5 of South Carolina’s Best Kept Secrets

So what is worth seeing in SC, other than the popular Charleston Aquarium, Riverbanks Zoo, or the football stadiums? Quite a few places actually. But I have narrowed it down to the 5 that most people have never heard of (even the locals!).

1. Gaffney Premium Outlets

Because what Southern girl doesn’t love shopping? And ok, maybe this isn’t exactly a secret. But I feel like this gets way less attention than it deserves simply because of the remote location. However, these 75 stores are well worth the drive! And of course, you can’t miss the iconic marker for the area, commonly referred to as the “Peach butt” (the Peachoid Water Tower).

**Fun Fact: South Carolina is the nation’s leading peach producer and shipper east of the Mississippi River.

2. Campbell’s Covered Bridge

Constructed in 1909, Campbell’s Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in the State of South Carolina. It’s owned by Greenville County now, and is a great site for photography shoots and picnics!

3. The Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel

The Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel was started in 1856 by a railroad company and is bored for more than a mile into the granite heart of fabled Stumphouse Mountain. The coming of the Civil War in 1859 ended the work on the project. Some years ago, Clemson University made Blue Mold Cheese in the tunnel successfully for the first time in the South. The Tunnel is still owned by Clemson University, but is managed by the city of Wahalla.

4. Bomb Island, Lake Murray

Bomb Island on Lake Murray each spring and summer is the home of a very unusual event. Each year thousands of Purple Martins return to this island to roost for the summer. The island has been declared a bird sanctuary and it is quite a sight to watch these birds return to Bomb Island each day around sunset.

5. Atalaya Castle and Huntington Beach State Park

Located in Huntington Beach State Park, you’ll find Atalaya Castle, a stunning tribute to the Spanish Mediterranean built as a winter home by philanthropists Archer and Anna Huntington. Beyond indulging Mr. Huntington’s passion for all things Spanish, the beachfront hacienda included an atelier for Mrs. Huntington, who was an accomplished sculptor, as well as a stable for animals she used as models. Atalaya stretches some 200 feet on each side, with 30 interior rooms framing a spacious Andalusian-style courtyard. The structure’s eponymous tower—in Spanish “Atalaya” means “watchtower”—housed a 3,000-gallon water tank.

Personally, the beach and board walks located within the state park are my favorite. It is located just south of Murrel’s Inlet and Myrtle Beach, but is much less crowded and trashy. Check out some of my shots from the park here.

But let’s be honest, 5 places can barely begin to cover all the wonderful destinations in beautiful South Carolina. So I want to hear about your favorite spots bellow! Have you ever visited any of my top 5?  Are there any “secret” spots that you love to visit? Let us know!



Carolina’s Finest

This post is a week overdue, but better late than never.

A week ago I was ending my lovely beach vacation with my Grandmother. We decided to go to a beautiful park called Brookgreen Gardens. It was a photographer’s paradise.

There are so many animals, statues, trees, and flowers that it kept me occupied well into the afternoon.

Bellow are some of my most favorite shots, though certainly not all of them! And as always, please feel free to look, share, and comment (my personal favorite!), but don’t copy or steal my work!

This is a Carolina Fox Squirrel. What really got me was the huge size of this guy! You can’t tell too much from the shots that I got, but he was the size of a small dog. No exaggeration.




The swamp birds (above) weren’t all that beautiful in my opinion, but the intense eyes and the crisp clean appearance of their feathers against the green did create pretty captivating subjects.

ImageMy most favorite animal to watch was the otter. However, this pair of pups wouldn’t be still long enough to let my camera focus, so the pictures were limited. However I could sit and watch them for hours. They were just so happy, and frequently showed off with back dives and rolls in the water.

The butterfly house was probably one of my favorite shoot locations. There were butterflies everywhere, as is to be expected in a butterfly house I suppose. I was fascinated by the ones that were sucking the juices out of oranges and cantaloupe, so there are a few shots of that bellow. I also had to be sure to capture the moment when a yellow butterfly landed on my Grandma’s arm. (Yellow butterflies hold a special significance to her in particular.)


Can you say heart attack? This snake was NOT in an enclosure, but instead, was laying on the side walk sunning himself when I rounded the corner and almost stepped on it! Pretty sure you could’ve heard my scream throughout the whole plantation. However, after I realized it wasn’t poisonous, my heart rate returned to normal and I shot a few photos before he slithered away.





ImageAnd of course you can’t walk through gardens without taking pictures of all the flowers…or the characteristic oak trees with the lovely twisted branches and draping Spanish moss.





I decided to spare you from viewing the pictures of the statues, which most people don’t get, but I couldn’t resist including these. The last one is my favorite though – the red bird made the shot. :)

I hope that you enjoyed the small sampling of my work! Coming up next on the blog: My first engagement shoot results! So stay tuned everyone. ;)

Life’s a Beach

Today is day 4 of my beach vacation. And I’m in heaven.

After endless school assignments, and the past  two weeks totaling 95 hours at work, I could not be happier to finally have time to relax.

It’s just my grandma and I, but it’s our first time taking a beach vacation since my Papa died back in August. It is bitter sweet coming here and not having my blonde-haired, blue-eyed grandfather with us…the last time I ever saw him alive he was rinsing sand of the bottom of the cooler before heading back home.

However, my Grandmother and I have found things to keep us occupied. Movies at night, sand and sun in the day, and even a nature walk.

Since this is the last week of my photography class, I have also been working on shots for my final exam portfolio.

Bellow are a few wildlife shots that I took in Huntington Beach State Park. All shots are in the original RAW format without editing or touch-ups. Please look, share, and comment, but please do not copy or steal my work! Thanks!ImageImage








Hope you enjoyed!

…And now, back to my beach chair! ;)

Photography 101

Being the ambitious person that I am, this summer I decided to take 9 online credits toward my undergrad degree.


A simple question deserves a simple answer.

I’m ready to be done with school. As soon as possible. So I’m squeezing 6 years of school requirements into 3.5. Sometimes it seems like a little much, but so far it’s working out ok. I’ve got to keep my mind occupied somehow while Paul’s away! ;)

For my first 3 credits (well, all of them really) I wanted something super easy that could give my GPA a little boost with a solid effortless A. So I went with a class entitled Fundamentals of Digital Photography. Since I have quite a bit of experience and know-how in photography, thanks to the influence of my amazing mother, I figured this was a good option. I never expected to learn as much as I have! Yes, there have been some days when I’m sick of having to run outside and snap a few pictures, but overall I’ve actually enjoyed the class.

Bellow I wanted to share a few of my favorites from the 6 graded portfolios I’ve compiled over the past 3 weeks. You may look, share, and comment, but please do not steal or copy my work. Thank you in advance! As always feedback is welcome.

Also, be sure to check out my mom’s professional business site at vividme.com!