Contest-winning photos evoke sense of place

A spooky look at the historic Torance House and Store in north Mecklenburg. Click image for photo gallery. Photo: Kevin J. Beaty

When PlanCharlotte.org decided to hold a photo contest to celebrate our first birthday, we expected we’d receive plenty of snapshot-caliber photos. We were delighted to be wrong. Among a number of strong photos evoking a powerful sense of place, Kevin J. Beaty’s photos took top honors.

To see a photo gallery of the best of the entries, click here.

Contest judge Crista Cammaroto – a longtime photographer, director of galleries for the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture and formerly creative director and curator for the Light Factory – couldn’t choose between two of Beaty’s photos and chose to give both the top honors.

The first is a nighttime shot of the Hugh Torance house and store in Huntersville, one of the oldest buildings in Mecklenburg County. Beaty wrote:  “We used to call it the ‘Ghost House’ when I was a kid, so approaching it late at night to get this shot was particularly scary.” (Read about the house here.)

(Click image to see a photo gallery)

His other photo is another night-time shot, this time of the Charlotte skyline with a crescent moon. He wrote: “On a warm night, uptown Charlotte is a fantastic place for a long romantic walk ended, of course, with a Sabrett's hotdog and a Coke.”

Beaty, who grew up in Huntersville and graduated from Hopewell High School before attending Boston University, is a photographer and videographer who has just finished the Charlotte Video Project, 100 short films celebrating Charlotte. He credits his Hopewell photo teacher, Nan Carey, with inspiring his career. “Photo teacher Nan Carey is still a mentor of mine,” he said. “I took her photo class my sophomore year at Hopewell and I never turned back.”

He wins a $50 gift card to Park Road Books, an independent book store in Charlotte’s venerable Park Road Shopping Center.

Cammaroto had a difficult time choosing among the almost three dozen photos submitted – “This is going to be tougher than I thought,” she said while judging – and she opted to choose a second place, third place and honorable mentions.

Second place (click image for a photo gallery):

Cammaroto chose a photo from Jason Walser, executive director of the LandTrust for Central North Carolina. Walser wrote: “I snapped this photo of a conserved property in western Rowan County off of White Road. (I) looked east towards the sunrise. Roosters were crowing in the distance when I took this, and it was the only sound I could hear.  I … felt like I was part of something special as West Rowan County came alive between 6:30 and 7 a.m.  Cows mooing, birds chirping, and roosters crowing.  This is a beautiful place that, thanks to conservation efforts, will look pretty much just like this for countless generations to follow.”

Third place: Michael J. Solender, a free-lance writer and editor, sent an evocative photo of a beloved Charlotte spot, the Niki de Saint Phalle “Firebird” at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in the heart of uptown Charlotte. He wrote: “One Charlotte place I love is the plaza in front of the Bechtler Museum at the Levine Avenue of the Arts and South Tryon Street. I especially enjoy it at night when the Firebird gleams and the foot traffic from the adjacent Knight Theater spills out onto the plaza. I took this photo when my sister-in-law was in town for a show, and the moment I took the photo the plaza was clear – moments later it was filled with people.”

Honorable mentions:

Ron Bryant’s American lotus pond in Stanly County. (Click image for photo gallery)

Bryant, a longtime Charlotte environmental activist who has moved to Stanly, wrote this: “When I first came on site to build our home, neighbors told me about a pond back in the woods that did not show on an aerial map of the property. … After I got the house dried-in, I took time to go look for the pond. There was no path so I bushwhacked in the direction the neighbors indicated. I was on a little rise as I cut some privet out of the way, and it was like Alice stepping through the looking glass into Wonderland. (They) were in full bloom and it took a while to catch my breath. Amazing!

Terry Lansdell’s “South End Lynx Light Rail Line.  He wrote: “The shared use urban connector. The line that brings the city together and not apart.”

Thanks to all who submitted photos. Click here for a gallery of the winning photos and some others, also.