandemic, the market flourished, she said, with “an influx of residents, mostly from the North, many of whom bought properties sight unseen.”

As far as Old Town Bluffton, “regardless of the market, there will always be a demand for these properties,” she said.

Mr. Jarman was also optimistic about the Bluffton and Old Town markets. Statistics for the town show that average cumulative days on market for houses that sold for over $1 million have dropped from 259 to 33 from 2018 to the end of 2022—a “shocking” decrease, he said.

He added that the pandemic has “forever changed” the market for the entire state as “the typical needs of buyers shifted. Cost of living is increasing in South Carolina, but it is still relatively low in comparison to other luxury neighborhoods on the coast.”

Beaufort County to buy land in one of Bluffton’s fastest-growing areas. Here’s what is planned

(Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect who owned the land to be purchased by the county.)Affordable housing is planned along Bluffton’s busy Buckwalter Parkway, but that doesn’t necessarily mean apartments.The Beaufort County Council on Monday night authorized the purchase of two parcels of land equaling 10 acres next to the Lord of Life Lutheran Church, in Bluffton, but owned by St Andrews by the Sea. The county plans to establish affordable or workforce housing on the land.At th...

(Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect who owned the land to be purchased by the county.)

Affordable housing is planned along Bluffton’s busy Buckwalter Parkway, but that doesn’t necessarily mean apartments.

The Beaufort County Council on Monday night authorized the purchase of two parcels of land equaling 10 acres next to the Lord of Life Lutheran Church, in Bluffton, but owned by St Andrews by the Sea. The county plans to establish affordable or workforce housing on the land.

At the moment, the county is only moving forward with the purchase of the land, which will cost them $3.6 million from the General Fund. County officials say it’s too early to say what sort of properties would be best suited for those 10 acres.

Councilman Logan Cunningham, whose district includes the Buckwalter area, said he would prefer the properties not be rentals. Instead, Cunningham would like to see single-family or starter homes that can be purchased rather than rented.

“It’s got to be more than just rental properties because the rental properties just keep jacking their prices up,” said Cunningham. “People can actually reinvest in themselves instead of paying the money to a big company that’s running and managing the property or one [owner] that owns 20 things.”

However, the advantage of apartments, according to County Administrator Eric Greenway, is a potential to reduce traffic while using the land more densely. About 140-150 apartment units could fit on the property compared with about 70-80 townhouses or a dozen or more homes.

Greenway sees advantages and disadvantages to both options.

“Of course, apartments are going to get a large number of units, you’re going to help more people, but it’s not very long-term,” he said. “A [property] that they can buy outright might be a better situation for this bigger property, in this location, than anything else.”

Cunningham said he’ll hold a town hall forum later about the project to educate and gauge how his district would like the property handled.

The County Council will make the final decision on the project. The purchase is expected to close at the end of April and Greenway doesn’t expect anything to be done with the property until early next year.

The 10 acres’ proximity to Buckwalter would give the future residents easy access to the many amenities of Buckwalter Place, something the county says makes the location very appealing for a housing project.

Buckwalter Place has grown a lot since it was established nearly a decade ago. It’s added the culinary institute of the south, medical facilities, two grocery stores and multiple businesses and restaurants.

“This is kind of one of those internal opportunities where the folks can live there and shop and go to restaurants and usually go to work without having to travel,” Greenway said. “There’s a lot of employment opportunities there.”

This is one of the first strides the county has made this year toward affordable housing. More is expected to come as the multi-government regional housing trust fund comes online.

The trust will see local towns, cities and counties create a joint fund to create and promote affordable housing across the southern Lowcountry. Beaufort County will be the largest contributor giving more than $3.4 million in 10 years.

“This highlights our commitment to actually meeting the need of affordable housing,” said Greenway.

This story was originally published March 1, 2023, 12:17 PM.

Delayed season for U-Pick Daffodil farm in Bluffton. When will perennial favorite open?

Rainy and cold weather is preventing Bluffton’s U Pick Daffodil farm from opening as it usually does this time of year.Visiting the farm has become a spring rite for families, flower-lovers and photographers alike, and co-owners Chuck and Diane Merrick had planned to be open for sweethearts on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible, Chuck Merrick said Monday.“We are a little bit short on flowers because of the rain and the cold,” he said.The muddy field conditions and parki...

Rainy and cold weather is preventing Bluffton’s U Pick Daffodil farm from opening as it usually does this time of year.

Visiting the farm has become a spring rite for families, flower-lovers and photographers alike, and co-owners Chuck and Diane Merrick had planned to be open for sweethearts on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible, Chuck Merrick said Monday.

“We are a little bit short on flowers because of the rain and the cold,” he said.

