Speakers

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Michelle Valberg

Michelle Valberg

keynote speaker

Presented by Nikon
Michelle Valberg is a true luminary in the world of photography. With over 38 remarkable years behind the lens, she has captured some of the world's most significant moments with an unparalleled finesse that has earned her numerous accolades and esteemed positions.

As a Nikon Ambassador and Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence, Michelle is a trusted name in the world of photography.  With each click of her camera, Michelle crafts a narrative that transcends the boundaries of time and space. Her photographs are more than images; they are moments frozen in time, infused with emotion and meaning.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions, Michelle was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada in 2022, a testament to her unwavering dedication to her craft and her commitment to making a positive impact.

Among her many accolades, Michelle's crowning achievement was winning the wildlife gold medal at the World Photographic Cup in Rome in 2022. Her ability to capture the essence of wild creatures and unimaginable landscapes is a testament to her artistry.

Michelle's work is not just about capturing scenes; it's about encapsulating the soul of our world. Through her lens, Michelle takes her viewers on a visual journey, allowing us to experience the world as she sees it - in all its splendor and complexity. Her photography is an invitation to connect with the world's most significant moments, and through her work, she shares her profound love for the art of storytelling.

In Michelle Valberg, we find not just a photographer but a maestro of light and emotion, a storyteller who reveals the hidden narratives that surround us. With every click, she reminds us that a photograph is not just an image; it's a glimpse into the heart of humanity and the beauty of our planet.

Paul Zizka

Paul Zizka

Paul Zizka is an award-winning mountain landscape and adventure photographer based in Banff, Canada. A prolific adventurer, Paul’s journey to capture the “under-documented” has taken him to all seven continents, as well as to each of Canada’s provinces and territories. He is frequently published in some of North America’s top magazines and has four coffee-table photography books: Spirits in the Sky: Northern Lights Photography, Summits & Starlight: The Canadian Rockies, Aloft: Canadian Rockies Aerial Photography, The Canadian Rockies: Rediscovered, which won the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition - Mountain Image category. Paul enjoys life in the mountains with his wife Meghan and their two daughters.
TJ Thorne

TJ Thorne

TJ Thorne is a US-based photographer whose lens captures the profound beauty in life's simplest moments. Raised in the rustic landscapes of rural Pennsylvania, TJ found his artistic home in Oregon over two decades ago, where the diverse and abundant scenery of the Pacific Northwest honed his photographic vision.

As a self-taught artist, TJ cherishes the art of experimentation and rule-breaking, using these techniques to engage with a diverse range of subjects and light. His work, with a particular emphasis on water abstracts, explores the world's gentle complexity.

In April 2023, TJ unveiled his first monograph, 'Ebb and Flow,' an intimate collection of water abstracts that tell the story of his search for serenity. His workshops and educational materials reflect his belief in photography as a tool for personal growth and the creation of enriching experiences.

Shaped by gratitude for life and the journey to sobriety, TJ's photography holds deep personal significance. His unique and vulnerable artistic philosophy beckons students seeking to rediscover their inner artist and create work that resonates from within.

Jacquie Matechuk

Jacquie MatechUk

Entering the world of photography 24 years ago, Jacquie was first swept into a life of speed and excitement as a sports photographer for the Canadian Superbike Series. Her determination to grow and develop her skills, catapulted her into new opportunities with companies like Yamaha, Suzuki, Scott Industries and Monster Energy. The experience taught her the value of knowing her subjects, ethical practices and being ready for whatever beautiful chaos unfolded.

These days Jacquie’s time behind the lens is divided between her love of sports action and deep appreciation for the world we live in. Regardless the genre, Jacquie adopts a photo-journalistic approach to help her viewers connect with the stories she presents to her viewers. So, whether she’s hiking the tundra of Alaska or scaling the canyons of the Ecuadorian Andes, she pushes herself to see and share the beauty in this world. Teaming up with organizations such as the Canadian Conservation Photographers Collective, Adventure Canada, Polar Bears International, or the Jane Goodall Institute, she’s been able to give her subjects a real voice.

