Top 7 Locations for Portrait Sessions in Myrtle Beach
May 22, 2019 | By: Michele Coleman Photography
The Myrtle Beach area has some beautiful locations to offer when you are looking for the perfect place for your professional portrait session. Besides the gorgeous beaches, there is such a variety of unique settings for your photography experience. I have put together a list of some of the best spots that my clients and I both love.
When a client inquires with me about booking a photo session, I always like to ask some questions to help suggest locations that might best work for their project or specific idea they have in mind. Sometimes the client lets me decide and that is great too. It's important to be ready with a list of great options. I use these beautiful locations for family portraits, headshot sessions, high school seniors, and couples.
1. Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet
Located 15 miles from downtown Myrtle Beach (about a 20-30 minute drive, depending on traffic). The address is 6148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576. The entrance is located across the highway from Brookgreen Gardens. This is a favorite location for many reasons. The beach is beautiful and has the best dunes in the area. Besides the beach on the North or South end of the park, there is also a walkway onto the marsh where the sunsets are stunning. Not to mention, Atalaya Castle! The Castle makes a terrific backdrop for your portraits if you want something really unique. To shoot inside of the castle you must get there at least an hour before they close at 4-5pm and it costs just $2 per person entry fee. If you are more interested in a sunset beach session, we can still stop by the castle for some shots on our way to the ocean! Here you will have no hotels or beach homes in your pictures and you may see an alligator as you drive over the Causeway.
The Minuses: None really, unless you think it's too far to drive. There is also an admission fee of $8 per adult. I keep an extra SC resident state park pass to get my clients in for free.
2. Myrtle Beach State Park
Located on the far South end of Myrtle Beach, just outside of the city at at 4401 South Kings Highway Myrtle Beach, SC 29575. Myrtle Beach State Park consists of several miles of forest and beach and includes a pier and a small boardwalk. This park is a great choice for your portrait session as it has a variety of beautiful settings. I especially love one particular area of beautiful oak trees where there is lots of shade. Centrally located if you are visiting from either the North or South areas of the Grand Strand. Plenty of parking and settings, convenient drive from both North Myrtle and Myrtle Beach. No hotels or beach homes in your pictures if we shoot at certain angles. There aren't any for miles. This park is the best option for people with limited mobility.
Minuses: Can be very busy during the summer months and there are almost always several other photo shoots going on. There is also an admission fee of $8 per adult. I keep an extra SC resident state park pass to get my clients in for free. The dunes are roped off, which isn't a huge deal, but they really don't let you get close to them at all. Dogs are not allowed on the beach at certain times of the day.
3. The Market Common
For a non-beach, upscale and urban setting, I really like The Market Common area. The shops, restaurants and other businesses make nice backdrops. There is a ton of beautiful landscaping throughout, and a beautiful fountain. Market Common also has a small lake, bridges, playgrounds, and more. Some more great points for this location is free parking, it's close to downtown Myrtle Beach and the South end. You could even go shopping, dine out or catch a movie after you take pictures! Dog friendly all year!
Minuses: It can be busy/crowded at times, and parking close to where you want to be can be tricky too, especially on the weekends because there are almost always several events going on. I try to do my sessions at this location early morning before it gets busy.
4. Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach is known as the "family beach," and is located just South of Myrtle Beach. There are several beach access points as well as a Pier area, although it was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2015. You can still walk and shoot underneath the Pier and the beach is very clean. In the area of the Pier there are some cool locations utilizing local restaurants and rows of colorful beach homes. Surfside is overall less crowded than Myrtle Beach, not many tall hotels, and boasts a friendly atmosphere.
Minuses: Parking will cost you between the hours of 7am-7pm. No dogs are permitted on any of the town's beach areas from May 15 to September 15.
5. Pawleys Island
On the Island itself:
Pawley's Island is a small barrier island located South of Murrells Inlet. It is separated from the mainland by salt marsh and accessible by two short causeways. The Southern tip of Pawley's Island is the best location for your session as it has the largest parking area and this part is a totally uninhabited, natural beach. Pawleys also boasts jetties and marshes. Best sunset. Dog friendly all year! Parking is a major issue during the busy season as the small island has very limited lots and spaces available. Sunrise might be the best option at this location during the summer to ensure you can even get a place to park! 2020 UPDATE: The South end lot is currently closed due to damage from the 2019 Hurricane season. We could still do a session at the Northern tip of the island, but probably only at sunrise when the very few access parking lots aren't filled up.
Other Hidden Gems in Pawleys:
If you desire a more low country look to your pictures with beautiful oak trees and spanish moss blowing in the wind, or maybe a sunset on a quiet marsh, there are many other amazing places in the area. If you desire this look we can discuss some of the hidden gems I know of and utilize often.
6. Garden City Beach
Located south of Surfside Beach, Garden City is right on the line between Horry and Georgetown counties. Another popular family vacation spot. Garden City has numerous beach access points with free parking all the time, and a pier. I do a lot of family sessions at ocean front beach homes on Waccamaw Drive. Families enjoy the convenience of having us come to where they are, especially when it's a large group with many small children.
7. Cherry Grove Point- North Myrtle Beach
Starting at the northernmost point of North Myrtle Beach is Cherry Grove Beach. A quaint, quiet beach with plenty of public beach access areas. Cherry Grove Point is the very end of Cherry Grove beach. This area offers beautiful sweeping dunes- some of the largest and prettiest dunes in the whole Grand Strand area. From the Point you can also see islands to the North and The Cherry Grove Pier to the South. Sunset at this location is terrific.
Because my business is located about 40 minutes from Cherry Grove, I do charge a small travel fee of $20 for sessions here.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
Sometimes the best location is right outside of the beach front condo or resort where you are staying during your vacation. There are some exceptions to this, however, since the city of Myrtle Beach doesn't allow commercial photography on the sand in city limits. However, if you are staying at one of the other area beaches such as North Myrtle, Surfside, Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Pawleys Island, Litchfield, etc, then this could be a wonderful option for you. This option sometimes is the easiest for larger families.
Michele Coleman Photography is one of Myrtle Beach's top professional photographers, specializing in family portraits, weddings, senior portraits and headshot photography.