Behind The Lens: Charlie Shoemaker

Behind The Lens: Charlie Shoemaker

Each week we’ll feature one photographer from the PhotoShelter community, and share his or her story behind the shots that caught our eye.

  • Photographer: Charlie Shoemaker
  • Specialty: Documentary
  • Current Location: South Africa
  • PhotoShelter Websitecharlieshoemaker.photoshelter.com
  • Clients: New York Times, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Huck Magazine

The Shots:

The story:

Charlie was visiting the small village of Aletong photographing a traditional song and dance ceremony at a local school when he noticed Tony. The beads of sweat grabbed Charlie’s attention and he pulled Tony aside to take his portrait.“I just loved the way the sweat looked on his really intense face. Tony is a former LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) abductee and child soldier that was studying at a vocational training and rehabilitation center for children of internally-displaced camps,” recalls Charlie. He added, “I also remember thinking that he reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix’s portal of Johnny Cash in Walk The Line the way he danced with the group.”

For this second image, Charlie was in the backseat of an old beat up car traveling with photographer Katharine Sidelnik to the town of Lira. “We were jammed into the back seat with two others and I’m sure another two in the front seat. It was around midday when the car ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere,” he remembers. As the heat began to rise, Charlie, along the the rest of the passengers opened the doors for some fresh air. “The two older women next to me got out of the car and I looked to my left as she got out and made this frame. Her body language is very common in Uganda and I loved the way it was framed in the door.”

What caught our eye:

Charlie’s images of life throughout Africa, from Uganda to South Africa, lie on the thin line between fine art and documentary photography. Extremely thoughtful and artful images are scattered throughout his large portfolio made up mostly of traditional straight photojournalism. It’s those little surprises, like the woman in the car door frame, that shows the viewer Charlie’s unique take on how to tell a story.

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