Photos, videos shine spotlight on island, Parkinson's research

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Many visitors take video and photos of Hilton Head Island, with mixed results. To both support a good cause and see the island shining in its best light, most would do better to put down their cameras and head to the Harbour Town Lighthouse museum store. There, Jeff Keefer's professional photos and videos capture local beauty, and proceeds from their sales support a cause close to his heart.

A retired executive with a passion for camera work, Keefer also is fighting Parkinson's disease. He's the chairman of the board of directors for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and he donates his time, materials and talent to produce high quality images of Sea Pines and other places on Hilton Head Island.

Money raised from the sale of his prints goes to support scientists working to cure Parkinson's.

"I wanted to see how I could help, and the best way was supporting research," said Keefer, who was diagnosed in 2007.

For visitors who take home a beautiful print that reminds them of a wonderful vacation, Keefer's art is a good deal. And for Keefer and Sea Pines, the partnership is a win-win situation.

Nadia Wagner, the Harbour Town lighthouse keeper and store manager, said that when Keefer walked in on a busy day in 2015 seeking permission to film a video, she wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. Then he showed her the footage and "it was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen in my whole life," Wagner said.

After hearing Keefer's business proposal, Wagner asked her boss, Mark King, for permission to sell the prints at the lighthouse store without taking a percentage. King agreed.

"We let people know they are making a donation," Wagner said.

Keefer often films using a GoPro camera and a drone, and the prints he makes are stills from his videos. Computer software helps stabilize his images, and he does all the editing.

Currently, Keefer's videography is featured in commercials for Sea Pines running on local affiliates of major TV networks. His photos have appeared in many local publications and marketing materials for Sea Pines.

Keefer also has a YouTube channel and soon will open a studio and gallery in The Shops at Sea Pines Center.

Carol Weir of Bluffton is a career journalist and teacher.

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