Daryl Hawk’s ‘High Adventure’ comes home

The hanging sign gives its message clearly as you pull in off the road: Hawk Photography.

Of course, Wilton has its own beauty and charm. It is photogenic to a point.

But consider the places Daryl Hawk has gone, and Wilton is familiar by comparison.

Mr. Hawk recently returned to Wilton from an expedition to the remote northwest frontier of Argentina. He will discuss and present his photos Monday, May 13, at 7:30 at the Weston Library. In a talk titled “High Adventure: Over the Andes,” Mr. Hawk will share his discoveries and tell stories of his experience. He’ll also discuss his photography techniques.

On Tuesday, May 21, Mr. Hawk will interview Gregg Treinish at the Wilton Library at 8:30 as part of its Green Speaker Series. Mr. Treinish spent nearly two years moving along the Andes Mountains with Deia Schlosberg. Together, they documented their journey via video, journals and slides.

There is no charge to attend either of these presentations. For reservations at Wilton Library, call 203-762-3950 or visit wiltonlibrary.org.

“The ultimate goal is to tell a story about these faraway places,” Mr. Hawk said. “Basically what I’m doing is an in-depth documentary on different parts of the world, in the same vein as National Geographic.”

Mr. Hawk, who has traveled the world for the past 25 years as a photojournalist and documentary photography, immerses himself in the culture.

“A big part of my documentary was to talk about the relationship of the people with the land, which they refer to as pachamama,” he said. “I spent a good deal of my time immersing myself into that culture. They worship the land as a living force. They look upon pachamama as Mother Earth.”

“I have a routine where I establish relationships with people even before I begin to start shooting. That’s always been one of the keys to my success. Hopefully that leads to a successful portrait.”

Mr. Hawk believes, wherever he is, in realism. He cuts himself from the world with no cell phones or laptops, allowing only an occasional phone call back home to his wife, Heidi.

“She looks over the business while I’m away,” he said. “We’re a team.”

The Hawks have two sons, Justin and Brandon.

Regarding his photography, he also keeps it real.

“I’m a purist at heart,” he said. “I pride myself on not setting up shots. I’m taking pictures as opposed to making pictures. I don’t hang around just waiting for a landscape to change with the lighting.”

Mr. Hawk returned from Argentina with 6,000 images, but has since whittled that down to about 1,000. With such experience, he has a keen eye and knows what speaks to him and, he hopes, to his audience.

“You want to be of a high quality,” he added.

In preparing for this experience, he used a mantra that has always served him well.

“I always say, ‘Every great journey starts off with a dream, and a detailed map.’”

Landing in Salta, the capital of the northwest frontier, he knew he had a basic game plan for what he wanted to cover.

“I’ve learned over the years that no matter how much you plan, things are always going to change, once you get there. I didn’t even know who my driver was when I got there.”

Together, he and his driver explored the area to the south of Salta, then proceeded north before getting a surprise when he met with a native one morning who mentioned a remote 14-color mountain.

“Only the local people knew about it,” he said, speaking of Mt. Hornical.

Following that, they drove over the Andes at the highest passes, approximately 16,000 feet above sea level, where they descended into Chile at the Atacama Desert, considered by NASA to be the driest desert in the world.

“It’s a surreal desert,” he said. It looks a lot like Mars in a lot of ways.”

Covering more than 3,000 miles, this was one of the longest journeys he’s taken.

“I’ve never seen so many diverse landscapes in a two-and-a-half-week period,” he added.

Back home in Wilton, the work has begun in earnest to get those 6,000 pictures narrowed down. Once a firm believer in using only film, Mr. Hawk is now a digital photographer. He still has old-school beliefs in that he does not use any filters or software, other than touching up some color occasionally to bring the pictures to their truest form.

“I loved the whole process of film,” he said. “I liked the act of using film. I understood film and I didn’t feel a need to change. I couldn’t hold on any longer. It really boiled down to the cost factor. Nobody wanted to process the film anymore around here. It got too difficult to buy the film. So I’ve embraced digital photography for two years now. The lesson here is, be open to change.”

Photography has always been a part of his life. He described his family as “world travelers” and specifically cited his grandfather as a big influence.

“I was given a subscription to National Geographic when I was 7 or 8, and that had a big impact on me,” he said.

Of great concern to him is documenting what he sees now and how quickly even these remote areas are changing. While they might not be building a new department store in the desert of Chile or Bolivia, the Earth is still evolving.

“I like to raise awareness about the need to protect and preserve the world’s last wild places and disappearing indigenous cultures,” he said. “The camera can be a very powerful tool if you use it properly.

“So I feel like I’m on a mission. The goal is always to protect and preserve wild places.”

Information: hawkphotography.net or hawkphotography.com.