CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Gazette photographer Lawrence Pierce began his career at the newspaper 50 years ago Friday.In 2009, Pierce told Gazette news editor Vic Burkhammer that he began at the Gazette as a wire photo operator in a darkroom, then became a staff photographer after about a year."It started as a hobby in high school," Pierce said at the time. "I got a camera and started playing around with it. I looked around for a school when I got out of high school. I couldn't afford it, and I didn't want to go to a college because journalism didn't emphasize photography."Since then, Pierce has photographed some of West Virginia's biggest disasters, including Farmington, Hominy Falls and Buffalo Creek, as well as much of the state's natural beauty.For a Soundslides version of this presentation with captions, visit http://media.cnpapers.com/pierce/ .