According to Charlotte photographer Cody Hughes, it all started with a small dog named Taco. After years of relocating across the Carolinas, Cody Hughes has established himself by way of his camera, quickly developing from a novice photographer to an inspired entrepreneur. Driven by a love for the city’s architecture, people, and natural beauty, Hughes captures all of the reasons to want to find community within Charlotte’s faces and spaces. We sat down with Charlotte photographer Cody Hughes to hear the story behind his cityscapes and learn how a passion for capturing those small moments in life translated into his own, lifelong career.
Tell me a little bit about where you’re from and how you ended up in Charlotte.
I have moved around enough times that I literally don’t remember how many times I’ve moved. I was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but I spent ages 2-6 in Charleston, so I always just say I’m from Charleston. I went to high school in Winston-Salem and got a degree in business and marketing at UNCG. Charlotte was about the only city in North Carolina I hadn’t lived in and was the first move I made because I wanted to move there.
When did you first pick up a camera?
About 10 years ago my dad got me a DSLR camera for Christmas. My mom always loved cameras, so when I said I wanted a nice camera, she said I would never use it. She was right. I thought it was too complicated and didn’t pick it up again until I moved to Charlotte. When I moved here, I basically knew no one. I just had my little dog, Taco. Every time I got off from work was right around sunset. I loved how they reflected off the buildings, so I figured I’d start bringing the camera along and try to use it again. It all started from there: literally just taking my dog on walks.
What has been your favorite thing about starting your own photography business?
I’m doing something to help benefit other people. It’s rewarding when people love your stuff so much that they want it in their home. When I first started, I was terrified; I didn’t think anyone would want to buy something from me. But, putting myself in that uncomfortable situation allowed me to meet all sorts of people, quit my job, and start a full-time business. It was all about stepping out and being uncomfortable. A lot of learning — that’s what I love about it.
What are you typical photography subjects?
I started by purely doing landscapes, but have recently been doing engagements and will be shooting my first wedding this year. One of my favorite things about photography, in general, is that I get to meet so many people and can get so entrenched in the small business community. With how many times I’ve moved, I’ve never felt like anywhere is home. It’s been cool to actually make connections and be part of a city, and Charlotte is so willing to have small businesses and entrepreneurs as part of the community.
What got you so interested in the Charlotte skyline?
I love the architecture and the lights… the buildings are just beautiful. I also really love street photography and shooting sunsets because you’re never going to get the same thing twice. It’s incredible to know that, no matter what, you’re capturing a moment in time that can’t be captured again — you either catch it or you don’t.