From the majestic glacier casting a reflection off the stunningly clear waters of Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada to the waddling penguins bringing formal attire to the vast Antarctic Landscape, the photographs of Daryl Hawk represent the freedom, the splendor and the power of nature in so many forms. “I like to be as free as the wind when I travel and take it slow so I can really immerse myself in the landscape,” says Hawk, whose worldwide destinations aptly describe his weekly television show on Cablevision in Connecticut, called “The Unconventional Traveler.”
Over the last two decades, Hawk, who resides with his family in Wilton, Connecticut, has journeyed to the far reaches of the earth as a documentary photographer and an explorer. “I travel light,” explains Hawk, who packs clothes into a backpack and takes along a daypack that never leaves his side. “The daypack is for my cameras, Nikon Manual SLRs, plus film, sometimes as many as 200 rolls. I also keep my maps and anything else that I cannot be apart from in the daypack. I can’t take the chance that it could be stolen or misplaced so the daypack never leaves my side from the moment I leave until the moment I leave until the moment I return home,” says Hawk.
On his expeditions, Hawk travels alone, always keeping his eyes open for a photograph. “All of my expeditions are memorable and special in their own ways,” says Hawk, who has been exploring for some 20 years. “One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s the journey that counts more than anything, it’s not about getting from one place to another or reaching a destination, but it’s what’s along that way. That’s why it’s always been my style to take itslow and look at life up close. I like to be able to keep my mind free with constant visual stimulation from dawn until dusk,” adds Hawk, whose body of spectacular work is a testament to the many faces of nature
Hawk’s recent Bhutan excursion was the culmination of six years of planning. He was asked by the king and the government to photograph their very treasured homeland. His journey was sponsered by the Explorer’s Club, who let him carry their flag on his expedition. “It was my true destiny to be in Bhutan,” says Hawk of his visit to the small country flanked by India and Tibet. “When I was there I had extraordinary luck the entire time. The weather was perfect, and I had access to some important key events seen by very few people,” explains Hawk, who returned with spectacular photographs encompassing the mountainous landscapes, the people and the history of this hidden land, billed as the last true Shangri-la on earth.
“I’m exicited about the body of work I have,” he adds. Hawk, who gave a slide show for the Appalachian Club and will also be giving one for the Wilton Arts Counsel as a fundraiser on Sunday Afternoon, March 6, from 2 p.m. to 4 pm at the Wilton High School, 849-7775. Hawk is also sending a copy of his Bhutan photographs to PBS who have shown interest in airing the project. While much of his work is in vivid color, Hawk also enjoys making local black and white photo documentaries about New England. Allowing him to stay closer to home, his projects encompass what he calls the four N’s; New Hampshire, Nature, Nautical and New York. “I have a cabin in New Hampshire and I enjoy the rural landscapes and rural way of life,” explains Hawk.
“I use the camera as a tool when shooting nature because people need to be enlightened about preserving nature. There are environmental messages in much of my work,” adds Hawk, whose nautical theme comes from a love of the ocean. He has photographed the coastline from Southport to Greenwich.” And finally New York presents landscapes and architecture, as illustrated in his New York documentary found on his Web site, along with Bhutan and other galleries. In New York City, Hawk captured the people, the sights and the architectural styles that make up the wide array of buildings in New York City on black and white infrared film.
Today, Hawk makes a couple of documentary journeys a year to remote destinations, but enjoys spending more time with his wife Heidi, and his two sons, Justin age ten and Brandon age five. Heidi used to travel with Daryl prior to having kids, but now his excursions are strictly solo. Hawk has a full service photography studio set up and keeps busy much of the year with both corporate photo shoots and portraiture work. “I enjoy working with people, whether it’s corporate work or portraits” says Hawk, who appreciates the diversity of his craft. While his expedition photography has graced the pages of national magazines and been seenon NBC’s “Today Show,”
as well as his own program, Hawk’s corporate work has been featured in annual reports, brochures, advertising and promotional material of many of the Fortune 500 companies in the Fairfield County and Westchester area. His portraits meanwhile, often shot in the gardens outside of Hawk’s own 1930s farmhouse, can be found in homes and offices throughout Connecticut and northern Westchester.
Hawk, who grew up in Rye Brook, moved with his family across the state line to Connecticut when he was 15. He then settled in Wilton nearly 17 years ago. During his younger years he read National Geographic frequently and was influenced
by his grandfather, a serious amateur photographer who traveled to different parts of the world and returned with exciting photos. Finally, after college, Hawk, who also enjoyed writing, opted to make a living in photography. He took courses, read numerous books and essentially immersed himself in photography before making his passion a full-time career choice.
“I love the purity and integrity of film. You can manipulate photos digitally. For me, it’s very important to have people look at my photographs and know that they are capturing real moments in time just as I saw them and not manipulated in any way. I don’t even use filters,” explains Hawk, who doesn’t begrudge anyone else from using a digital camera, not even his older son who has one an enjoys shooting pictures, and also looking at his dad’s slide shows prior to the fundraising events. At present, Hawk has been preparing for his upcoming fundraisers and working on corporate projects. But he still takes time out to pour over maps and do research on a possible upcoming excursion to Mongolia. While Hawk will continue to find the off-the-beaten track locales, he does acknowledge that the increase in Anti-Amercian sentiment and political factors do limit the choices of locations a little bit more in the post 9/11 world. In addition, security at airports slows down even the most ambitious and unconventional traveler. “If it used to take ten minutes to get through secuirty, now it takes 20 minutes,” says Hawk, who is less concerned about the waiting time than the film. “I use double lead lined canisters for the film,” he adds, noting that 99.9% of the time that should work out fine, even with the modern x-ray equipment.
For Hawk, photography is a passion that he turned into a career, and a successful and very personally rewarding one at that. When Hawk isn’t holding one of his Nikon cameras, shooting people or exotic places, he is often found putting together a weekly television show for Cabelevision Channel 77 in Fairfield. “The Unconventional Traveler” has been running for ten years and features not only Hawk, but also the work of photographers and filmmakers who appear as guests and discuss their works. As is often the case with local cable television, the shows are more of a labor of love than anything else. Hawk would enjoy taking the show to a national network such as the Discovery Channel. However, that is not the goal of the show. “It would be nice if a national deal came through, but if not, I wouldn’t be heartbroken either.
A national deal woud not make me a happier person, it would just help pay for the show,” says Hawk, who seems genuinely happy with his life as it is, as long as he has his Nikon camera nearby.
For those interested in perusing the galleries of Daryl Hawk, his Web site is at darylhawk.wpengine.com where prints and calenders can be purchased. His program, the “Unconventional Traveler” is seen every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on Channel 77 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Hawk can also be reached at his studio at 834-9595 or by email at [email protected].