ST. GEORGE —From bears fishing in Alaskan streams to wild horses running through the Colorado Sand Wash Basin, this photographer is calling the shots.

Artist Charly Moore takes a portrait in the desert, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Charly Moore, St. George News

“People liked the way I saw things, looked at things, played with cameras,” Charly Moore, the artist and owner behind Mystic Canyon Light Gallery in Kayenta said. “I guess it just came natural. A camera is a paintbrush.”

Born in Germany in 1956, Moore went on to obtain a degree in technical engineering. After college, he took a job with a large company and quickly learned that career choice was not the one for him.

“I couldn’t see myself in a suit and tie in a corner office for the rest of my working life,” Moore said. “I guess I’m too free-spirited. I have to enjoy what I’m doing. If it’s not fun, no matter how much money you make, it’s time to move on to do something else that brings joy back into your life.”

Born with a talent and eye for art, he transitioned into a professional tattoo artist. After opening his first tattoo shop, his career took him from Germany to Southern California. He opened his second shop there, and after 30 years in the tattoo industry, he was ready for a change.

Artist Charly Moore stands inside Mystic Canyon Light Gallery, a studio in the Kayenta Art Village that features his photography and other mediums of art, Ivins, Utah, Nov. 13, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

He decided to sell everything and move to Page, Arizona. Once there, he became friends with a Navajo family who owned a canyon tour company. In need of a job, he offered to help with tours. Next thing he knew, he was a full-time guide.

Initially, he partnered with the family, then took over the business full-time. His guide career led to a love for photography —something he never thought would become a career. His canyon tours included private photo tours through the Navajo Nation’s slot canyons.

“With only four to six people, people could really work the canyon,” he said. “And sometimes just sit and experience the solitude in the canyon – something that really isn’t there anymore.”

“The Burning Bush” photographed by Charly Moore features a light beam as it hits sagebrush in Antelope Canyon, Arizona, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Charly Moore, St. George News

Moore said he was able to secure a private canyon to himself that no other guides could enter. One of his favorite photographs is from this location and is titled “Burning Bush.” The name comes from a light beam that comes piercing through the slot canyon. One day, a tumbleweed showed up, and just as the light beam hit the weed, it lit up like a burning bush.

“Moses was telling me to name it the burning bush,” he said with a chuckle.

After 14 years in Page, he decided it was time for a change. Spending his time between Page and St. George, a front desk worker at a hotel he frequented told him about the Kayenta community.

“I came, I saw, I fell in love, I moved,” he said about Kayenta.

He opened a photography gallery – Mystic Canyon Light Gallery – in the Art Village at Kayenta nine years ago. The photos in his gallery are taken all over the world, and he has no plans of stopping.

“I’ve driven across the county, a two-month road trip,” he said. “I’ve played with alligators in Florida. I love Alaska, the bears, all of it. The waterfalls in the Olympic rainforest, storm chasing.”

Out of all the places he’s traveled and landscapes he’s captured, Moore said there’s no way to pick a favorite spot. His fascination for landscapes and wildlife comes from his love of the area and the beauty it holds within. He sees his work through the journey. Without the journey, his work would be meaningless.

Polar Bears are photographed by Charly Moore in Alaska, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Charly Moore, St. George News

“I walk through each picture and stopped to record the direction of my experience. The longer the walk, the more in touch I feel with the land and the more my senses are heightened and acute. The longer the walk, the better the images become because my sight becomes attuned to the subtle details nature presents.”

A man of many talents, photography is just one of his many practicing art forms. Moore also creates art out of gourds and does wood-burning. Egg carving art is one of his favorite art mediums, which he said is similar to tattooing, just on a different canvas.

Visit Mystic Canyon Light Gallery at 847 N Coyote Gulch Court, Suite B in Ivins. For more information, visit their website. Contact Moore directly at 435-619-9475 or email him at

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