A New Father’s Day Tradition

The Queen City Jazz Fest has slowly become a Father’s Day weekend tradition. For the third year in a row, Charles Whitfield and his team have put together a show that ranged from smooth  jazz to R&B to serious funk. What was supposed to be a day, according to local weather reports, filled with rain, actually turned out to be a sunny day. Mike Phillips put it best when he said, “If I played the wrong notes, would I still get paid?”

The festival kicked of with Yuna. Fresh off her recent release Chapters, her trio got the crowd in the mood for an evening of great music. I have to admit when I first saw the line up for the festival, I had to check out Yuna’s music. After hearing cuts like “Best Love” and “Crush” that features Usher, I realized her music has been on my radio for a while. By the way, Chapters is a must-have for your music collection.

Jeff Lorber has to be one of the coolest people ever to sit behind a set of keyboards. Then you add Paul Jackson Jr. and Everette Harp and now you got some Serious Business that’s hotter than the 88 degree weather during their performance. This line up of Jazz Funk Soul is just as strong as the original with Chuck Loeb. They could have easily been the headliner, and the same could be said about Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw.

It was great seeing the pair of Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw together. The musical range of the pair was on full display. From classic jazz riffs to a tribute R&B greats like Stevie Wonder and the late Prince. Mike Phillips isn’t one to stick to the stage. He took his music into the crowd, dancing and playing his way up one aisle, through a row of seats, and down the opposite aisle – for one long note.

It was my fourth time shooting Culbertson, and it’s the fourth show I’ve seen because he keeps his energetic performances fresh, even as he rotates crowd favorites and standards with newer work. For anybody new to a live Culbertson performance, last night was a powerful introduction to an eclectic musician. For those familiar with Culbertson’s intensity, last night didn’t disappoint – if anything, it raised the bar of expectation. We should rename the stage the Brian Culbertson Stage, since he has owned it at this festival for three straight years.

What’s next for Queen City Jazz Fest? More musicians? An additional day? I’m excited to see.

The third annual Queen City Jazz Fest is quickly becoming a Father’s Day weekend tradition for many music lovers.This year, the festival brought together Yuna, Mike Phillips with Jeff Bradshaw, Jeff Lorber with Paul Jackson Jr. and Everette Harp, and Brian Culbertson. Culbertson headline the show for the third year in a row.

2016….. A Year of Firsts

As 2017 begins, I look back at all I accomplished with my photography over 2016.

2016 brought a lot of firsts and accomplishments for my photography, the biggest one being coverage for The Charlotte Post of President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton. It was the first time I got to ride in the presidential motorcade and shoot alongside the White House press corp.

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made their first public appearance together since Clinton won the democratic party’s nomination at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Joey Logano took the checkered flag and the million dollars at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

There also was a first in shooting NASCAR’s all-star race. I’ve covered NASCAR for years in television, but this was my first time shooting stills at a race event. It also was the first time I shot stills at a boxing event (it was dark and gritty and a lot of fun), professional lacrosse and premier-league soccer. We often forget about the Charlotte Hounds lacrosse team and the Charlotte Independence soccer team being in our own back yard. The year also brought a first as the English Premier League Swansea City AFC faced the Independence. More high-level soccer came to town for the International Champions Cup as FC Bayern took on FC Internazionale Milano at Bank of America Stadium, a game I was fortunate to be able to photograph. 

My years in television gave me several opportunities to work with national media. This year I had my first as a still photographer by providing coverage of the CIAA basketball tournament for Ebony. I grew up reading Ebony and Jet magazines, and being able to provide pictures for two articles and a slide show of the week was a thrill.

The year of firsts continued when Lalah Hathaway performed at the Queen City Jazz Fest. Over years of shooting music, the one name Charlotte smooth jazz fans always requested was Ms Hathaway, and Charles Whitfield and his staff gave Queen City fans what they wanted.

The 2nd annual Queen City Jazz Fest brought together local and national artist for a night of beautiful music. The lineup included Charlotte vocalist Trish Andrews along with national recording artists Gerald Albright and Brian Culbertson. The night also brought fans the highly requested artist Lalah Hathaway.

