Artist Interview - Charles Titterington
Dek Unu has never featured a former alligator wrangler before!
I worked at Gatorland in my late teens, providing education programs to guests while working with live animals, including the Gator Wrestling Show, Gator Jumparoo, and Snakes of Florida. But, before that, I took my first job as a photographer with a local medieval- themed dinner show; and I have a picture of myself in a tunic and tights in my high school yearbook to prove it. I bounced between animal-related jobs (horses, gators, snakes, and bears) and photog-raphy until a venue photography job opened up with Sharpshooter Imaging at Walt Disney World parks and restaurants.
Your work is so technically and aesthetically accomplished; do you have formal training in photography or other arts?
I'm entirely self-taught beyond what I learned through the public school system. A photo class in high school, followed by two years as a yearbook photographer, got me started, but I've always had a high level of self-motivation and an eagerness to experiment. That, and a lifetime of experiences, have inspired me and driven me to learn by doing.
Fine art photography is a tough path, financially, for a person with a family. How have you made it work?
In 2001, the year my first daughter was born, I started doing event photography, stills and videos for meetings, conventions, and shows, including ballroom dance competitions around the United States and internationally. Between photo contracts, I took jobs as a Teamsters union forklift operator and I still do this today, working large trade shows that come to Orlando, IAAPA, NPE, HIMMS, PGA, etc.
During the early years of working events, I only dabbled in art photography, leaving my creativity on the back burner. It drove me crazy. I was continually chasing the REAL JOB! I honestly wanted to just be home with my family and make a living doing what I love. I started my own business, doing events, portraits, and photo services, in the middle of trying to balance family life, multiple outside photography jobs, and union work all at the same time. The past several years have been more stable, more union work, less travel. I started a new business as Charles Titterington, LLC, focused on the creative side, and, now, I can think more about my family and my art. It has not been an easy road.
Your resumé suggests you are still wrangling reptiles?
In 2010, my wife founded her business, Swamp Girl Adventures, a non-profit to promote conservation of wildlife and habitats and to assist in the care and rehabilitation of animals in need. As the volunteer art director for Swamp Girl, I do photography, graphics, product design, website design, animal enclosure design, construction, and maintenance, animal husbandry and care.
Have a look at videos from Swamp Girl Adventures on youtube and see more on her website: www.swampgirladventures.org.
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