An Extraordinary World Is Just a Click Away

March 19, 2009
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For a rare instant, Photographer Paul Click is caught in front of the camera instead of behind it.

For a rare instant, Photographer Paul Click is caught in front of the camera instead of behind it.

Some people never seem to stop reinventing themselves. At the top of this select list, you can put La Verne’s Paul Click. His full, thick mane of hair might be whiter than the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but don’t let it or him fool you. He’s young at heart and enjoying life and his new passion more than ever.

For 10 years, Paul was a professional baseball player. Originally drafted by the then-Los Angeles Angels, he ended his career in the Atlanta Braves organization in 1973. He got called up to “the show” a couple of times and long enough to draw the written ire of Jim Bouton, author of the infamous “Ball Four,” one of the first tell-all baseball books.

Out of baseball and out of work, with a young family to support, (he had married at 21) Paul caught on with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. “I looked around and I said I need a job, and doggone if the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department wasn’t hiring. “I took a pretty big cut in pay and worked with them for 25 years.”

Actually, the Sheriff’s Department got a 2-for-1 deal. Paul, whose father was a pro-caliber tennis player, picked up his tennis racket (throwing a baseball and serving a tennis ball are similar athletic motions) and won gold medals at several Police Olympics. After retirement, he began teaching tennis at the Altadena Town and Country Club in Altadena, north of Pasadena. About that same time, with the first decent digital cameras coming on the market, he rediscovered his love of photography. His initial flirtation came in high school, but with his pro baseball career beckoning, he had to put photography aside.

Paul captures an African leopard taking the afternoon off.

Paul captures an African leopard taking the afternoon off.

“In high school and after high school, I got the photo bug,” Paul recalled. “My bathroom was my darkroom. I had towels all around the windows and doors. I mixed my chemicals in the bathtub.”

This time in the digital age, Paul gladly substitutes a Macintosh computer for his old darkroom.

“I like working on images on the computer, just as much as I enjoy taking photographs,” Paul said.  “You pretty much have to be that way, if you are going to be a photographer using digital equipment.”

That’s a good thing because Paul takes literally thousands of photographs … of weddings, of athletic competitions, of celebrations, of landmarks, and, his personal favorite, of nature. In the process, he’s become a Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom digital master, able to transform digital prints into amazing watercolor and oil paintings. He’s also a wizard at restoring and enhancing old photographs, and then placing them in slide shows and setting them to music if that’s what his clients want. Sometimes, he does it anyway, even if the client doesn’t request it. Those are the little extras and “clicks” of the camera for which he’s become known throughout La Verne and Southern California.

As for his prodigious picture taking, he has pursued it with the same fervor, verve and vigor that he applied to his former professional baseball and police careers. Over the last several years, he’s organized and led three international photography tours, two into the heart of Africa and another trip to the Galapagos and Ecuadorian rainforest.  When Paul speaks of these photo safaris, you hear and feel his sense of urgency.

Closer to home, Paul clicks an amazing Laguna Beach sunset.

Closer to home, Paul clicks an amazing Laguna Beach sunset.

 “You don’t know what the future holds for these countries,” Paul said, implying that the window is rapidly closing when people can go and freely photograph the wildlife, villages and the African continent’s magnificent natural wonders, such as Victoria Falls, which borders Zambia and Zimbabwe. On a return trip to Africa, Paul had to drop Zimbabwe from his roving itinerary because of the deteriorating political conditions there.

To preserve his memories and to share the abundance of Africa’s lush landscapes and magnificent wildlife beyond those fortunate enough to go on one of his annual photo safaris, Paul has just published a coffee table book, “Wildlife of the Okavango Delta: A Photographer’s Expedition in Botswana, Africa.”

For Paul, the Okavango delta is sacred earth. It was once part of Lake Makagadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River that flows southeastwardly into the delta has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the northern part of the sands of the Kalahari Desert, seeping into sand aquifers and supplying fertile sustenance to an amazing array of the world’s most magnificent animals. Sharing the delta are African bush elephants, African buffalo, hippopotami, blue wildebeest, Nile crocodile, lions, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, warthogs, crested cranes, ostriches, ibises and more, all of which Paul has captured through his Nikon lenses.

“If it weren’t’ for this influx of water that comes down the Okavango River every year from Angola and Namibia, this area would just be part of the vast Kalahari Desert with little life,” Paul said.

Paul photographs a romantic wedding in beautiful Hawaii.

Paul photographs a romantic wedding in beautiful Hawaii.

Instead it’s a watershed of grasslands and marshes and swamps over which Paul has learned to tread carefully.  The ex-ballplayer, ex-sheriff, and part-time serve and volley tennis player is constantly seeking, framing and respecting the awesome essence of the African experience through the crystal clarity of his Nikon lenses.

Paul, however, doesn’t have to be in Africa to seek inspiration or do his best work. Wherever Paul goes, he seems to find a teeming river of life worthy of capturing, be it the joyous occasion of a wedding, a sunset at Laguna, a portrait of a family patriarch or the joyful collision of a bat and baseball at a high school baseball game. As he continues to catalog these wonders, we will continue to enjoy and appreciate his work.

To see some of Paul’s work, or contact him for your photography needs, click on Home Businesses, and then






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