• DC Elliott

Miss South Dakota USA



In one word, Charlie Buhler is deserving of a crown.

Charlie was charming. She was soft and respectful to everyone around her. Her friends and family sat in on the session, and even Jack the Studio Cat was pleased with her so much that he purred and gave her his welcoming approval, weaving in and out between her feet in a figure-8. Charlie laughed and giggled, and with her disarming smile and her dancing eyes, the ice broke around any silly precognitions of how I imagined the shoot might go. Before I knew it, there we were, photographing Charlie Buhler and not just Miss SD USA. In front of me was the real Charlie, and that’s when things clicked.

Her authenticity is something she couldn’t cover up even if she wanted, and that’s what I think is great about Charlie. She’s not some kind of made-up doll that a stiff breeze could blow over. Charlie Buhler is overflowing with poise and determination. I have to say, I don’t know the rules as to how they picked this young lady to represent South Dakota for Miss USA. It may have been based on her stunning beauty and her level-headed responses to questions, but I don’t think they knew just how right on the mark they really were.

How can I say that with such certainty?

Folks, when it came time to venture outdoors into the icy December chill, Charlie didn’t hesitate. When we stepped into the snow and the blustery wind, I thought for sure a Miss USA would call the shoot and head back for warmth and sanity…but when I asked Charlie if she’d cross an open field in below-zero wind chills, with nothing warmer than her sweater, she jumped at the opportunity with a smile. When we shot pictures on an icy bridge with the wind whipping the frost all around us as we stood over a frozen creek, I had on gloves and boots and a warm goosedown winter jacket… Charlie had on her smile. The snow was deep as we ran across the open field and when I looked back behind me, there was Charlie, a former track star, running exactly in my footsteps, giggling, having no trouble at all. It could have been August.

I gave her every chance to turn us back and go indoors, and instead Charlie was aglow, a breath of fresh air on a very cold winter day. She was strong and yet courteous, charged and yet warm, making a frigid photo shoot in the South Dakota frost look like a warm summer’s day in pictures.

Thanks, and Happy early-Birthday Charlie 🙂 By our conversation and in talking with your family, you’ve already won what really matters in life. Miss USA would be a simple reflection to the testament of the woman you’ve already become. Best of luck to you! We’ll be watching in the Spring!

P.S. With respect to the family we won’t be posting any crown or sash images without express permission, and all images in this blog are protected by copyright.

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