Using the manual setting on his camera, Clinton native Brent McGuirt gets in position and captures one of many nationally-recognized photos he has taken as part of his photographic career.
From snow-covered canyons in the southwest to the star-lit skies of the coast, McGuirt has traveled the country putting his passion for the outdoors, hiking and photography to good use through his landscape photos.
McGuirt says he grew up spending a lot of time outside playing sports, fishing and exploring, but never imagined his love for being outside would turn into a career. As a child, he played with his dad’s camera equipment, but it wasn’t until after McGuirt graduated from high school that his passion for photography began to bloom.
After purchasing a film SLR camera, McGuirt says he began to hone his skills while hiking the great outdoors. During two summers, and while studying at Wake Forest University, he spent time at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Topsail Island’s Surf City Baptist Church doing mission work.
“As I continued to serve in ministries, I always enjoyed getting back outside and photographing God’s creation and displaying His beauty for all to see,” McGuirt said during a recent interview.
With the help of a friend who is a professional photographer, McGuirt said he learned proper skills for creating dramatic images.
“While shooting waterfalls, I began to understand the fundamentals of perfecting exposure using proper apertures and shutter speeds with long exposures on manual settings,” McGuirt explained. “I also learned techniques for capturing scenes in their most dramatic form in dramatic weather conditions and light.”
Those skills continued to grow, as McGuirt says he learned to use long exposures on a tripod and control the exposure using graduated filters. These special features, he explained, are like sunglasses for the top of the picture, allowing him to take a picture of a place in low light and expose both the sky and foreground properly.
In 2011, McGuirt took a ministry position in the mountains outside of Shenandoah National Park in Lexington, Va. It was then he says he began channeling his photography focus into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Now, with a portfolio full of images in hand, McGuirt was asked to feature those images in a gallery in the lodges of Shenandoah National Park, where he now displays over 50 canvas gallery wraps of his photography.
For the last two years, McGuirt has worked full time as a photographer, selling his artwork through the Shenandoah galleries, art shows and licensing. His work has been featured by tourism agencies throughout the southeast, as well as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Our State Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Impact Photographics National Parks Calendars, Virginia is for Lovers, the Nature Conservancy and more.
He even has an image of hikers on the Appalachian Trail that has been featured on Yahoo and USA Today. McGuirt’s most recent recognition was having one of his images from the Appalachian Trail featured as the National Stamp for 2018 for the Passport to the National Parks.
Even though McGuirt says he doesn’t have professional training in meteorology, being good at knowing the weather comes in handy when trying to capture the perfect shot.
“I always watch the clouds, looking for the right lighting conditions, and seeking to find new places to highlight their beauty for all to see,” McGuirt said. “Compelling landscape photography is all about shooting at the edge of dramatic light, so my images involve hiking in the dark to extraordinary places for sunrise or sunset with a sturdy tripod, professional camera and lenses, and filters, and setting up to capture scenes in their most captivating conditions.”
The professional photographer says he has literally found himself on the edge of a cliff or standing in the waves to capture the perfect moment and take his viewers into the scene.
Over the years, McGuirt says he has had the privilege of capturing images of the Milky Way over the Appalachian and lighthouses of North Carolina. Additionally, he has shot sunrises in the mountains and on the Outer Banks, captured images in national parks and public lands in the southwest and is now looking forward to capturing more on the coast of North Carolina and in the mountains.
He and his wife, Dana, along with their four daughters — Rachel, Rebekah, Bethany and Aletheia — recently moved back to Sampson County to help take care of his father, Jim, who recently passed, and run the family business, Royal Trustworthy Hardware in Salemburg.
McGuirt’s mother, Pam, continues to live in Sampson County. One of his brothers, Jason, is an assistant district attorney in Duplin County and is married to Dr. Brittany Weeks McGuirt, a local dentist. His other brother, Jared, is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and married to Brooke.
Anyone interested in purchasing some of McGuirt’s work can visit his website www.brentmcguirtphotography.com or view his Facebook page Brent McGuirt Photography.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.