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About Photography / Professional Premium Member Charles HildrethMale/United States Group :iconstoryteller-haven: Storyteller-Haven
Photographers Telling Stories
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Charles Hildreth
Artist | Professional | Photography
United States
My name is Charles Hildreth and I’m a portrait photographer from Denver. I majored in Journalism & News Editorial at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I put a strong emphasis on journalistic writing. My childhood consisted of a fascination with Hollywood heroes like Indiana Jones and an appreciation for the romanticism of history and Arthurian tales. In 2006, I took a 90-day, 16-country tour of Europe where I explored as many big and small art museums as I could. It enriched the understanding I once had of world culture, opened my eyes to new cuisine and artists, and put my degree in perspective as far as objectivity was concerned. My portraiture work is a combination of any of these elements, mixed with an objective observation of humankind and an internal struggle for self-confidence in an opinionated world. My work, to me, is flawed, and always will be, as it continues to be a reflection of me, the photographer. I’m not a photographer’s photographer. I can’t sit in a room and chat about camera logistics or ratios, nor have I ever had the desire to. I know what works for the content I produce and gradually grow from a core of photography appreciation.

I'm a natural light shooter - purely for the mood and the story of the moment.

If I could one day fit in among other artists as a storyteller, I think it would be a better fit than photographer, but for now, this is the one medium where I can explore this desire to produce art. I have never wanted to pigeon-hole myself into one particular craft. In the future I hope to continue submit work to publications, print work for local art shows, and explore a world full of engaging individuals.

My childhood in Colorado consisted of bouncing between Denver-suburb towns Westminster and Arvada as I struggled to find continuity in my schooling and myself.

My friends mixed as I spent elementary and part of middle school in Westminster then moved to Arvada for middle school and high school.  Even my high school years had a hard time figuring themselves out, which was symbolic of my internal search.

I spent three weeks at Ranum High School being uncomfortable and separate from my elementary classmates who ended up there.  This was especially at my grandma and mother’s dismay since I spent about two weeks prepping documents to transfer school districts and prove my residency at my grandma’s, just so I could attend.  On the fourth week of my freshmen year I transferred to Arvada West.

This scattered schooling for 12-odd years brought me to many awkward social situations.  In these circumstances I found pieces of myself but nothing solidified.  I know this is common.  I needed to adapt to any group or person I met, changing myself or my beliefs to accommodate.  I made scores of friends but mostly I didn’t want to stick out.  It mattered little though, since my guess at popular boy’s clothing was about as good as my grandmother or mother’s, which if you hadn’t already put it together by now, weren’t young boys trying to fit into school groups.  It’s as if each school year that passed, I wanted to disappear from view, so I could observe and be respected among my peers.

I feared the bus, for this exact reason.  I had to take it at three separate points for school: once to attend kindergarten at Weber Elementary (Arvada), another in Kansas (even though I could have had my driver’s license that year), and then for college at The University of Colorado at Boulder–but the last one doesn’t really count, because that was a convenient choice.

In kindergarten, there were groups of kids who picked on me no matter where I sat.  Doing things like smacking me in the back of the head as I endured the 20 or 30 minutes it took to get home.  As I got older, even more discomfort in who I was set in.  My mother dragged me out to Kansas and I both physically and mentally rejected existing there.  I went, for one year, to Goddard High School in Wichita, and for one year of my life, I turned myself off.

Rolling up into the third week of San Francisco life, I had this early recollection of my school days, Kansas, and how out-of-place I felt.  The city was booming from juggernaut tech businesses like Facebook, Google and PayPal.  In fact, Andrew (the guy we were renting with for the month) worked at  Google and Nintendo doing design and marketing.  He was doing well, but being car-less cost him taxi rides, plus eating out, and with high-rent put him at the break-even point financially.  At the time he was dating a woman named Natalie Stone.  She immediately took to Liz, sharing in similar music and a love for Red Rocks (the place and the music venue).

Our one month at Andrew’s was coming to an end and nothing much had grabbed us.  I met the owner ofCity Model Management, shot one test, Liz got signed and she booked one advertisement which had her face on SF local buses; I booked one wedding, went to Al Pacino’s Wild Salome premiere at the Castro Theater, took a 30-minute survey to an acting course, and found my business interest in SF suddenly waning.

The owner at City really loved my work and actually referred me to one of his close friends, and City model, to shoot her wedding.  This was my first wedding client meeting outside of Colorado, but come to find out the groom went to my college and my high-school.  He even played baseball with Roy Hallady who graduated from Arvada West in 1996, right after my freshman year.  I was at ease with this news, realizing I wasn’t too far from home, no matter how it had felt.

Right before we moved to San Francisco, I had to leave two pursuits: Paykoc Imports, where I was a product photographer and e-commerce manager, andMad Cap Improv Theater.  I started doing improv classes around the same time I dove into photography.  2 years later, I was only doing well in one of them.  For the first year and a half at Madcap I was an improv student, where I learned Whose Line is it Anyway? style comedy.  I started in the sound booth, announcing the actors, doing stage lighting and closing the show.  I also bar-tended and went to a weekly actor’s rehearsal before I had several stage shows in front of a live audience.  I had a blast.  As a kid, most likely inspired by Harrison Ford, I wanted to be an actor.  This feeling has yet to subside.

Acting upon all that I knew from the place I left, I decided to look into classes in SF.  I found a teacher named Shelley Mitchell, who for the brief time I was around her, was someone I immediately respected.  Her class was tucked away, near 24th & Mission, behind an old theater.  I went upstairs and sat in the back, with little expectation of anything.  I already felt out of my element being in the city.

There were three rows of chairs facing a small but well-lit stage against a black curtain.  Shelley entered, a gracefully aged woman with a direct teaching style and sharp wit.  A few students from the class went and looked like they were taking the course to break free of stage fright.  Watching people struggle with this used to make me cringe, for my earlier fear of speaking in front of my judging classmates, but now, after having done improv, it felt like much-needed character material.

I introduced myself and gave her some of my business cards.

“Nice work.  But are you here to sell photography or to take the class?” She asked.

I was definitely there for the class though I could see her confusion.

Shelley artfully and critically analyzed her students performances as they went, one-by-one, to center stage.  This class was one of many where students worked on pieces they wanted to get better at.  Since I showed up to test the environment, I had nothing to present, but she offered me a chance to read from a book she selected.

She handed me a yellow, hardback copy of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

“It’s really strange to have this in my hands right now,” I said with a light chuckle.

“My Grandmother (mom’s mother) gave me this book a long time ago and told me to read it.  I really thought nothing of it since I was so young and recently, before I left on this trip, donated this book with a lot of my other belongings.”

“Well you better go and get it back,” Shelley said.

My mother’s mom had passed away a few years prior to my trip, but she was extremely goofy, had a small drinking problem, among other health conflicts (smoking with asthma while on oxygen?), and a woman I gave a tribute speech to during her funeral.

Shelley told me to open the book and read one of the passages.

With all I had learned from the small amount of acting and voice-acting classes I took in Denver, I read two pages of text, in a deep, calculated and confident voice.

“That was great,” she said.  ”Nicely done”

Did I do well, or was she just trying to sell me the class?

This thought brought to you by Charles’ Self-Worth alarm system.

I wanted to offer to take her portrait.  I decided against asking.

I let out a small sigh leaving the class, because it was $400+ dollars I couldn’t afford.  I probably looked like a desperate photo head-shot salesman to a woman I respected.  So I slipped into a small movie theater down the street.  It only sat about 20.  Coriolanus was playing and it was one of the few Shakespeare plays I had not read.  I sat through the credits, as was customary with this theater’s crowd and then I went home.

Most of the proper nouns in this blog post are links to what I’m referring about, if you’re curious.

Listened to James Vincent McMurrow - Early in the Morning as I wrote this.


Apr 18, 2014
2:08 am
Apr 18, 2014
12:29 am
Apr 18, 2014
12:27 am
Apr 17, 2014
7:23 pm
Apr 17, 2014
4:53 pm


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Hey Charles, I would like to talk to you about using one of your pieces on a book cover. Can you contact me at so we can communicate freely
AshleyxBrooke Mar 25, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Your work is stunning!
 I mean that the photo is perfect.
GingerAnneLondon Mar 20, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Your work is stunning. I love the way you capture women.
aureolin-swatch Mar 20, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
This was a real treat - your work is very beautiful 
:iconfemaleexcellence: Join us ! :D .... monthly art promotion awaits those with great art ! :#1:
If you do so, please submit to the correct category and do not forget about the rules. :aww:
solarie Mar 20, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Beautiful gallery, very elegant :)
calvincooledge Mar 20, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
very cool stuff hope too see more......*creepy voice* "I'm going to be watching you pretty boy, he... he.... he." But ya very good photos.
WOW. Just became one of my favourite photographers.
SkyfireDragon Mar 9, 2014   Artisan Crafter
Happy birthday! :)
Kowwalska Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Happy B-day! :D
mariyaolshevska Mar 9, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Happy Birthday!:cake:
Happy birthday ! :party:
ulltraz Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
happy birthday!!!Airborne 
Stray-Heart Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy bday Party 
have a great day!! :)
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