Family Photographer in Hilton Head Island, SC

Capture Your Unforgettable Memories Now

843-735-2275

Quick Quote

Need Professional Photography Services In The Hilton Head Island Area?

We've all heard the expression "a picture is worth a thousand words". And photos really are a special way to help tell the story of our lives - who we are and what's important to us.

And, of course, some images speak to us more strongly than others. More often than not we love a photo not so much because it shows us how we look but because it captures a very human element that is hard to express in words – an authentic connection with those we love or with ourselves and how we show up or want to be seen in the world.

Whether you're looking to capture someone's attention with a professional headshot or want to commemorate the beautiful connection with your partner or family, I can help.

My name is Adam Chandler, and as a professional photographer in Hilton Head Island, SC. I truly find joy and fulfillment in the work I do. I love the adventure of photography and I continually immerse myself in learning and exploring how to improve my craft which includes learning new ways to connect with and capture my subjects. I truly understand that, for many people (if not most), even the idea of having your picture taken can cause a good bit of discomfort and anxiety. That's why I place so much importance on putting my subjects at ease while also really listening to any concerns or wants they have for their session.

I draw upon my technical knowledge of photography, my ability to connect with people, and my creativity to produce beautifully memorable photos for my clients. I believe that my unique creative vision and many years of experience combined with the way I strive to give my clients the most enjoyable experience possible sets me apart from some of the other great photographers in Hilton Head Island.

gallary

Service Areas

Family Photography Hilton Head Island, SC  Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

Testimonials

Now that you know a little about my background, let's take a look at some of
my most popular photography services in Hilton Head Island: My mission is to beautifully capture the joy and connection of each unique family while also creating a fun experience for my clients.

 Portrait Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

The importance of family is hard to overstate. From children to grandparents to nieces and nephews, families and the family dynamic can grow and change before you know it, with many beautiful milestones taking place along the way.

I think that one of the best ways to remember some of these important moments of togetherness is with a fun family photo session.

I absolutely love photographing families and, while no two families are the same, I always strive to give each session my all in order to best connect with and capture the uniqueness of each family. Even though each session is somewhat different, I approach each one with the same goal: to capture the distinct personality, affection, and energy of each family in order to provide authentic, engaging pictures and a joyful experience.

Whether you have a toddler that you want to celebrate or have grandparents in town for a visit, Hilton Head Island is an amazing city for family photography. There are so many locations in the Lowcountry that make for great family photography backdrops:

  • Beaches - Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, Kiawah, Seabrook, Isle of Palms, Hilton Head, Edisto Beach
  • Popular Places - Washington Square, Broad Street, Hampton Park, Waterfront Park, Shem Creek, The Cistern at College of Hilton Head Island
  • Historical Sites - Hilton Head Island Battery, Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Rainbow Row

Whatever location you choose for family photography in Hilton Head Island, the Holy City is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy with friends and family.

As a family photographer in Hilton Head Island, one of the reasons why I love working with families so much (in addition to getting to meet some really awesome people) is the opportunity to combine my creativity with my ever-evolving technical skill. I also gladly accommodate the style preferences my clients are looking for - be it more traditional, posed images, or candid, playful pictures.

I use a clear yet relaxed style of direction to get you and your family engaged in our photography session, to help get authentic expressions that really show the unique dynamic and relationships of each family.

Here are just a few reasons why families choose Adam Chandler Photography for their family portraits:

Document Family Growth

Change, of course, is part of life and with each passing year families, too, change and often grow. Each stage is beautiful in its own way and having annual family photographs is a fun way to document the different seasons of family life. Be it a new baby, a birthday or anniversary or simply wanting to capture your kids at each special age, I'd be honored to be chosen to help tell the story of your family over the years.

Remember Milestones

With each year that passes, new milestones are reached. From a child's first steps to a sibling getting married, there is no better way to remember these wonderful occasions than with quality photographs. Whether you're welcoming a new puppy into your life, are celebrating an anniversary or finally have gathered your extended family together in one place, capturing these special times in your life is a great way to ensure you'll be able to enjoy and relive these moments years from now.

