Best Places in Charleston for Engagement Photos

Charleston is the perfect romantic backdrop for your engagement photo session, but choosing the best places out of literally hundreds of options is tough! How do you narrow down your “route” in a city with a stunning backdrop around every corner? (and down every alley, and up every side street…you get the picture).

I’ve lived here and been photographing engagement sessions in the city for years, so I complied a list of some of my favorite go-to spots. You’re welcome. I’ve also narrowed this down a bit into regions, so if you’re trying to hit a few different spots you can make a plan. Let’s start downtown.

Engaged couple holding hands on Chalmers Street in the cobblestone at sunrise wearing a white dress and navy sweater
B&C at sunrise on Chalmers Street in December

Historic Downtown

Just FYI – this is not an exhaustive list, just some of the “top” requested / photographed spots. I (and I’m sure most local photographers) absolutely love to plan custom routes and visit hidden gems, so if you’d like something a little more unique just reach out before your session!

1. Chalmers Street
If photos on the infamous cobblestone streets are your dream, look no further than Chalmers Street. Starting at the top of the street (where it begins on Meeting St.) you’ll find gorgeous Live Oaks and the intricate gate of Washington Square, plus Hibernian Hall in the background.

Couple holding hands and walking across Chalmers Street in downtown Charleston in December
B&C on Chalmers St. at sunrise in December

If you continue down Chalmers towards where it intersects Church St. you’ll have pretty pastel buildings, blooming Crepe Myrtle trees (in the summer), and St. Phillips Church in the background.

Couple hugging under a pink blooming crepe myrtle tree on Chalmers Street in Charleston
G&A on Chalmers St. in July at sunset
Engaged couple holding hands and walking in cobblestone at sunrise in Charleston South Carolina
D&M on Chalmers St. in April
Woman jumping on her husbands back in the cobblestone street in Charleston South Carolina
D&M on Chalmers St. at sunrise
Couple kissing on back of pink car in front of church in historic downtown charleston wearing pastel purple and blue
D&M at the Church St. & Chalmers St. intersection with St. Phillips Church in the background

2. Washington Square
If you want most of your session downtown, but also want some of the epic South Carolina Live Oaks in your photos then you need to add Washington Square to your list. The only caveat to photographing here is if it’s not a sunny day it’s pretty dark under the trees, so I’d suggest only using this location if your day isn’t overcast.

Couple kissing under live oak tree in Washington Square in downtown Charleston at sunset
G&A in Washington Square at sunset in July

3. Broad Street
My favorite thing about Broad St. is that it doesn’t matter if you’re there for a sunrise session, or a sunset session, either way you get gorgeous light. (If I had to choose a favorite I’d say sunrise, just because there’s less traffic and people)

black and white couple crossing broad street in charleston at sunset
S&K crossing Broad St. at sunset
engaged couple hugging in front of white marble building on Broad Street downtown Charleston under blooming flowers in March
C&H on Broad St. in March
Couple standing together on Broad Street in Charleston South Carolina
J&J on Broad St. (facing) sunrise in October
Married couple kissing on the steps on Broad Street in Charleston SC wearing white
S&K on Broad St

3. Rainbow Row
One of the most iconic spots in Charleston, Rainbow Row is a fun and colorful backdrop to add to your downtown list. If you’re adding Rainbow Row to your route here are a few things to know. First off, since it’s such an iconic spot there are usually lots of people around. This means waiting for your “turn” at each spot, and potentially groups of people in the background of your photos. This is one spot in Charleston that is really only best at sunset, since in the morning the light hits the upper buildings directly and isn’t great for photos. **hint: schedule your session on a weekday evening if you’re planning to stop here for the least potential traffic!

Married couple holding hands walking on Rainbow Row in Charleston South Carolina at sunrise in October
J&J on Rainbow Row just before sunrise in October
Man kissing his fiancé on Rainbow Row at sunset in Charleston SC
G&A on Rainbow Row at sunset in July
Engaged man and woman hugging on Rainbow Row in Charleston South Carolina wearing white dress and blue suit coat
H&S on Rainbow Row at sunset in September

4. Longitude Lane
My favorite spot for some greenery and old cobblestone, Longitude Lane is a quiet alley with tons of little nooks to photograph in. Just like Washington Square, this spot is best on sunny days since gloomy days can be pretty dark. Also, watch your feet! None of the stones are even so there are lost of trip hazards.

