5 Best Places to Shoot Photos in Charleston SC
Known for it’s historic downtown, the beautiful plantations with their lush gardens, and the scenic ocean views, Charleston, South Carolina is a photographer’s paradise. There are many great picture taking opportunities, enough to keep you busy capturing pictures of the low country’s quaint southern charm for as long as you like. While there are many places that I would recommend to my fellow photographers while in Charleston to shoot, I have narrowed it down to just 5 places that stand out if your time is limited and you would like to get a full spectrum of great places to shoot.
1. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
First opened in 1870, Magnolia Gardens is the oldest public garden in America, and is Charleston’s most visited plantation for good reason. The best time to visit the historic gardens is during the spring for the azalea bloom as it is a main attraction to photographers. Make sure to visit the park earlier in the morning or during the evening golden hour for best lighting options. Take pictures of beautiful flowers and plants in the famous gardens that are inhabited by wildlife like peacocks, alligators and great white egrets. You’ll love taking great photos of the live oaks dripping with Spanish moss as well as the avenue of oaks framed with azalea bushes.
2. Folly Beach
Beach photography can provide many different shooting options and Folly Beach does not disappoint. Fondly remembered by locals as the “Edge of America”, Folly Beach is located on Folly Island south of Charleston. The Folly Beach Pier stretches more than 1,000 feet into the ocean and is a great place to take pictures at sunrise. At different points on the beach there are breakwater structures which offer a great subject to the breaking waves and sky over the ocean. Also you’ll find dead trees in the surf on the south end of the beach. Low tide and high tide will provide different shooting options on this expansive beach so make sure you keep track of the tide. On any day you will find many fishermen on the pier as well as surfers on the ocean who can provide hours of fun photo shoots. On the north end of the beach you can view the Morris Island Lighthouse. Best of all, when you get hungry you can stop in and eat at Taco Boy, which is a local favorite.
3. Charleston Battery
The Battery is a landmark defensive seawall and promenade that stretches along the southern most tip of the Charleston peninsula, bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, which meet to form Charleston harbor. This landmark area is known for its grand southern homes on the waterfront including historic antebellum houses. Many photographers come to take pictures of Rainbow Row, a colorful row of charming historic homes located on East Bay Street near the waterfront. This row of houses are all painted in bright pastel colors and offers a great photo opportunity that is distinctly Charleston. Waterfront Park offers an early morning or evening option with 2 beautiful fountains including the Pineapple Fountain, and a covered pier.
4. Patriots Point
Patriots Point is located in Mount Pleasant, SC, and offers views of the iconic Ravenel Bridge, as well as WWII US aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, and views of the historic downtown skyline across the Cooper River. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge may be viewed from angles both below and around the bridge to get a shot of this well known icon of Charleston. A great time to get good lighting is sunset as the sun sets behind the bridge. You can also capture a great shot right after the sun goes down during the crossover point when the bridge lights turn on. Bring your bug spray as the reeds and muddy areas that run along the edge of the Cooper River are loaded with insects and biting no-seeums.
5. Angel Oak
This Southern live oak located on Johns Island is estimated to be over 500 years old. There is no fee to visit and take photos, however tripods are not allowed. The hours are from 9-5 and you will want to go early for softer morning light and less crowds. This tree has beautiful branches that stretch out in every direction and the tree canopy produces shade that covers over 17,000 square feet of area under the tree. When you arrive, walk around and read the scene to select the best composition. The possibilities here are endless, but it does take some work to set up your shot as there are many distractions that you will want to leave out of your picture.
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