Studio thrives in downtown Darlington

By Jana E. Pye, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

She’s English, he’s an engineer from Ohio, and they are the epitome of a couple that “blooms where planted.”

Andrea and George Knapp moved to South Carolina several years ago after George moved from the Ohio Remelt Sources plant to the Darlington location. The couple opened a studio in downtown Darlington this summer, and have been very pleased with their decision to transition from a home business to a storefront – Photographs by Andrea and The Chapel at Darlington share the little studio at 123 South Main Street. The location doubles as a studio space for Andrea, and used by George to host small weddings for non-traditional weddings by couples that seek a non-denominational, non-affiliated chapel for couples that desire to “have more than just a court house ceremony”

Andrea and George Knapp in their studio at 123 S. Main Street, Darlington.  PHoto by Jana E. Pye

Andrea and George Knapp in their studio at 123 S. Main Street, Darlington.
PHoto by Jana E. Pye

“Having a studio has been wonderful,” said Andrea. “Since we opened, I’ve done over 23 weddings already. It’s a great space to do studio shots, meet with clients, and to show the gallery to prospective clients. I love living so close to the studio; I can walk there from our home.”

Andrea has been taking photographs for years; she grew up in England, and traveled across Europe extensively with her family, taking photographs as a hobby. She began taking photos professionally in 2004, starting when her eldest son’s friends liked the way she did his senior portraits.
The couple married in 1999, bringing her three children and his two children together for a whirlwind romance that is something out of a romance novel; he visited her in England once, she visited him once in Ohio- and then off she went with her children in tow to follow her heart.
Sixteen years later, they are still very much in love and have added grandchildren to the family.

The couple will celebrate their wedding anniversary on March 13th.

“Everyone thought it wouldn’t last, and here we are, happy as ever” said Andrea. “And I’m doing something that I love everyday!”

The Knapps are a very gregarious and fun couples, with a joie de vie that is contagious – it is no wonder that the families that she photographs often become fast friends.“That took some getting used to for me,” said George. “I’m used to being a bit more conservative with my business relationships – but not Andrea. They just fall in love with her.”

The warmth she conveys translates to film in something that is magical.

When I walked into the little studio on 123 S. Main Street, just down from the News and Press office, down from the County Courthouse, seeing her photographs in large form, both glossy and on archival canvas prints, quite took my breath away. It is one thing to view them on a computer screen on her lovely blog, but seeing them on the wall is something that is definitely worth the visit.

Although she appears to be classically trained, with her capture of light and form on her portraits of weddings, engagements, newborns, children and families – Andrea is mostly self-taught.

“We both took classes together,” said Andrea.

“Mine were technical, since I am an engineer-“ said George.

“And I would just pop by and snap a photo,” interrupted Andrea, bursting into a giggle. “And our photographs were completely different but both got A’s!”

The couple has been so happy with their choice to have a business in Darlington that they chose to give back to the community. After much thought, they chose the Kid’s Closet, which assists children in need throughout Darlington County with providing clothing, and footwear.

“It is important for us to give back,” said Andrea. “When I asked around, the Kids Closet kept coming up from so many people. It’s a perfect place for us to donate.”

In addition to their charity, the couple has made great connections with other local businesses. They frequently recommend local florist, Brandon Smith of Darlington Florist, and when clients come for photos or consultations they send them to local restaurants to eat.

“India at Jewel’s has been a wonderful resource for me as well,” said Andrea. “When I took her daughter’s portrait in her gorgeous back yard, I commented how wonderful the space was – and she has allowed me to come to take other portraits there!”

Andrea also uses the nearby parks, Williamson Park in Darlington and Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville for portraits, as well as other locations in the area.

George became a Chaplain – Officiant after learning that there were so few choices for people that wished for another choice. The couple also had married in an usual setting, a little chapel in a strip mall near a pawn shop – so they knew that having a good alternative would be something they would understand first hand.

Most of his weddings have been on location, and amazingly the couple has only worked one wedding together, at HidIn addition to weddings, George also can perform notary services, do renewal of vows, family memorials – and also pet memorials. He is an ordained member of the Universal Life Monastery and a Notary Public for the State of South Carolina; weddings are recognized in all fifty states.

The studio does not have traditional hours. To contact Photos by Andrea: call: 843-861-9880 and visit her website at www.photographsbyandrea.com to learn more about The Chapel at Darlington, visit www.thechapelatdarlington.com or call 843-617-3123.

Author: Duane Childers

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