David Trattles (2008-04-04)

David Trattles
Practice: Documentary Photographer
Date of Lecture: 2008-04-04


Globe trotter and social documentary photographer, David Trattles, speaks at the Kodak Lecture Series, Ryerson University.

More than fifteen years ago, David Trattles, who had not studied photography, took a brand new camera, two rolls of film, and took off on his bicycle for a trip that took him from Turkey to Hong Kong. The trip was great, the pictures awful. He decided to go on another bicycle trip, this time across Russia, and learned all about photography along the way. Today, his exhilarating images have gained him respect as an accomplished documentary photographer.

Trattles is interested in people -anything to do with them, anywhere in the world. He will go to extraordinary lengths to get top-notch photos, including running the New York City Marathon with his three cameras in order to capture the experience from inside the event.

For Trattles cycling is still the best way to meet people: “Most people would travel in air-conditioned trains or planes to their destination. But when I cycle, I get a completely different story as I have more time for people. Cycling is a great door opener—it helps you interact better with people. They know that I must be serious about my work, and I’ve made an effort to get there” (The Hindu, January 8, 2008).

Over the past ten years, he has cycled through over sixty countries, producing photographic essays on rural Newfoundlanders, urban Inuit of Ottawa, unemployed Germans living as full-time cowboys in former Eastern Germany, tomato throwers of Buñol, people of Novara and Balzan, and, most recently, Muslim women boxers in India. This work is currently being exhibited at the Stainless Gallery in New Delhi.


The stories captured in his images represent a sense of adventure, of being on the move, while simultaneously establishing an informal but quite intimate contact with the individuals portrayed. The subjects of his work are often marginalized people who manage to preserve their unique identity within an increasingly globalized culture. Trattles shares with his audience his interest in how the people he meets define themselves through their everyday routines, how small stories reveal their greatness.

His work has been published in Canadian Geographic, MacLean’s, Elle, the Arctic Journal, and the Globe and Mail. He has shot for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the federal government’s Department of Heritage and Multiculturalism. In 1997 his work was nominated for a Canadian Magazine Award and has been exhibited internationally.

Additional Links: http://www.davidtrattles.com

Ryecast Link: https://ryecast.ryerson.ca/6/watch/481.aspx