2021 was a pivotal year for Jacquie, highlighted by a feature debut in Canada’s installment of the Canon R3 global launch. A bronze medal at the World Photographic Cup, earning a CPA (Craftsman of Photographic Arts) and becoming a certified bear guide. The hard work continued in 2022 when Jacquie became a Canon Ambassador. She accepted a role as a Mentor for the Canon Futures Incubator Program and earned her MPA (Masters of Photographic Arts).

Most recently Jacquie was awarded the prestigious Nature Photographer of the Year award for 2023 from the Nature Talks Photo Festival in the Netherlands!

Jacquie remains focused on sharing her passion for wildlife and the environments they call home. By coaching and presenting to creatives around the world, she eagerly embraces every opportunity to help her fellow others improve their skills and nurture their inspiration. Challenging each one of us to accept the responsibility of capturing a moment, THE moment, that might otherwise just slip away unappreciated. Jacquie may be renowned for her photographic diversity, but guided by her passion for the world we live in, Jacquie’s goal remains unchanged. Put the audience in the moment, set their minds free and leave their hearts full.

Kyle Brittain

Kyle Brittain

Kyle Brittain is a Calgary-based storm chaser and freelance weather reporter, documenting nature's fury in all seasons across western Canada and beyond. He is the former Alberta Bureau Chief for The Weather Network and during his time as a weather professional, he has shot and filmed numerous tornadoes, wildfires, and other high impact weather events. He is passionate about breaking down the science behind the weather as well as risk communication to the public. 
Tracey Halladay

Tracey Halladay

Tracey Halladay is a photographer based in the Southeast Rockies of British Columbia who uses photography to share her unique perspective of the world after being given a second chance at life after receiving a kidney transplant.

By sharing the natural beauty and mystery of the wild places and faces surrounding her, Tracey encourages people to be mindful, curious, and compassionate towards themselves, others, this Earth, and all its creatures.

Tracey believes that life is not all sunshine and warm weather. It’s sometimes about being uncomfortable, pushing your mind and body to the limit; the desire to live forcing you to go on.

Her creativity and photography are a conduit for emotion, connection, and passion - because life truly is a gift. She looks forward to sharing her images and stories of life as she wanders this Earth with her eyes wide open.

Eric Seemann

Eric Seemann

Eric Seemann, the Wildlifer, is a professional wildlife photographer whose work has been featured by Canadian Geographic, BC Outdoors Magazine, Cowboy Country and was recently featured in the Canadian Geographic Top 100 Wildlife Photos of 2021 and in their 2022 Wildlife calendar. 

Growing up in British Columbia inspired Eric’s boyhood dream of becoming a professional wildlife photographer. BC’s natural bounty gave Eric endless opportunities to hone his craft. His unique blend of patience, passion, expertise and dedication is evident in the artistry of every shot and his lens is able to capture the drama and beauty in every moment. Many years, and hundreds of thousands of photos later, Eric’s dream continues to grow and evolve, as he travels the world to capture the spirit of nature through his camera lens.

In pursuit of the wild, natural and unique, Eric has traveled through every uninhabited corner of British Columbia, the magnificent Rocky Mountains, the untamed Amazon rainforest, the lush jungles of Mexico, and the vast savannas of Southern Africa. Nature’s story is told in his stunning images of North American wildlife — wolves, grizzly bears, big cats, elk, owls and raptors — as well as the leopards, lions and elephants of Botswana, South African penguins, and so many more fantastic creatures. The Wildlifer’s world is always expanding, and every animal he encounters is like a new friend he could not be more excited to meet.

Craig Hilts

Craig Hilts

Presented by Living Sky Tours
Craig Hilts, is a self-taught photographer with a passion for capturing the raw essence of nature. For over the past 15 years, Craig has dedicated himself to the art of photography, transforming moments into timeless works of art.

