Jack Alterman opened his first photography studio in 1980 in the heart of Charleston. After more than 30 years in photography, he’s turned the lens on his hometown, releasing a coffee table book titled My City Charleston, The Photographs of Jack Alterman, which Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. called “the best Charleston photographic essay ever.”
More than 150 vibrant, striking photographs capture the city’s famed steeples, serene waters, and colorful houses in what Alterman refers to as “my love letter to the town that raised and nurtured me and continues to inspire my work.”
Most evident is the effort that went into these shots, offering breathtaking angles of the Holy City. Some are from the air, while others required traversing water.
“I have explored the city from a bucket truck 30 feet in the air, on rooftops, and in a boat drifting in the harbor to capture unprecedented views of Charleston’s iconic locations and hidden gems,” Alterman says, almost unnecessarily. These photographs speak for themselves.
While the pages contain shots of Charleston’s most iconic locations—from Dixie Plantation’s Avenue of Oaks to St. Michael’s Church to the cityscape—many of the images that stick with you long after closing the cover depict simple, sometimes ignored aspects of the city. A shot of a cobblestone street at dusk. A pelican perched on an old wooden stake, peacefully watching the harbor. A pilot boat returning from a long day at sea.
Capturing a city, especially one as nuanced as Charleston, in 150 photographs is no simple task. Our hats are off to Alterman for not only meeting that challenge but rising far above it.
Travis M. Andrews is an associate editor for Southern Living. Follow him on Twitter @travismandrews.