Create Memories

Many families tell me before their sessions that it's not often that they are all able to be together and they emphasize how special and important this session is. Or, perhaps, a mom or dad will talk about how fleetingly special a certain age of their child is and how they really want to capture their children's personalities. Even if you capture lots of great moments of your family throughout the year it's likely not very often that all of you are in the pictures at once (other than maybe having a stranger tell you to "say cheese" after you hand them your phone. Having a time that's dedicated to capturing the special bonds between family members - parents and their children, grandparents and their grandchildren, siblings and maybe extended family as well - is so important. We all know just how special these people and moments are and how we tend to treasure these memories more with each passing year.

Portraits And Headshots In Hilton Head Island, SC

A great headshot shows you at your best - whether you want to impress a prospective employer or need professional photography for your website. In today's digitally-intensive society, having a professional headshot or portrait of you or your team that stands out for all the right reasons is becoming a necessity. It's no surprise, then, that headshots and portraits are among the most popular genres of photography.

Headshots can be tricky, mostly because many (if not most) people don't like being in front of the camera (trust me, I totally get that). I know that for some clients, it can be hard to know what to do, what to wear or how to relax enough to let their authentic selves come through so that they can end up with a professional photo or headshot that inspires authenticity and confidence.

Fortunately, I have years of experience taking professional headshots of all types of people. No matter what your comfort level is with having your picture taken, I pride myself on being able to create the conditions necessary to help capture my clients as you want to be seen. Through lighting, posing and direct yet relaxed interaction I'll help guide you to great photos that you’ll be proud to showcase and share with others.

A professional headshot or portrait is an investment into your personal brand, and here is why:

 Portrait Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC
 Best Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

Show Your Personality

Not all headshots should be approached the same way. Depending on your industry or how you'll be using the photos, there are certain things to consider. A great headshot reflects not just how you look but also how you show up in the world. It can help give people an idea of the kind of person you are before you sit down to meet them. Oftentimes, too, people may want a variety of "looks" to suit different needs and uses. My goal is to listen to your expectations and then deliver results that will serve you will in your professional and/or personal life.

 Beach Photography Hilton Head Island, SC

Show Your Professionalism

Clients, collaborators, investors, and employers are typically much more likely to interview you or to contact you or your business if you look professional. If you've taken the time to invest in your brand, in part by making the effort to arrange a professional headshot, people notice that. And who doesn't want to make a great first (or second or third) impression?

 Family Portrait Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

Stand Out on Social Media

Many of my clients make appointments for headshots and portraits when they want to stand out from the crowd on social media. Whether you own a business and need to create new social media pages or you're looking to network with recruiters on LinkedIn or, perhaps, update your website, a professional headshot can definitely set you apart in the modern sea of selfies and snapshots that you often see out there.

 Wedding Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

Show Off Your Current Look

None of us look the same as we did 10 or 15 years ago yet some of us keep the same photo up for decades. Having outdated headshots can send a message of inauthenticity. When you have up-to-date, professional headshots, you're showing clients and employers that you are confident, committed, and authentic.

 Headshots Hilton Head Island, SC

Qualities Of A Great Photographer In Hilton Head Island, SC

Being a great photographer means more than owning fancy equipment. While having expensive gear can be quite helpful, the real test of a professional, for me, has a lot more to do with being able to draw upon my deep understanding of the craft of photography so that I can focus more on connecting with and beautifully capturing my subjects without getting bogged down in figuring out the technical side of things. It's taken me many years to get where I am and I'm always striving to improve in order to continue to deliver the best pictures and most enjoyable experience possible for my clients.

Clients choose Adam Chandler Photography because my experience shows and they trust me to always give them the results and experience that they're looking for. Here are just a few qualities that my clients appreciate:

 Engagement Photography Hilton Head Island, SC

Imagination

I wholeheartedly consider photography to be an artform - one that requires lots of curiosity and imagination along with a good bit of technique. A great photographer knows how to get beautiful results no matter what the conditions or circumstances are and this only comes with experience and preparation.

Family Photography Hilton Head Island, SC

Passion

This quality might seem obvious but I can't tell you how many times I've seen photography that may be technically good but is missing something. My passion for photography largely comes from my passion for connecting with people in a way that helps them feel comfortable letting their guard down so they can enjoy the process. And this almost always leads to exceptional, authentic images.

 Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

Patience

Patience can also be essential for great photos. As in life, there are many things that we just can't control. Sometimes the best photos come from patiently going with the flow and not trying to force something to happen. I find that when I'm patient yet prepared - ready to capture the right moment or expression when the time is right - that's often the best approach. As a professional with many years of experience, I understand the importance of having the patience to deal with whatever comes my way as well as the flexibility and preparedness to make the most out of any situation.

 Portrait Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

People Skills

If ever there was a business where people skills were important I think portrait photography is definitely one of them. Knowing how uncomfortable many people can be when getting their pictures taken, I put every effort into helping ensure the best possible experience for my clients and communication is such a big part of that. I love interacting with my clients to build trust and rapport as well as a deep understanding of your expectations including any concerns you may have. As I've said, for me my job is not just about delivering beautiful images but also a wonderful client experience. That's why I focus so much on each and every interaction with my clients. Yes, people skills are a must in this business. Luckily for me, it's one of my favorite parts of the job!

Eye for Detail

As a professional photographer in Hilton Head Island, SC I am meticulous when it comes to details. Through my many years of photographing many different types of subjects under many different circumstances I've come to learn just how important details are. Whether it's finding or creating the best quality of light for my clients, eliciting a great expression or
adjusting the background or, perhaps, a piece of clothing, all of these things impact the overall look and feel of a photo. Whether I'm photographing a family, a business professional or a couple in love I always look for all the ways I can create the best image possible.

 Portrait Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC
 Best Photographer Hilton Head Island, SC

"As I hope you can tell by looking at my work, I really love my job. And most of all I love the people I get to meet and work with. I'd be honored and delighted to be chosen for your photography needs."

Adam Chandler

Ready to Get Started?

One of my favorite things to do is to talk to clients about what they're looking for and how I can serve them. If you are in need of professional photography, let's talk today about what you have in mind. Whether you're looking for family or couples' photography in Hilton Head Island or want great new headshots for you or your team, I'm here to help every step of the way!  

Latest News in Hilton Head Island, SC

13 Best Things to Do on Hilton Head Island — From Golfing to History Tours

Planning a trip to one of the Lowcountry's most beautiful and welcoming islands? Here are 13 of the best things to do in Hilton Head, South Carolina.Ever a contender among the best islands in the United States as ranked by Travel + Leisure readers, Hilton Head beckons with historical and cultural learnings dished ...

Planning a trip to one of the Lowcountry's most beautiful and welcoming islands? Here are 13 of the best things to do in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Ever a contender among the best islands in the United States as ranked by Travel + Leisure readers, Hilton Head beckons with historical and cultural learnings dished up alongside culinary and beach delights. Venture to these shores to be surrounded by water and waves, miles of biking trails, great golf courses, Gullah/Geechee culture, and much more. With something for every type of traveler, here are 13 of the best things to do in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Welcome a beautiful Lowcountry day with sparkling marina views on Shelter Cove while enjoying a breakfast of sweet and savory pastries with authentic French flair (plus American flavors) at Hilton Head Social Bakery. Fair trade organic coffees and teas are the perfect complements to a flaky croissant, mango tart, or croque monsieur. There are even French hot dogs on the menu, cradled in baguettes and topped with a dollop of Dijon mustard, bien sûr.

Traditions, customs, and art from West Africa make up an important part of Hilton Head's cultural fabric, which you can discover through tours with Gullah people who are the descendants of enslaved people and comprise one of the island's oldest communities. All of the guides with Gullah Heritage Trail Tours were born and raised on Hilton Head, before the island was connected by bridge to the mainland. Seeing the island through their eyes offers a singular view into the creole Gullah language, traditional foods, music, and more.

Golfers know Hilton Head as one of the best spots in the southeast for a year-round game, even if springtime and autumn tend to usher in the most appealing temperatures for teeing off. Whether you're in it for putting lessons, some driving range action, or to win against friends, your options include championship courses like the oceanfront Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes Resort, Pete Dye's legendary Heron Point at Sea Pines Resort, and Sea Pines' epic PGA Tour course, Harbour Town Golf Links, to name just a few.

