Bill Littell got me to crack an egg over my head.
For a camera, of course.
I. William “Bill” Littell IV, the man of a thousand weddings, died Saturday, Sept. 17, at age 81.
He captured Hilton Head Island on camera for most of the 40 years he lived here. He operated IWL Studios with his wife, Chris, recording on film countless special moments for residents and visitors.
He was involved in a few other ventures after moving from Philadelphia in 1975. Perhaps most notable was his run for the state legislature in 1980 against J. Wilton Graves of Bluffton. He waved the banner for a fledgling local Republican Party, but learned it’s hard to beat a man for whom the bridge to Hilton Head is named.
But mostly he is recalled as a quiet, nice, and very professional man who left families with pictures of weddings on the beach, beneath the oaks, at the golf course, in the historic church, or at the lighthouse.
The family portraits on the beach — where everyone wears khaki bottoms and white tops, and perhaps need individual groupings of five families within the large family — took on a life of their own. They are an important ingredient in the way Hilton Head clicks with people nationwide and wraps around their fondest dreams.
He also photographed children, pets and nature. That made him a kindred spirit of journalists who brave the elements trying to capture the right moments in the right way.
A note to Chris online says: “Bill was so kind and generous in addition to being incredibly talented. Between ballet photos and our daughter’s wedding photos, we have hundreds of cherished family photos taken by Bill. It is not possible to look at any of them without thinking of the man who took them. You have our heartfelt condolences. Love from Lori and Terry Finger.”
Karen Cerrati said: “Before Bill Littell was the man of a thousand weddings he was the man of the brilliant images that showed the world what Hilton Head Island looked like. His beautiful and evocative photos used in our earliest ads, brochures and magazine articles surely brought thousands to visit and many to buy. Bill always smiled in the face of impossible deadlines and requests, delivering stellar work that reflected the essence of this special place. It was my privilege to have known and worked with him.”
For me, it was the egg-cracking incident.
It happened last year, and it was something humorous amid sadness. Bill’s promising young grandson, who spent a lot of time on Hilton Head, especially in the water, had just died from complications of Type 1 diabetes. Not long before his unexpected passing, the college senior had cracked an egg over his head on video to raise money for diabetes research.
Bill also answered the Will Hauver Egg Crack Challenge. He used it locally to draw attention to a condition that is spreading rapidly among young people. And to do something about it.
That was my special moment in time with Bill Littell.