In the fall of 1987 Charlotte Temple took her first trip to China. She found in China a place that had beauty, contrasts, and cultural dissonances. At that time the cities were beginning to look to the West and to move toward capitalism--“socialism with Chinese characteristics”. In the countryside people lived much as they had for centuries. What started as a project to document change in emerging China became instead an irresistible challenge to capture its people and their disappearing cultures.
Charlotte attended the San Francisco Art Institute for a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography and began her work in Asia and particularly in China. Upon graduation she was awarded the Fletcher Cup for excellence in art. She studied Chinese at Middlebury College and the Beijing Language Institute in 1991.
Her work has emphasized rural China, especially rural and tribal areas. Her photography encompasses portrait, still life, and landscape. Major bodies of work include the province of Guizhou, where she lived with an ethnic Miao family in a small village over several trips. Recent work has taken her into the ancient kingdom of Kham in western Sichuan and eastern Tibet and into the northern and eastern parts of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. She has also photographed in the provinces of Guangxi, Shandong, Qinghai, Ningxia, Anhui, Shanxi, Fujian, the Yangtse River, and the Silk Road and Gansu in Xinjiang Provinces in the far west of China. Photographing Chinese gardens in the Shanghai Delta and in the Beijing area has been a continuing project for over twenty years.
Charlotte has had solo exhibitions in museums and galleries in North Carolina, California, Texas, and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Group exhibitions in Carmel, California and San Francisco have included her photographs. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Doubletake, Pacific Horticulture (Chinese gardens), and Spur Magazines, as well as in the book Mooncakes and Hungry Ghosts: Festivals in China. She is represented in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as numerous private and Institutional collections. Art related activities include seven years as trustee, with three years as president of the board of the Friends of Photography: the Ansel Adams Center in San Francisco. She is a member of the American Association of Media Photographers and was recently honored in their 2009 photographic competition.