I’ve always been an amateur happysnapper, no internet pretensions about that. I like snapshots. They’re real life and they’re dynamic. There are some famous photographers I’ve long admired of course, but as time passes, people’s old snapshots start becoming more interesting to me than the pro’s landscapes and contrived portraits, and certainly more than all the commercial work.

I started taking my own with mass market Polaroids in the late 1960’s, when I was 16. By the mid-70’s, I had progressed to a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic, had taught myself to develop film, and I was burning and dodging black and white prints during late night sessions in my studio apartment, on weekends when not at sea with the navy. I later found that I preferred what came out of my Polaroid SX-70 and that I also enjoyed the straight-out-of-camera photography of Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide film. Unfortunately, most of that early work was lost a long time ago, except for a few fading prints without the negatives, some vintage Polaroids, as well as a single yellow plastic box of Kodachrome slides. I also have a trunkful of family and vacation pictures I took from the late 1970’s to the early 90’s, which, despite my best intentions, I will probably never have time to scan.

In the real world of making a living, I thought I wanted adventure, so instead of pursuing one of the traditional professions, I joined the Canadian Forces as an ROTP officer cadet attending a civilian university, and I became a Sub-Lieutenant (Navy) after graduating in 1974. I subsequently served out my commitment in the regular navy, after which I became a federal public servant, eventually heading a Secretary of State division embedded within National Defence. A dozen years later, I left the public service for the private sector and for some inexplicable reason, I also rejoined the military as an army reservist.

During that time, while freelancing as a civilian defence contractor in naval technical documentation, I fully retrained as an army logistics (transport) officer up to and including the command and staff course. That qualified me to command a battalion, but unfortunately, it never materialized due to the renal failure that put an end to my weekend warrior “career”. Instead, I ended up spending four years on hemodialysis until I received a kidney from the waiting list. It didn’t do much for my freelance work on the civilian side of things either.

Technically, I guess all that makes me an 11 year veteran (4 regular and 7 reserve with several years on full-time call-out), but everything I did as a civilian was also military-related, including being a member of NATO Standardization Agreement working groups and Canadian delegations to conferences at the École Militaire in Paris, the old War Office in London and NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

I’m just an old man living in semi-poverty now, following the camera upgrading parade with a shovel, but I still like to take pictures and I’m still learning. Overall, I probably write and edit better than I take pictures… not unlike many people of my generation with a classical liberal arts education.

Pierre Lachaine

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