Urban Electric lighting

Flashback Photo Series

Urban Electric lighting

No. 26

Lately, I have talked with quite a few people my age about coming to a point in our lives when our grandparents are gone, our parents are getting older–some of them are gone already–and how the places we all shared with them, the places where our freckles were born, the time when the sinewy bonds between generations grew and became stronger, each of us finding these homes or places from which we rooted, now being sold. The lands no longer underfoot. Like a hammering wind slamming the porch door shut, abruptly vanished and shuttered for an eternal winter. The place where our grandfathers taught us philips versus flat head, where we learned that the longest day of the year is June 21st, how to start a fire with one match, dock a boat and tie the cleat, how to fold a sheet, peel a carrot and many lessons that you hear yourself repeating to the next generation. 

Visiting Ashepoo, Ceara Donnelley's grandparents' home, stoked the aching cavity that is memory for me. That void I think we all feel when we get older and miss those who are no longer sitting at the dinner table with us, in the same place they always sat. Year after year. Sunburn after sunburn. Ceara's family is carrying on the traditions and tending to their family's land and to the home that her grandparents had built. 

When she drove us around the property it also reminded me of the beautiful place I live in now and to be thankful every day for those days I had in that place that was mine and forever will be in me. Ceara's very lucky to have Ashepoo to share with her children and knows the value of it to her core. Conservation is in all things: the land, the water, the air, the memory. Thanks for the ride, Ceara.

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 25

There is a shell grotto on the grounds of St. Giles House. It was built in the 1750's with artifacts from the "new" world. It’s owner, the first Earl of Shaftesbury, was deeded the land of North and South Carolina by the King of England. Years later, the descendant of that Earl brought a few of us from Charleston into this architectural mosaic of mollusks. With thousands of shells perched and pinned in the eaves and sunk into the undulating walls of this tiny little building, I felt like we were inside a music box after it had played a wonderful lullaby and then the lid was shut. Seeing the inside of something magical, and how magic works when no one is looking. When the fairies come out, or where Mickey Mouse might have a cup of tea after a busy morning. All above us and surrounding us, this sea castle is built with what were once the magical relics of our shores. Our home. I think all of us standing in this little crustacean hut felt a little insignificant as well as awestruck. Feeling the tides and the power of the English Empire, having privy to naked shores - America - across the ocean hundreds of years ago. These exoskeletons, some other creature's home being hauled and pulled back to this colder, damper place they call a kingdom. Our mantle, crowning the halos of the window sills looking skyward. The story of our kinship suspended in gravity of the delicate pink ears of time in living sediment- listening for us - reverberating the echos of history like the infinite chamber of the nautilus. 

See a snippet of the painstaking renovation that brought this mesmerizing under-the-sea structure back to life.

- Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 24

One does not retire from royalty... oh wait. Well, one should not retire from a profession that they love at least. Nick Ashley-Cooper—officially known as the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury in his native Britain, and informally as "DJ Nick" from his days making music in New York City—gave us a full-on tour of his family's ancestral estate, St. Giles House, which he now oversees. One of my favorite spots there (other than the shell grotto, the library, the grounds, the stables, the—well, everything...it is all beyond extraordinary) has to be the ATTIC. Wielding a Scooby Doo key ring, Nick unveiled an upstairs treasure trove of art, antique chairs and all of the trappings that might have once adorned the gigantic rooms of this place, plus some other family heirlooms. All of these priceless misfits found their home in the lofty memory museum, including—probably most important of all—a catalog of records that Nick picked, purchased and played with care: preordained selections for the purpose of getting down. In another corner, Nick's original turntables groaned for attention near a portrait of a past Earl propped up against a wall covered in cobwebs. Play with me, they echoed. Fortunately, Nick still spins and so does St. Giles.

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 23

Never have I ever taught a 10-year-old how to do a backspin in the basement of an English manor built in the 17th century, owned by an Earl whose family was deeded the title of the land of the Carolinas by the King of England in 1670. DJ Nick, also known as Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, equipped St. Giles House with a full-on dance floor and pub in the guts of the estate. This disco ball marks the entrance to the underground clubno bouncers, no cover, no way! Is this real? Yes. It. Is.

Nick spins his beats in the inside of a converted wine cask, turns tables plopped down inside of the hallowed out beast. Complete with a light show and unbelievable bass, this spot is thumping. . . Speaking of Thumper - I can imagine deer, pheasant, hedgehogs, adders, red squirrels, grouse hearing the pounding base from St. Giles and peering out from their hiding spots like the animals in Snow White. Then slowly coming out, dancing, having an outdoor rave on the front lawn of this palatial estate. Never have I ever, one year ago this week.  

