The identity of A Local Nomad -- David Royall
by Stefanie Funk
This article will be but a momentary glimpse of the locally renowned iphoneographer and “digital nomad” David Royall, who could not be summed up easily or limited to a single identity. David and I officially met upon my interviewing him for a spot in the Local Talent section of the Localflagler.com Online Magazine.
The ordinary introduction of two people usually means identifying themselves professionally; an easy task for myself as at the time I was wearing my press pass. We sipped our coffee and casually began the interview; I asked David how long he had been a photographer. He began to explain to me that he did not actually identify as a photographer, much to my surprise and brief confusion. I had planned on interviewing the well-known photographer called David Royall that day! I came to find out that David is a retired air traffic controller, as well as a writer, a sailor, nomad, global observer, as well as student of technology, tai chi and music… who loves nature and so is naturally driven to capture it.
If you look at some of his photographs, he tends to capture candid photos of the world; photos one wouldn’t usually think to review and preserve. He explained that his hobby for photography developed during the 38 years that he worked as an air traffic controller for the United States Federal Aviation Administration, where he met his love and companion Jill Stauffer; Jill shared the same honored position as David.
“I realized that I was seeing so many interesting places that many people would never see, and a camera was cheap
with my benefits so I bought one to start capturing
all of the interesting sights.”
David invested in a camera and would use the dark room where he worked, while he was in the Air Force (1966 to 1970), to develop his photographs. As technology became more sophisticated into the 80’s and 90’s, David usually sought to keep the latest palm-organizer and would often invest in camera’s such has Kodak’s, that would easily fit in his pocket. David lived in Atlanta for 34 years and Jill lived there for 8 years before they moved to Florida. David and Jill have been together for 20 years and currently reside in Flagler County.
The local people have long begun to recognize the curious David Royall, even during our interview a man stopped to express his admiration for David and his wife. Many know him as the photographer who has taken a photo of our beloved Flagler Pier every Saturday as he walks to the beach. For the past 12 or so years, he hardly ever missed taking that photo, and he continues taking them even now; after the Flagler Pier has lost over 150 feet due to recent hurricane Matthew.
“After retirement, I bought the sailing vessel we call 'Shibumi'. Jill and I take an annual sailing voyage for three to five months; normally to the tropics.” The Japanese translation of “Shibumi” is “Eloquent Silence”, which is how Royall came to name their sailboat and home a-drift.
Already such an interesting life, David went on to tell me more about how he has come to be called an iphoneographer along the way. “When the iphone came out it was everything I needed to keep capturing our life, and it fit in my pocket!” He was approached by other locals and his friends who were interested in his work, and so for a brief while, David yielded his talents to professional photography.
“If someone can look at one of my photographs for more than 10-15 seconds, I’ve made a connection.” David expressed his love for nature and his freedoms, and told me that a lot of his photos and posts will be “snippets” in his eventual memoir. In a very modest way, David inspired me to use my own smart phone camera to be more intent on capturing the beautiful nature of my own life.
“Photography is not just about the camera, it is about the photographer’s imagination. More importantly, it is about what becomes of an image after it is captured.” – David Royall
The entire interview turned out to be a casual conversation about the exclusively interesting and peaceful life of a man that claims his identity “is for you to determine…” Among being a companion, father, and friend to many; David is an inspiration to several who share his passion of capturing the beauty of the world every single day. Because you left it for others to determine how we carry on your name, David Royall, I would like to professionally identify you as you have identified yourself to me.
Retired air traffic controller,
student of technology,
tai chi and music…
who so loves nature and is
driven to capture it with a
unique photographers i
Follow David on social media at: