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Rising Stars: Meet Cortland Hunter of Charlotte

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cortland Hunter.

Hi Cortland, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I have been taking pictures all my life. I started with film, and now it’s in demand again. Growing up, my parents let me tinker with the family camera. I moved on to disposables and instant cameras. My first dedicated camera was a point-and-shoot digital in 2009. Finally, I upgraded to a DSLR in 2014. I haven’t been without some device since. At first, I was self-taught. As a teenager, I discovered photograph art by focusing on composition. I captured whatever caught my eye. Portraits quickly became my favorite thing to capture. In college, I took a digital photography class. I learned how to use editing programs, meet deadlines for clients, and and how to present my work at art shows properly. My earliest “clients” were classmates. I also performed editing duties for our in-house art/literature publication during those years. In 2020, I started participating in networking events where my portraiture skills flourished. I became more involved in my local art scene and have learned a lot from creatives in my community.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My journey has been up and down. It took me a long time to see the value of my work. Putting oneself out there is not an easy task. I had to come out of my shell. I still have to be reminded not to sell myself short. Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is, “Show up as you belong.”

Mental health is something that I have struggled with in recent years. It took many rejections to get a yes, especially when submitting work to contests, shows, and publications. My most painful experiences have inspired some of my best creations. One could say that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I want my work to be a reflection of that. Pictures tell stories.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I went to school for literature and creative writing, two other lifelong passions of mine. Right out of college, I began as a reading tutor with a national organization. That was when I discovered that I loved mentoring children. I am now an after-school teacher working with elementary school students. I also write freelance for mental health websites to share my experiences with a broad audience. Slowly but surely, I am getting my photography business off of the ground. I have photographed weddings, family sessions, and modeling sessions. I suppose I am already becoming known for my editing style and use of color. Some of my biggest influences are film photographers. I enjoy using “dated” tones. Earth tones are my favorite color palate to use.

We’d love to hear what you think about risk-taking.
Taking risks creatively and professionally is worth it. Within the last year, I have ventured outside my comfort zone. My photography has taken me to different parts of the state. I have formed new connections that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t take that step.

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