Growing up in Saskatchewan, Craig has cultivated a deep connection with the ever-changing beauty of the Canadian Prairies. His journey as a photographer began as a personal exploration, a quest to understand and document the extraordinary moments that nature presents. Craig's passion for photography extends beyond the mere act of capturing images; it's about immersing himself in the experience. For him, each photograph is a testament to the joy found in seeking out and witnessing the raw power and beauty of nature. It's about the thrill of being amidst a storm, feeling the energy in the air, or gazing up at the stars on a quiet night. Craig shares not just the visual splendour but the emotional resonance of these incredible moments.

With over 15 years of experience, Craig Hilts has honed his craft, developing a unique style that captures the essence of the Canadian landscape. His portfolio reflects a keen eye for composition, a mastery of lighting, and a deep understanding of the natural world. Whether it's the dance of the Northern Lights or the drama of an approaching storm, each photograph is a testament to Craig's dedication to his art. His work has been featured in numerous publications including Canada Geographic and his work has been on display at The Biosphere Museum in Montreal Quebec. He has won numerous photo competitions including the Lightchaser Photographer of the Year in 2023.

Josh McGarel

Josh McGarel

Presented by Fujifilm
Josh McGarel is a British Columbia-based commercial Photographer and Creative Director specializing in sports, outdoor lifestyle, and tourism. Originally from England, Josh made the move to BC ten years ago for mountain biking and photography and continues to be inspired by the ever-changing landscapes and outdoor industry on the West Coast. With past clients such as Lululemon, Pelican, Motorola, and FujiFilm, Josh’s skills range from concept creation through production to final asset delivery.

A career highlight was his time as Resident Photographer aboard small expedition ships on the East Coast of Canada, South Georgia and Antarctica, where he shot landscapes and wildlife photography while sharing his passion with guests. For Josh, photography is a gateway to learn about new subjects and meet different people. Combined with his love of concept development, he can often be found cooking up a new project that expands his technical knowledge and creative muscles.

Past personal projects have included a cycle trip to the most remote pub in the UK, exploring First Nations-led trail building in BC, and other unique perspectives on traditional outdoor imagery. His photography and writing from these experiences have been published in various editorial outlets including Freehub Magazine and Mountain Life Media.

Rachel Jones Ross

Rachel Jones Ross

Presented by Sony

Rachel Jones Ross, of the House Sony. First of Her Name, The Unslept, Queen of the North, Khaleesi of Coffee, Breaker of Rental Cars, and Mother of Teenagers…

Rachel Jones Ross is an astrophile, powered by caffeine, with a strong affinity for winter. You can typically spot Rachel in the wild anywhere clear skies can be found, but she will linger for sunrise and sunset when conditions are favourable. Rachel is a member of the Sony Alpha Imaging Collective, and teaches photography workshops both online and on-location at her home in the Canadian Rockies, and Norway. 

Jim Brompton

Jim Brompton

Presented by Kase Filters

Jim Brompton has over 44 years of experience as a professional and award-winning nature photographer. He has owned a photography business since 1978 and over the years has been featured by Outdoor Photography, Canada Magazine, Photo Life, Nature Canada, Outdoor Canada, Canadian Sportsman, B.C. Outdoors and more! In May of 2018 Jim received the prestigious Master Fine Art designation from Master Photographers International and is among less than 100 photographers in the world with this title.

The Launstein Family

The Launstein Family

John, Jenaya and Josiah Launstein are part of a family of internationally awarded wildlife photographers and artists from the Pincher Creek area in southwestern Alberta. Their work has been exhibited in more than 70 countries in national museums and galleries including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and the Natural History Museum in London, U.K.

