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Tom Ballard
St. Louis, Missouri

Have Camera, Will Travel

Tom Ballard

I was born in Oregon in 1951, but raised in Oklahoma, and am a voting member of the Choctaw Tribe. With a degree in science/math and a teaching certificate, I followed a friend to Kansas City, Missouri, after college. There I applied for work with the federal government and was offered a job in St. Louis, which I took. That was March 1974. In November 2006 I retired as a Cartographic Analyst and began my life's dream, photographing America.

I took my first photograph when I was about three years old. I still have the camera (a Brownie Hawkeye) and may still have the photo around somewhere. It was of my baby sister, who is now 53 years old. I got my own camera when I was seven years old and began snapping pictures of people and travel-related subjects - and there are thousands of them. In 1990 I gave up my hobby for other things, but resurrected my interest in 2005 when a buddy came by to show me something. That something was a digital camera, and it was awesome! I knew I was hooked again as soon as I took that first image. In a few months I had a digital camera of my own, and, as they say, the rest is history.

These days, I am best known for my travel photos because I visit, as often as I can, remote places not ordinarily seen by most people. I tend to seek out places and subjects that most people miss. Through my work, I am becoming known for showing a non-normal view of the world. The ability to capture these subjects is made possible by the Canon cameras I have owned, which enable me to reveal hidden aspects of America. To get to my destinations, I take long canoe and backpack trips. I am able to bring the great outdoors to people who seldom or never get out and to show them what they are missing through my photographs. I also want to create an awareness of the beauty and greatness in our own back yard, right here in America. I also travel on cruise ships and come back with images of the voyage, posted on my Web site, that were often overlooked by the other passengers, which I think delights many.

My body of work consists of many subjects. I enjoy photographing landscapes in mountainous regions of the country, but am equally comfortable capturing wildlife, people, and architecture. I like to do creative photography, as well, which I shoot a lot of when I am on the cruise ships. I have backpacked many areas of Colorado, my favorite being the Weminuche Wilderness, and explored several other western states. In July 2009, I took a two-week canoe trip on the Current River in Southern Missouri, which provided me with really nice outdoor images. I have taken lots of pictures at the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Shaw Nature Reserve, an extension of the botanical garden. I have also photographed on Molokaia, Oahu, and Lanai in Hawaii, as well as Catalina Island in California. A trip through the Grand Canyon with a company named Canyoneers was the most exciting adventure I've experienced in my lifetime - a 300-mile float trip on a 37' rubber boat. But I didn't come back with photos, just great memories! It would have taken a special waterproof camera to capture quality images on a river trip like that -a job for National Geographic.

I maintain a Web site for the purpose of sharing my work and what I find beautiful about America. I tend to think of myself more as a picture-taker than a photographer: I see a scene and capture it in a picture, with very little planning going into the process. I see myself still taking pictures far into the future - I'm just being a curious kid with a camera.