One of my most popular blogs is my guide to photography locations in Charleston, SC. It’s terrific if you are a portrait photographer in the business, but if you are a hobbyist or looking to take some personal photos in the Charleston area, I definitely have other recommendations. I’m going to categorize them here and share my perspective. Note – this is just my opinion, with some photos added in for examples.
So you love a good sunrise:
Early bird? Because Charleston is on the east coast, sunrise is generally the time you’re going to catch the sun over the ocean. Isle of Palms and Folly Beach both have big piers to add some visual interest to your sunrise photos. (Note, Folly Beach’s pier is currently under construction which may/may not affect the view.) Battery Park (White Pointe Gardens) and Waterfont Park downtown Charleston also face the rising sun over the Charleston Harbor. In Mt. Pleasant, Pitt St. Bridge has a sunrise view over the marsh.
So you want to catch a beautiful sunset:
In order to catch a beautiful sunset, you typically have to be overlooking a marsh or some other body of water. Some terrific sunset views include Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve in Folly Beach, Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, and Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. Also in Mt. Pleasant, Memorial Waterfront Park & Remley’s Point Boat Landing will give you some terrific views of the Ravenel Bridge. Brittlebank park also has a beautiful sunset over the Ashley River.
So you’d like to photograph some landmarks.
There are a few things to consider if you’re hoping to make the editing process easy on yourself. If you’re thinking of photographing the Pineapple fountain, go EARLY in the morning. In my experience, that area stays quite crowded until sunset. Honestly, it just depends on whether you care about crowds in your photo or not. If you are planning to go to the Angel Oak, be prepared for many signs, chains around the tree, and throngs of people. Also: No tripods are allowed. You can photoshop people out (see below), but it does hinder the ambience a bit. Rainbow Row is in the shade during the afternoon (so your light will be more even). If you’re looking for an avenue of oaks, Boone Hall Plantation’s is one of the most famous. (Charles Towne Landing has a very pretty oak alley, too.)
So you’re open to suggestion:
Magnolia Plantations and Gardens is just beautiful for macro and nature photography, as well as scenic landscape photography. My personal favorite is the Audobon swamp. Haul along your long lens for some amazing shots of wildlife.
Boneyard Beach at Sunrise is a really fun excursion. You have to get to Garris Landing quite early in the morning, but the ride and trek out to the beach is a lot of fun, and the sunrise shots are also amazing. I have done it once and hope to do it again once we move closer to the boat landing.
McClellanville, Mepkin Abbey, Cypress Gardens, and Botany Bay are all spots worth checking out as well.
I hope that helps; and as always, feel free to contact me if you have more questions. I love to talk photography and am more than willing to share my advice and experience.
Best of luck shooting!