“The Queen City,” North Carolina’s largest, is a great place for urban and city landscape photographers. However, many people don’t realize that North Carolina is also home to mountains, forests, sand hills, beaches, and many more natural landscapes just begging to be recognized. Some of the most talented Charlotte landscape photographers have roamed across the Carolinas — and even the world — to curate fine art worthy of residential and corporate displays. That said, we’ve put together this list of the finest landscape photographers in Charlotte for you to marvel at.
An immensely talented visionary and landscape photographer, Nelson Stegall hopes to not only show beauty but provoke conversations. In his own words, “I want to tell you a story with pictures and a few words. I want to inspire you to think about everyday things in a unique way. I want you to see what I see, capturing forever that brief moment in time.” As a fine artist, Nelson is well aware that nature is never static — it’s ever-changing. Each moment is the conflux of light, sound, water, air, earth, and other elements that will never be repeated. By freezing time with his camera, he shows us a seemingly frozen scene that’s actually a tempest, constantly in creative motion.
Nelson’s work is vibrant in color, and he has a knack for capturing sun stars and artistic lens flare! Occasionally, he also ventures into the world of high dynamic range photography, in order to pull out additional details and color from highlights and shadows in complex light environments. When Nelson shoots monochrome, he prefers a high contrast style that has much of the same effect.
2. Chris Austen
In addition to being among the top Charlotte landscape photographers, Chris Austen covers the related genres of architecture and construction photography. His meticulous eye for lines comes to play in his landscape and nature images, preferring a punchy, nicely saturated color tone. He sometimes aims for high dynamic range to achieve extra highlight, as well as shadow detail and tonality.
Chris enjoys shooting not only from the ground but also takes on a drone’s-eye view for memorable cityscape images. He places extra attention on foreground and background elements that add to the scene, such as incoming planes, plants to frame the subject, and other intentional choices that others would overlook in favor of a simpler composition.
Paul Cotter’s photography has been featured not only in National Geographic, but international annuals, galleries, and even within a permanent public art display. With 30 years of experience, he’s an esteemed Charlotte landscape photographer who’s also an educator, providing instruction for individuals and groups in the area. We love Paul’s eye for moderate to high-contrast monochrome photography.
His landscapes are rich in details for the eye to explore, and he often uses long-exposure techniques to contrast hard, unyielding stone and wood with water and clouds that seem to flow across the digital canvas. By excluding the human element from his scenes, Paul captures a sense of primeval mystery within his natural landscapes.
4. Wildlife Photography by Rick Beldegreen
Veterinarian-turned-photographer Rick Beldegreen renews his love of nature and the Great Outdoors by photographing animals and landscapes across the country! Unlike most landscape photographers, Rick has a taste for subtle color tonal ranges; misty browns, reds, greys, and blues not only play a strong role in his images, but remain remarkably consistent across his portfolio.
Despite the variety of scenes, from cypress swamps to Hawaiian volcanoes, his fine-art approach to landscapes and wildlife has a finished quality that proves he is the real deal. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from each purchase of his landscape and wildlife photography goes towards one of several wildlife conservation agencies!
5. Alex & Mallory of Alexander South NC
Charlotte photographer duo Alex and Mallory shoot mostly couples and weddings nowadays, but they haven’t left their roots behind! They both originally started with natural and urban landscapes and, to this day, still capture sweeping views of the Charlotte skyline and take trips out to national parks across the nation. Landscapes also play a prominent role in their couples images, with environmental portraits full of the big-city bustle of downtown Charlotte!
Urban landscape photographers looking for tips and guidance should check out their Uptown photography tours, where they lead groups of up to a dozen to their favorite scenic locations across the area. Moreover, Alex and Mallory founded Coasters for a Cause, an initiative in which they sell coasters of their stunning cityscapes with part of the proceeds benefiting the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.