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 22

For me, I'd take spending a day with Tim Gosling over Ryan Gosling any day, all day. Tim is what one might call a triple threat. He can sing and dance like Hugh Jackman. He can draw like a Renaissance master. He is a smooth character. He could be in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He knows a good yacht when he sees one (he's a judge at the Monaco Yacht Show). This classic Mercedes was one of a few cars being loaded into the belly of a gigantic superyacht. I can almost hear Ferris Bueller saying "so choice" as Tim winks to signal his approval.

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 21

When I was a kid I used to charge people for drawings. They would want logos for bands, even Joe Camel (yes they marketed to kids) and the everlasting sunset. Like an airbrush artist from a traveling state-to-state fair, I wielded my juvenile entrepreneurial artistic gifts with wild abandonment. Like a fire hose out of control. Sometimes I would go so far as to draw the gradient and ocean backdrop of a sunset in crayon and then go over it in black crayon and then scratch away to reveal a tropical sunset much like this photo. Then I would scratch in whatever name was necessary for the commission. Melissa Loves Jonathan. As fleeting as the summer and the sunset over the water, their love probably was a flash and then gone. I made a dollar on it.

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 20

"Even at one of the most glamorous (I just sang Fergie in my head to spell that correctly) events held in the world, the Monaco Yacht Show, the simple act of fishing can bring things back to planet Earth. I bet a fish from this sea just tastes better than any other sea. Is it swimming in the sea of champagne wishes and caviar dreams...? Caviar dreams, who wants to dream of fish eggs? I'll just take a bouillabaisse dream please, a whole stew of it. God, do I sound like Carrie Bradshaw? ... blegh!"

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 19

"167 Raw opened their new location in January 2020 in Charleston, just before COVID shut the world down. I was lucky enough (and ignorant of it) to be there the very morning they opened their doors to the public. This is Jesse unlocking the door for business, walking through filming his pumped up staff. I had lunch there on opening day. I had dinner there on January 31st. With the spirit of the islanders of Nantucket and the salty southern sturdiness of the Lowcountry, we will all weather this storm."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 18

"Gravity / Water. Water - suspends the weight of gravity and lets you tumble in the jello of the world before it has set. Heights make me lose my stomach. Up in the air is when gravity tempts me to throw my cell phone out of the car window driving over a bridge. Watching it plummet to the sea. But for those few seconds in the air tumbling, I imagine it's just like swimming. If someone calls, it will just have to go to voicemail. Too busy swimming."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 17

"The salt, wind, sun and water from living on the coast will set in your bones, the wood of the dock beneath you, it will bend you, push you, whip you and when you taste it in your mouth some of us know that we are home. This was a little gazebo on the water outside Jen Langston's house here on Johns Island. This was taken in the winter of 2018. Was just out there and this little guy is gone now. I imagine, the claws of this Lowcountry creek crawled up onshore and drug it into the marsh. Pushing one way and then the other, the waves of nature show us how impermanent we should be."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 16

"I felt like pinching myself most every morning during our trip in September 2019, although sometimes the scenery and the moments managed to jump up and bite me in the ass without having to do it myself. I felt so lucky and spongy, absorbing as much as I could take in the way only travel can really do to a person. This sparkly warm morning at the Monaco Beach Club I woke up to jog and then wanted to go jump in the sea and the pool before hitting the road. There were a few ladies, and I mean ladies, like out of the French version of Dynasty swimming laps in their swim caps and wide brimmed hats. Neither wanting to get their hair wet, just one who was a little more Joan Collins / Alexis and the other more down to earth like Linda Evans / Krystle. I wonder what kind of life it must be to wake up to a fabulous swim in a lap pool on the French Riviera. Is this a very common occurrence? Does she have a commute on a normal day? Does she have a closet on her yacht with rotating shoe shelves? Probably. I bet you all the money at the Casino de Monte-Carlo she has those shelves. And her yacht is named: Le Petit Yacht."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 15

"Madeline Stuart is a force to be reckoned with and I welcome that energy. I told her once that I felt like I could see her as a little kid. Like 10 years old. I might have had that notion enter my head when she picked up these bottle brush branches. It was the morning we met her in Santa Barbara and she took us on a walk to see one of her favorite spots, the original courthouse. Anyone who walks around and picks up a new color like a pigment on a palette, dabbing into it right up off the ground and can see its use and its place, has imagination and creativity that is genuine, raw and unbridled. I love that she picked up the bottle brush branches."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 14

