Valdosta Daily Times


December 30, 2013

Photographer pictures diverse life

VALDOSTA — When Dwayne Culpepper was a child, he took photos of anything and everything. Today, he brings that same enthusiasm to his work as a professional photographer who shoots everything from models to motorsports.

Culpepper has amassed a portfolio of thousands of photographs taken during 20 years, but it all started after seeing his first Polaroid photo as a child.

“I was just amazed by them,” said Culpepper. “When I started taking photos, I took photos of anything in the yard. I would get more nature shots than anything else.”

Culpepper lived in Stockton as a child, and that made getting prints of his photos considerably more difficult than it is now. Instead of emailing the photos to a store and picking them up within an hour, he had to drive to Valdosta.

“Every week or so, we would go into town and drop them off at the little old photo-drop booth in the Five Points Shopping Center,” said Culpepper. “There was no one-hour-photo back then. It would be a two- or three-week


He continued taking photographs throughout his childhood, and his passion for the art led him to make the obvious choice of joining the photo club at Lanier County High School in 1983 when he learned advanced skills of the trade.

“The school had a darkroom between the chemistry and biology classes to develop film,” said Culpepper. “I joined and learned how to develop black-and-white film.”

The lessons he learned in high school of how to compose shots and develop traditional film continue to serve him well in the age of digital photography.

“I always shoot manually. You learn how to control white through manual photography,” said Culpepper. “When I was shooting in college, my camera didn’t even have an automatic setting.”

Culpepper earned a public-relations degree at Valdosta State and worked as a timber broker for 10 years. He’s a second-generation timber man and currently operates a saw mill that sells custom cut wood and commercial firewood.

Even while working timber, Culpepper never stopped taking photos, but it wasn’t until he started drag racing that he stumbled upon what would become his second career.

“I wanted to do straight timber, but then I started drag racing,” said Culpepper. “I had a camera and took a few shots of my friends at the Southern Dragway in Douglas. They showed them to the owner, and he offered me a job.”

Culpepper was the the track’s official photographer for five years, a position that gave him the opportunity to make a name for himself in the motor-sports community.

“I’ve got several professional drivers who have used my photos, and I’ve been published several times in a couple different magazines,” said Culpepper.

In the late 1990s, Culpepper got married and took a five-year hiatus from professional photography, but his sister encouraged him to pick up his camera and start shooting again. He ended up bolstering his portfolio with nature photos, including a series called “Old Times, They’re Not Forgotten.” Several photos from that collection have been sold and used as guides for artists to paint pastoral scenes with old barns.

Culpepper still takes drag-racing photos, but he has successfully diversified his business, taking photos of models, bands and rodeos and even working with non-profit groups and schools.

“Georgia Christian started a football team this year, and I’ve been shooting the games,” said Culpepper. “And I’ve worked with the Monique Burr Foundation in Jacksonville, a national campaign against bullying in schools.”

Culpepper loves what he does, and his career continues moving forward. His photo of model Meagan Smith was recently published in the November issue of Surreal Beauty Magazine, and he was named one of the publication’s regional photographers.

Portions of his portfolio can be seen at

Culpepper says he photographs everything from babies to bands, but he still has one subject he cherishes more than all the others.

“Drag racing. That’s a no-brainer,” said Culpepper. “I love the sport.”

Text Only
  • 140418-AR_Paul_Townsend001.jpg Graphic novelist draws on inspiration

    A few moments with graphic artist Paul Townsend is all you need to understand that his mind swirls with stories that he’s willing to explore on paper – no matter where they take him.

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pompeys Pillar.JPG Pompeys Pillar

    Along their journey west to the Pacific and return east to St. Louis, Lewis and Clark left numerous marks recording their presence in order to validate a claim to the land for the United States.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • 1vsusr2014.jpg seen.yer-shoh

    Two of the most revealing exhibits each year at the Valdosta State University Fine Art Gallery are the fall and spring senior art shows.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Film Review Draft Day_Rich copy.jpg ‘Draft Day’ scores a field goal at the theater

    Our reviewer looks at the movies "Draft Day'" and "Rio 2."

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • emerging1.jpg Emerging Artists: VSU shines spotlights on student performers

    Three years ago, Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance created a twist on its seasons’ conclusions.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • bicycle safety.jpg SGMC, Kohl’s to host Bike Smart safety event

    SGMC, Kohl’s Department Store, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and Safe Kids Lowndes County will host Bike Smart!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140410-AR-Wake_Compound001.jpg Bringing wakeboards to Lowndes

    In college, many dream of their future career paths and, while some may seem far fetched, some people are able to make theirs a reality. Luke Tilt and Quinn Silvernale were able to do just that.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140401-Ballet003.jpg Beautiful Dancers

    The Ballet School in Valdosta offers children with special needs the chance to live out their dreams of being a dancer. For many, this may have seemed like a far fetched dream given their physical limitations, but as the Ballet School proves, there is no such thing as a physical limitation.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • Dido and Aeneas 1.jpg VSU Opera, Chamber Singers Present ‘Dido and Aeneas’ April 19-20

    The Valdosta State University Department of Music will present “Dido and Aeneas” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, in the West Hall Rotunda. Seating is limited to 100 people per performance.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film Review Captain A_Rich copy.jpg A salute to ‘Captain America’

    Our reviewer looks at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," 'The Grand Budapest hotel' and "Bad Words."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results