Engaged couple walking through an alley on cobblestone with brick wall and ivy in downtown Charleston
Z&S on Longitude Ln at sunset in May
Engaged couple wearing flower sundress and pink shirt standing together in Longitude Lane with brick and ivy in Charleston
G&A in Longitude Ln at sunset in July
Engaged couple walking through alleyway in historic downtown Charleston
L&P in Longitude Ln at sunset in April

5. Tradd Street
The best spot (in my opinion) for pretty window boxes and pastel houses, without all the people! Tradd Street is one of the most well-preserved streets in historic downtown, and runs completely straight for one mile directly across the tip of the peninsula. You can walk around the corner from Rainbow Row, and then head down Tradd Street all the way up to Meeting Street for a nice little loop!

Married couple wearing pastel dress and shirt twirling on the sidewalk on Tradd Street in downtown Charleston SC
D&M on Tradd St. at sunrise in April
Engaged couple standing together in front of yellow building with pink flower boxes on Tradd St in Charleston South Carolina
V&S on Tradd St at sunset in October
Engaged couple wearing formal clothes on Tradd Street in Historic Downtown Charleston
H&S on Tradd St. in September

Parks & Beaches

Charleston has three beaches, and tons of parks. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, just some of the top spots. I’ve included drive times in my notes, so (and me, or your photographer) can plan what’s feasible with your timeframe.

1. Hampton Park

Only about ten minutes from Charleston’s Historic Downtown, Hampton Park is a huge oasis of flowers, Live Oaks, and Spanish Moss. This is the best place to go if you want the aesthetic of one of the plantations, but without the entrance and photography fees. I love the park at both sunrise and sunset, just keep in mind that it’s a public park so if the weather is nice there will be lots of people out running and walking their dogs.

Couple sitting in Live Oak tree in Hampton Park Charleston South Carolina
S&K in Hampton Park at sunset in July
couple dancing during engagement photos in Hampton Park South Carolina
A&C in Hampton Park at sunset in September
Married couple kissing under crepe myrtles and Spanish moss in Hampton Park at sunset
A&C on the Hampton Park crepe myrtle path at sunset in September
Husband and Wife walking together in Hampton Park Charleston at sunrise carrying a white bouquet
T&J in Hampton Park at sunrise in October

2. Isle of Palms

If you’re planning on including the beach AND downtown in your session, this is the beach to go to. Isle of Palms is about 20 minutes from downtown (depending on traffic), and plenty big enough to have some quieter spots. Usually I plan my sessions starting downtown and ending at the beach if it’s an evening session, or the reverse for a sunrise session. Reminder, since we’re on the east coast there is not sunset over the water, but it’s still a pretty time!

Engaged couple kissing on a picnic blanket on Isle of Palms Beach in South Carolina
N&S on Isle of Palms Beach at sunset in April
married couple splashing through water at Sullivans Island Beach at sunrise
A&J at sunrise on the beach in September
Engaged couple hugging and walking on Isle of Palms beach at sunset wearing sunglasses
N&S at sunset on the beach in April

3. Folly Beach

Probably the best beach for photos in Charleston, but the furthest away, Folly Beach has so many spots for photos it’s tough to choose an end. FYI I always suggest heading down to the end with the Morris Island Lighthouse.

Husband and wife sitting on driftwood in the water with Morris Island Lighthouse in the background on Folly Beach South Carolina wearing khaki and white and an ivory lace dress
Sunset at Morris Island Lighthouse in August
Husband and wife on Folly Beach South Carolina wearing khaki and white and an ivory lace dress
Sunset at Folly Beach near the dunes in August

4. Shem Creek

If you’ve seen the Netflix series Outer Banks you’ve seen Shem Creek (for those of you who don’t know, almost the entire show is filmed right in the Charleston area). It’s a fun area for food, walking the boardwalk, and kayaking or boating. I don’t have a ton of sessions here since it’s a fairly busy spot, but it’s really a great backdrop if you don’t mind working around the rest of the people enjoying the location. The best time is definitely sunrise since it comes up over the water, but sunset is pretty too. **Bonus points for sunrise, far less people around!

Black and white portrait of engaged couple on a boardwalk with Shem Creek and boats in the background
C&D on the Shem Creek Boardwalk at sunset in August
Man kissing his fiancé wearing a black dress on a dock at Shem Creek South Carolina with boats in the background
C&D on a dock at Shem Creek
black and white image of engaged couple running in the Shem Creek marsh at sunset in Charleston South Carolina
C&D in the marsh at Shem Creek at sunset

Ready to plan your session?

Choose your favorite spots and let’s create a route! Don’t forget to ask if you’d like to add some “hidden gems” to your locations. Maybe I’ll even share some of Charleston’s hidden gems in the future. Happy planning!

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