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 experience light and fun!
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Back to the beginning: Details, details
I was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, and was primarily raised in Warwickshire orphanages where my photographic
journey began. I shot a series of images from and around the pier in Rhyl, North Wales, back in 1964
when on a day trip with 20 other kids. I had 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 dad. This was the encouragement
that lit my 'photographic fire', and in the early 1970's I sharpened my photographic teeth with a Russian Zenith B which was a crude, very crude, Pentax Spotmatic clone of that era.
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 released. This work
- the kids did their bit too - led to our group receiving of a Prince of Wales Award in 1978, and one doesn’t pass up the chance of pointing a lens at an English Prince
[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 a matter of how one can best transfer these fresh subjects onto film,
and now pixels.
I was hooked!
My field of learning: Hands on
One Morris Jones had to ‘persuade’ me to join Deudraeth Camera Club in 1978,
and members who were plumbers, architects, drivers, and shopkeepers, i.e. normal
folk!, unwittingly became my mentors as I'd look at their work and tell myself,
"I want to be that good!" By the end of the year I had turned professional, and
I earned a living as a freelance photo journalist for Welsh and English publications,
shooting weddings, school portraits, commercial photography, and shot for whoever would buy my work and/or
cast an eye on my occasional scribblings. Of course, being me, my images were
accompanied by pun-laden captions, that if nothing else, put a grin on the face
of the reader.
Back then I would enter a variety of photographic competitions and exhibitions. Uncannily - I'd never even won a raffle -
but 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, plus my work also found recognition in several nationally distributed British photo magazines.
From a single image to 'multi image'
Shortly thereafter 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 work. The programs
- a fusion of images, music and the spoken word - are collectively titled ‘Visual Journeys’, and have been screened
across the United States. Go to
camera club presentations for a review of ‘Visual Journeys’. 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!
Go straight to photo travel, do not collect $200, and do
not collect £200!
This distinctive style of creating ‘third images’ led to many repeat
presentations, and they caught the eye of the Close-up Expeditions owner Don
Lyon while I was visiting Idaho in 1984, and for whom I went on to lead many
photo trips in North America and Europe. Clients soon began to request that I
lead customized trips for them personally, and consequently I established Travel
Images in 1988.
Closer to the runway
Since moving to the United States in 1985 I had resided in the mountain
community of McCall, Idaho, but the distance to the nearest major airport was a factor that
in 1998, brought about the move down to the Treasure Valley which a community of
towns and rural spaces situated on the edge of the Snake River plateau. This
coincided with an increase in business for Travel Images
photo tours, and along with the frequent appearances at various Camera Clubs across the US I got the feeling that I was
emerging from the photographic wilderness!
However, during this ‘wilderness’ spell I was published in many British and Canadian magazines, plus the likes of 'Natural History' to 'Farm and Ranch Living' here in the United States. I penned 80 plus photography columns
for a local newspaper, shared the ‘photographic arts’ at conventions and
seminars, and [still] plan on having a ‘coffee table’ book of images on release
before I 'meet my Maker'. Again, I just need time!
Equipment: No, wait, I mean 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 and haul about with me: 2 Canon camera bodies; Sigma and Canon lenses, i.e., short and long zooms; Polarizing filter; Graduated gray/split neutral
density filter; Neutral
density filter [variable]; 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 gear, 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 glorious 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 time.
John Baker, Photographer/Guide, Travel Images Photography Tours
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