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Artist Profile: Charles Dawley

Charles Dawley, a local photographer from Petoskey, has been doing just that for the past few years through his work at the Little Traverse Conservancy and beyond with his drone photography and videography.

"I've been interested in photography and technology ever since grade school," he said. "My grandfather, who lived in Cadillac, would show us slideshows of his travels across the country and my other grandfather had almost every single National Geographic and when I would visit I always had a stack of them with me before bedtime. I guess through that I got my photography spark."

Photography passions continued through middle and high school when Dawley's father bought a digital camera. Dawley and his brother would go out to photograph things like their friends and different landscapes.

"I was always the nature photographer," Dawley said. "After college I started working for the Little Traverse Conservancy and through that I get to continue my passions of landscape photography with a combination of photos, videos and technology."

Dawley graduated from Central Michigan University with his bachelor's degree in geographic informational systems and acts as the conservancy's technology and stewardship coordinator. Through his work, Dawley said he gets to combine art and science through mapping different preserves, using a drone to do air monitoring of conservation easements and more.

"I saw the technology developing and, as a landscape guy, I liked to take photos on all of our nature preserves and I was always out in the field. I enjoy it as my work is an extension of that and I always try to think of new ways to see things," he said. "Here in Northern Michigan we don't have great big mountains but if you bring your camera up in the air you can see our ground, lakes and wetlands and everything a bit better. Put a little elevation underneath your photos and it turns into something else."

Dawley also finds himself using his drone to do some commercial work and currently has a number of photos around the area in local business. Some of his work can be found in Petoskey at the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Dawley also enjoys highlighting Northern Michigan through his photos and videos he posts on social media.

"I don't really do this to get recognized. I just have fun doing it and enjoy showing off our beautiful area," he said.

To see more of his work, visit his several social media profiles at UpNorth Imaging on Facebook, Instagram and at

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