Happy Canada month everyone! Mountain and Co are off to experience the amazing Canadian landscape, culture and of course people. One of those people is Jeff Bartlett.
Jeff Bartlett is a Canadian based photographer who has a large social media following. He has worked with various leading outdoor brands which has taken him across the globe.
Through social media, Jeff’s work portrays rugged landscapes and ambitious adventure for a single purpose: to inspire people to get outside and explore our beautiful planet for themselves.
We took this opportunity to speak to Jeff and ask him some inspiring questions about his photography and the place that he calls home.
Chasing Light with Jeff Bartlett and the Scion iM by Scion Canada
When did you first pick up a camera?
Immediately after I finished high school I began traveling. My first international trip was to New Zealand and I cycled around both islands without a Camera. The next winter, I lived in Whistler, BC, for the ski season before traveling to Chile and Argentina for their ski season. i didn’t want to make the same mistake as I had in New Zealand, so I purchased an Olympus camera. i don’t remember the model, but it was my first digital camera. I replaced it a couple years later with my first DSLR when I registered in journalism school. Professionally, I worked primarily as a writer but roughly 25% of my business was photography related while living abroad between 2007-2011. When I returned to Canada in 2011, it took me about a year to figure out a successful business plan. Since 2012, I’ve worked as a landscape and adventure photographer with brands and destination marketing organisations across the globe.
How did this turn into a career of shooting landscape photos?
As a freelance writer, I had to pitch magazine editors specific story ideas, explain why I was the right person for the job, and how it fit their magazine. I do the same for photography assignments now, reaching out to potential clients with a clearly worded but brief email that explains my project idea, how it suits their particular marketing objectives and why I should be trusted to get the job done. It’s surprisingly effective when you their jobs easier. If i can clearly anticipate their needs and remove their need to plan, search for a photographer, or simply stick to the same old marketing plan, I’ve learned it’s easy to land work.
What impact has social media had on your career as a landscape photographer?
I simply wouldn’t be a full time photographer without social media. Although it plays a lesser role in my business today, my initial career growth was tied closely to my Instagram audience growth. I was fortunate enough to be hired to guide Travel Alberta’s first ever IG campaign. That week, I saw first hand how Instagram was changing how photographers work and I soon dove head first into the platform and worked hard to grow my account. I caught another break when Destination BC wanted to add a social media influencer to a ski-focused press trip. At the time, I still only had 10K followers but I was invited to take part. After that, my account grew rapidly and I began receiving plenty of work opportunities.
For the past year, I’ve worked to diversify my work so that I am not as dependent on social media influence work. I’m doing that because of how unpredictable social media can be. Earlier this year, twitter simply closed vine. That could happen between Facebook and Instagram tomorrow, too, and photographers relying solely on their Instagram account for work would be in a difficult position.
Your photography takes you all across the globe but where has been you most special place?
I always take the easy way out when asked this question and list a half dozen places. Rather than do that, I’ll be truthful. I love traveling and photographing new destinations around the world, but I choose to live in the Canadian Rockies because I find this landscape to be the most inspiring. There is an endless list of outdoor adventures I can do within a two hour drive of my front door.
What is your most important piece of camera kit?
My go-to combination lately has been a Sony A7Rii and 16-35 mm. I think it’s the perfect camera and lens match for the majority of the work I do, but one thing I stress to everyone during my photo workshops is to quit worrying about upgrading their equipment. I’ve had images from my iPhone and point and shoot cameras published in magazines. It often doesn’t matter the tool you’re using, so it’s better to maximise skill and invest in photography opportunities rather than new gear.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I have a handful of photographers I really admire. David DuChemin – a fellow Canadian – has always stood out to me simply because he’s evolved his craft so much throughout his career. He’s also an amazing educator and motivator. I watch everything Keith Ladzinksi does closely, as his work on Nat geo expeditions is stunning. My former school-mate Reuben Krabbe belongs on this list too, as he is busy becoming an absolute legendary ski and mountain bike photographer.
Finally – Canada is your home country and as we are celebrating Canada’s 150th year, with free national park passes for everyone, what would you say is your favourite place to photograph in Canada?
I guess I already gave this away, as I called the Canadian Rockies my favourite destination in the world. It truly is a special place. Many of the most famous photographs – Moraine Lake, Mt Rundle, Two Jack Lake – are right off the side of the road. It’s also possible to spend 3-4 days in the backcountry, hiking in remote valleys with few people and stunning wilderness. There is a little something for everyone. Off the top of my head, the three places I love most are the Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park (2-3 day hike), Moraine Lake, and Sarrail Ridge (1 day scramble). The three places I still need to visit are Mount Assiniboine, the Abbott Hut on Mt Victoria, and ski touring across the Wapta Icefield.
To see more of Jeff’s amazing work please visit his website.
Also give Jeff a follow via Instagram @photojbartlett