Sometimes the key to a great photo is just being in the right place at the right time. That’s what happened for Allyson Switzer of Socastee on a July walk in Myrtle Beach.
Her photo of the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove sign juxtapositioned with the glitzy new Skywheel is the winner of the fourth annual Surge Summer Snapshot Smackdown photo contest.
For people who know something of the history of downtown Myrtle Beach, the sepia-toned shot offers a reminder of simpler times that have been overtaken by a new kind of neon rush, a time before mom-and-pop motels were torn down in favor of high rises that blot out the ocean view in many spots.
Switzer, 37, is an amateur photographer with a good eye for the difference between old and new, down home and downtown, and a deep love for the natural beauty that makes the Grand Strand a shutterbug’s dream.
She’s a native of McCormick, a small town in the far western part of the Palmetto State that’s so unfamiliar to many people here she was pleasantly surprised when a Surge reporter knew where it was. Switzer studied child psychology at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, where she also met her husband, and moved to the Grand Strand for work as a child psychologist with the Horry County School District. She presently serves two schools, Socastee High and St. James Elementary. Switzer and her husband are animal lovers with five cats: Nitro, Butterball, Garfield, Sapphire and Molly.
Photography so far has been nothing but a hobby for her. She’s never taken a formal class, only read some articles about it and is mostly self-taught except for some apprentice work with a local photographer. She loves to share her images through her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AllysonSwitzerPhotography).
Her memories of visiting the “old” Myrtle Beach as a child gave her a perspective about how things used to be when you could still walk to the top level of the staircase at the Gay Dolphin and when the Pavilion – not a big patch of land with a zip line – was the hallmark attraction of downtown. She fondly remembers visits to the Gift Cove with her family, especially because her mother loves knick-knacks and the place was a souvenir hunter’s paradise.
Switzer has no problem with the new – she thinks the boardwalk and Skywheel are “very, very nice and a great improvement.”
For her, however, the beach is the key attraction – not what developers build near it.
A. | My preference is really nature and pets. I have five cats, and they’re readily available subjects, but I’m trying to break into the other realm a bit and do some portrait photography. I haven’t done a lot of that.
A. | The hardest thing is catching them when they’re still. You kind of have to know the animal already, or work to get to know them, and have to be ready to take the shot the minute it appears. You basically have to keep the camera up to your eye and wait for a few minutes until you get the shot you want.