Nude photo shoot around Angel Oak featured in documentary

JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Some might say that "Out on a limb" is not only the name of a new documentary, but also could describe the risk photographer Jack Gescheidt takes every time he snaps a photograph.

Blue lights flashed back in May when he took a photo of 25 naked people huddled underneath the historic Angel Oak. Thursday night, many came out to see the finished work.

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It was love at first sight for Gescheidt when he laid eyes on the beautiful Angel Oak tree. It wasn't his love of art or photography that brought him across the country from California; it was the plans of a Lowcountry developer to build 600 homes, shops and offices near the Angel Oak Park.

"I knew I had to get my butt in gear, get out here and make a photograph not just aesthetically, but to raise awareness so the developer would not spoil the area around the angel oak and threaten its very life," Gescheidt said.

Gescheidt's passion for photographing nude subjects around endangered trees has become the subject of a documentary with a special segment dedicated to the Angel Oak.

The developers plans include a buffer zone of a few acres around the tree itself. Gescheidt says it's not enough.

"It's connected to the other trees and to the water table underneath all of which will be disturbed by a large housing project," he said.

Others in attendance at Thursday night's film footage screening agree.

Amy Armstrong represents the group Save the Angel Oak and says the group is taking legal action to revoke the developers permit to build.

"Issuing a permit for a high density development close to 600 units this close to a 1,500 year old historic tree is going to have devastating effects on the tree," Armstrong said.

Gescheidt says disturbing the trees environment will also disturb those who love to enjoy it.

"Go there and just feel calmer and more peaceful and happier just for being near a giant old tree," he said.

An appeal has been filed in South Carolina administrative law court against the developer's permit. A trial hasn't been set.

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