So I just take a few pictures in Ottawa, Canada. It’s colder than Moscow but warmer than Ulan Bator. Tragically, my bokeh hasn’t been creamy since 1969.

I actually started taking pictures with some level of serious intent in the late 1960’s, when I was 16, armed with a big Polaroid Model 160. It used the original black and white peel-apart roll film. By the mid-70’s, I had taught myself to develop 35mm 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. After a while, I moved on to slide film, developing my own Ektachromes and sending out the Kodachromes. Unfortunately, most of that early experimentation was lost a long time ago, except for a few fading prints without the negatives, some vintage Polaroids, as well as a few Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides.

In the real world of making a living, I joined the Canadian Forces as an ROTP officer cadet while already attending a civilian university and I was commissioned after graduating in 1974. I subsequently served 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 I also rejoined the military as an army reserve officer (technically, transferring from the Supplementary List to the Primary Reserves). Why? I don’t know. Just something to do, I guess.

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 (MCSC). I couldn’t go to war by that time due to a medical category, but I was useful enough to command things in garrison and in the field, train junior officers, serve as the regular force regimental liaison officer with a united counties emergency measures HQ during the great ice storm of 1998, plan and organize reserve summer concentrations, fill in full-time with regular force headquarters on exercises, act as a military spokesman on TV… that sort of thing, kind of a jack of all trades really.

I was qualified to Lieutenant Colonel level when renal failure put an end to my second military “career”. Instead, I ended up spending four years on hemodialysis until I finally received a kidney transplant from the waiting list. Being on dialysis didn’t do much for my freelance work on the civilian side of things either.

Aside from 11 years in uniform, most of my civilian working life was also military in nature, having been part of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s standardization programme in the 1980s. As such, I was a member of working groups in Canada, and I travelled to NATO conferences in Paris, London and Brussels as a civilian with naval Commander administrative status. No big deal, and certainly of little significance compared to those who served in harm’s way, but contrary to what my present circumstances might suggest, I wasn’t exactly a bum.

As for the photography, well, to be honest, I’m hopelessly behind the camera and device upgrade Joneses, but I do what I can, where I am, with what I have. I do still like film, especially instant film, although I can only use it sparingly now because of the cost.

Pierre Lachaine

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