10 Gorgeous Grand Strand Locations For Your Portrait Session
Jun 30, 2020 | By: A Charmed Life Photography
The Grand Strand area is home to some of the most beautiful sites for your professional portraits. Whether you are celebrating an engagement, wedding, graduation, expecting a baby or simply want to capture your family as they are at this moment in time, your ideal backdrop is just around the corner!
Below are 10 of my favorite scenic locations and what you can expect when shooting there.
Myrtle Beach State Park is conveniently located to all downtown accommodations and includes a one mile stretch of pristine, undeveloped white-sand beach. Gather the family among the dunes, roll up your pantlegs for a romantic stroll along the shore, or go in for a kiss beneath the famous fishing pier.
The park also features a quaint boardwalk surrounded by swaying sea oats and two wooded nature trails where you can pose among the live oaks and southern magnolias.
Admission/Parking: Admission to Myrtle Beach State Park is $8 for adults; $5 for SC seniors (age 65 & older); $4 for children ages 6-15; and free for children 5 and younger. Parking is included in your admission fee.
Pets: Due to Horry County ordnance, pets are not allowed on the beach between 10 AM and 5 PM May 1 through Labor Day. They are allowed in most other outdoor areas year-round.
Just a few miles south from Myrtle Beach State Park sits one of the Grand Strand’s most recognized and beloved landmarks. Huntington Beach State Park offers 2,500 acres of beach and forest along the Murrells Inlet shore.
It is also home to Atalaya, a Moorish-style castle once owned by sculptor and philanthropist, Anna Hyatt Huntington. The one-of-a-kind home is her legacy.
Atalaya is especially popular among couples for engagement shots, bridal portraits, and weddings. The teal doors and grates stand out in beautiful contrast to the stone walls of this National Historic Landmark.
Admission/Parking: Prices are the same as Myrtle Beach State Park: $8 for adults; $5 for SC seniors (age 65 & older); $4 for children ages 6-15; and free for children 5 and younger with parking included in your admission fee.
Admission to Atalaya is an additional $2 per person and free for children 5 and under.
Pets: Dogs are welcome all year long at Huntington Beach State Park but must remain on a leash.
Apache Pier is the longest wooden pier on the entire east coast! Located on the north end of Myrtle Beach near famous Barefoot Landing, the pier can only be accessed through the Apache Campground or by walking along the beach from the north or south. This affords the spot an extra degree of privacy for your beachside photos.
Parking: There is a $5 parking fee per vehicle if driving onto the property, and it is a $2 per person to access the pier.
Pets: As per the city of Myrtle Beach, leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round except between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from May 1 through Labor Day. The Apache Campground is also very dog-friendly, but dogs cannot walk on the pier itself.
Located in North Myrtle Beach, the Cherry Grove area enjoys a quiet, small-town-feel. Built in the 1950s, the pier has proven extremely durable, undergoing only minor remodeling over the past seven decades.
This spot offers wide open sandy beaches and sea grass dunes as well as the historical pier as your backdrop. Write your names in the sand or opt for a colorful sunset photo session.
Parking: Cherry Grove Pier has its own paid parking lot. There is also public parking available on the 7th and 8th floor of the Tower Two parking garage across the street.
Pets: North Myrtle Beach allows leashed dogs on the beach year-round except between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the spring and summer season (May 15 – September 15).
Due to catastrophic damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the Surfside Pier is undergoing reconstruction. Currently, guests can only access about the first 25 feet of the pier. However, most of my clients prefer to have their photos taken underneath or adjacent to the pier where the waves lap against the weathered pilings.
Parking: Dedicated parking is available at the pier for $2 per hour or $10 for the day.
Pets: Leashed dogs are welcome on Surfside Beach year-round except between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from May 1 through Labor Day.
The 668-foot long Garden City Pier is located eight miles south of Myrtle Beach and is known to locals as the “Party Pier.” There is an arcade, a café, and an outdoor bar with live music, karaoke, and more.
Much like the Surfside Pier, my clients typically choose to have their photos taken beneath the boards with the beautiful Atlantic Ocean as their backdrop.
Parking: While the pier does not have its own dedicated parking, there are plenty of public beach access lots and metered spots along Ocean Boulevard.
Pets:Garden City welcomes leashed dogs on the beach year-round except between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from May 1 through Labor Day.
Long before it became a favorite spot for golfers, Caledonia’s 2,542 acres belonged to the Pawley family for whom the entire town is named. The land was a thriving 1700s rice plantation and a favorite destination for fisherman and duck hunters.
Today, Caledonia’s beauty is well-preserved with a stunning alley of majestic live oaks, annual and semi-annual blooming flowers, and an Old-South antebellum-style clubhouse.
Photo sessions must be approved in advance and cannot conflict with the normal operations of the golf course. There are no pets allowed and children are restricted during golfing hours. There is plenty of free on-site parking at the Caledonia Clubhouse.
Brookgreen Gardens may be the most breathtakingly beautiful location on this list, but it comes at a price, and imposes several restrictions.
Founded in 1931, this 9,100-acre property is home to several themed gardens, sculptures, and fountains, as well as a wildlife preserve for dozens of local species. The result is a magical backdrop for family, engagement, proposal, graduation, prom or quinceañera portraits. Unfortunately, only couples planning to hold their wedding at Brookgreen may use the grounds for bridal photos.
One-day photo sessions are $250 and must be booked two weeks in advance. The fee includes:
Up to a 1 1/2-hour photo shoot Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Complementary one day admission to the gardens for six people (including your photographer). All others must pay regular garden admission.
A Brookgreen representative to guide your party.
Access to any available outdoor space for photographs. However, specific garden areas cannot be reserved for photo sessions.
There is a strict No Pets policy at Brookgreen Gardens.
For something completely different and undeniably southern, choose the historic Conway Riverwalk for your photographs.
As the blackwater Waccamaw River meanders through the quaint town, you will find rustic wooden buildings – some dating back to the 1700s, boat-filled marinas, tree-lined train tracks, and much more along its banks.
The most striking site of all may be the walkway beneath the Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge. Built in 1937, the unique architecture of the bridge abutments forms a cathedral-like series of towering arches. When shot just right, this feature lends a one-of-a-kind backdrop to your photos.
Parking:The city of Conway offers free parking and there is no fee to stroll the Riverwalk.
Pets: Dogs are welcome along the trail but must be leashed.
Are you renting a beachfront property during your stay on the Grand Strand? Let the oceanfront stretch in front of your accommodations serve as the backdrop for your photos!
Not only is it convenient for families with small children, shooting on location means you do not have to worry about parking, admission fees, or restrictions unless you are staying within Myrtle Beach city limits.
Those staying at a hotel or beach home in North Myrtle Beach, Garden City, Surfside Beach, Murrells Inlet, or Pawleys Island are free to hold their photo session right in front of their accommodations. However, those within Myrtle Beach proper are advised to shoot at the nearest pier due to a city ordinance.
Whatever your vision, The Grand Strand has the ideal location to make your dream photo session a reality!