My favorite first would have to be Johnson C. Smith University’s graduation.  The university chose the perfect person in Oprah Winfrey to deliver the commencement address. Ms. Winfrey brings an electric excitement, even at 7 AM, that no other person can bring to a crowd.

Each year, my photography takes me to new places. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me. I hope you enjoy all my favorites as much as I did taking them.

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made their first public appearance together since Clinton won the democratic party’s nomination at the Charlotte Convention Center.

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made their first public appearance together since Clinton won the democratic party’s nomination at the Charlotte Convention Center.

The Spring class of 2016 was treated to the inspirational words of Oprah Winfrey. “JCSU, your future is so bright, it burns my eyes!” were some of the inspiring words from the media mogul. Ms. Winfrey was in Charlotte to celebrate the graduation of Noluthando “Thando” Dlomo and Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva. Both young ladies were graduates of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

The 2nd annual Queen City Jazz Fest brought together local and national artist for a night of beautiful music. The lineup included Charlotte vocalist Trish Andrews along with national recording artists Gerald Albright and Brian Culbertson. The night also brought fans the highly requested artist Lalah Hathaway.

Joey Logano took the checkered flag and the million dollars at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

One Hit Promotions stopped in Charlotte for a night of Professional Boxing. The Grady Cole Center’s crowd was electric. The boxing was intense. Several local fighters brought the crowd to their feet with quick victories over their opponents. It was a night to remember.

Livingstone College guard Ty Newman(23) takes out the ball during their match with Johnson C. Smith University.

Joey Logano took the checkered flag and the million dollars at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

The UNCC Men’s soccer team loses a 3-2 heartbreaker to the Virginia Tech Hookies. After a 1-0 lead in the first half, the Hookies were able to come back in the second half UNCC tied it up, but with less than five minutes to go the Hookies scored their final goal to go up 3-2.

Swansea City A.F.C. of the English Premier League made a visit to Charlotte for an international exhibition against the Charlotte Independence.

Black Lives Matter held a rally and march in uptown Charlotte. The first such event since five Dallas police officers were killed by a sniper at a similar event.

The Queen City Jazz Fest 2016

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

I have to admit. I made some bold statements about the first Queen City Jazz Fest. I remember saying, “With so many young acts that have jazz as a connection, there could be something similar to the AOC brewing right here in Charlotte.” The Art of Cool festival is making noise in conversations with bigger festivals like South by Southwest.

The real question was can ‘the Queen City Jazz Fest come on just as strong a second year in a row?”

When I first saw the lineup I was a little nervous of the sophomore jinx. Gerald Albright is a big artist, but he has been in and out of the area several times over the years and Brian Culbertson just closed the festival a year ago. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen both of these guys several times and have yet to see the same set list twice. Then I saw Lalah Hathaway. Music fans have been asking promoters for years to bring her to town, and I applaud Charles Whitfield for listening to the fans and the audience. Trish Andrews, a local talent, brought it all together. The key to some of the newer festivals is to bring together a mixture of national, regional, and local acts and allow the audience to explore different artists and styles.

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

The evening kicked off with Trish Andrews. Opening a show like the #QCJAzzFest16 can be rough. Even more so when you are a female vocalist and the crowd is there to hear Lalah Hathaway, but Trish came out and killed it. I arrived to the show early and many of the people there where unfamiliar with Trish, but they know who she is now. She quickly got the crowd moving to her beautiful voice and placed everyone in their “Comfort Zone.”

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

When I think of a smooth jazz artist, Gerald Albright is always at the top of the list. I’ve been lucky enough to photograph him on several occasions, and each time he has brought something new to the table. He also brings a catalog of hits that fans have loved for years. He cracked open that catalog last night and the crowd was on their feet. It takes more than just a list of hits to play live. Gerald always seems to feed of the energy of the crowd. Last night’s energy was strong enough to light up the city of Charlotte.

That energy Gerald built up went into overdrive when Lalah Hathaway hit the stage. The packed house welcomed her with open arms. She took the stage in heels but lost them by the second song and then it was on. The key to being a great live performer is a connection with the audience and she definitely has that. I think every couple in the house moved a little closer to each other when she performed her hit single “Angel,” and everyone was back to dancing. Her band was amazing.

