The Call Of The Wild
Daryl Hawk Goes It Alone

"I was riding on a mesa with gauchos one morning when these wild horses ran by," Daryl says. Argentina's Fitz Roy Range is in the background.
Photos © 2003, Daryl Hawk, All Rights Reserved

It's a safe bet that Daryl Hawk won't be looking for an assistant any time soon. When he leaves family, friends, and the commercial, portrait, and advertising photography business he runs out of his Connecticut studio in order to pursue images and adventures in the wild places, he travels, and photographs, alone.

"I get people all the time who want to go with me as assistants, to carry the gear or shoot with me," Daryl says. He politely turns them down. First, he travels light, so there's not that much gear to carry, but most important, he wants his treks to be solitary adventures.

Daryl has traveled and photographed in most of North America, Central and South America, and later this year he'll be heading for the Himalayas for an assignment in Bhutan. Daryl deliberately chooses rugged wilderness territories. "They inspire me as a person and as a photographer."

Lago Nordenskjold is in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. "Its intense turquoise color attracted me to photograph it in as many ways as possible."

The photos you see here were taken in the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile, a place he's visited three times, most recently in November of last year, and an area that perfectly suits him. Patagonia is, according to a description at the website of the Public Broadcasting Service, "nature at its most pristine and desolate, a land of wonders at the end of the earth." And that makes it ideal for Daryl.

"It has everything I love the most," he says of the region, which comprises roughly 1/3 of the landmass of both Chile and Argentina. "It's remote, relatively undiscovered and unspoiled. There are dramatic landscapes to photograph as well as lots of contrasts in subject matter. One day I might be high up in the Fitz Roy Range doing mountain photography, the next day out on the pampas doing desert landscapes, and the next day shooting at remote lakes and glaciers. I can go from photographing icebergs to documenting the lives of the gauchos."

A gaucho on trail in the Fitz Roy Range. "The gauchos lived at the foot of one of the trails," Daryl says, "and would exercise the horses or transport goods to camping spots on most days that I was there.".

This type of photography is a distinct change from his commercial work, and while the images produced on his travels are marketed for fine art and stock, Daryl's reasons for making the trips and taking the photographs has nothing to do with commerce. It is, he says, his "most meaningful work, and the photography that is closest to his heart."

He tries to dedicate a few months of every year to these opportunities to be, as he says, "a solitary wanderer." He takes with him a flexible itinerary, some basic research on the area, minimum camera gear, a good supply of film, and not a lot else. "I don't camp out in Patagonia," he says. "There are some simple hotels and inns in the areas I travel to, but I don't make any reservations. The places I visit are usually so remote that there aren't many tourists, and a lot of time I travel in the off-season anyway."

A gaucho works to get ready for another hard day. "This image was taken in 2002 on my trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile," Daryl says.

Daryl's journeys are more than a pursuit of images or experiences--they are, he says, as necessary to him as breathing. "These are the places where I come alive," he says. He believes that "most of the power of photography comes from within," and that when he connects emotionally with the world around him, he'll get his
best photographs.

For Daryl, every trip is part of the ongoing journey, and one of the satisfactions of that journey is sharing his photographs. "I hope I can inspire others to do this kind of work," he says, "or, at the very least, show them what exists for all of us to enjoy."

The Torres del Paine mountain range in Chile, taken from the pampas in Argentina at sunset. "I could see this dramatic image from a distance as my driver was racing at 80 miles an hour to get back to the town of El Chalten before dark. I asked him to pull over so that I could take this photograph."

Note: At Daryl's website,, you can see more of his adventure and travel photography as well as a selection of his commercial images. Also at the site is information about Daryl's cable television show, "The Unconventional Traveler," in which Daryl interviews photographers, explorers, and adventure travelers and occasionally highlights his own travel adventures.

About The Photographs
Daryl carries two Nikon FM3A camera bodies on his treks, along with three Nikkor lenses--a 28-200mm, a 20mm, and a 24mm. The zoom is his workhorse lens--in fact, he used it for all the photos here. "I like to keep it simple when it comes to equipment," Daryl says, "and the zoom handles just about everything." A good thing, as changing lenses in windy, dusty, or snowy places is something he likes to avoid. His only filter is a polarizer, which he uses quite often. His film choices are Fuji's Provia 100F and 400F Professional, Velvia 100F, and, occasionally, Velvia 50. He generally allows 50 rolls of film per week for his adventure travels.

Lago Grey, at the far end of Torres del Paine National Park. "We crossed the lake in a small boat, weaving around the icebergs in high winds to access the Grey Glacier on the other side of the lake."

"In the town of El Chalten [Argentina] late one afternoon, I noticed this magical light filtering through the trees and reflecting off the water of this swamp."