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Friday, September 08, 2006


Christian Wagner

by Chantal Stone

Come Live the LifeVicarious
How many times have you, while sitting behind your little desk, in your little cubicle, thought about just packing your bags and leaving it all behind? How often have you thought about exploring the world, experiencing new and exotic cultures, new smells, new tastes, and new adventures? What would it take for you to do it, to take the plunge, to head out there to places unknown—at least to you—alone, with no set plan, just you and your camera, to document our world?

It would take a lot, right? A lot of money, but even then, many of us have spouses, children, mortgages, student loans, the list goes on. We may still have the dream, but our reality always steps in. Until now. Now we can travel the globe, see the places of our dreams, take off at a moments notice, and live life vicariously, through the lens of someone else.

Christian Wagner, a photographer from Newport Beach, California, plans to spend the next 448 days traveling around the world, capturing moments in time with his camera, and sharing with the rest of us through his Photoblog LifeVicarious. Taking the philosophy behind carpe diem to new level, Christian is doing what many of us only dream: he is seizing this moment and not looking back.

Paris, France

Christian's thirst for travel began four years ago when he took a trip to Europe in May of 2002. Armed only with a borrowed point and shoot camera, Christian took snapshots everywhere he went. Upon his arrival home in '02, he noticed he really enjoyed the images he had created, and since he had recently began a rather technical job, he decided that the creative outlet of photography would be a perfect fit. He purchased his first digital SLR camera, and the rest, as they say, is history. Armed with both a Canon 5D and 10D, Christian subsequently returned to Europe and also traveled to China, visiting 20 different countries all of which now grace the pages of his blog, LifeVicarious.

Madrid, Spain

Influenced by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and other photographers of famed Magnum Photos, Christian has managed to document the world in a style that is befitting the greatest photographers in history, yet still reflects his own personal flair. He shoots primarily in black and white, and tries to include people in his photographs. He has the unique gift of capturing not only the mood of a moment in time, but also the emotion of the people involved, and the condition of the setting.

He describes: "If you think back on the events in your life, one typically remembers the pictures of that event, as opposed to the actual events. I just love the idea of capturing those moments, and the emotions of the people."

Vatican City

Christian made the decision to finally take the plunge and take this adventure across the globe after the untimely and tragic deaths of both a very close friend, and his younger brother who was only 29 yrs old. As a means to work through his grief and also to give meaning to his own precious life, Christian thought: "…this is really about living the life vicarious. I don't want to be 80 and look back and realize I did nothing. People think taking a year off is such a big deal, unthinkable. I think working for 40 years straight is unthinkable." He gave two months notice at his job, as a unit manager of a HR outsourcing and consulting firm, sold off many of his belongings, and began planning this trip.

Christian explains his motivation for such an incredible journey: "I love the idea of waking up, not knowing who you are going to meet, what you're going to see, or where you'll end up…I don't know who said it but I heard a quote once that was something to the effect of 'after a long day of adventure, I took the long way home in hopes of finding another.' "

San Francisco

On September 29, Christian will begin his journey. First in Austin, Texas, then south to Ecuador—he will spend 111 days exploring and traversing South America. Then, in January, he will fly over to South Africa, where he will slowly travel up north, across eastern Africa, onward up through the Middle East, eastward across Asia, through India, China, perhaps even Japan, finding his way to New Zealand and Australia, then eventually home to Newport Beach, in time for the holidays in 2007.

Christian only purchased three plane tickets: one to Austin, one from Texas to Ecuador, and one from Brazil to South Africa, leaving his itinerary free and open to go wherever the road may take him. In his words: "Travel is freedom…and it's inspiration." The lack of set plans will allow Christian to truly experience what each location has to offer, to fully immerse himself into the culture, to get to know the people, and to capture this all with his camera.

"I really just want to catch people in their element, whatever that may be. And hopefully…capture the emotion."

Macau, China

With a strong passion for both people and photography, Christian's brilliant style can bring life to an ordinary setting. He has the uncanny ability to see a moment, feel that moment, and translate it through his lens. He says: "I guess an amazing landscape can spark an emotion in people, but I would much rather catch the emotion of a person in my photos." Christian's journey will be an exploration of the human condition around the world.


LifeVicarious, the photoblog, will be updated whenever there is an available internet connection. Full of images and the occasional story of Christian's adventures, LifeVicarious will become a virtual tour of the world, where we, the viewers, will be allowed to experience the adventures of this 31 year old globe-trekker, all from the convenience of our homes.
In addition to gaining a lifetime of experiences, Christian hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams. "Part of my goal is to get people to take a trip of their own." A trip, maybe around the world, or perhaps simply a journey of self-realization to taking those first steps to making one's own dream come true. "…You do have to live life to the fullest, you only go around once. And if I can seriously play even a small part of someone making the decision to follow a dream, I will consider this trip, this blog, and the stories, a complete success."


So pack your virtual bags and let's hit the road. Come with me as we follow Christian, and live the LifeVicarious; it promises to be one heck of a ride.


Previous entries in
Photobloggers Exposed:

Daniel Seguin, David Desjardins, and Dean Sherwood


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, his black and white style is to underexpose by two stops? Or is that just the learning curve? Pictures that are too dark to see anything in them are very distinctive, after all.

12:34 PM  
Blogger mbb said...

So those are his pictures interspersed throughout the article, right? I think the work is okay, but perhaps draws a bit too much from his influences. Cartier-Bresson, certainly, but what I see here is a lot of Elliot Erwitt. The Madrid photo draws from Erwitt, and the San Francisco photo almost copies him (see California, 1955). It's an interesting thing Christian is doing, and I imagine he'll post some great photos, I just hope I get to see a bit more personal style develop.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not the first time that someone's copied a theme. Geoff Dyer wrote at length about it in The Ongoing Moment. I'm sure others have as well.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Chantal said...

If you check out Christian's blog you'll see a greater example of what he can do. He's a talented photographer with a great eye. And its fair to say that after spending a year and a half dedicated to nothing but shooting, he will certainly improve. The great thing about Christian is his willingness to learn, to grow, and his ability to take criticism and critique with integrity and grace.

I do see the Elliot Erwitt similarity....but I can only imagine that the more Christian shoots, the more he will develop a style that is uniquely his own.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

This photoblogger would like to recommend himself. If you like Christian's images (or don't), I encourage you to take a look at my travel blog. It's a combination of commentary, fine-art photography, and some fun touristy stuff. See Now, let's compare and contrast...

3:53 PM  

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