More than 60 miles of public trails crisscross Hilton Head, which is only 12 miles long. You can cover a lot of ground here — and get some exercise with ocean breezes while you're at it — by renting a bike. The trails running through Sea Pines Forest Preserve are particularly pretty and include wetland boardwalks over marshes full of wading birds, scenic bridges, and places you can stop off for a picnic or toss out a fishing line from a dock.

With roughly 12 miles of uninterrupted beachfront to explore, Hilton Head doesn't want for sandy spaces to roll out your beach towel or go for a stroll. Families flock to Coligny Beach Park, a short stroll from a playground and the Hilton Head Island Children's Museum. And Islanders Beach is a favorite among locals, who roll up with coolers in tow to make use of the grills and picnic pavilions (between dips in the Atlantic Ocean, of course). Driessen Beach Park, on the island's southern end, is a good bet for filling your shell bucket and is reached via a long boardwalk over a salt marsh. And if you have a dog in tow, you'll enjoy the Fido-friendly beaches at Burkes Beach Access and Fish Haul Creek Park.

Nothing brings on the warm and fuzzy ocean vibes like seeing dolphins in the wild. And with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins making the waters around Hilton Head home, you've got a great chance of seeing them any time you're out on the water (and oftentimes right from the beach, too). Dolphin Discoveries Nature Tours runs daily trips with a maximum of six guests onboard to spot resident dolphins with names like Blackbird, Gary, and Little Baby Stripes that dwell in the local waters.

You haven't been to the Carolinas until you've sampled some of the best barbecue in the land. The island favorite, Bullies BBQ slow smokes its briskets, pork butt, and ribs over hickory and mesquite chips for hours to render a flavor you'll want to bottle up and bring home. If you order just one thing off the menu, make it the South Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich (with a side of savory collard greens). Pick up your favorite barbecue sauce or rub here, too, for a souvenir anyone would be stoked to receive.

Head to the Coastal Discovery Museum on Tuesday mornings to browse the delicious local pickings at the Hilton Head Farmers Market, where you can shop alfresco for local seafood to grill on the beach, sip a cup of She Crab soup, or perhaps sample a Lowcountry rice dish from food trucks. This is a great place to pick up the freshest seasonal Carolina produce, too.

It's a balancing act paddling a SUP through Hilton Head's languorous tidal salt marshes. But the experience gives new meaning to the word Lowcountry while allowing you a unique vantage point on the saltwater marshes and endemic wildlife. Saltmarsh Paddle Tours offers SUP tours at high or low tide and kayak tours throughout the day. A naturalist guide shows you the way through spectacular estuaries where you might encounter dolphins, blue crabs, all manner of wading birds, and sometimes even sea turtles, too.

Charter a yacht with Hilton Head Yacht Charter and sail into the sunset. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres get served up onboard as you cruise a mellow route around Calibogue Sound aboard the Top Shelf luxury yacht, where the joy is most definitely in the journey.

Right on the site of a historic oyster cannery that dates to 1925, the Old Oyster Factory is the spot to settle in for a long, delicious meal of locally harvested South Carolina oysters from Bluffton and Beaufort and other flopping-fresh fish sourced just offshore. When it's not too hot for dining alfresco, the most coveted tables are out on the sprawling deck overlooking the salt marshes, where breezes bend the tall grasses and the water laps gently under your feet.

Accessible by passenger ferry from Hilton Head (45 minutes one way), Daufuskie Island is a beautiful barrier island just to the south that can only be reached by boat. Once on the island, rent a golf cart to explore on your own or, better yet, book a guided tour to see fascinating historical sites hidden among the live oak trees with sixth generation Gullah native, Sallie Ann Robinson. You can try horseback riding, rent a bike to pedal the beach, or make a stop for coastal-inspired art at The Iron Fish gallery. Daufuskie is full of surprises down every winding lane.

If it's a winged thing, you just might spot it at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, a spectacular protected area that lures in thousands of migratory birds each year as they make their way north and south along the Atlantic Flyway. During the late spring and early summer, Ibis Pond here is a hotspot to see species of breeding heron and egrets. Wood storks and painted buntings also arrive in the summer months, and large alligators can be seen at the refuge year round.

