Donald E. Waite, President of Waite Air Photos Inc., purchased his discharge from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1971 to open a camera store/portrait studio in Maple Ridge and, a few years later, a second operation in Abbotsford. He sold the two businesses to devote time to writing four books on British Columbia history and co-authoring two books on bird photography. They are titled 'The Art of Photographing North American Birds' and 'Photographing North American Birds Perfecting the Art'. The bird photography web site is at:
Global Bird Photos
Waite became involved in aerial photography in the early 1980s and within a few years was concentrating primarily on the marketing of air photographs to realtors and developers. This resulted in the purchase of a camera system that was ideal for the taking of air photos from a fixed-wing aircraft. After a few years he began to have quite a collection of carefully catalogued images. The lady that had the most impact on his air photo career was Carol Hindley, the "picture buyer" for Colliers International Realty Corporation. Several times a year she would call and request that he make a 60 kilometer drive into her office in Vancouver to show his most recent images. One day she suggested he arrange his pictures alphabethically by municipality, photocopy them, and leave the copied collection in her possession. Later on to facilitate the re-ordering process, Waite captioned each image with a description, film roll and negative number, and the flight date. During this time he began to arrange his entire collection by municipality and date and scotch tape the 4" x 5" previews, 4 to the page, into 8 1/2" by 11" folders which were then placed into 3-ring binders. It wasn't long before he had about 40 binders, each in their own compartment, in the back of his van. Waite's daily agenda Monday through Friday began with rolling out of bed at 6 in order to be on the road and headed into the city by 7. In the early 1980s he'd go from appointment to appointment and usually see about 5 clients per day but by the late 1980s, due to heavier traffic and the advent of telphone message machines, his visits dropped to 3-4 visits per day. There was another major problem in that quite often the weather would take a change for the better but he was unable to cancel appointments and scramble to get a pilot and get up in the air to take pictures. He came to the conclusion that although he was working harder his sales were in decline.
In 1990 Waite began making black and white positive mechanical transfers (PMTs) of his yearly collections and have them hard bound up into books. The books worked so well that he decided to purchase state of the art computer equipment and place low and high resolution images onto CD-ROM. Unfortunately, most clients did not own computers with the capacity to deal with large files and the project was a flop.
In 1995 Waite began placing his air photos on the Internet confident that this medium would eventually have far greater potential than the air photo picture books or the CD-ROM packages. After spending a great deal of money with service providers and web designers (with a great deal of money going out but not coming in) Waite hired a high school student who built a "simple" site under his supervision. The user can easily surf Province > Region > City > Sub Area > Year > Month > Image.