Remembering Friend and Photographer, Fred Chapman
Mike Grandmaison, April 23, 2018 at 9:20 AM

I am saddened to announce the passing of Fred Chapman, friend, artist, teacher, long-time member and Board Member of NAPA (now CAPA - the Canadian Association for Photographic Arts), promoter of the arts and 'lover of nature'.

Fred was a kind, gentle soul, full of vitality and creativity. He made people laugh, he made people think, and he made people care. He was very thoughtful and unselfish, always thinking about how he could help. He was a very important part of the success that NAPA (now CAPA) enjoyed over the years. He was instrumental in growing the Pacific Zone of NAPA (the National Association for Photographic Arts) in the 70s, 80’s and beyond. He also played an important part in many British Columbia camera clubs. He loved the Cibachrome process and printed for what seemed to be generations! Fred had a wonderful life and he will be missed by many. The photographic community has lost a true friend and a wonderful artist.

Below are the words of his son and friend as they announced the passing of Fred:

"Monday morning, our friend headed down the long road and up the sunny grassland side of the big hill to where the Saskatoons grow the best. 
He fought hard to stay here with us. But it was time for him to carry on, on his quest to visit his favourite places, memories, friends, plants, birds and animals. 

This slightly modified quote from Pericles seems appropriate to us - we hope you agree.



Fred Chapman was born May 17, 1923 in Empress, Alberta and passed away on April 16, 2018 at 10:40 am. in Burnaby, British Columbia.

There is no service or remembrance planned at this time but there will likely be one at some time in the future. 
If you wish to be included on an invitation list please send an email to:  

If anyone wishes to make a contribution on Fred’s behalf, we recommend:

a) Burnaby Hospice Society - please specify St. Michael’s Hospice

b) BC Cancer Foundation, Lymphoma Research   

Greg Chapman
Karen Marotz

Farewell Fred !!! We will miss you dear friend!


P.S. Below you will find an article I wrote about Fred Chapman in the third issue of Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine, Fall / Winter 2017. It is reprinted here with permission from editor, Roy Ramsay.
Hope you enjoy!


by Mike Grandmaison


Many of us weren’t even born when Fred Chapman picked up his first camera as a teenager, a Kodak Bullet which utilized 127 B&W film. He still remembers  capturing his first photograph on the family farm, a portrait of a horse with a cat in a basket. At 84, this is amazing in itself since I occasionally can’t remember what happened last week!


Fred was born on the Canadian Prairie in 1923 in a little border town called Empress. He came into the world just 300 meters into Alberta but lived his childhood just across the border into Saskatchewan. For those who are familiar with the Great Saskatchewan Sand Hills, that’s just a little west of the Hills as the crow flies. At 23, Fred left the prairie for British Columbia in a 1926 Studebaker camper.


Shortly after arriving in British Columbia, Fred found a job in the logging industry. Four years later, a broken leg ended his logging career and took him to Vancouver to convalesce. He needed to find another way to make a living so, as a reluctant entrepreneur, Fred started a small business as a building contractor specializing in renovating homes in the Burnaby - Vancouver area. His only child, Greg, apprenticed with Fred for a number of years until he took over the business after Fred retired nearly 20 years ago after 35 years in the business.


It wasn’t until 1966 when Fred was able to afford better camera equipment that he purchased his first SLR. He practiced his craft and was now able to start creating the images that he had envisioned. While mostly self-taught, Fred credits local New Westminster club member Anne Hau as his first important mentor. “She saw a spark of ability in me, encouraged me and got me involved in photography” says Fred. Freeman Patterson also influenced Fred through his excellent series of instructional books and writings.


In 1970, Fred registered in an evening photography class but found the course very disappointing. “After one particular class, Fred and classmate Don McGillivray began a spirited discussion about what they felt were the shortcomings of the course and resolved to form a group dedicated to pursuing photographic excellence. Fred believed strongly that if they could find a way to interest others in the art of photography, the inevitable exchange of information and ideas would benefit everyone in the group. Fred was much involved with the Burnaby Photographic Society during its formative years and is still a most active and highly respected member” wrote friend and colleague Dave Martin in “Just How Old Is Fred Chapman? - The first of a Two-Part History of the Burnaby Photographic Society”. In recognition of his many years of service to the BPS, Fred became the group's first life member on June 13, 1988.


Another fine example of Fred’s dedication to photography was his involvement with NAPA, the National Association of Photographic Art - now called CAPA. One day Freeman Patterson called upon Fred to help out on the Board of Directors. Fred agreed and served as NAPA Vice-president from 1980 to 1982. He also served as Pacific Zone Director from 1981 to 1990 and was very active with NAPA's Annual Traveling Exhibition during many years. In 1987, he was awarded the Silver Medal for Distinguished Service to NAPA. Recently, he was awarded CAPA’s Honorable Fellowship Award by the Board of Directors. Pierre Rochon, CAPA’s current Quebec Zone Director, adds: “Fred was an excellent photographer and a master black and white printer. I always considered him a gentleman, a tireless worker and a real good friend.” In addition to serving on the Board and various other committees, Fred helped organize workshops, seminars, outings and print shows and he proved to be very creative in getting people involved in the organization. District Representative for Edmonton, Mufty Mathewson recalls: “Fred is a prince of a guy. He and I served on the Board together for many years. He was always fair and just and a hard worker always giving much of himself”.