Lalah Hathaway.

Lalah Hathaway.

A Lalah Hathaway-thirsty crowd is a tough crowd to face as a closer. I’ve been shooting festivals for over five years so I’ve seen some lineup placements lead to the final act playing to a near-empty venue. Brian Culbertson and his band, however, would be at the top of my list as closers. Brian came out at 100 MPH and didn’t slow until the last note. I tweeted out last night, “Photographing Brian Culbertson is like a sports shoot.” Selina Albright jokingly replied, “Don’t I know it! I toured with him and lost weight, LOL!!” His interaction with his band has him all over the stage. He’s not pulling up a piano stool and sitting for an hour. When he’s not doing his version of keyboard aerobics, he is playing his trombone from one side of the stage to the next. If you’re shooting Brian, be ready to move because HE is always moving. It’s something if you are in the audience. You’re up on your feet dancing all night. I think I even saw a few people dancing on the way to the parking lot.

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

I’m thrilled with Charles Whitfield for finally bringing Lalah Hathaway to Charlotte. I was in the VIP immediately after her set and the line to meet with Lalah stretched all the way across the Fillmore.

This isn’t Whitfield’s first rodeo, and it shows in an exceptionally good way. The entire lineup was on point. If Charles and his staff keep putting together great shows like this one, I’ll keep taking the pictures (although I would like to sneak in a request for Snarky Puppy, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and Andra Day. They don’t all have to be on one show because I’m sure the Queen City Jazz Fest is going to be around for a long time.)

 

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

Trish Andrews

Queen City Jazz Fest 2016

Gerald Albright performing to a packed house

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

Lalah Hathaway.

Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway getting comfortable during her show reminded me Patti LaBelle and Sade.

Lalah Hathaway getting comfortable during her show reminded me of Patti LaBelle and Sade.

 Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway

Queen City Jazz Fest 2016

Sigma Gamma Rho trying to catch some shade on the packed lawn

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

The 2nd annual Queen City Jazz Fest brought together local and national artist for a night of beautiful music. The lineup included Charlotte vocalist Trish Andrews along with national recording artists Gerald Albright and Brian Culbertson. The night also brought fans the highly requested artist Lalah Hathaway.

A packed house at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater for the 2nd Annual Queen City Jazz Fest

 

You Get a Degree!! And You Get a Degree!!

"JCSU, your future is so bright, it burns my eyes!"

“JCSU, your future is so bright, it burns my eyes!”

When I first got the word that Oprah Winfrey would be giving the commencement address at Johnson C. Smith University I thought how lucky the students are to have such  successful person give them a lesson on what their lives could be. Commencement is the end of a long journey, but it is also the start of a new life. Ms. Winfrey let the students know that the road wasn’t always perfect for her. You will have those times that test you, but don’t give up because “JCSU, your future is so bright, it burns my eyes!”

The Spring class of 2016 was treated to the inspirational words of Oprah Winfrey. "JCSU, your future is so bright, it burns my eyes!" were some of the inspiring words from the media mogul. Ms. Winfrey was in Charlotte to celebrate the graduation of Noluthando “Thando” Dlomo and Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva. Both young ladies were graduates of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

The Spring class of 2016 was treated to the inspirational words of Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey was in Charlotte to celebrate the graduation of Noluthando “Thando” Dlomo and Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva. Both young ladies were graduates of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

JCSU 2016 Graduation

You can see more pictures on our Photoshelter gallery.

 

My Favorite Captures of 2015

Sarah and Andrew

2015 was a great year for T. Cooper Hull Photography, LLC! Besides our normal captures, we also stepped into the past and took on some news and sports assignments for some of the local news sites in Charlotte. All in all, it was a fun year in pictures. As I say every year when I sit down and go through my files, these are my favorite captures. I don’t like to call them my best because I may have shot a better picture that didn’t make the list. When looking back at favorites, I think about more than the actual image. I remember the atmosphere and how everyone involved was feeling. I like to try to get to know the people, like Courtney Hunter. He’s a soft-spoken football player who gets the offensive line going before the game, but you wouldn’t know his family’s struggle of being homeless before he began attending JCSU. Sometimes it’s not the action that caught my attention, like during one of Tarik Cohan’s touchdowns. It’s the reaction from the fans in the background. You are pulled into the emotion of the moment. I’ve always tried to capture that feeling and emotion from my early days as a photographer. With that said, please enjoy my favorite captures of 2015!

