Guest Post: The Backdrop of Charleston’s Parks

By Chris Smith

According to Conde Naste Traveler, Charleston is one of the most popular destinations for weddings in the country. Part of that is because we have such photogenic parks that provide a plethora of diverse backdrops for gorgeous engagement, bridal and family photos. As a professional photographer, I have a few favorite locations that routinely deliver a wide variety of great images for my clients.

Easily one of the greatest spots in town is Waterfront Park. The pineapple fountain in the center of the park is the symbol of southern hospitality and a great place to meet and start a photo shoot. The long, tree-covered walkways always have beautiful natural light. The pier at the northern end of the park makes for fun images of couples on swings, leaning against the pillars or looking out over Charleston Harbor with the iconic Arthur Ravanel Jr. Bridge rising in the background. At the southern tip of the park is a lovely grassy area with an un-impaired backdrop of the harbor and the USS Yorktown. And to the west of the park is a myriad of alleys and cobblestone streets that make great scenes and background textures for photographs.

Just south of Waterfront Park are The Battery and White Point Garden. I enjoy combining both of these locations for a memorable photographic adventure. The newly renovated gazebo in the center of White Point Gardens is the perfect spot to begin the session. From there I’ll usually find a soft patch of grass centered among the oak trees, which tower overhead like a cathedral. From there our “walk-about” might take us up the last block of Church Street., incorporating the black iron gates and old brick façades into our photos. Then returning along East Bay Street, we get the sights of Charleston Harbor and the beautiful homes of High Battery as our backdrops. For a grand finale, the corner of The Battery is a great spot for dramatic sunset photos.

Moving more toward the interior of Charleston Peninsula, Cannon Park offers something totally unique! Located near MUSC, there are beautiful live oaks and a nice open patch of grass for photography. However, the stately old columns, left over from the former museum, are an amazing element to incorporate into beautiful and dramatic images. My favorite time of day to shoot here is in the evening with the warm sun bursting through the old Romanesque columns.

Further up the peninsula, sprawling along the Ashley River is beautiful Brittlebank Park. A popular site for many local festivals and events, including July 4th fireworks and exhibits from the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, Brittlebank Park is one of the best locations for sunsets. As the golden sun tickles the horizon, it’s amplified by the shimmering reflection off the Ashley River. And fittingly, off in the distance on the far bank is Charlestowne Landing, the original settlement of Charleston.

Just up the road on the far side of The Citadel, stands Hampton Park. With its giant live oaks, its sculpted duck pond, and its dazzling array of floral displays, there are photographic opportunities everywhere you turn. Families with children love it when I capture the candid photojournalistic moments of their kids feeding the ducks and geese, squealing with delight. Artsy reflections in the pond, playful images sitting on the low-lying branches of the oaks, and timeless portraits backed by the beautiful layers of flowering bushes are but a few of the opportunities waiting to be photographed at this park.

These are just a few of my favorite Charleston Parks from the Peninsula. When you consider that I haven’t even mentioned Daniel Island, James Island, Johns Island and West Ashley, just imagine what amazing photographic opportunities are waiting out there to be discovered!

For more information about planning an event in a city park, check out this previous blog post or contact permit initiators Bernadette Brown at 843-724-7470 or Delores Bethune at 843-724-7327.

Chris Smith is a professional photographer with Chris & Cami Photography, LLC. You can see more his work at or connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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