Hilton Head Island-Bluffton and Myrtle Beach homeownership “well-above” US average

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the housing market took off, mortgage rates dropped and Americans all over the country decided to move to destinations they found either more appealing or budget-friendly. Many chose to move to places that pre-pandemic they would have only dreamt of traveling to for vacation.Sound familiar?Hilton Head Island has become a hot-spot for attracting family-friendly get-togethers, vacationers and nature enthusiasts who enjoy its beautiful, edifying environmental surroundings. So, unsurprisingly, the...

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the housing market took off, mortgage rates dropped and Americans all over the country decided to move to destinations they found either more appealing or budget-friendly. Many chose to move to places that pre-pandemic they would have only dreamt of traveling to for vacation.

Sound familiar?

Hilton Head Island has become a hot-spot for attracting family-friendly get-togethers, vacationers and nature enthusiasts who enjoy its beautiful, edifying environmental surroundings. So, unsurprisingly, the island’s sellers’ market boomed and continued in an upward trend for the past two years, bringing in more full and part-time residents, many of whom are homeowners.

“In the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton metro area, located in South Carolina, the population climbed from 216,764 in July 2020 to 222,072 in July 2021. The 2.4% increase ranks as the 18th highest among all U.S. metro areas,” according to Carolina Panorama from data compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the same data, Myrtle beach also had a 3.7% population increase through the same duration.

What does this mean for homeownership in the area?

“Nationwide, the homeownership rate stands at 64.4%, according to the latest American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This rate varies substantially across the country, however, and in some major metropolitan areas, the homeownership rate is well above the national average,” according to 24/7 Wall St.

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton area actually placed in the top U.S. cities for an increase in homeownership.

Ranked number 26 out of 50 cities in the country, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton area managed to maintain a high ownership rate despite the higher home prices compared to other places in the U.S.

“In the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton metro area, located in South Carolina, the homeownership rate stands at 74.6%, well above the national average.”, stated 24/7 Wall St.

This percentage is more than 10% over the national homeownership rate.

The data used in the accumulation of the 50 cities, which also placed the local area as having a median household income of $67,723, was taken from five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

For the state of South Carolina as a whole, in addition to the Hilton Head-Bluffton metro area, Myrtle Beach was the only other city on the list and placed as number 17 in the country for their homeownership rate, which was calculated at 76%, with the median household income coming in at $53,832.

This story was originally published June 10, 2022 5:00 AM.

7 hidden gems to eat at in Hilton Head SC to avoid the tourists this summer

Want to your summer vacation at an island restaurant not as frequented by tourists?Here are seven Hilton Head Island casual dining restaurants to sample that may fall under tourists’ radar.A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant is a fan-favorite for local island seafood and cuisine. This restaurant has been recommended and rated as the eatery with the best Lowcountry shrimp and grits in the Palmetto State. It has received several awards and accolades such ...

Want to your summer vacation at an island restaurant not as frequented by tourists?

Here are seven Hilton Head Island casual dining restaurants to sample that may fall under tourists’ radar.

A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant is a fan-favorite for local island seafood and cuisine. This restaurant has been recommended and rated as the eatery with the best Lowcountry shrimp and grits in the Palmetto State. It has received several awards and accolades such as being named the Reader’s Choice Award for Hilton Head Monthly and featured in Cooking with Paula Deen and on Travel Channel’s Food Paradise. The restaurant is located toward the south end of the island at 32 Palmetto Bay Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928.

Another restaurant highly rated by locals, Up the Creek Pub and Grill is located next to Broad Creek Marina at 18 Simmons Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926. Described as “a seafood shack with killer views of the water” by Southern Living Magazine, leashed dogs are welcome and the establishment serves a variety of surf and turf options to choose from.

Captain Woody’s Bar and Grill has locations on both Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton. The establishment touts its seafood, salads, steaks, burgers, nachos and beer. On the island, the restaurant offers an outside deck and a rooftop deck at its Bluffton location with seasonal live music almost daily. Their Hilton Head establishment is located at 6 Target Road and its Bluffton counterpart can be found at 17 State of Mind Street.

Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe is a breakfast, brunch and lunch location, which offers gluten-free and vegan options, a dog-friendly patio, with both indoor and outdoor seating. They serve breakfast all day with popular dishes like biscuits n’ gravy, quiche, stuffed french toast, and crab cake eggs benedict. They even have a breakfast burrito with homemade salsa. This local brunch favorite is located in Palmetto Bay Marina, where they have been for over 18 years, at 86 Helmsman Way, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928.

