“I firmly believe that what we draw from our world, that allows us to create using the elements it has so generously put in our paths, must be given back with as passionate a response as can be given.” —Charles Dennis

On February 26, 2005, at the age of 52, Charles Dennis passed away at sunset while resting in his bed at his home in Hillsborough, NC. In telling the story about his life, as his wife and life companion, I have struggled to determine if it is enough to simply show his work. I have asked myself, “Could the images, alone, tell the story of his life?” Some may ask, “Why tell a story at all? Why not allow only the images to speak to who Charles Dennis was?”

For nearly 28 years, by day he was a highly accomplished professional, commercial printer. He was fascinated with printing nearly as much as photography. He was an innovator, a student and a master of fine printing techniques. He spent hundreds of hours in his darkroom in search of his version of the perfect print. When he became bed bound, we moved his work onto his bed where he spent two years converting much of it into the digital darkroom. As his hands and legs became frozen and his body fell into the last stages of his disease, he was banked with pillows, fed by others and kept going on powerful pain medications to support his work in the digital print world. He labored twelve to fifteen hours a day at the screen of his laptop meticulously completing his collections, crafting his prints and stretching the limits of his printer and computer.

Two of his largest bodies of work are Hurricane Fran: In Memory of the Trees and the work done over a period of ten years on Bald Head Island, NC. These two giant collections highlight his landscape work and feature both the beauty and destructive power of nature. Within each collection are many smaller collections. During the years that this work was created, Charlie’s frail legs could barely support him. Yet, his tripod held him upright and his love and passion for his image making lifted his pain and carried to him a place of peace and creativity.

— Susan Dennis