Charles Mercer has had a love affair with photography from the age of 10, when he set up a darkroom in his parents' home in Gwelo, then Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe) and took images of the local people in the town. This was the beginning of a journey that took him down many strange paths, but coming back to photography seemed his destiny.
Little did he know at the time that his great grandfather was also a photographer and an adventurer. When Bulawayo only had tin shanties, the great grandfather set up a postcard shop and began to trade. His legacy of photographs of the early life in Rhodesia can be seen in the archives in Harare, Zimbabwe. His son inherited the gear and also dabbled in photography. This means that photography seems to be in the genes of the family.
Charles's greatest delight is being out in nature and photographing the beauty of this planet. If one is to lose self and inadvertently find happiness in that way, this is the way he chooses.
However, like most photographers, he is conscious of the fact that he and his family can't live on thin air. And so he also does events, weddings, portraits and the like. Not that he regards this as a second choice; the passion he has for people comes through in all his work. He also has a heart for the marginalised of society and at one stage in his life, built a renewal center in an inner city area. This is still running decades later.
Charles has led an interesting and varied life.
Like all of us, he has made some terrible choices, but coming back to photography has made it just another story of another person, someone who knows that art is found in our humanness, our frailty and our ability to find meaning in what seems to be loss.
He is now also a photographic coach and has trained hundreds of people in the things he has learned about photography. His weekly critiques; the photo walks, the public lectures and the courses he has run over the years have contributed to a life renewed by a genuine passion for creative expression.
Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa.