Ann Helms: SC Picture Project Photographer
South Carolina SC Picture Project Ann Helms

Ann in Her Own Words ...

I am originally from Spartanburg and still visit my parents and brother there several times a month. I used to drive mostly the interstate, but now when time permits I prefer to take US 176, or SC 215, or US 76 from the Midlands to the Upstate and back. I have taken a lot of pictures along those routes. I also lived in the Charleston area for 15 years before changing jobs, and still visit friends in the Lowcountry as often as I can. Berkeley, Colleton, Dorchester and Charleston counties are some of my favorite places to shoot.

My love of history runs in my family. A lot of what I like to see and study is the same things that my father does. His career as an architectural engineer took him to jobs all over the country, but mostly here in S.C. He had a hand in the construction and/or renovation of schools and hospitals across the state during the 1960s and 70s, and part of his job was to take pictures. He bought my first camera for me when I was 18. We traveled a lot together in the 1980s, and history was a frequent topic of conversation. He has also done extensive research on our family history and traveled to many courthouses and cemeteries to gather information. When I was packing some stuff from my Mother's house last year I found a treasure trove of family pictures. I discovered (and framed) some black-and-white pictures my Dad took with a Brownie camera 2 years before I was born that are nearly identical to some I took many years later. We both prefer taking pictures of buildings, the older the better.

When I moved to Charleston in the mid 1980s, I started looking for the architectural history, starting with the churches. I was told "around here you can't spit without hitting a church or throw a rock without hitting an old one." In the Lowcountry that is very true. Around the magnificent churches are equally impressive homes and businesses, and in some places, remnants from the era of passenger train travel that are still impressive to see. After I moved back to Columbia I was able to travel more from the midlands and discovered much more history in big and small places. I've stood at the "Four Corners of Law" at Meeting and Broad Streets in Charleston, and at the window of a crumbling rural farmhouse with a sign over the fireplace that said "I ain't dead yet." There are some truly amazing things to see in South Carolina, and I've managed to stumble onto many while looking for something else. It's just fun.

A little background: Although I was raised a Clemson fan (Dad got his architectural engineering degree there), I graduated from USC and am now employed there in media services. I am a fan of both the Gamecocks and the Tigers, but when they compete in sports I have to pull for the Orange. I think both teams represented the state well this past [2014-2015] football season.

When I can, I try to venture further out to places I have not visited before, usually in search of train depots and sites on the National Historic Register. My dad is retired however his age no longer permits him to travel as he once did, but he is always asking what I've been out shooting. Whenever I get a compliment on a picture, particularly about its composition, I take a second to say, "Thanks, Dad."

ANN'S PHOTOS:  SC Picture Project

CONTACT ANN:  You can contact me at I look forward to hearing from you.

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