Hello there! My name is Chris Ward from Southeastern Ontario, Canada where I am serving full-time with the Canadian military as well as a semi-professional photographer. While photography has only been a recent addition to my hobby portfolio, it has quickly taken over most of my spare time and commandeered nearly all of our vacation plans and travel.
Unlike most photographers, this hobby neither stems from a lifelong passion that started by picking up dad’s old Minolta and snapping innocuous shots around the house; nor did it start through pursuing the craft in my high school or university education. Oddly enough, I discovered photography out of boredom. I have a large collection of hobbies that include skydiving, scuba diving, golfing, volleyball, snowboarding, and long-range shooting (hence my excitement to check out the new RRS SOAR line).
A fateful google search for “New Hobbies to Take Up,” a few years back, is what pointed me in the direction of picking up a camera. I had always appreciated photography, and enjoyed checking out galleries throughout my travels. I was on the verge of ordering a few pieces for my house when I realized that I could spend the same money on camera gear, and use my own prints to fill my and my family’s walls. I started off with an entry level DSLR and kit lens, and slowly expanded my equipment as I explored new techniques and skills. Prior to my interest in photography, most of my travel was activity based, which dictated the destination depending on what my family wanted to do (dive, golf, ski, etc..) My wife wasn’t always a fan of this, and pushed to explore more places outside of our usual agenda.
Photography, for me, has been an exercise in capturing moments. These moments serve to remind me of a much larger group of feelings, experiences, sounds, and emotions beyond that one single frame. To have an entire trip or vacation summed up in one image that encapsulates everything you did and felt is a powerful tool. I don’t like to snap hundreds of images throughout a day; rather I like to focus on the one composition that sums up that period. While the resulting photograph may look intriguing to a viewer, I take great enjoyment in reminiscing about the stories (good and bad) that happened behind the scenes of that image. In this regard, a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
I currently shoot Nikon FX and Fuji Mirrorless, with my compositions focusing mainly on landscape and cityscape photography. I shoot almost exclusively from a tripod or other supported method, which allows me blend multiple exposures seamlessly, and offers me better control of a scene when it comes to post-processing. I’ve been using RRS products for over two years now; starting off with L-Brackets for my camera bodies. Their unique approach to clamps, rails, and plates suited my style, and offered some great solutions to shooting while supported. I currently use the TFA-01 legs and multi-clamp with the BH-25 ballhead, their multi-row pano kit, and just recently picked up the TVC-24L & BH-40 combo to round off my RRS kit. All of their equipment has proven sturdy and well-constructed, and has survived all of the unique setups and punishments that I’ve thrown at it.
Because I have a full-time job outside of photography, planning and preparation are key before heading out the door. I regularly review social media outlets looking for unique images and note their locations within a Google Earth kmz file. This file has been built over the last year or so and allows me to plan vacations around several points of interest, or know what is near me when I’m sent somewhere for work. I also use Google Streetview to recce certain angles and compositions. Unfortunately at this point in my life, I don’t have the luxury of staying in one place for a week to get the perfect shot, so I try to make the best of what’s been given to me.
After a deployment and year-long military training course (which I used to focus mainly on learning editing techniques vice shooting), I am finally getting back out the door and travelling to further develop my portfolio. We completed trips to Zion and Page, Arizona last summer, as well as two weeks in Italy on a whirlwind trip between Rome and Venice. This year we’re already booked in for a week in the Columbia River Gorge and a week in Acadia National Park, as well as some shorter weekend trips closer to home.