Harold’s Diner is a decades-long favorite located off of William Hilton Parkway. Harold’s is open for breakfast and lunch and offers a unique experience sure to make a lasting memory during anyone’s stay. The burgers are widely talked about by many, as well as a variety of other favorites on the menu. Harold’s Diner is located at 641 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island, SC. Stop by this no-frills, cash-only establishment and see what all the ‘fuss’ is about.

The Sea Shack is another favorite, perhaps a little different than you might expect. This eatery is a “made to order” seafood restaurant. It has won many accolades including Southern Living’s “10 Best Seafood Spots in South Carolina” and ranked number one on a list for sandwiches to “try before you die” in the state. This hidden restaurant located at 6 Executive Park Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 offers fresh, southern, Lowcountry-style cooking.

Fiesta Fresh is a local favorite. With a few branches on both Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton, the original Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill is still located on the island’s south end. It can be found near Sea Pines Circle, just off New Orleans Road at 51 New Orleans Road, Suite #4, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928. If you would like to try this establishment, but aren’t near the south end, two other locations can be found at 95 Mathews Drive Suite A7, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926 in the Port Royal Plaza Shopping Center and 876 Fording Island Road #1, Bluffton SC, 29910.

This story was originally published May 27, 2022 5:00 AM.

Hilton Head is trying to do better by its Gullah Geechee community

HILTON HEAD ISLAND — For nearly a century, from 1865 until the early 1950s, almost everyone on the island was part of the Gullah Geechee community.Descendants of enslaved Africans, the Gullah on Hilton Head and other coastal areas remained largely isolated for decades. Their language and culture not only remained intact, but influenced the cooking, music and attitudes that have come to be thought of as Southern.But the population on Hilton Head is dwindling.Luanna Graves Sellars, who runs a nonprofit and website to...

HILTON HEAD ISLAND — For nearly a century, from 1865 until the early 1950s, almost everyone on the island was part of the Gullah Geechee community.

Descendants of enslaved Africans, the Gullah on Hilton Head and other coastal areas remained largely isolated for decades. Their language and culture not only remained intact, but influenced the cooking, music and attitudes that have come to be thought of as Southern.

But the population on Hilton Head is dwindling.

Luanna Graves Sellars, who runs a nonprofit and website to preserve Gullah land and culture, estimates that about 40,000 Gullah used to live on Hilton Head. Today, about 1,500 do.

Despite the dramatic decrease, Graves Sellars resists the word “extinct.”

“God forbid that’s what happens,” she said, pointing out that the people and culture are still very much alive.

But the Gullah will disappear if the town government and business interests do not take significant steps.

“They advertise for tourism, and the beach and golf and tennis, and all that stuff, right? The culture should be on that list,” Graves Sellars said. “If the culture is extinct, this is just Anywhere, USA.”

Land ownership

In 2006, the federal government created the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, stretching some 400 miles along the Atlantic Coastal regions from just north of Wilmington, N.C., through South Carolina and Georgia to Jacksonville, Fla. The purpose of the designated corridor is to conserve and develop Gullah heritage in states where many groups have Gullah-related initiatives.

But Hilton Head is unusual in that it has put Gullah preservation within the local government’s purview.

In 2017, the town of Hilton Head Island created its Gullah Task Force, comprised of both native islanders and planning commission members. The group whittled down 37 priorities to 16, and 16 to a key one: Protect Gullah land ownership.

The chair of the group, Lavon Stevens, explained that the task force was trying to stop a disturbing trend he had seen in many coastal areas. When an area lost Gullah land, it lost the people. And without the people, he said, “We don’t have the culture.”

On her website lowcountrygullah.com, Graves Sellars writes that Gullah families once owned about 3,500 acres on Hilton Head (the island is 25,000 acres overall). She estimates that native islanders retain about 700 acres today.

The loss happens for all kinds of reasons.

One family member sells his or her share of a piece of property, but because the deed is still in an ancestor’s name, the entire parcel is forced into a sale.

Or the town’s subdivision requirements make passing undeveloped land to the next generation difficult to impossible.

Or the taxes become too high.