The Launsteins' oldest daughter, Jenaya, became only the second young woman to be named the international Youth Photographer of the Year at the age of 15, and her younger brother Josiah is clearly following in her footsteps! By age 13, he had twice been named the Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and both have gone on to receive numerous other awards. They are delighted to share their love of wild animals and wild places with fellow nature and art lovers through their Fine Art Prints, calendars, greeting cards and giftware. The family opened the Launstein Imagery Wildlife Art Gallery in 2016 in the beautiful Crowsnest Pass, and a second gallery in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2020.

When the Launsteins are not in their galleries, they are usually found on the trail somewhere in their beloved Alberta mountains in search of a quiet moment with the region's wildlife, or occasionally presenting moments from their time in the field with like-minded photographers and nature enthusiasts. A quote from Jenaya accompanying her work in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History sums up the family's passion for what they do: “I hope my pictures help people care more about the animals I have the privilege of photographing.”

Shane Turgeon

Hosted By Shane Turgeon

Shane Turgeon is an award-winning nature photographer and the founder of the Lightchasers Nature Photography Conference. His work is primarily focused on landscapes, the night sky, storms, and wildlife but he also enjoys his time working in concert and event photography. His work has been featured by Canadian Geographic, the Natural Landscape Photography Awards, PhotoLife magazine, Black Rapid, the CBC and in 2022 he was short-listed for the prestigious Astronomy Photographer of the Year award from the Royal Museums Greenwich in London.

While pursuing nature and landscape photos for his own personal pleasure are his primary focus in photography, he also has a keen passion for sharing both his art and the mental health benefits of nature photography and passing on his experience and knowledge to other photographers.

Shane is a proud ambassador for f-stop gear and McBain Camera.

Special Appearances By:

Monika Deviat

Monika Deviat

As a photographer, Monika Deviat is best known for her distinctive and award-winning nightscapes. She is driven to capture unique scenes under the night sky and inspire a sense of wonder, especially in those who cannot see the stars where they live. Monika's photography does not fit into a single niche, though. She is also a concert, portrait, and commercial photographer, a dynamic workshop leader, speaker, and writer based in Alberta.

Monika's start in photography began with her love of heavy metal. On the world's largest heavy metal cruise, she has had the opportunity to photograph many of her favourite bands, from local shows to many festivals across North America and even to international waters. While travelling in 2014, Monika had the chance to try photographing the Milky Way, and in 2015, night photography had hooked her in. This passion for night photography led her to the outdoors, and she has become an avid mountain explorer in the Canadian Rockies.

Joe Desjardins

Joe Desjardins

For nearly three decades, Joe has been immersed in the world of photography. He began his career as a studio photographer in Northern Ontario, Canada. Growing up in this remote area afforded him the opportunity to learn his craft while exploring the outdoors, making nature photography a perfect fit. Today, Joe works as a professional photographer out of Calgary, Alberta, focusing on wildlife and landscape photography. He loves to share his knowledge and enthusiasm of photography with others through teaching, workshops and speaking engagements.

“There is nothing more rewarding than when a fellow photographer (student) comes away with an image they are proud of,” says Joe.

Joe is an award-winning and nationally published photographer who has earned multiple national accreditations in a variety of disciplines including equine,landscape, nature, wildlife and more. Joe has also garnered the designation of Master Photographer (MPN) in Nature Photography with MPIO, Master Photographers International, is Kase Filters Pro Team member and an Ambassador for f-stop.

Mark Jinks

Mark Jinks

Mark Jinks is an award-winning nature photographer and educator based in Leduc, Alberta, Canada.

His main photography focus is on capturing beautiful landscapes and wildlife, the energy of severe weather, and the mystique of the night sky.

Mark's work is highly regarded and has been featured by Travel Albereta, The Globe and Mail, CBC, Westjet Magazine, Canadian Geographic, Outdoor Photography Canada, and many more. He has won numerous photography competitions, and his imagery has been licensed by agencies all over the world.

Each and every speaker were absolutely amazing! When working on composition I now have a plethora of voices in my head giving me inspiration! The whole conference was a positive experience.
Bea Kachmarchyk
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Stay Tuned for More Exciting Speaker Announcements in early 2023!