The beaches and golf courses get most of the attention, but what Jim Crotty appreciates the most about Hilton Head Island is something as simple as the early morning light reflecting off the marsh waters.
The photographer is featured in the December issue of Professional Photographer magazine, in which he talks about shooting the Lowcountry.
He moved to the island in 2011 and established a studio to workshops and display his landscape and nature shots.
Crotty, a native of Dayton, Ohio, discusses what drew him to photographing the Lowcountry.
Question. What made you want to become a photographer?
Answer. When I was 12, 13 years old, I'd go out and shoot in the woods. I had a dark room in our basement. I'd shoot my friends playing football. They'd come over after because they couldn't wait to see the photos. That was the first time I got the feeling that someone would be interested in something I shot.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I worked in an art gallery. I talked the owner into displaying some of my prints of Hocking Hills (state park in Ohio). And they sold.
Having photography, to me, was a creative outlet. It just came naturally.
Q. What brought you to Hilton Head?
A. I moved here in April 2011. I lived out West for a while. I worked in corporate marketing. I was a marketing manager for a big credit union. Living out West, I really got back into photography. There was so much opportunity to shoot. I had worked in PR, marketing jobs. I did my time, but it just wasn't fulfilling. For a time, I used to shoot high-rise buildings for an elevator company. You can't really show an elevator. So, what they wanted to do is show the buildings the elevators were in. It was interesting. At the least, I was back into photography.
Q. Where do you go to shoot locally?
A. Recently, my favorite place is Hunting Island. What I love about it is that there's so much that's accessible and completely natural. The beach with all the driftwood, the maritime forest.
I like going to Pinckney Island. It's great for birds and wildlife. On Hilton Head, either the Sea Pines Forest Preserve or Burkes Beach. I go there to do a lot of sunsets and sunrises. It's very accessible and not as crowded. Fish Haul Creek Park is great, too.
Some of the best views on the island are along Broad Creek. The beach is nice, but I like the added dimension of the marsh.