Spartanburg Locations Tour: Hatcher Garden

Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve is situated on the eastern side of Spartanburg, on John B. White Boulevard, a short drive from the famous Beacon Drive-In. It is named for Harold and Josephine Hatcher, who started the garden in their backyard in 1969 and continued to expand and cultivate it for the rest of their lives. Today, Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve is operated by the Spartanburg County Foundation. Numerous workers and volunteers continue the work that Harold and Josephine started, providing a wonderful pocket of nature in our growing city. It is one of my places to visit, and I’ve spent many hours simply walking down the trails and taking pictures of the flora and fauna that call the place their home.

One of the first large structures you’ll see in Hatcher is the large gazebo situated just down the main trail from the parking lot. The gazebo is a wonderful meeting spot for large groups and it provides a panoramic view of the trails beyond. Such groups might also enjoy the observation deck near the center of the preserve. Either location has ample seating to rest and relax. Wandering through the garden, you’ll also notice that there are many side trails situated throughout the preserve, each with their own seating areas. If you’re adventurous enough, you may even find a few picnic tables hidden away from the main trails.

20160626_IMG_0024There are multiple stone and wooden benches situated in areas around the preserve, and just about any one of them provides wonderful natural vistas that can serve as a backdrop for beautiful portraits. These are especially suitable for couple’s photos, nature lovers, and children. During the spring and early summer, there are many different kinds of flowers in bloom. From fall to mid-winter, the foliage and ground leaves create a wonderful autumnal ambiance. If you’re considering this for a portrait location, or simply to wander around and take your own pictures, you’ll find that there are numerous spots which would be beautiful for photographs worthy of your living room wall.

Keep in mind, though, that this is a purely outdoor location. On hot summer days the water levels are reduced, so mosquitoes and humidity aren’t quite so problematic. But the garden is bordered by a natural stream, so these pests can’t be entirely avoided. Also, while much of the preserve is shaded, if you’re arriving on a hot day, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of ice cold water on hand to keep you cool and hydrated. If you wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes, you will be more able to enjoy the trails after your photo session.

Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve is a wonderful place to have your portraits taken. The best times for taking photos here are during spring and fall months, especially towards sunset where the light creates nice highlights and long shadows. People who find that they especially enjoy Hatcher Garden should visit their website to donate, or purchase an engraved brick or paver. Their website also has details on the history of Hatcher Garden as well as services they offer. Contact me to schedule a free consultation to plan your portrait here or many other locations available in the Spartanburg area.

A Portrait Philosophy

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Between the rapid growth we’re watching happen in Greenville and Spartanburg’s downtown revitalization project, there’s very little wonder why we seem to be seeing new businesses getting on their feet every month here in the upstate. I can tell you from the recent experiences of trying to get the feet of a photography business off the ground, there’s a lot of people out there who are ready to lend a hand in navigating the red tape from first concept to first client and beyond. But in order to actually be successful, I have to be more than just a guy with a camera and a few lighting stands. Knowing my way around a shutter and an umbrella isn’t enough to stand out as a person you might want to hire to update your family portraits.

The most common way I see people overcoming this is by dropping their base prices. They’re monetizing their hobby, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, except that they could be undervaluing their own talents. In the end though, there’s nothing different about their end result that any student or apprentice couldn’t give you. That’s not how I want to differentiate myself, nor how I want to define myself.

In short, I am not a photo booth. I am not satisfied simply with taking your picture. The sum of who you are is more than a photograph. Sure, a picture might be worth a thousand words but I can tell you as a writer that a thousand words isn’t a lot, really. Me, I’m aiming for three or four thousand. I don’t want to simply take your picture. I want to capture an image that’s closer to how you want to see yourself. This might mean incorporating objects that are meaningful for you, or going to places that you hold dear. It might even mean forgoing the traditional say-cheese-smile altogether, because an honest glance is much more powerful than any forced smile ever could be. Doing that relies on more than my technical knowledge of a camera, and more on my instincts as a storyteller. If you want a formal portrait taken, then I can do that, but that’s not why I’m running this business. I want to help create an image for you that encompasses who you are.