Magnolia Plantation: A Photographer's Dream March 30 2008, 0 Comments

Every professional photographer I have known has had at least one special place that they like to shoot at least once a year. The location is chosen because it gives them a sense of peace, a calming of the soul which allows the creative artist within to emerge uninhibited. The images that result can be stunning.

For me, this would undoubtedly be Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. I frequent there far more than once a year. Anyone who has visited there, clearly understands why. This elegant plantation of more than 500 acres embraces the soul taking you on a journey allowing you to see yourself as an aristocrat of the 1800’s, roaming through it’s splendid gardens. The vast acres of Azaleas, Magnolias, Camellias and Live Oaks with Spanish Moss swaying from the branches brush away any troubles you may carry and for a few hours leaves the world you came in with behind.

As you pass through it’s large iron gates and drive down a long narrow road lined with Live Oaks and Azalea bushes that have grown some 8 to 10 feet tall, you are immediately transported. The colors are vibrant, the oaks majestic. I have often thought it would be impossible to have a bad day surrounded by so much beauty.

I shoot on average around 2000 images a year there. The spring is, for me, the most spectacular! The azaleas are unprecedented. They are perfection. The garden paths wind and bend through bamboo forests. There are formal gardens and garden paths along the ponds and white bridges just perfect for a bride and groom! The swamp garden has birds of beauty and birds of prey, enough so, that bird watchers, painters and photographers come to share in the spectacle hoping to capture a glimpse, a sketch, an image.

I have been asked how I can shoot there so often. Don’t I get bored? If I shoot there so often, how is there ever anything different? The fact is there is so much to photograph, that I could never capture it all. The seasons are swift. Nothing is ever the same. I have images from years ago that no longer exist because the trees and landscapes have grown and filled in. And it is not always that I am looking for vast differences. Sometimes the subtle differences are what I am looking to document, the progress of the plantation and nature over time. The light constantly changes. One morning the soft spring light creates one mood and the early morning fog of the next morning creates another. And because of all of this it is dependable…because I cannot capture it all…because the seasons are so swift…because the changes are subtle…and because the light is never the same…

Now being cared for by the 11th generation of the Drayton’s, Magnolia Plantation is still family owned and run. It’s caretakers have been on site for decades. Magnolia Plantation should be on your list of places to see…must see!

COMING SOON: My favorite picks from this year’s spring shoot at Magnolia Plantation!