Johnson C. Smith University 2015 homecoming celebration came to an end on Saturday with a day of fun and excitement for all. The day started with the homecoming parade down Beatties Ford Rd from West Charlotte High School to the front of the JCSU campus. Once on campus, students and alumni were treated to JCSU FestiVille. There were games, vendors, and music for everyone to enjoy. Those with grilling skills tailgated and socialized with friends and family before the big showdown with Shaw University. Defense carried the Golden Bulls to a 17-10 victory over the bears. The night ended with NPHC Step Show.

Courtney Hunter pumps up the O line before JCSU homecoming.

Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T came together in the inaugural Celebration Bowl at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Celebration Bowl is the first attempt at reviving a MEAC-SWAC postseason game since 1999. The matchup pits the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Alcorn State, against the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, NC A&T, in what some have called "black college national championship." NC A&T takes there championship with a 41-34 victory over Alcorn State.

Tarik Cohan with the score in the Celebration Bowl

Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T came together in the inaugural Celebration Bowl at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Celebration Bowl is the first attempt at reviving a MEAC-SWAC postseason game since 1999. The matchup pits the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Alcorn State, against the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, NC A&T, in what some have called "black college national championship." NC A&T takes there championship with a 41-34 victory over Alcorn State.

Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T came together in the inaugural Celebration Bowl at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Celebration Bowl is the first attempt at reviving a MEAC-SWAC postseason game since 1999. The matchup pits the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Alcorn State, against the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, NC A&T, in what some have called "black college national championship." NC A&T takes there championship with a 41-34 victory over Alcorn State.

Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T came together in the inaugural Celebration Bowl at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Celebration Bowl is the first attempt at reviving a MEAC-SWAC postseason game since 1999. The matchup pits the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Alcorn State, against the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, NC A&T, in what some have called “black college national championship.” NC A&T takes the championship with a 41-34 victory over Alcorn State.

Art of Cool Fest 2015 in Durham NC brings together some of the best local, regional, and national musicians together for a multi day/multi venue extravaganza. The main goal of the AOC is to "present, promote and preserve jazz-influenced music."

Art of Cool Fest 2015 in Durham, NC, brings some of the best local, regional, and national musicians together for a multi-day/multi-venue extravaganza. The main goal of the AOC is to “present, promote and preserve jazz-influenced music.”

Breaking Convention CLT 2015 had it's Obey Your Verse Stage LIVE from 5:00-7:00 on Friday and Saturday. DJ's, break dancers, poets, and singers came together for the free event.

Breaking Convention CLT 2015 had its Obey Your Verse Stage LIVE from 5:00-7:00 on Friday and Saturday. DJs, break dancers, poets, and singers came together for the free event.

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Distinguished Gentlemen... A Night of Elegance at the Park Expo was a fashion show and fundraiser to help fight domestic violence. Proceeds from the event were donated to The Jamie Kimble Foundation For Courage.

Distinguished Gentlemen... A Night of Elegance at the Park Expo was a fashion show and fundraiser to help fight domestic violence. Proceeds from the event were donated to The Jamie Kimble Foundation For Courage.

Distinguished Gentlemen... A Night of Elegance at the Park Expo was a fashion show and fundraiser to help fight domestic violence. Proceeds from the event were donated to The Jamie Kimble Foundation For Courage.

Distinguished Gentlemen… A Night of Elegance at the Park Expo was a fashion show and fundraiser to help fight domestic violence. Proceeds from the event were donated to The Jamie Kimble Foundation For Courage.

Coach Steven Joyner reached a mile stone in victories with number 500.

Stedmon Lemon is channeling his inner Micheal Jordan

Queens University took on cross town rivals Johnson C. Smith University. The Goldenbulls kept things close until halfway through the second period. Queens University gets the victory with a score of 87-77.

