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How did I develop such an interest in travel and photography?


Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to travel the world and see as much of it as possible.

I’ve always been an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. Some of my favourite authors were well traveled and often wrote tales set in far flung locales that stirred my imagination and inspired me to dream about someday visiting those places. Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and Somerset Maugham are three that come to mind. Paul Theroux and Pico Iyer are my favourite non-fiction travel writers. It was reading the works of these, and other writers, that really fired my yearning to visit unfamiliar lands with histories and cultures very different from what I was accustomed to. I longed to experience the heightened perceptions that would go along with the chance to be shaken out of my daily routine and be presented with a much different environment where little was familiar to me.

Even before I return from a trip, I start thinking about where I want to go next. I always travel independently and avoid tour groups. For me the ultimate in freedom is flying into some place and having complete control over where I will go and what I will see and do.

I like to ask myself what other distant realm will entice me with promises of delectable cookery, ancient cities of intriguing lost cultures, and opportunities for getting some good photos. Or where can I find an undiscovered beach with white sugar sand,crystal turquoise waters, and clear azure skies. What great city with a throbbing pulse of life will lure me with world class art galleries and museums? These places are out there. All I have to do is seek them out.

Visiting the Pyramids, Egypt
Geometric Building in Egypt, 1989

My craving for travel began before I developed a serious interest in photography. I have been to places not covered here in my blog. My photos from these previous overseas outings were not memorable and there is no need to exhibit them here.

It was finding some old Time-Life hardcover books from a series called “Great Cities of the World” that first sparked my interest in travel photography. These books are filled with many pictures and examining these closely, I started to learn some pointers on how to take better photos.

Once I did begin to want to develop my skills with photography, my photos, not surprisingly, began to get better in quality. I was initially shy about shooting photos of other people. My early work displayed mostly buildings and other inanimate things. After I became comfortable with taking portraits and group photos my work started to become noticeably more visually interesting. Of course it’s never easy to be totally subjective about our own work but by comparing my work with other that of other photographers, I really believe I am continuing to get better as a photographer. I look forward to developing an even keener eye in time.

Taking classes at the Focal Point Visual Art Centre here in Vancouver taught me more about photography. After studying at Focal Point I started taking photos when I wasn’t traveling somewhere. That was new for me. I got very serious about street photography and experimenting with different techniques and types of film. I was lucky enough to be able to try out infrared films (both colour and black and white) before they were no longer manufactured. With Kodak EIR you got photos with pink vegetation and skies of a deep, deep blue. No Photoshop required.

Photo of Darrell Chaddock With a Spider Monkey in Guatemala
Me Demonstrating the Art of Monkey Wrestling, Guatemala, 1992

I’m relatively new to digital photography. I picked up my first digital DSLR camera in 2008. Rather late I know. This was primarily due to the amount of money I had invested in my film cameras and lenses. Also having been a film photographer for so long, that’s just where my comfort zone was. I’m really happy to be a digital photographer now. The ease with which I can upload my photos to my computer and run them through Photoshop or Camera Raw is ultra appealing. Scanning negatives onto a hard-drive is pure tedium.

While I can’t say that I miss shooting with film I know that I’ve lost one aspect of film photography that digital lacks. I’ve had the experience of looking over old photos of mine from my film days and finding photos that I had originally dismissed as not being too good and now looking at them anew, having a change of mind and deciding that I rather liked them. If I had shot such photos with a digital camera, I would have deleted them right away and I would not have had the chance to change my opinion of their worthiness later. It’s a truism that whenever we gain something, we lose something else. No need to get somber about that though. There will always be more chances to capture new images we’re happy with.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to day dreaming about my next trip. Right now I’m thinking…Bolivia, or how about Sri Lanka?.

Darrell Chaddock With a Chin Woman, Rakhine State, Myanmar, 2016
Me Being an Ambassador of Goodwill in Myanmar, 2016

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