No matter what time of the day that you walk into the City Lights Coffee Shop in downtown Charleston, you will hear a lively "Good Morning!" from the proprietor. I walked in at 2pm and that is what I heard. Gregg, the owner, believes it sounds more upbeat than "Good Afternoon." The noisy quiet of the coffee shop is a perfect place to enjoy your drink, do some work, and have a good conversation. I could easily spend all day there.
Gregg Lambton-Carr grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. There he fell in love with the water, the outdoors, and nature. He fell in love with adventure. Time in the water made him a scuba instructor, and the love of nature made him a photographer. You should ask him about his military service, his nature tours and photographic safaris sometime. Once he gets to know you, maybe he will share his memories about his three-month trip through Africa with six other guys packed in a Land Rover.
He opened dive shops and then managed and owned restaurants. That restaurant experience in Cape Town, South Africa comes in handy while running this coffee shop in Charleston.
His perfect day is described as a day spent at the beach with his kids. He credits them as the main reason he immigrated to the USA. He wanted to give them a good place to grow up. The family first moved to New York, but the snow and the many days without a blue sky were too much for this South African, and they moved to Charleston, SC.
If time with the kids isn't an option, he will gladly take on a photographic editorial assignment that allows him to travel and feed his creative side. Sometimes it is a magazine that needs his photography; other times it may be a bride and groom at a wedding.
There is an art wall in City Lights Coffee. A new artist is on display every month. Right now there are framed photographs of fashion models underwater. The liquid, the light, flow of the fabric, and the expression of the model have come together perfectly to make a beautiful image. It is Gregg's work. He says that if he finds one great image out of a hundred, it is a good photoshoot. His passion for the water and photography come together when he creates these images. It is a tiring yet rewarding creative process.
As we talked, I found out that he was also a high school teacher back home. It isn't hard to believe because he still teaches scuba diving today, and I always learn something new each time we talk. He has created an atmosphere at City Lights that draws in other artists, becomes a space for creativity -- a classroom of sorts.
If you happen to stop in for coffee one day, and Gregg isn't there, he is probably off on a photoshoot somewhere, spending time with his family, or maybe even at rugby practice.