Queens University took on crosstown rivals Johnson C. Smith University. The Golden Bulls kept things close until halfway through the second period. Queens University gets the victory with a score of 87-77.

Hornets-0259

The Charlotte Hornets come home for the first time of the regular season to face off against the Atlanta Hawks. After gaining the lead in the fourth quarter, The Hornets lose a heartbreaker to Atlanta 94-92.

The Charlotte Hornets come home for the first time of the regular season to face off against the Atlanta Hawks. After gaining the lead in the fourth quarter, The Hornets lose a heartbreaker to Atlanta, 94-92.

Brenda Tindal, the newly appointed historian of the Levine Museum of the New South

Brenda Tindal, the newly appointed historian of the Levine Museum of the New South

Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot

Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot

James-6245

James-2

Miss JCSU-2891

North Meck Prom 2015

North Meck Prom 2015

Peace Out ... Graduation 2015

James-6529

James-6663

Texans vs Panthers

Texans vs Panthers

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

The Panthers play their home-opener against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther’s defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after the concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Celebrity golf tournament with local Charlotte celebrity like CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe, Matt Carrol, Amy Cowman, Mark Greenhalgh, Brenton Berson, Eric "Sleepy" Floyd, Jane Singleton, Charles Johnson, Vernando Velasco, Ron Green Jr., Corey Nagy, Cara Capuano, Ryan Cabbage, Deana Diorio, and Wesley Walls. All proceeds go to fund First Tee many programs.

The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Celebrity golf tournament with local Charlotte celebrities, including CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe, Matt Carrol, Amy Cowman, Mark Greenhalgh, Brenton Berson, Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, Jane Singleton, Charles Johnson, Vernando Velasco, Ron Green Jr., Corey Nagy, Cara Capuano, Ryan Cabbage, Deana Diorio, and Wesley Walls. All proceeds go to fund First Tee many programs.

Commemorative Classics

Commemorative Classics

This lecture and surrounding events will engage us in one of the most relevant issues of our time, social justice. As people of faith, we believe that God expects us to do not just what is right, but also what is faithful. It is our hope that this conversation with Dr. West will help us to discern a faithful response to issues of race and inequality and to experience a hope-filled transformation as individuals and as a community.

This lecture and surrounding events will engage us in one of the most relevant issues of our time, social justice. As people of faith, we believe that God expects us to do not just what is right, but also what is faithful. It is our hope that this conversation with Dr. West will help us to discern a faithful response to issues of race and inequality and to experience a hope-filled transformation as individuals and as a community.

This lecture and surrounding events will engage us in one of the most relevant issues of our time, social justice. As people of faith, we believe that God expects us to do not just what is right, but also what is faithful. It is our hope that this conversation with Dr. West will help us to discern a faithful response to issues of race and inequality and to experience a hope-filled transformation as individuals and as a community.

This lecture with Dr. Cornel West and surrounding events at First Presbyterian Church engaged us in one of the most relevant issues of our time, social justice.

Justice: What Love looks like in Public

Justice: What Love looks like in Public

I had an opportunity to volunteer at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte for their lecture series “Justice: What Love looks like in Public.” Dr. Cornel West made his second visit to Charlotte in a week as part of First Presbyterian Church’s 25th Willard Endowment Speaker. He touched on issues of social justice. Dr. West helped the diverse group to discern a faithful response to issues of race and inequality and to experience a hope-filled transformation as individuals and as a community.

Justice: What Love looks like in Public

First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte’s Senior Pastor Rev. Pen Peery introducing Dr. Cornel West

Justice: What Love looks like in Public

Senior Pastor Rev. Pen Peery

Justice: What Love looks like in Public

Dr. Cornel West

Justice: What Love looks like in Public Justice: What Love looks like in Public

T

Justice: What Love looks like in Public Justice: What Love looks like in Public

Senior Pastor Rev. Pen Peery and Gail Henderson-Belsito during the question and answer segment of the lecture

Senior Pastor Rev. Pen Peery and Gail Henderson-Belsito during the question and answer segment of the lecture