Graves Sellers said she recently helped an elderly Gullah woman on a fixed income who lived on land that had been in her family for 100 years. Suddenly, her tax bill went from $400 to $2,200.

Simply finding a way to manage a one-time expense and weather a crisis isn’t enough, Graves Sellars said. Gullah landowners also need a way to make some money off their property — by renting part of it, for example, or operating a small business.

“All of those things need to be in place so that the land is just not disappearing for reasons like, ‘Well, I couldn’t do anything, and I can’t afford to keep it,’” Graves Sellers said.

Making progress

Slowly, the Gullah Task force is making progress. The town has allocated $105,000 to implement their recommendations and created a full-time staff position to manage the Gullah Geechee program.

It has also relaxed some land management ordinances to better fit the shape and patterns of Gullah neighborhoods.

Among them: On family-owned properties, residents aren’t required to build so far back from the street or have right-of-ways that are quite so wide.

These modifications aren’t special treatment, Stevens said. Instead, they’re similar to opportunities other groups have had to preserve their land and culture.

“I do have to give the town some credit,” he said. “We are working on it. We have people who I think have good intentions. But at the end of the day, there’s still this mistrust. Is the town really trying to do something to help us, or just kind of going through the motions?”

For context, Graves Sellars pointed to a 1995 report by The Regional and Urban Design Committee of the American Institute of Architects. Of its ten issues related to the Gullah neighborhoods that the committee urged the town to address more than 25 years ago, “there isn’t one that I could cross off the list and say, we’re good,” she said.

In the past six or seven years, Stevens estimates that more than 60 percent of Gullah landholdings have been lost to developers or non-family members. While community members are free to sell if they want to, Stevens said, others are looking for a way to stay.

As the head of the Gullah Geechee Task Force, he aims make sure the local government represents the total community.

“Not just people that have a lot of money, but also ... the person who just wants to live here in peace,” Stevens said. “We can coexist.”

Hilton Head Island making it easier for everyone to enjoy the town's beaches

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTGS) — The town of Hilton Head Island unveiled a new and easier way for everyone to enjoy the town’s beaches.Walking on the beach is one thing but rolling on the beach can be hard for those with a disability.The town’s new beach wheelchairs make it easier and more accessible for residents and tourists with a disability to enjoy Hilton Head Island beaches.“It seems like a very easy program and it is. a lot of people were renting these, we’re doing this for free. we&...

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTGS) — The town of Hilton Head Island unveiled a new and easier way for everyone to enjoy the town’s beaches.

Walking on the beach is one thing but rolling on the beach can be hard for those with a disability.

The town’s new beach wheelchairs make it easier and more accessible for residents and tourists with a disability to enjoy Hilton Head Island beaches.

“It seems like a very easy program and it is. a lot of people were renting these, we’re doing this for free. we’re not trying to take anyone’s business but we just wanted to do it as another perk,” Mark Robson, Hilton Head Island Beach Operations Supervisor.

Robson says the beach wheelchair program is a part of the town's initiative to enhance the beach experience for everyone, those who identify as having a disability included.

“Beautiful ADA deck, where ADA people with disability can come out here and view and see the ocean but it also ties into the matting mats. The mats that we have for the beach. For the people who are in a wheelchair on bikes or a strollers or beach mats, everybody can get to the beach easier,” Said Robson.

The town has four beach wheelchairs averaging about $1,400 dollar’s each. Two are located at the beach parks in Folly Field and two at Coligny Beach Park.

“If you’re a local or a tourist, I want everyone to be able to use these and if it’s as busy as it was the first two days, I imagine we’ll be buying more, more and more,” said Robson.

The program officially launched on Saturday and Robson says they’ve had around 40 people sign up for a beach wheelchair.

“It’s exceeded my expectations of what it would be so far in just the two days. So, I applaud our community and our communications department that’s unveiled these and it’s just gone viral and has gone really well.”

The town will evaluate how the program did at the end of the summer to determine whether they will expand the wheelchairs to other beaches.

Residents and tourists can request and reserve a beach wheelchair through Hilton Head Island's website.

Disclaimer:

This website publishes news articles that contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The non-commercial use of these news articles for the purposes of local news reporting constitutes "Fair Use" of the copyrighted materials as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
View Gallery