Christopher Shane Brown; he took Charleston’s June 2016 cover shot.
May 17, 2017
A tribute to friend and photographer Christopher Shane Brown
Written by Darcy Shankland
On Monday morning, the Charleston magazine staff and I arrived at the office to learn the heartbreaking news that our dear friend and colleague, photographer Christopher Shane Brown, had died in a canoe accident while on a job in Vermont. The awful message met us in a collective shock and disbelief: that just couldn’t be, not Chris—he’s young (just 35), athletic, and brimming with life and energy, talent and promise.
Many of us first met Chris in 2006 when he joined the art team as a photography intern. A tall and affable California native, Chris was fresh out of school and eager to put his education to work. I remember him arriving as this cute, young guy with a bright-eyed curiosity about everything; he was like an adorable Lab puppy that hasn’t grown into its feet yet—you couldn’t help but love him.
But Chris was determined. Assistant art director Julie Wood describes him as one of the most motivated young photographers she’s ever known. In fact, he stayed on as an intern for more than a year, honing his skills. He assisted on shoots with seasoned photographers such as Peter Frank Edwards and Squire Fox so he could absorb every bit of information and expertise on lighting, perspective, technology—you name it and he was interested.
Chris was interested in many things: the outdoors, food, and especially people. He had an easy-going kind of confidence and charm and genuinely connected with people. And boy did he love to talk! As an intern, he sat near the office door of art director Melinda Monk, who recalls having to “get him back on track” on several occasions. We would come to love that about him—his funny stories, thoughtful questions, and openhearted nature—and know that it was time well spent.
During that first year, we witnessed his skills and style mature. And when he became a freelance photographer, Melinda and Julie readily hired him for most all topics—portraits, food, homes, still life, action—there was nothing he could not shoot. In the past few years, his work began to soar, having a fresh, clean, very lifestyle-y look—just what editorial art directors and editors want. His client base grew and included Our State, HGTV, and The Wall Street Journal, among many others.
Over the years, Chris became an integral part of our magazine family. During his regular office visits and days-long shoots in the studio, you could count on hearing his cheerful “Hey, hey!”—always with a big smile and a big hug—and many, many great stories. Chris would beam with pride talking about his smart and lovely wife, Stephanie, and his toddler son, Emerson, and was thrilled about the new baby arriving this fall.
So many friends and contributors among our magazine family have shared their memories of our dear friend, but I think former Charleston Home editor Ellen McGauley said it best: “He was a kind person with a heart as big and bright as his talent.”
May he shine on through his work and his family. Our hearts and prayers are with them.
To see a small sampling of Chris’s work for Charleston and WNC magazines, click here.