The Man behind the Camera

Phil - March 2024

I bought my first camera for $5 from the back of a Wheaties cereal box in 1972. It was a 126 cartridge film Instamatic.

My second camera came from a pawn shop. Then eventually from a real camera store in New York City, where I could save hundreds of dollars via mail order. Much has changed over the decades, the best thing being, no more FILM! My earliest career dream was to be a National Geographic photographer and travel the world! Well, that never happened…as I dreamed, but the reality has been pretty cool.

My first ‘real’ photography job was trading my talents for an opportunity, rather than for money. I followed a bunch of school kids – Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts around Yellowstone National Park where they learned to use a compass and shoot arrows. I took some great photos but found they weren’t what the client expected. A big lesson, business first.

My next big opportunity came in 1992, again trading talent for access, adventure, hotels and transportation, rather than cash. But what an adventure it was! To the World’s Fair in Sevilla, Spain and to the Olympic Village in Barcelona, Spain! And, from the hundreds of images I took, the client was happy!

Today I am actually a professional photographer! Not a Nat Geo guy, rather I work as part of the VFX (Visual Effects) team on movies. I sometimes take hundreds of photos a day but its not the same as a lone photographer in the rainforest of El Yunque, Puerto Rico hoping for a glimpse of an exotic bird. However, the work has taken me around the world and to several countries where I had a chance to capture a bit of culture, a unique view and an exotic bird!

“I don’t simply take pictures; I collect images of places and events that other people might not have the opportunity to see.” I read that somewhere a while ago and took it as my own! I hope you enjoy my photos, my journeys, and make them into a trip of your own.

Phil Barker