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Time short in Savannah, GA? Five tips on the best photo spots.
By Jim Byous
What!!?? You only have one weekend to visit Savannah? You gotta have pictures… but you want something different. Finding the right spot for pictures can be difficult when you are visiting a place for a short time. In Savannah, like anywhere else, there are many angles and views. Unfortunately, most travelers’ photos tend to look like everyone else’s. Here are five tips on how to make shots interesting with a few places to find them during your weekend photo hunt.
Having been here for the past twenty-five years helps. I’ve searched hard and often for vantage points that are different. Still, the five best photo locations in Savannah are hard to describe. Not because they aren’t there, but because there are so many. The city is most picturesque. And, not because I live here, but because it’s a freekin’ beautiful place… even in the heat of August.
Here we go:
First Tip, Get Close.
First. Get close. River Street and the Factor’s Walk area are great places to find different, less-often photographed shots, even though hundreds of thousands of tourists pass them each year. These two thoroughfares run parallel to the Savannah River and serve as a tourist haven. There is an abundance of history and dozens of shops for souvenir trolling that will occupy others who are traveling with you. Scout along the retaining walls that appear to keep the town from sliding into the water. They have great features to capture.
Most were built in the mid-1800s with segments going back to the century before. Stone from around the world can be seen; limestone with chert nodules from Devon England, basalt from Italy, coral from the Caribbean. They have unique textures and shapes that are pleasing to look at while telling their own version of history. Here too are cobblestone pavers that make interesting images.
The stones came in ships as ballast, rocks in the bottom the ships to balance the load and keep the ship upright. The stones were off-loaded on the docks and the city resold them for building materials. Walls, cobblestone streets and buildings were constructed over the years using them. Later in the 1800s ships captains realized they could substitute pig iron that could be sold to Savannah’s iron foundries and the negative-cash-flow stones were replaced with a money-making commodity.
Second. Find a parking garage and take the elevator, the stairs, or drive to the top floor. Not too many buildings are open for the use to image seekers, but parking garages usually offer a good, “birds-eye” perspective of nearby streets. Three of the following images were made on top of the State Street Parking Garage at Drayton and State Streets.
However, there are several multi-storey walkways and garages in Savannah, so getting good vantage points for overall shots of different squares will mean lots of steps… or if you are like me, the elevator.
Some attendants are grumpy about folks standing around, so shoot quick and go for the next site… or parking garage. There are many walls to look off of, giving interesting perspectives to the streets and people walking below.
Go Down and Look Up
Third. Go down and then look up. Sometimes finding a good and unusual view is simply bending your knees. By doing so you can combine near objects with those more distant. Or, you can give a perspective that most folks do not think of catching.
Sometimes it means looking up from a different location. Factors Walk offers many such views of the “skyline” buildings along the river. Its mid-way location between the lower, River Street and the upper, Bay Street buildings can give great perspective for shooting.
Go Where and When Other Don’t
Fourth. Go where and when other don’t. Most visitors follow a set pattern; visit River Street, take a carriage or trolley ride, and walk a few squares. Some venture out to Tybee Island and the beach. Highway 80 takes them from the Historic District to the island through Romerly Marsh where most do not see the photographic possibilities.
Savannah is surrounded by marshland that is accessible on the main thoroughfares. Stop and take a look, especially in early morning and late afternoon. The beach at Tybee is similar. If you can schedule to go through or visit at sunrise or sunset
you’ll have the best opportunities. Most sunbathers arrive later in the morning and leave just before sunset to avoid traffic. Little do they know that most everyone else think the same way which leads to… traffic.
Look for the unusual
Fifth. Look for the unusual. As you walk around town look for things most people don’t record on their camera. Sometimes you may almost trip over them, sometimes they are so ordinary that a closer look is all you need to get a great photo.
That’s the five ideas and many more areas to find them, but remember, ALWAYS get the main overviews of the sites. You’ll want them to illustrate and add context to the differing views you find on your visit.
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Y’all come see us and bring your camera.
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