Charlie Smith – Harbor Photographer


When Charles Howard Smith is not driving bus for the Duluth Transit Authority, he often can be found on the Duluth-Superior waterfront with his trusty camera and trusted canine companion, Frankie. The rescued German shepherd-husky mix is his partner in adventure. Here Charles shares insights into capturing powerful images of the working waterfront.

The information is from the Seaway Port Authority (North Star Port Magazine)

How did you first get into photography, specifically shipping? Is this your primary job?

I have always been interested in ships. My dad worked at Peavey Elevator for many years, so my brother and I always gravitated toward the boats. I left Duluth and lived in South Dakota for 25 years, but when Destination Duluth ( launched in 2013, it pulled at my Charles Howard Smith heartstrings. I moved back and picked up photography. People always said I had a good eye.

What draws you to Great Lakes shipping and the working waterfront for images?

It is pretty awe-inspiring to have salties from all over the world visit the Twin Ports. We are a long way from the coasts, and they carry a variety of cargoes. Yesterday, I caught one with windmill parts and one loaded with grain.

Do you have other specialty focus areas, as well?

Northern lights. That is probably my favorite subject matter. I’ve chased them all over northern Minnesota, and, someday, I’d like to go to Iceland and Alaska.

How would you describe your approach to photography?

I have always wanted to share the beauty of the Duluth area. My goal is to share my love of this area in ways that help others enjoy, visit or even move here. Most of my shots are spontaneous. I love the fall season. I’m not a morning person, but I love to shoot a good sunrise. We have some of the best in the world here.

Do you know immediately when you get a great one?

Yes. I can see when something awesome is developing, and I do a little happy dance.

Visit Charlie’s Facebook Page