Justice: What Love looks like in Public

Senior Pastor Rev. Pen Peery, Gail Henderson-Belsito, and Dr. Cornel West

Justice: What Love looks like in Public Justice: What Love looks like in Public Justice: What Love looks like in Public

 

Cam Newton Flips Over the Texans

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther Cam Newton (1) dives over Houston Texan Rahim Moore (26) for the touchdown.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcomed home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Cam Newton lived up to his “Superman” nickname with a two yard diving touchdown to take the lead in the third quarter and the Panthers didn’t look back. Panther’s defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville, but the defense didn’t miss a beat. The Panthers were able to hold off the Texans with a 17-24 victory.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther Greg Olsen (88) powers over Houston Texan Whitney Mercilus (59) for the first down.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther Charles Johnson (95) tackles Houston Texan wide receiver Chandler Worthy (13) for the loss.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panthers Thomas Davis (58) and Kurt Coleman (20) gang tackled Houston Texans Wide Receiver Cecil Shorts III (18).

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther fans got their honeymoon wish with the Panther’s 24-17 victory over the Houston Texans.

 

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther Cam Newton (1) scrambles for the first down against the Houston Texans.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther Cam Newton (1) with the quarterback keeper at the goal line against the Houston Texans.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

Carolina Panther Cam Newton (1) dives over Houston Texans Rahim Moore (26) for the touchdown.

The Panthers open their homeowner against the Houston Texans and welcome home Rock Hill native Jadeveon Clowney. Panther's defense leader Luke Kuechly was out after his concussion he suffered from the season opener in Jacksonville.

CarolinaPanthers Cam Newton (1) and Mike Tolbert (35) celebrate the go ahead touchdown in the third quarter against the Houston Texans

Texans vs Panthers

Carolina Panther fans enjoying the touchdown.

Texans vs Panthers

The Top Cats celebrating the end of the third quarter.

Texans vs Panthers

Carolina Panther Corey Brown (10) gets position in the end zone on Houston Texan Johnathan Joseph (24).

Texans vs Panthers

Carolina Panther Corey Brown (10) brings down the football for the touchdown over Houston Texan Jonathan Joseph (24)

Texans vs Panthers

The Top Cats keep the the Carolina Panther fans hyped during the quarter breaks.

Texans vs Panthers

Houston Texan Jadeveon Clowney (90) tries to blitz around Carolina Panther Mike Remmers (74).

Texans vs Panthers

Carolina Panther Thomas Davis (58) talking with Houston Texan Jadeveon Clowney (90) talking after the Panther’s 24-17 victory.

Texans vs Panthers

Houston Texan Jadeveon Clowney (90) talking to Carolina Panther Cam Newton (1) after the Panther’s 24-17 victory.

Can You Shoot Portraits?

Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot

Sarah and Andrew … Love In the City

So many times I’m asked “Do you do wedding and engagement session?” I get it. I shoot a lot of sports and concerts so I can understand someone wondering if I can take a good portrait picture. Recently a good friend of mine ask me to do an engagement session with his beautiful bride to be. Here are a few shots from that session.

Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot

Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot

Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot Sarah and Andrew Engagement Shoot

The Queen City Jazz Fest

The Return of Jazz to the Uptown Amphitheater

Mike Phillips running through the crowd at the Queen City Jazz Fest.

Mike Phillips running through the crowd at the Queen City Jazz Fest.

 

On Saturday evening, jazz returned to the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheater in a major way. The lineup of Mike Phillips with Karen Briggs, Will Downing, and Brian Culbertson was a great choice for the first Queen City Jazz Fest.

I was a little hesitant when I first saw the lineup. Four of the entertainers I had shot before, some very recently, so I was wondering how different their shows would be. In the past, after photographing an artist several times, I seemed to know the show as well as the band. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad performance. It just means they don’t work at keeping everything fresh.

Mike Phillips getting uncles and personal with the fans.

Mike Phillips getting up close and personal with the fans.

