North America Photography USA

Blue Bays and Pastel Days: Photographing Charleston

Boat to Fort Sumpter. Image by The Family Adventure Project
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Things to Photograph in Charleston on a self guided walk

There are few U.S. cities as photogenic as Charleston, South Carolina. The downtown seems made for walking and snapping, and you can easily wander from the historic centre to the bay without getting tired feet. While I was in Charleston with the British Guild of Travel Writers I took a quick photography lesson with UK travel photographer Chris Coe, who runs the Travel Photographer of the Year Competition. I then asked Chris for his suggestions for a DIY tour of the best things to photograph in Charleston, which he outlines in this guest post.

Charleston's most famous singles house
Charleston’s most famous singles house. Image by The Family Adventure Project

Why photograph Charleston?

Teeming with horses and carts, narrow alleys and colourful painted houses Charleston in South Carolina is an Instagrammer’s dream. Even if you aren’t hugely skilled at photography, the blue skies and pretty harbors make any picture look postcard ready. I spent many hours of my visit wandering the historic centre with its eclectic shops, hip restaurants and overwhelming amount of churches. But not as many hours as photographer Chris Coe, who runs courses on how to take better photographs. Here he suggests a short walk suitable for anyone who fancies capturing the best of the Charleston sights with minimum effort…

Sign in Charleston park
Historic signposting in one of Charleston parks> image by The Family Adventure Project

Start at Charleston Market

“For many people a visit to Charleston starts at the colourful market right in the centre. You can easily spend an hour seeing and experiencing this vibrant attraction. Take some time to look first though. If you start at one end and walk through you quickly see photos everywhere from local Charleston souvenirs to specialities like hats and bow ties. The food stalls are interesting too, both those selling ingredients to take home to those to taste and eat now. There are lots of great close up shots as well as the wider views and anything you miss can be photographed on the way back through.

Proceed to the park

Once you finished head south down East Bay Street towards The Battery. You’ll pass some colourful cafes and restaurants. After a couple of blocks take a left at Vendue Range, opposite Tradds Restaurant. This will take you to Waterfront Park with a lovely fountain at the entrance and boardwalk pier in front. Turning right through the park takes you to the famous Pineapple Fountain. Towards the other end of the park turn right onto Exchange Street away from the waterfront. When you reach East Bay Street again the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon are on your right.

Tradds Cafe, Charleston
There are lots of colorful cafe’s like Tradds. Image by The Family Adventure Project

Capture a rainbow

Turning left takes you to Rainbow Row, colourful painted houses which always make a good photo. This is the older part of town and there are some fabulous houses and details to photograph between here and Battery Point.

Rainbow Row, Charleston SC.Imge by The Family Adventure Project
Make sure you don’t overlook Rainbow Row on your photography tour of ,Charleston SC

Explore cool streets and alleys

If you take the first main right turn into Tradd Street this will take you into the heart of this area then have fun wandering. When you get to Church Street turn left. This will take you straight to The Battery but take your time and don’t be afraid to explore some of the side streets and alleys. They’re quiet, with very few cars on them and you’ll be amazed at what you find to photograph.

The Battery, Charleston
The Battery, Charleston.Image by The Family Adventure Project

Walk back along the harbour wall

The Battery is the historic tip of the peninsula with view across to the Ashley River and White Point Garden, lined by lovely old trees and lots of statues. There are photos everywhere! You can walk back along the harbor wall, running along East Battery. This becomes East Bay Street as you head back towards the centre.”

Cinema in Charleston
The architecture in Charleston is cinematic. Image by The Family Adventure Project

More reading:

If you like the idea of a visit to Charleston then check out my other posts outlining 30 things to do in Charleston and the Southern and British charms of a House and Gardens tour.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

1 Comment

  • […] Why stop at a sunset selfie? Charleston’s colours are so pretty that the city lends itself to a photography tour.  Chris Coe, who runs the Travel Photographer of the Year competition, recently ran a photography course in the city.  In this guest post he puts together some suggestions for a self guided Charleston photography tour. […]

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