Capturing picture-perfect moments across the globe



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Charles Bayless steps to the other side of the camera for a photo op in front of the Eiffel Tower. (click for larger version)

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Alesund, Norway. Charles Bayless. (click for larger version)
August 12, 2009
Gilford summer residents Charles and Joan Bayless love to travel the world one picture at a time, as Charles focuses on exotic destinations like Africa, Russia, and Norway, or even more familiar locales like the Bayless family's own backyard.

Charles Bayless describes himself as a "photo fanatic," a personal hobby he picked up while working as an Engineer and CEO of PSNH in Illinois and Tuscan, Ariz., where his second home is.

After retiring from PSNH Bayless received a call from West Virginia Tech College, which has two regional campuses, and was asked to take a job as president of the college where Bayless received the opportunity to travel more often. The more he traveled, Bayless said, the more he began to immerse himself in his photography. Bayless stayed in West Virginia for three years, which explains why he had so many pictures from West Virginia Tech's popular football teams, women's champion basketball teams, and Arizona's Grand Canyon, near his second home.

"I told the kids if I could do one thing for college students I would bring them all over the world. They are better off than yesterday's students, but they don't see everything," said Bayless.

His found his real photo-frenzy peak to be when he was required to travel, as opposed to traveling for leisure, and remembered moments he may not otherwise find on more traveled paths.

"Edison Electric Institute needed people to go to Russia and Moscow for six weeks. It was just amazing," said Bayless who said he stuffed dozens of containers of Spam in his suitcase for hungry locals.

"One hundred miles out of Moscow I took a picture of a beautiful church and on the steps of that church was an old woman. I gave her spam and she fell down on her knees saying 'spasiba' (thank you in Russian) over and over," said Bayless.

Bayless said he takes over 700 pictures a trip and has traveled to 72 different countries. Bayless said his travels have opened his eyes to the international economy crises, to poverty, but also to the beauty that unexpected places may hold.

"I love to travel. China is the most interesting place to go and take pictures. I am going there again soon with Joan. But you can find pictures anywhere; it depends on how you take them," said Bayless.

Some of his favorite pictures are of monastery figures in China, The Great Wall of China, churches in Russia and New Mexico, farmer's markets in the colorful Cape Verde Islands, a beggar and elephants in Sri Lanka, the Taj Mahal Hotel in India (which was blown up), a water buffalo in Tanzania, and a woman selling goat cheese at a market in Alexandria, Egypt.

Bayless has a story or a country's history linked to every photo, such as his trip to Sri Lanka, where he sat in the front of a train in 95 degree humidity just to get a good picture, or the way he felt when he realized how destitute post-war citizens were, such as the beggar in his photo. Bayless also found a place named Malta in the Mediterranean, where Arabs once almost took over, which would have changed history and a part of the world, said Bayless.

Bayless said he has been to many smaller, rarely visited countries, yet some of his best memories lie with photos like the Louvre in France and the polar bear signs in Longyearbyen in Norway, where travelers required rifles if they wished to walk outdoors. Bayless said he was also thankful to be on the warm coast of Africa during the ice storm last December, although he plans to travel to Antarctica for Christmas this year.

Bayless has visited hundreds of countries and taken thousands of pictures, yet some of his favorite pictures, the ones he uses as Christmas cards or wallpaper for his computer, are the pictures of his backyard and the New England area, including snowmobiling, Bike Week, and the mist that comes off of the lakes in the early morning.

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