A B O U T
THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING ...
In 1873, naturalist and preservationist, John Muir wrote in a letter to his sister: “The mountains are calling and I must go and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly” (1). While these well known and compelling words appeal to outdoor lovers everywhere, the full quote exemplifies a deep appreciation for what our natural reserves and wilderness areas can teach us.
In my time exploring the Canadian Rockies and beyond, the mountains have taught me that nature and wildlife photography is as much about watching, waiting, interpreting, understanding, and appreciating landscapes and habitats as it is about the thrill of a great encounter. It's about recognising and communicating the value, importance, and delicate balance of unspoilt places, as much as it is an artistic endeavour.
When we reconnect with nature, we are compelled to slow down, breathe a little deeper, and pay closer attention to our surroundings. We give ourselves time and space away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and gain a greater sense of perspective. The Rocky Mountains have elevated my love and appreciation of the outdoors exponentially, and I continually strive to capture the atmosphere and majesty of the wilderness, and of my encounters with the fantastic creatures that dwell within.
INTO THE WILD ...
The mountains were always calling. Growing up in the United Kingdom, I was grateful for opportunities to escape the city and explore some of my home nation's areas of outstanding natural beauty. Those places will always hold a special place in my heart, yet something was missing. Like most kids, my knowledge of wildlife and authentically wild places came from television naturalists and elementary school education. I soon learnt that after more than 2,000 years of human settlement, the UK has virtually no habitats untouched by man. If I was to experience the wilderness first hand, I would need to travel.
After completing my undergraduate studies in organisational behaviour, and inspired by the stunning cinematography of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, I set off for New Zealand. I spent months exploring the wild, rugged, and diverse landscape of the South Island's West Coast, taking pictures as I went. Yet it wasn't until my travels bought me to the Rocky Mountains that I truly experienced what I was searching for. The second largest country in the world, Canada is home to forests of unfathomable scale, roughly 140,000 unique species of plans, trees, insects, and animals (2), and over 50% of the world's natural lakes (3). I soon stopped taking photos while going places and starting going places to take photos. I read books on understanding exposure, invested in gear, and in a short space of time my nature and wildlife photography hobby blossomed into a passion.
Today I balance a fulfilling career in downtown Calgary with many evenings, weekends, and holidays spent exploring the mountains, foothills, wetlands, and prairies of Alberta and beyond. I draw much of my inspiration from the rugged Canadian wilderness, and occasionally from my travels further afield. I endeavour to master the craft of nature and wildlife photography, while capturing unique and authentic experiences that communicate the significance and beauty of wild places.
TREADING LIGHTLY ...
When exploring, there's nothing I love more than seeking out unspoilt landscapes and wildlife behaving naturally in its native habitat. It is so important that while enjoying the wilderness we minimise our impact upon it. Anyone who has spent time living in or close to our national parks will frequently hear and read stories of how our failings to tread this path lightly end in tragedy for wildlife, and sometimes people too.
In the spirit of protecting what we love, I follow principles of responsible wildlife watching, observing from a respectable distance, striving to avoid interactions with animals I encounter, and taking steps to preserve the habitats on which they co-depend.
Learn more about how we can Keep the "Wild" in Wildlife with Parks Canada (4).
1. Wurtz, M. (2018). What Muir Really Meant by ‘the Mountains Are Calling’. Adventure Journal.
2. Bonner, S. (2019). Biodiversity 101. Canadian Wildlife Federation.
3. Andrei, M. (2019). 6 geographical facts you’re not going to believe. ZME Science.
4. Parks Canada (2017). Keep the "Wild" in Wildlife. Government of Canada.