Forrest Briggs claims the South as his home, and indeed he grew up and attended college there. As a photography student, he earned admission into several galleries and juried exhibitions, but his post graduate work honed his eye. He travelled the world, learning to speak fluent Vietnamese and becoming trapped in Nepal during the 2006 coup d’état, all the while documenting his journeys through his camera. The temporary expatriation sharpened his skills, helping him excel at photographic composition, natural lighting strategies, and more abstract concepts such as how to make photos “pop.”
Now, as a photographer and teacher, he passes along these lessons to a new generation of shutterbugs, while lending his eye and skill to clients in search of classic portraiture and boudoir shoots. He also has an eye for shooting martial arts action, working behind the scenes at mixed martial arts events and even pulling a stint as the personal photographer of Cheryl Murphy, nine-time US Nationals Karate Champion.
Inspired by the bright, rich colors of 18th-century French and Swedish design, longtime Greenville resident Jennie Leigh Gainey revitalizes tired old home decor or furniture pieces with a distinct aesthetic that Town magazine calls "Alice in Wonderland meets Ethan Allen." Gainey's refurbished furniture pieces evoke simultaneous airs of refined gentility and informal hominess, like an ivy-covered country manor or an English baron in sweatpants. Having traded in the makeup brushes she once used to makeover the likes of Matthew McConaughey for more conventional art supplies, Gainey uses coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to impart an antique finish to nearly any surface. Eager DIY-ers can gather to glean her technique during relaxed BYOB painting parties.
Canvas- or pottery-painting classes are fun, but you can't eat your creation after you're finished. Cakes By U thinks that's a shame, which is why it's dreamed up a new twist on the DIY party theme: cake decorating. Here, the staff take care of the baking, whipping up treats ranging from cupcakes to two-layer stackable cakes, but leave the frosting and decorating to guests. Customers then bring the creativity as staff provide all necessary decorations and tools—including frosting, sprinkles, and icing bags—along with easy-to-follow instructions that enable guests to create the dessert of their dreams. Sessions are available to play host to birthday parties and girls' nights out, during which, party guests are welcome to bring in food and beverages to enjoy while they work.
During classes at Your Photo Safari, a certified professional photographer with more than 30 years of experience introduces students to the photographic arts and the workings of DSLR cameras. Sessions begin in classroom settings, allowing students to get acquainted with camera basics as well as advanced features such as setting white balance and reducing blur. After learning how to navigate the multiple settings and buttons on their digital cameras, students traipse to area gardens to explore the natural world through their lenses. The hands-on experience allows students to take home artfully composed shots of plants bathed in natural light or trees planking over riverbanks in a bid for Internet fame.
Hip 2B Fit's instructors refuse to let personal fitness be boring. Instead of directing classes through monotonous jumping jacks and pushups, they inspire students to bust calorie-burning moves that engage all parts of the body during Zumba, Zumba Toning, and House Party Fitness workouts. The Zumba classes sprinkle Latin flavor on a cardio exercise session with upbeat dance moves set to international tunes. House Party Fitness sessions take a similar approach, but focus on modern dance moves set to current hits, teaching students steps that they can use outside of class at clubs, parties, and workplace dance-offs to decide on who has to replace the printer toner.
“We remember that everyone was a beginner at some point, even us!” says the Fred Astaire Dance Studio’s website, which displays many of the award-winning team’s words of encouragement to their students. Whether participants are new to dance or want to become the next superhero known for their crime-fighting tango, comprehensive lessons from the internationally recognized team in ballroom, Latin, and swing dance can get them there. Weekly social parties also gather students from all levels in a relaxed space where they can try out what they gleaned in class and learn a few new steps, too.