Fred, an Honorary Member of the North Shore Photographic Society and the Lion’’s Gate Photo Club, actively supported all local camera clubs, large or small. “Fred is a bit of an "icon" in this part of the world as he started and helped just about anyone that was interested in photography and especially nature photography. He is a top notch print maker and also mentor for so many people” remarks Betty Andres, current president of the NSPS. His role as mentor to so many photographers looking for feedback, guidance or a little encouragement was probably his greatest gift to photography. And he would seldom, if ever, disappoint. “Several years ago, when my wife and I expressed an interest in learning how to work with Ilfochrome, Fred welcomed us into his darkroom and showed us how to use the process. Since then he has been most supportive and is always full of helpful suggestions”, adds Dave Martin. Adam Gibbs, another accomplished Canadian photographer, credits mentor and friend Fred Chapman for “introducing me several years ago, to the fine art of photographing frost patterns on glass”. These anecdotes exemplify Fred’s eagerness to help anyone who would ask and, through the years, this has given Fred much satisfaction.


So what did Fred like to photograph? It wasn’t the “big landscape” that drew him outdoors; it was more the intimate views, the little details, close-ups of wildflowers, reflections in water, abstracts of colour, form, shapes and patterns. You get a sense of this love for the outdoors in the accompanying portfolio of images. They speak for themselves. “When I go out to photograph wildflowers for instance, I still feel a sense of wonderment. I’m not a “church goer” but I can sit on the ground and worship nature. It’s often a spiritual experience for me. It just blows me away”!


Fred learned the craft of black and white printing early on and created many beautiful prints. In the late 1970’s, the introduction of practical home Cibachrome processing slowly pulled him away from black and white to colour printing and he still loves spending hours in his darkroom, always excited about the magic of that next print. Fred has had numerous solo exhibitions including at the Burnaby Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, Richmond Art Gallery, John Nichols Gallery (Santa Paulo, CA), Milne Gallery, Richmond Gateway Photo Gallery and has exhibited several times in the Showcase Project, a NAPA-sponsored theme show. From 1981-1990, he was one of the organizers of the BC Photographers print shows at Robson Square Media Centre, the largest show of its kind in Western Canada. Fred also lectured extensively at photography seminars in Canada and the western USA. While his images have been widely published in books, calendars, magazines and as fine art prints, he now shoots mostly for himself.


Fred’s opportunity to travel in his retirement was limited for 10 years as he cared for his wife Grace, a victim of Alzheimer’s. After 50 years of marriage Grace passed away last year. Spending so much time close to home forced Fred to keep busy photographing to keep his mind active. While he had always looked at patterns in nature, he began experimenting with mylar, doing close-ups, making abstract reflections and the like.


Fred is content in his Burnaby neighborhood, with a backyard of greenery and flowers which can keep him busy photographing all year round. He likes to hike and he is traveling a little more now. He prefers working on a specific project at any one time. He might select a series of images from a current project, print them on ... yes ... Cibachrome and organize a print exhibition in his “home gallery”, something he has done for over 30 years. If you are fortunate to run into Fred walking the trails of Burnaby, he will likely invite you to visit his gallery and view his latest project. Recently, I had the privilege of spending a day with Fred and thoroughly enjoyed looking at his library of more than 1,000 prints! Fred has a keen sense for designing images and his love for the natural world permeates his work. “I’m a colour junkie”! he says in a soft spoken, mild mannered way. I can just see him smiling through his long, white beard, radiating peace and joy. And that beard .... it’s a photographic subject in itself!


Fred is good-natured to say the least. Nature photographer Dennis Fast recalls a cherished moment back in the summer of 1983. “I spent several weeks with Fred Chapman, Chris Harris, and Freeman Patterson (among others) in the Queen Charlotte Islands. One day I was attaching my flash and looking for a place to put the small screw-in cover for the on-camera pc flash connection. Fred noticed this and asked if I had trouble losing those little things. I said , "Yes." "I’ve never lost one yet," Fred replied. "How do you manage that," I queried. "It’s simple," he said. “Whenever I get a new camera I remove all those caps and throw them in the garbage; that way I never lose any!" After a good laugh I threw mine away too, and I've never lost one since! That’s Fred - practical and no-nonsense, but with a great sense of humor!”


“Now 84 years of age, Fred is reluctant to make the switch to digital imaging, but he is always interested in seeing the results of our digital printing and in learning more about digital photography. We are constantly amazed when we visit to discover the many new creative projects that he is constantly experimenting with in his basement studio” comments Dave Martin. “Fred is not one who seeks out rewards or who feels comfortable being singled out for recognition. In speaking to him recently Fred remarked”, "I would be satisfied just to know that some of my suggestions have been helpful to other photographers." His son Greg points out that “Dad gets as much enjoyment from teaching and sharing images with young and old as he does in creating them. The mentoring is more important than a box full of awards, ribbons and trophies”.


Sometimes we need to acknowledge photographers not only for the excellent body of work they have produced over the years but also for the significant contributions that they have made in mentoring, encouraging and inspiring photographers over many, many years. You have touched many of us Fred and, for this, we Thank You!



As a follow up to that article, I would like to add that Fred did make a transition to digital photography in his mid 80s ! I remember him asking me whether he should make the switch. He was obviously interested! I said: "Fred, it is going to be a challenge and a significant learning curve but, if you have good support around you, it can be a lot of fun!". Fred received a lot of support from his friends from the local camera clubs, etc and he had much fun in the process. It was always a pleasure to receive a new image from Fred in an email. In the summer of 2016, I had a very pleasant visit with Fred, his son Greg and my traveling companion Brad Smith at Fred's home. As usual, Fred always had a smile and loved to kid around. He still walked about a mile each day then. Little did I know that would be our last visit.


Posted In:This And That