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River Students

Interviewer: I don't know if you could tell us a little bit about these guys, a little bit about Jack [Arnow] and about Kiet [Voung].

Dykinga: Well, actually, I got a call from Jack — that he had come to a talk I'd given at the Center for Creative Photography. So Jack had really expressed interest in the gallery side of my photography. And then the next thing I know, he's coming on the trip. He said based on what he heard at the Center, he decided to come along on this trip. His photography, was just pretty much pointing and shooting with his 35mm, and I'm sure he had some nice images, but he'd never really approached it very slowly and deliberately like you do with a 4x5. So watching Jack transition in both his photography and his ability to hike, I mean, he just was an inspiration to a lot of people, because, (a) he's older than most of the people on the trip, and (b) he's got this fantastic attitude of you couldn't feed him enough. You know, he just kept drinking it all in. Mixed metaphors! And he just loved the place, loved his ability to get out and kind of touch the place, and then actually record it visually was kind of exciting. I get a phone call from him when he gets back from the trip saying that each image he's looked at has been better than the one prior, and he can actually see the change from the beginning to the end of his trip, that he actually is progressing in his photography. So I mean when you hear stuff like that, God, it just chokes you up.

Then there was Kiet. I had spoken with him before the trip. He was an interesting guy because he shot with a 4x5, is quite accomplished with a 4x5, had some very rigid rules governing his own photography, and he also has grown during the trip. I mean, he's more willing to try new things and experiment, seeing things in different ways. And then when you hear about his background, here's a guy that fled with his family from Vietnam — I think he was eight years old — and he was a boat person, set adrift with some food and a flare gun, hoping that he'd get picked up and make his way to the Philippines and avoid the pirates and the Cambodians in the process. He actually did make it, and he was picked up by a U.S. tanker, I believe, and spent, I think, eight weeks in an internment camp, kind of as they shook things out and got a sponsor for him. But then basically came to the U.S. with his folks, just about penniless, just a small amount of money. His parents worked two and three jobs and picked themselves up by bootstraps. And, of course, he's now a successful computer programmer, and quite a character to boot. But it's interesting hearing everybody's story, and watching how they relate to this special place. It's a beautiful thing to see.

continued: river students >>









 

behind the scenes / in the footsteps of barry goldwater / the experience
photography / plan your adventure / interview / biography

jack dykinga / leroy dejolie / david muench

 

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