Beauty on the Bayou with Charles Martin

Landscape & Environment

March 5, 2019 ·


Note from the publisher: This is the first video in a new series which The Luminous Landscape will be producing that will profile renowned landscape photographers in the environments they live in or for which they are known. The idea is to capture photographers at work, to talk to them about their relationship with their landscape, and the particular challenges and photographic techniques they employ. These videos will be immersive, often host-less and made by independent filmmakers. For our first installment, we are heading down to Cajun country!

Charles Martin is a photographer based in the river parishes of Louisiana, where he has lived all his life. Stretching between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the small communities that dot the Mississippi river are also close to the bayous and lakes of southern Louisiana, some of the most striking landscapes in America. Charlie’s website is one of the most visited sites for photography of the bayous and wetlands of the area, and his knowledge of the area and dedication to his craft has made him a valuable resource for the photographic community there. As well as his landscape work, Charlie has also practiced wildlife and documentary photography and in conjunction with the New Orleans Historical Collection, he has published a book documenting the traditional practice of Perique tobacco farming.

I met Charlie at the cafe he operates in Gramercy, Louisiana, which also serves as an informal gallery of his work. We were soon in his boat heading out onto Lake Maurepas, one of his favourite locations, where he took me to some of his preferred spots. Charlie mostly works at dawn and dusk to capture the drama of the transition from night to day, but on the water, even in the mid-afternoon the Lake has an otherworldliness that is remarkable, and as the sun began to set the true beauty of the environment and its peculiar hold on photographers became apparent. A former hunter, Charlie uses the same skills of patience, research, positioning, and understanding of the terrain and the weather to shoot his work, which is now often printed on large-scale canvases. 

Charlie often serves as a guide to photographic tourists visiting the area. He is currently working on building a couple of houseboats that he can use to bring clients out to the bayou for sunset sessions, which will allow them to stay overnight on the boat so they can also capture the sunrise the next day. Between sundown and sunup, he hopes to ‘feed them like a Cajun’ and give them an experience that is unique for visiting photographers to Louisiana. I for one would jump at this opportunity and can’t wait to revisit the bayous by boat and learn more from the wise Charlie Martin. He can be reached through his website.

Nick Taylor

March 2019

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Nick Taylor is a British/Canadian film editor and director based in Toronto. His work has been shown at TIFF, SXSW, Cannes Market, Traverse City and many other festivals. He has worked extensively in television for networks like A&E and the CBC. His new feature documentary 'The Organizer' is available on iTunes, March 5th.

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