South Carolina Photographs and Artwork
Oaktree tunnels draping with Spanish Moss. Low Country sunsets, trees in the water at Botony Bay, Azaleas in bloom at Magnolia Plantation along with piers, and jetties disappearing into the sunrise at Folly Island all make for stunning photographic artwork for your home or office.
Visiting and Photographing South Carolina
South Carolina is not one of the states that jump out at you as a landscape photography destination as some of the western states do, but it holds its own. Allow me to share some of the many photographic highlights of The Palmetto State.
The South Carolina coast, along with what is referred to as the Low Country, is the big attraction in this state. Like any state, the coast has many great places to visit. As usual, finding good photography spots takes some hunting.
It’s just over the line in Savannah, Georgia, but if you’re shooting in South Carolina, a slight diversion to the Wormsloe Historic Site is in order. The long driveway under the oak trees is one of the best tree tunnels I know of. The trick is being there in the morning when they open after the trees are wet from light rain, but not so much rain as to leave puddles in the road. Having vibrant resurrection ferns on the trees is a critical element.
At the southern end of South Carolina, is Hilton Head Island. This is a premier location on the coast with world-class golf courses and well-known hotels like the Sea Pines Resort. For me, it’s a little too populated for photography, so I have not shot from the island.
On St. Helena Island, there is Hunting Island State Park, which has a fantastic campground on the ocean. Unlike many State Parks that open at 8 AM, Hunting Island opens at 6 AM, which gives you a real chance of shooting the sunrise from the beach there, even if you are not staying inside the park.
North of St. Helena Island near the town of Sheldon, are the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church. Also on the same road, is a private residence called the Tomotley Plantation. I believe both have recently had protections put in place that limits photography, but with some creativity, some good photos should be possible.
Edisto Island has a handful of well-known photo locations. The road into Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve presents you with a wonderful tree tunnel with oak trees hanging over from both sides of the road. The best time to photograph this is late afternoon on a cloudy day. Like always, if the trees are wet, it’s a bonus.
The Preserve opens pretty early, which allows you to get all the way to Driftwood Beach for sunrise. Unfortunately, one of the iconic dead trees that were offshore was knocked over during a recent hurricane. There are still other excellent photo opportunities. Be prepared to have to walk in the shallow water and use long exposure techniques.
Johns Island is home to the famous Angel Oak Tree. This tree is said to be over 500 years old and its branches extend out so far that they rest on the ground. It has become more and more protected with barricades, making photography much more difficult. Fortunately, I was able to photograph it before much of the current barricades were put into place. Like all the big oak trees, being there when it is wet results in a much more lush appearance to the tree and the resurrection ferns.
Just before Charleston, is Folly Beach. The pier, with its intricate wood supports, is my favorite pier to photograph. Spring and Fall are great times to photograph the pier from the south side with the sun rising behind it. There is a wood jetty on the far north end of Folly Island that, at high tide, makes for another wonderful image at sunrise.
Northwest of Charleston, is the beautiful Magnolia Plantation. The Azalea flowers are usually in bloom in late March, but it is worth a call to the Plantation to be sure before you go. I have been there at what I thought was a perfect time and nothing was happening. The bloom schedule may be affected by various weather conditions.
Northeast of Charleston at Mt. Pleasant is the Boone Hall Plantation. This is another great location for oak tree tunnels. Here, there is not much in the way of azaleas, so it’s mostly about just trying to be there on a cloudy day.
Further up the coast are some more of the intricate wood piers that make such great subjects at sunrise. There is one at Pawley’s Island, Murrells Inlet, Garden City, Surfside Beach, and Myrtle Beach. Always be sure to check sun angles in advance on apps like The Photographers Ephemeris or Photo Pills. Personally, I prefer high tides, but a case could be made for low tide for reflections.
Huntington Beach State Park not only has some cool marsh scenes but some small sand dunes and sea oats on the beach. They also open early enough for you to get there and be in place for sunrise.
I have not had the opportunity to explore much inland from the coast in South Carolina. Congaree National Park is near Gadsden, South Carolina. Even further inland, are areas like Lake Jocassee and Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. I have not been to these areas, but they are definitely on my list.
South Carolina may not always come to mind for visiting and photographing, but if you’re in the area, give it a shot.
Fun Facts About South Carolina Landscapes
South Carolina became the 8th state of the United States in May of 1788. It was the very first state to succeed from the Union on December 20, 1860 and was a founding member of the Confederacy.
After the Civil War and readmission to the United States, South Carolina has become much less dependent on farming and is home to manufacturing plants for major corporations like Boeing and BMW.
It was never a state famous for sports teams, but in recent years, the Clemson Tigers have put them on the map. If you want to play golf, it doesn’t get much better than the golf course at Hilton Head or Kiawah Island.
There are 187 miles of coastline jammed with recreational opportunities. There are great beaches at Hunting Island, Edisto Beach, Seabrook Island, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet, Surfside Beach, and Myrtle Beach. Tourism is alive and well in South Carolina.