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Watson Brown

Backroads: The Down East Photography of Watson Brown

Watson Brown is a local North Carolina photographer, whose work evokes a familiar nostalgia for times gone by. In his own words, Watson Brown has this to say about his body of work:

“My photography records memories. It creates a unique artistry that takes your mind and soul back to another place in time.  It evokes feelings of your childhood, your parents and your grandparents and of those simpler times of long ago.  It documents how we once lived and worked and the places that we called home.  My photography, I hope, will perpetually immortalize the houses, buildings, landscapes, churches, country stores and places that were once so familiar to us, but are so rapidly being abandoned and lost.

“My photographs are to give future generations a chance to see many places that will one day be gone, while documenting the special things that have made eastern North Carolina so unique.  I constantly try to create photographs that are paintings of how things once were and how wonderful many things still are. I want to commemorate in pictures those special places of the heart that may unfortunately never be with us again.”

Watson Brown was featured on WRAL’s “Tar Heel Traveler” segment, which can be viewed here.

Prices range from 200.00-400.00. Call or email for pricing.

Read this artist's biography

Watson was born in Edgecombe County in Eastern North Carolina.  He attended undergraduate school at East Carolina University, majoring in Geography and City Planning.  His graduate degree in urban and regional planning was from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He was Planning Director of Tarboro, North Carolina and Senior Planner for Raleigh during his 30 year public service career.  His work was often intertwined with urban design, landscaping, the arts and historic preservation.  His work in Tarboro was influential in securing the country’s largest collection of the works of North Carolina artist, Hobson Pittman, which is currently housed in the General Thomas Blount mansion in the Tarboro Historic District. After retiring as a city planner in 2004, Watson started a journey that would change his life and awaken his artistic soul.  First, he moved from Raleigh back to eastern North Carolina and restored his family’s 1854 plantation house.  He also began to photograph and document the rapidly disappearing structures, the changing environment and the historic ways of life that had been so unique to eastern North Carolina.

He now travels the back roads of the eastern counties searching for historic buildings, houses, landscapes, people, townscapes, scenes from another time, and especially looks for those things that may be lost to us within a few years.  He captures the beautiful, the downtrodden, the bizarre, the abandoned and the unique features of a land that began its history as early as any region in the United States. His photographs of empty plantation homes, dilapidated sharecropper houses or beautiful farm landscapes evoke haunting memories of another time in our history.  His approach to this documentary project has evolved over time to create an almost unique art form through the use of textures, light, shadows and unique overlays which often create the look of old paintings or which awaken long-forgotten memories and moods. Quite often his photographs are mistaken for paintings.  His goal is to leave a legacy of photographs so future generations may know how we lived in the early 21st century. Watson is represented by Gallery C in Raleigh.

His email is and his photographs are featured at

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