John: Photo credit, Curt Spalding
My original home was in the the British Isles, and I spent my
years in England before moving to Wales where I started my professional
photographic career. I moved to the United States in 1985, and in 1988 I moved into
the field of Photo Travel and have lead several hundred photography tours
spanning three-plus decades.
Keeping it practical, and prioritizing the light
for me is the photographic service pinnacle, and I know just what my
clients are seeking in terms of high quality images. Having guided many
of our small groups to photography tour destinations multiple times
since 1988, I instinctively know the best time to be at particular
locations. It will always be about the light!
During tours I work to ensure that everyone's photo tour experience is
educational, relaxing and fun, and never
hesitate to pass on all that I have learnt over the years. Nothing pleases me
more than when clients return home as better photographers, armed with images of a standard they didn't
think they could achieve prior to their Travel Images photography
that cares about you and your photography
When you commit to any photo tour you're traveling with someone with whom, initially, you know little about. Consequently, my position is one of privilege and responsibility, and what every client undoubtedly seeks is a
Photographer-Guide in whom they can trust in every respect. The basis of this trust deserves the utmost integrity from me at all times, and be reflected in all that I do
for clients on every trip. For me, this is solidly based in wholesome values which
are reflected in attitude, care shown, and a general 'can do' disposition.
I believe it also helps that I keep the entire photo travel experience fun and
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DETAILS . . .
I was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, and although not orphaned,
I was primarily raised in Warwickshire orphanages where my photographic
journey began. That photography career was ignited in 1964 by sparks of
inspiration on the pier in Rhyl, North Wales, while on an orphanage day
trip to the 'seaside'. I owned a small plastic camera which cost 7s 6d at the time [38p GBP or 50 cents USD
today], and the pictures I took impressed my father whom I had sent the
negatives to for processing. His encouragement
lit my 'photographic fire', and by the early 1970's I was sharpening my
photographic teeth with a Russian Zenith B which was a crude Pentax Spotmatic clone of that era.
It was my first SLR camera, and I still have it!
My volunteer work as a Group Leader of a Welsh Young Ornithologists group led me into my initial passion of bird photography via the many species we nursed back to health and
later released. This work
- the kids did their bit too! - led to our group receiving a Prince of Wales Award in 1978, and one doesn’t pass up the chance of pointing a lens at an English
prince - namely Charles - when he’s chatting with you!
I also did volunteer work for the Nature Conservancy of Wales, and added flora and fauna to my list of photographic interests.
It was this 'education' that gave me a fresh perspective of the world around us, and
from then on it has been a matter of how one can best transfer these fresh subjects onto film,
and now pixels.
So in summary . . . I was hooked!
My field of learning: Hands on
Deudraeth Camera Club in
the small North Wales town of Penrhyndeudraeth during 1978,
and the members who were plumbers, architects, drivers, and shopkeepers etcetera unwittingly became my mentors.
This was simply because I'd look at their images and tell myself,
"I'd like to reach that standard!" By the end of the year I had turned professional, and
earned a living working in Welsh schools as a portrait and event photographer,
plus as a freelance photo journalist for Welsh and English publications,
shooting weddings and tackling commercial photography etcetera.
I haven't done it since, but back then I would enter a variety of photographic competitions and exhibitions.
The awards flowed within the Welsh and English Photographic Federations, and also at the Welsh National Eisteddfod [a festival of the arts] on a regular basis.
My photography also found recognition in several nationally distributed British photo magazines,
and later, multiple publications across the United States.
From a single image to 'multi image'
1979 I got involved in what the British term as ‘slide-sound’ production. In the U.S. this might be termed as ‘multi-media’ or ‘audio-visual’. Perhaps the
term ‘multi-image’ goes a little further in conveying the delicacy, deftness, sensitivity, emotion and creativity that went into my two-projector
'slide shows'. The programs
- a fusion of images, music and the spoken word - are collectively titled ‘Visual Journeys’, and have been screened
at many locations across the United States. Go to
camera club presentations for a review of ‘Visual Journeys’
and presentation information. Nowadays though, it's all digital, and even though I have the best software, thousands of digital images and a decent digital projector, what I lack
these days is time as photo travel is my consummate passion!
Go straight to Photo Travel, and do not collect
After moving to the United States in 1985 it took three
short years for my distinctive style of creating ‘third images’ to catch
the eye of a photo tour company. I went on to lead many
photo trips in North America and Europe for them, but then clients began to
request that I lead customized trips for them personally, and
consequently I established Travel Images Photography Tours.
Equipment: No, wait, I meant to say "photography tools!"
First off, it's not about the gear, it's about how
you see the image, and
how you translate what you see into a superb package of pixels . . . i.e. how
your camera settings and technique contribute to what you initially visualized.
here's what I consider the basics to haul about with me: Two Canon camera bodies; Sigma and Canon lenses, i.e., short and long zooms; Polarizing filter; Graduated gray/split neutral
density filter; Two Neutral
density filters [One is a two-stop, and the second an eight-stop]; an interval
timer; a remote; a lightning sensor; an LCD loupe; Extension tubes; air blower and
statically charged brushes for sensor cleaning; plus a Manfrotto/Bogen tripod base and heavy duty ball head.
Again though, it's not the equipment, it's your own vision . . .
but then decent equipment does come into play of course!
I hope that you'll choose Travel Images for a future
photography tour, and that we'll be side by side in some special locations
enjoying great light one day!
To the hundreds of you that have already experienced many
such moments with me, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart and thank you for
the privilege of your reading time.
John Baker, Photographer/Guide
Travel Images Photography Tours
"John seems to have a
knack for tailoring advice to the skill levels of each individual. He showed me
how to effectively use some of the useful features of my camera that I hadn't
used previously, and even some features I didn't know I had. He was full of
advice and suggestions for getting good shots."
Martha Johnson, Lincoln, MA
"Excellent!! John obviously has had a lot of experience scouting out the places we went to beforehand, and so it was helpful to know how the sun situation was for each stop we made. I especially appreciate the out of the way villages that had the typical white steeple church to photograph. The covered bridges were great as well. I appreciate John's willingness to stop whenever anyone saw a place they wanted to photograph. I appreciate the way that John was helpful in offering suggestions at each stop to optimize the quality of the scene. One of the best moments of the trip was the digital presentation of images that you had taken of us during the week. I am eager to get a DVD of them! I think that is a great keepsake for you to do, and everyone appreciates it!"
Todd Johns, Silver Spring, MD
"Many thanks for a really
fine trip. I'm impressed with John's energy and complete devotion to us clients.
I've traveled with several other groups, and you're the best at 100+% attention."
Tom Judd, Madison, NJ
"John was always there if
we had questions, or needed assistance charging batteries, cleaning sensors,
what setting was good for each subject. Each stop we made was a new lesson and I
learned a great deal from him. He also made suggestions to help us view things
in different and unique ways. I am pleased with all the help I got and no
question was ever left unanswered."
Michael Carlucci, Jacksonville, FL
"First class. You were very attentive and helpful. It is easy to take for granted the benefits of being in the right place at the right time without having to do the research, planning or driving. What a luxury to drive with someone who is willing to stop for anything interesting and who is working harder than you to spot the wildlife! You coped well with additional requests when you were tired and could quite reasonably have declined to do more on top of full days. Top marks for patience!"
Sue Cleave, Botley, England
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