"Jesse Sandole showed me a few twists and turns off-roading on Cisco Beach. I felt like I was back in high school in a souped-up Jeep 'muddin' as we called it. This was way better with the ocean as a backdrop and a much better playlist on the radio thanks to Jesse. No Lynyrd Skynyrd here. Although every place has its own stereotypical nuances and annoyances and Jesse being from Nantucket, not just a seasonal ghost, pointed out some typical summer scenes. If you want a laugh from this prism, check out Chadtucket on Instagram. Hilarious."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 13

"At the end of the road, clipped to a fence, facing the ocean, somewhere in Connecticut, like love locks clinging to the Pont des Arts in Paris or travel charms on a necklace; emblems of places and days gone by, now retiring to a reflective view by the sea, a jumble of buoys gather. Every time I see a buoy, I think of names for my imaginary band and my imaginary boat. One of my imaginary boat names is The Tom Buoy. And that reminds me of the time David Sedaris told my friend at his book signing, that if he could go back in time he would have named his imaginary family beach house The Sea Section. If this post were a wittily named hair salon it would be Shear Genius."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 12

"Last year I met with Jesse Sandole on his native Nantucket to see his family's 167 Raw seafood market. He sent me to Brant Point because his father started his business fishing and scalloping in the waters around this spot. A point of origin for his family and for our country. The ocean was the wild wild west before Arizona was. And the cowboys of the sea wrestled with beasts like whales and scrounged a living and a life from the floor of the wilderness below the waves. To be a fisherman is probably truly the oldest profession."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 11

"If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know how tough a kitchen can be for anyone. And there are few women chefs who break through the glass ceiling in the food universe. Melissa Perello is one. She named her restaurants after her grandmother. 

Who doesn't love staring at a fire? Stoking it. Adding wood to it. Tending to it. Taking care of it."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 10

"Many things around us are mass-produced, punched out and poorly made. Our lives can be a reflection of what we choose to surround ourselves with and how we tend to our material reality ... and how we create. Prince or pauper, we are enriched when we create things—frying shrimp, playing the piano, knitting a scarf, building a tree house. Malcolm Gladwell famously said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Hopefully, we all find that thing. I probably will never make the proper pancake, it's a flaw—I know.

This is a photo, from outside of the de Gournay showroom in London, of one of the incredible artists hand-painting their wallpaper. Speaking of mastery, enrichment, grace and gorgeous perfection—what isn't extraordinary about de Gournay? Some of the lush papers I fell into. I could jump into the water and swim with koi fish, or brush my hand over the blades of grass and walk through the fields. True mastery."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 9

"Some people, when you meet them, you just know by how they roll their sleeves up and how clean the lenses of their glasses are that they probably have a very organized closet. With everything ironed. And they probably have a silver tray of intoxicating scents on the bathroom counter. And wonderful well-lit art on the walls in the hallway and probably really good coffee cups with the perfect handles. Some people just know where everything should go, how it all fits together, how spaces, shapes and color converse like a symphony's different instruments do. And you can see it if you listen hard enough. Some people are the musicians, and then there is Stephen Earle. The conductor. Standing high above the city directing."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 8

"So we are all pretty familiar with the escapades of Clark W. Griswold. He innocently stumbles, bumbles, fumbles, self destructs, destroys and plows through life like a human wrecking ball. Well, everyone has a moment or two like these epic eff ups in life.

Florence, Italy has zones called ZTL's in which cars are not allowed, only by permit. We were staying at a hotel (designed by Ferragamo) on the Arno River near the Ponte Vecchio. I called the hotel in advance and they said we could drive directly there and park and they provide the permit. So we drove. Into Florence. In the dark. In the ZTL. And got very lost and then very confused. Circuitously meandering through the maze of the city like a lab rat for a clinical trial of a high-grade barbiturate, we found ourselves driving into a pack of zombies. Turns out they were tourists. They were staring at us in bewilderment, with the look of "what the heck are you idiots doing?!" Brushing against our rental car. Wanting to pound on the hood like Ratso in Urban Cowboy, "I'm walking here!" We plowed through the crowds.

