A brief run down. Chuck is a big deal! He is the first ever Artist-in-Residence for American Forests, the nation’s big brother, and oldest of all conservation organizations. He is always on the road. And when I say always I absolutely mean it, according to his site, about 25 days of every month… And I’d bet a shiny silver nickel, the rest of the month he is probably taking photos for fun.
Now, I just met Chuck, virtually. We were introduced through my father in law who apparently has a great rapport with him as he (Chuck) jumped at the opportunity to be a part in this month’s issue.
So, to get to know Chuck better personally as well as introduce him to the NotIndoor community, I figured nothing could suit an article better than an interview about him and his giant bus with his mug on it.
Without further adieu, I present to you, Mr. Fazio.
AP: Hey Chuck! Thanks for the chance to interview you!
CF: I’m sorry, and you are again?
AP: First and foremost, lets get to chapter one in your story… What got you into holstering a camera on the daily?
CF: Berries. But wait, let me get something straight, I am NOT a “big” deal. Oh, sure, I might be a “kindofabigdeal” but in no way am I a “Big Deal.” Where was I, oh yeah berries. My dad got a Pentax SP100 when I was 17. He shot a tree with berries on it and I loved how the closest berry was in focus while the others were blurry. Yeah that was cool and it hooked me. Before that, all I ever used with a Kodak Instamatic because I’m THAT old, sorta.
AP: What is a day in the life of Chuck Fazio currently?
CF: The third ring of hell? Everything from flying first class to a destination where media are waiting for me, which is good, to shooting a convention and being “supervised” by a 24yo who thinks it’s her job to ‘handle’ me. So, beats me, for sure. What I dig is a day where I’m driving the ChuckWagon ™ down the Pacific Coast Highway. Yeah, that’s good.
AP: Now how did you find yourself working with American Forests? What a little backstory on that?
CF: Facebook. The CEO was a FB friend although I didn’t know him well. I saw they were going to Yellowstone last year so I said, “You need me.” He agreed. I shot Yellowstone, got some kick-ass pix and I decided from then on, instead of flying home between paying gigs, I would drive to them photographing along the way. He saw those pix and decided he wanted to use me and my art to better showcase the work of American Forests. We worked on the title. I didn’t want to be the ‘Official photographer’ because I like to think of my work as art, hence, Artist-in-Residence. Cool, no?
AP: So tell me about this giant bus with your face on it… What’s the goal and main purpose of the machine aside from picking up ladies with your headshot on the freeway?
CF: And trust me, that works! I had a knock on the door one night, oh never mind on THAT story. I turned 55 and since I already moved to Florida, all I had left to do was buy an RV, right? Plus, I had just been designated the first-ever Artist-in-Residence to American Forests and I needed a way to, er, monetize that. Well then, let’s use the RV for teaching! Plus, American Forests jumped at the chance to wrap that rascal!
The ChuckWagon™ has two bunk beds for ‘students’ or anyone who thinks it make sense to drop a grand or three to travel with me for up to 5 days learning and shooting in some of the most beautiful places in America. The “Stupid Thing” as I affectionately like to call it allows us to sleep where the pictures are. No wakeup calls, no early morning driving, no missing the sunrise, we are THERE. And the rig is rigged with a 55” 4k and a 39” 4k TV so we work on our images together, especially when we’re driving to the next spot.
AP: What is your favorite part about the tours and being the head honcho of it all?
CF: Seeing America. The ChuckWagon™ has this one huge windshield and through it, I get to see this great country unfold in front of me. Plus, I find teaching helps me to re-learn things and to exercise what I already know. And Plus plus, we get to have a helluva lot of fun along the way because that CW is just stupid fun!
AP: Any big plans for the future for the Chuck Wagon? I know… Pathetic… But I had to…
CF: I’m now doing this thing called ’96 Hours In” where I’m invited to a city or an area and I have just 96 hours to capture its essence because on the 5th day there’s a VIP exhibition of my work. We just did one in Monterey California and it was a blast. A stressful blast but a blast. There was lots of media attention and an equal amount of stress especially because with an hour left in the second day, I only had 5 images. I needed 20. But it was cool because just when I thought that day was over, I saw and took three amazing shots. I started DAY 3 half way there! I took my 8 images to the printer only to find out Rick SOMETNING from Coastal Glicee actually works on Ansel Adams prints for Ansel’s daughter!
That night, we decided to use that whole, “sleep where the picture” are theme and so slept in a McDonalds parking lot in Soledad. I woke up before sunrise to get an Egg McMuffin and do a tinkle and BAM, my fav shot of the whole shoot was waiting for me across the street! And then I had 6 shots before the sun was up an hour. BY 8am of day 4, I had 16 of my 20 images and I had a farmers’ market to shoot that night, so phew, I had made it! The VIP exhibition was way cool. Mayors, council people and society leaders all showed up, as did the local news crews. I really did feel like a “kindofabigdeal’ Wait, did I mention that while I was shooting stills ON the ground, I was also flying a drone and then there was the whole scuba diving thing. I hold a FAA 333 exemption so I can fly drones commercially.
AP: Okay… You could lose some friends here…Canon or Nikon? Ha Ha
CF: Ha, an argument that you NEVER hear in the real world. They are both great cameras but both of them need to see the future and based on what I’m seeing, they aren’t. I’m going mirrorless. And I’d switch in a second to Canon if they wanted me. And if SONY is listening, hey, love that camera of yours!
AP: What are the weapons of choice when you hit the road to make some photographs?
CF: Right now, NIKON D4s, D810 and a DJI INSPIRE 1 V2 UAS or what most people know of as a drone.
AP: Any particular piece of equipment hold a special place in your heart?
CF: I LOVE NIKON’s new 200-500. It’s probably the best piece of glass ever made by them. Stupid sharp, unbelievable range and ONLY $1400. The.Best.Lens.Ever. I also dig my 14-24. Not for the feint of heart for sure but it’s not a boring lens either like the 24-70.
AP: What is your advice to those starting out in the field either as a hobbyist or even a budding professional?
CF: Shoot as much as you can. And do free stuff. I hate seeing on FB those memes about how it’s an insult to be asked to do something free. I’m about as an accomplished photographer as exists and I’m still asked often to do a freebie. I evaluate each request. If you aren’t shooting for money, shoot for the love or shoot to help out a cause, just shoot! You don’t know who you are going to meet or what you are going to learn while on these shoots but one thing is certain, you won’t meet anyone or gain any experience by tuning down a freebie and sitting at home playing on FB.
AP: Finally, any up coming projects, ideas or plans for the future?
CF: DRONES. As I said, I’m an FAA 333 Exemption-holding drone pilot and I can charge double per day what I can for shooting stills. Plus, ‘flying’ is standing there with your thumbs on two joysticks, so, lazy, which fits into my future plans quite nicely!
AP: Well thanks so much for the chat, we hope to see more of your work and interaction with NotIndoor in the future!
CF: Keep in touch, wait, who are you again?
Co- Founder / Photographer
Living in Northwest my entire life kept the re of traveling burning. Camping, hiking and sports help my pho- tography skills as I do it part time while being a technology consultant.