 

In the case of opening act Mike Phillips, however, I wasn’t worried at all about his set. Saturday made the third time in two months that I’ve seen Mike. In back-to-back nights at the Art of Cool Festival in Durham, NC, Phillips went from leading an intimate quintet to taking the main stage by storm to open for Anthony Hamilton, delivering two widely different but deeply satisfying and high-quality shows. Phillips goes out at 100 miles per hour and never slows. At one point at the Queen City Jazz Fest, he was running through the packed crowd acting like it wasn’t 90 plus degrees.

Enter violinist Karen Briggs. I had photographed her in Charleston with the all-female group Jazz in Pink and remembered how mellow they were, but at the QC fest, her energy equalled Phillips’ and the two played off each other well. Briggs is fierce on the violin.

Karen Briggs joined Mike Phillips to open TheQueen City Jazz Fest .

Karen Briggs joined Mike Phillips to open TheQueen City Jazz Fest .

 

“Wouldn’t you like to see her perform with Ken Ford?!” a friend asked. Yes. That would be a bigger violin battle than when “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” (Speaking of country music, I did have a Grand Ole Opry flashback when Briggs went from violinist to fiddler in mid song. You couldn’t have asked for a better opening.)

A fan surprised Will Downing with flowers during his performance.

A fan surprised Will Downing with flowers during his performance.

 

Will Downing was up next. This was going to be a first for me, the only one in the entire festival, and it became a treat to hear this true vocalist. An automatic crowd favorite from the opening note, you could tell from the screams who was there to see Will. Actually, you could tell when the women rushed the stage. Especially when they brought flowers. It was time for love. His interaction with the fans was genuine as he went through hit after hit. Fans felt like he was performing just for them; at least, that’s what the lady beside me was saying to her girlfriend during “A Million Ways.”

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

Queen City Jazz Fest 2015

 

After Will Downing finished, I overheard a small group say they could go home. I politely leaned over and said, “You might want to rethink that.” After seeing Brian Culbertson last Labor Day weekend, I knew the passion in his performance – no slowing down, ever, with even the most mellow of his sets bringing energy – and would place him in the top two of shows I covered in 2014 (Trombone Shorty is the other topper). Saturday’s show didn’t disappoint. I had an idea it would be fantastic because, 45 minutes before, Culbertson and the band were still talking over the set list. Brian Culbertson and his band travel together, so there is an intimacy on the stage that makes for nice change-ups in the music and gives depth to a show within a show, which fascinates this photographer.

 

A packed house at The Queen City Jazz Fest

A packed house at The Queen City Jazz Fest

 

Ticket sales don’t always attest to an event’s solidity or strength, but in the case of the Queen City Jazz Fest, they speak truth. A packed house with fans on their feet on one of the hottest days of the year definitely gets the vote for success. My fingers are crossed that this is the start of a tradition in the QC for many years to come, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the #QCJF16. Maybe we will get that Karen Briggs/Ken Ford violin battle. With so many young acts that have jazz as a connection, there could be something similar to the AOC brewing right here in Charlotte.

Check out the entire gallery on our Jazz Shooter page.

My Favorites of 2014

The 6th annual Low Country Jazz Festival brought jazz fans to the Port City for a weekend great music. The weather was hot but the musicians were hotter. (Troy Hull Troy Hull)

 

I know it’s late but I’ve finally got enough free time to sit back and reflect on my favorite shots of 2014. I always hate when I see the “best of” so I go with my favorites. Each shot touched me or brings back a certain feeling of the time when it was taken. 2014 was a special year for me. My health was better and I was able to get out more to do the thing I love the most. It was a great year shooting music because I got to photographs acts that have been on my bucket list like Trombone Shorty.

I moved away from so much jazz and enjoyed some indie music with my “Mini-Me”

Trying to be a good father led me to spending a night at the Visulite listening to her favorite indie bands. I have to say I had as much fun listening to ZZ Ward as she did. (Troy Hull)

 

and had a chance to photograph artists I grew up with like Howard Hewett and Rakim. 

 

I didn’t stop with just hanging in the photo pit. From watching my own daughter winning her summer golf tour 

 

to catching one of South Carolina’s top high school football prospects, sports was a big part of 2014.

Check out our gallery “Favorite Shots of 2014” to see them all.