“I got home and realized I didn't much like those pictures either so I set out on a quest to get better.”
Charles Hardin


Today's interview subject is nature photographer Charles Hardin. Charles is a Christian who loves to photograph spiritual and beautiful places in the Carolinas. Find out more about Mr. Hardin by following him on Facebook.


How did you get started in photography?

Charles: I started off photographing cars back in the 80s. Never was too good at it, but I really enjoyed it. After I developed arthritis my doctor encouraged me to exercise more. So I started hiking and went to my first waterfall: Lower Whitewater Falls on the South Carolina side. I got home and realized I didn't much like those pictures either so I set out on a quest to get better.

“Practice, practice, and more practice!”


I know how you feel, my first waterfall pictures were terrible, too! They can be a difficult subject. How did you go about improving?

Charles: After that first trip I spent all of 2007 going back to the same two places. Upper Whitewater Falls (on the NC side) and Lower Whitewater Falls (just downstream in SC) were the only places I went that year. The next year I hit around 6 different falls, always trying to improve my compositions and technique. Practice, practice, and more practice!

As it turned out all the walking really helped my arthritis, too. There are some who claim negative ions caused by the crashing water have healing properties. I believe this is true. I feel better standing at the base of a waterfall listening to the sound of the water than just about anywhere else in the world.

“I feel better standing at the base of a waterfall listening to the sound of the water than just about anywhere else in the world.”


Back then I hadn't discovered any books or websites to help find the falls. Someone would tell me about one and I would just go try and find it. I'm so glad to have an app on my phone now, I never would have thought back when I started it would be so easy to locate waterfalls.

You have branched out from waterfalls and now take some of the most breathtaking mountain landscape shots I have seen. One of your favorite subjects is a mountain vista called Pretty Place. Tell me about Pretty Place and what it means to you.

Charles: Pretty Place has always been special to me. It is a chapel owned by the Camp Greenville YMCA on Standing Stone Mountain near Jones Gap State Park in South Carolina. The open air chapel has a breathtaking view: the Sun passes in front of the cross in spring and fall and to the left and right during summer and winter. It is the most incredible and spiritual view for a sunrise.

“Pretty Place has always been special to me.”


It doesn't surprise me to hear that you know exactly how the Sun will strike your favorite scene at different times of the year. This kind of commitment and attention to detail really shows in your work. Do you keep track of projects you want to try at various times of year?

Charles: Yes I do! I like to hit the Charleston area in March, then I start to follow the warming weather to Cades Cove, then I start spending more time on the Blue Ridge Parkway later in the spring. By mid June I am spending much of my time at Roan Mountain near the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. In between these destinations I try to see as many waterfalls as I can. My favorite way to spend the day is to hit the Blue Ridge Parkway for a sunrise, then find a nearby waterfall while the sun is still low and the light is good. The Autumn leaf season may find me anywhere from 5 to 500 miles from my house.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring landscape photographer, what would it be?

Charles: Here's the best advice I can afford: practice, practice, and more practice. The more photos you take the better you will get at taking them. Find a local photographer you really like and see if they will help you. And if you see me at a waterfall come say hi, I'll help you out in any way I can.

To see more of Charles' work and support this talented local artist, follow him on Facebook.