With the glow of Google Maps on the phone from the back seat, I say... "I think we are on the Ponte Vecchio." Like, we are DRIVING on the Ponte Vecchio. This bridge is probably in the top ten of famous bridges in the world. It was built originally in Roman times and then rebuilt in the Middle Ages. In its current form, the structure dates from the 14th century and is now covered with tourists and jewelry shops. We rambled through the cattle herd of Tevas and fanny packs to the end of the bridge where two Carabinieri (cops) stood. I did my best to speak Italian, which I studied in college. I probably said, "Me sorry. Me dumb. I like pasta. Wine. Thank you." To which the cops reply in English, "Do you realize what you have done?!" We just asked if we could park the car at the base of the bridge and have someone come get it and park it for us. They obliged."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 7

"Trying to read graffiti in English is hard enough. Trying to read it in French is Greek to me. This is from the bridge that leads up to the Louvre in Paris. You can tell that the words from previous graffiti on the stone were blasted off and the sign retained its tags. Graffiti can be like society's forensic pathology if you can read it and understand its significance, if there is any."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 6

"At the front of one of the shopping arcades in London, think this was Burlington Arcade, there are security guys / bouncers donning top hats and capes. Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott (Roadhouse) have nothing on these dapper lads. I wanted him to turn around with a wry smile, brandishing a gold tooth and say 'Ello Luv' like a character from a Guy Ritchie movie."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 5

"Carl hardly needs a last name. He's a pretty unique character. Not on the same page as Prince, Madonna or The Rock, but more like Kramer. He collects knives, petrified wood, odd trinkets and parts of well-designed mechanical odds and ends. He collects inspiration in his card catalog of a brain. Carl took us to the National Arts Club in NYC. Originally founded at the turn of the last century, it was a Victorian club where you could imagine Henry James and Sargent having a chat over a brandy and a grasshopper (think James would be having a grasshopper even though they probably weren't "invented" yet). The club is a temporal 3-D collection where Carl retreats and soaks up some connection with the past when things were made with more care and physicality. He's a Collector. He is Carl. He is Cool."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 4

"We had the distinct honor of getting a tour of St. Giles estate with Nick, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury. Nick has been restoring the house for years now. Lives in it with his family. In order to help sustain and support the restoration of St. Giles, Nick rents it out for events. There is even a gigantic disco ball leading down to a dance floor and bar in the cellar.

I came across this lonely, empty coat rack at the base of the stairs going up to parts of the house that are still being restored. The light was like nothing I have ever seen. Very dark. Like walking into living chiaroscuro. A painting, this simple scene poked me on the shoulder and said 'this is a moment.' After I shot this, I kept thinking of the weight of the coats on the sturdy frame of wooden hangers. Who was at the party? What heavy damp wool wrapped itself here while the owner sipped on something in the cellar? The weight of the floors above, overhead. The walls of this historic home heaving like an old dog breathing after a laborious walk. Old and tired. I wonder what the mass of time and sense of responsibility for this place must feel like. The buttress of his family history and the foundation for the new St. Giles, Nick has found a way to carry it on his shoulders."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 3

"In my experience and opinion, fewer than some have and thankfully more than others, New York City has the best light and shadow in the fall. The buildings and fire escapes look like they are a painted backdrop on an old Hollywood movie set. The people walking in them like a million tiny characters all with their own distinct stories."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 2

"Michael, our Creative Director, and I have worked together now for 12 years. This photo was taken at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Michael doesn't like his photo taken — so sorry Michael, but I like this photo. Because it shows a lot about you. You are always looking. Always wanting to go for a walk. And walk and walk and walk. You are like a visual vacuum cleaner. An Art Hoover. You have a photographic memory that just gathers as much as it can... walking, walking, walking. In many ways, you have taught me to see things differently. A line, a shape, a color, a little Alice in Wonderland is everywhere. A new painting, a new photo, a new SNL skit is just waiting to be discovered — all you have to do is walk and find it. Thank you, Michael, for walking me around all of these years."

- Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 1

"I haven't seen snow many times in my life. A few of us OG Urbanites got stranded in a blizzard in New York 10 years ago! And we hit the streets walking around for hours. We hobbled into Central Park and these ducks were just 'chillin.' That night we had a beer (both dark and light) at McSorley's, my first time, and some delicious egg drop soup at a spot in Chinatown that had pictures of famous customers on the wall (Bill Cosby, ew). This image of the ducks on the pond is one of those moments that will be emblazoned on my brain for the rest of my life. Even when you get older if you have never seen something before, sometimes you still have the eyes of a child. You will remember."

- Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

INTRODUCTION

In our line of work, we are fortunate to meet some truly amazing people, many of whom we also get to photograph in the places they live and work. And the inspiration doesn’t stop with faces—every time we travel, whether it’s to visit a new location or return to a beloved favorite destination, we capture it. As you might imagine, we’ve built up a pretty amazing archive of this documentary photography over the years—especially now that we’ve launched The Current, our annual publication. 

Today, we’re excited to begin highlighting some of the most special images from the trove in our new weekly series, Flashback. And there’s no one better to share the stories behind the pictures than Anne Chandler, our resident photographer of more than 13 years, whose ability to spin a tale rivals her skills behind the camera lens. Welcome to Flashback No. 1. Enjoy.