Carlisle is posed next to the Cocky statue for senior graduation photos on the University of South Carolina campus.

5 Great Locations for Portraits in Columbia, SC

Are you looking for great locations to take portraits in Columbia, SC? Read this list of 5 popular and publicly accessible spots for photo shoots.

The South Carolina Statehouse

The South Carolina Statehouse is located at 1100 Gervais Street. It is a popular spot for amateur as well as professional photographers. It features 11 acres of landscaped walking trails, open grassy areas, and monuments. Of course, one of the biggest draws is the Statehouse itself. The over 100-year-old building features massive columns with steep granite steps. Nearby metered parking is available. The outdoor area of the grounds is publicly accessible 24/7, but some sections may be reserved at times for events.

Bhanu poses for outdoor headshots at the South Carolina Statehouse.
Business headshot taken at the South Carolina State House

The USC Horseshoe

Carlisle poses for senior graduation photos at the University of South Carolina Horseshoe, a popular location for portraits.
Senior portrait taken at the USC Horseshoe.

The Horseshoe on the campus of the University of South Carolina is over two centuries old as well as one of the original parts of the city. Located at 902 Sumter Street, it features large trees and historic buildings. It is a go-to place to take family pictures. It remains beautiful all year; therefore, is a favorite with photographers who seek its brick paths, lovely gardens, and fountains. Behind the Horseshoe is the 6’5″ bronze statue of USC’s beloved mascot Cocky, a great Instagram photo-op. And the nearby fountain and reflecting pool in front of Thomas Cooper Library is a favorite spot for graduating seniors to take pictures. The Horseshoe can be busy at graduation and prom times. Nearby metered parking is available as well as a public parking garage on Pendleton Street.

The Gardens at the SC Governor’s Mansion

The gardens at the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion are a hidden gem of Columbia. They are located at 800 Richland St. The gardens are open to the public on weekdays from 9am to 5 pm unless it is a state holiday or there is a private event. A small gate gives public access to the largely hidden grounds. Once inside one can find fountains, gravel paths, swings, gazebos, statues, and pergolas. The Lace House and Caldwell-Boylston House are also located in the gardens. Additionally, the Lace House can be rented for photography sessions. This is indeed a peaceful spot to visit, and usually has few visitors at any given time. So this a good place to take pictures earlier in the day. Nearby metered parking is available.

Caitlin poses on the steps of the Lace House in the gardens of the South Carolina Governor's Mansion.
Portrait taken in the gardens at the SC Governor’s Mansion.

Columbia Riverfront Park

Columbia Riverfront Park is one of the more popular locations to take pictures in the city of Columbia. The park is located at 312 Laurel Street and separates the Congaree River from the Historic Columbia Canal. Besides the water features of the canal and river it has a spillway gate, a pedestrian bridge, an amphitheater, and a historic water plant. The water plant is a unique spot to take pictures with a grungy, industrial feel both inside and out. Public restrooms are on site. Public parking is available. Be prepared for a short walk to the river and canal.

A couple pose on the bridge crossing the Historic Canal at Columbia Riverfront Park, a great location for portraits.
Couples portrait taken at Columbia Riverfront Park.

The Vista

Chellie poses with flowers in the Columbia Vista, a great location for portrait photography.
Portrait taken in the Vista.

Columbia’s Vista is an entertainment district between the Main Street District and the Congaree River. Formerly a warehouse district, it is now full of restaurants, bars, and retail businesses. It has a bustling nightlife. Here you can get portraits with an urban feel. Colorful walls, string lights, and neon signs will add vibrant flavor to your portraits. Be sure to visit the Lincoln Street Tunnel for photogenic possibilities. This is a great place for senior portraits with a city background. And it’s one of the best locations for portraits at night. The landscape of the Vista is ever changing so you will have to walk around to see what you can find. There are public parking garages and metered parking; however, you may need to search for a good parking spot during peak times.

There are many good locations for portraits in Columbia, but these are a great start if you don’t know the city well or are just getting started in photography.

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