Wade Ah You

Given the news that Fremont resident and photographer Wade Ah You died last week, I thought I’d repost the Senior Journal story I wrote about him last year.

But first, here are a couple of his photos. Click here for more.


Click where it says to click for the story

Wade Ah You doesn’t understand why anyone would be interested in an old man like him.

But in doing the same mundane thing nearly every day for the better part of two decades, the 76-year-old retired graphic designer has created something of interest to local nature lovers: a stunningly extensive photography collection chronicling the open spaces of the East Bay Regional Park District.

On most days, Ah You packs up his Canon 40D camera, and sets out from his Fremont home for a regional park.

“The idea is to go out every day and take a picture of a place you’ve been to 10,000 times and make it look different than the pictures you’ve taken before, ” Ah You said.

His personal collection, which numbers in the tens of thousands, doesn’t have a lot of action shots, but it is full of meadows, trails, creeks and birds.

“I have a feeling when I take a picture that I want it to be tranquil, meditative. I like a picture to reflect that kind of feeling, ” he said.

Former Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison is one of several people to whom Ah You sends monthly e-mails with about 50 or 60 photos.

“I don’t know how Wade gets those birds to pose for him, ” Morrison said.

Ah You  always has been interested in photography and nature since his childhood days hiking in his native Hawaii. He started taking regular nature walks after his first heart attack in 1980. Through the years, as AhYou’s endurance declined, he decided to take along his camera to pass the time while he was trying catch his breath.

“It looks stupid when you’re on the trail just standing there (panting), ” he said.

His trips are usually solitary. His wife, Sylvia, likes nature, but she doesn’t want to visit the same parks over and over again, he said. She also moves around much faster than Ah You, who has had two heart attacks, a stroke and a knee replacement surgery.

Ah You isn’t too picky when it comes to nature.

He likes green grass and water, so he prefers winter to summer, but he’s always at home in a regional park, be it Coyote Hills or Quarry Lakes in Fremont or Dry Creek in Union City.

“Each one of these parks is gorgeous in its own way, ” he said. “These pictures I take are my journal. They remind me of where I went.”

Ah You used to just e-mail photos to friends and family, but more recently he’s been sharing them online, creating a new gallery every month.

“A lot of people my age can’t get out, ” he said. “I like for them to see these kinds of pictures and get that kind of feeling where they are comfortable.”

To see more photos by Ah You, visit http://wade.smugmug.com.

Matt Artz