The muddy field conditions and parking area — not to mention the farm’s location on a dirt road — make it dangerous for customers.

“I don’t want someone slipping and falling down and getting hurt,” Chuck Merrick said by phone as he walked the fields.

“I’m out here trying to decide what would be best to do,” he said.

The family is now hoping to be able to open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, weather and blooms permitting. Closing early is a possibility if the blooms are picked out earlier, and there’s also a chance the farm won’t be able to open at all that day.

The weather forecast says Beaufort County will be sunny and cool on Saturday, with a high temperature in the mid-50s, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston. There is a chance of more rain between now and then.

For information about days the farm will be open, watch its Facebook page or go to its website at Those who’d like to check on the status of the flowers before making a longer commute can also text Chuck Merrick at 843-368-1998.

The fields are located at 48 Calhoun Plantation Road, just off Pinckney Colony Road.

Each stem is 50 cents. Cash and card payments will be accepted.

The U Pick Daffodil tradition started more than 50 years ago. Each year the farm has expanded to meet demand, and this year is no different.

Chuck Merrick uses a planting machine purchased from Holland — it is pulled behind a tractor — to plant tens of thousands of daffodil bulbs with varying blooming times so the farm can stay open longer.

Daffodils don’t grow easily in the Lowcountry climate, he previously told The Island Packet, and every year the farm loses about half of the ones they had planted in earlier years.

This year, he planted 36,000 new bulbs, and those haven’t bloomed yet because of the cold temperatures.

Does this mean the season that typically ends in March will be longer?

“It’s really hard to say,” Chuck Merrick said. “We are at the mercy of the weather and the flowers.”

This story was originally published February 13, 2023, 12:50 PM.

Harrell: Rivers course through life in the Lowcountry; let's take care of them

Bluffton TodayMarch is here. Winter is over. The river calls.Time to check out paddleboards and motorboats, kayaks and catamarans, yachts with a crew of two plus a chef in the galley.Notice I didn’t mention those noisy jet skis that zoom hither and thither like uncontrolled children on a sugar high.We are fortunate to live in the Lowcountry blessed with an abundance of rivers and estuaries for citizens to enjoy.Keeping those waters clean and safe is a “work in progress” that...

Bluffton Today

March is here. Winter is over. The river calls.

Time to check out paddleboards and motorboats, kayaks and catamarans, yachts with a crew of two plus a chef in the galley.

Notice I didn’t mention those noisy jet skis that zoom hither and thither like uncontrolled children on a sugar high.

We are fortunate to live in the Lowcountry blessed with an abundance of rivers and estuaries for citizens to enjoy.

Keeping those waters clean and safe is a “work in progress” that has been going on for years and years and years.

Let me reminisce.

On Aug. 30, 1984, two busloads of Beaufort County citizens went to the state capital of Columbia for a very special cause, for a very special reason: a meeting of the board of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, DHEC.

On the agenda was a proposal to identify creeks and rivers in the Beaufort County area and designate them as pristine.

There was a long table in the boardroom, and the DHEC board members sat around it with the rest of us standing behind them, leaning against the walls, blocking the doorways. Sixty or so of us waited to see if months and years of work would result in our waters being declared pristine and protected.

Adrenaline was running high.

The Chair, Dr. Moses Harvey Clarkson of Columbia, wanted to wait for a Dr. Douglas.

We were ready for the vote to be called. It was iffy. Only a portion of the board came from the Lowcountry and understood our system of rivers and estuaries.

A murmur went around the room. “You have a quorum, vote; You have a quorum, vote.”

Finally, Dr. Douglas arrived.

The vote was taken.

Yes. The Colleton River, May(e) River, Okatie River, Cooper River from New River to Ranshorn Creek, Bass and Bull, and Callawassie, and Chechessee Creeks were declared pristine, the first in South Carolina.

A cheer went up around the room and echoed outside into the hallways.

Neighbor hugged neighbor as we all realized the finalizing of a dream.

Except, was it?

We began trying to protect our rivers in 1967 before BASF came in from Germany and wanted to put a phosphate plant on the Colleton River. We fought off Chicago Bridge and Iron, and a high-performance boat plant that assured us its chemicals were safe.

It has been a long fight. We are beyond weary.

But we stand firm in our conviction that if our waters, our rivers, and creeks, that life source that binds us all to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, if these waters are not cherished and protected, then we lose that part of our way of life that makes living here so very special and creates that Bluffton State of Mind.

Remember as you paddle that board, row that boat, bog in the pluff mud, make sandcastles on the Red Neck Riviera, pull the children on their inner tubes, teach them how to ski, how to swim, to fish, catch crab, and chase fiddlers, these rivers are a blessing.

We need to take better care of them.

Try harder.


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