Jeff Bartlett’s Instagram account was practically unused until September 2013, when @LaurenepBath and @Garry_Norris got him hooked. Jeff lives in Jasper National Park but these days his passion for photography makes his career one of the best jobs in the Canadian Rockies.
This year he has also ventured further afield to Finland, Austria, Ecuador, Cuba, Peru, and across both the USA and Canada. Before the year is finished, he’ll travel across the UK, too.
Here’s a peek into Jeff’s life as a writer, photographer and social media influencer. And don’t forget to follow him on Instagram @photojbartlett
Life, travel and social media
Do you see yourself as a writer, photographer or social media influencer?
I always introduce myself as an adventure photographer and writer, because that is my craft. In today’s marketplace, I tend to publish more work on my own social media channels than in traditional ways; however, it doesn’t change the way I approach my work or its style.
Describe a typical day in your life
A friend recently told me they think I focus too much on work, but it’s hard not to when I am getting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to do what I love most – make photographs around the world. A typical workday lasts from about one hour before sunrise until one to two hours after sunset. If you consider the long Canadian summers, it’s no wonder I claim autumn and winter as my favourite seasons!
Along with making as many photos as possible during the golden hours near sunrise and sunset, I use the rest of the day to scout photography locations. Evenings are usually reserved for editing images. I usually drink more coffee – and recently Red Bull – than most doctors consider healthy.
Were you a professional or trained photographer before Instagram?
I’ve been using instagram to showcase my professional photography for just over two years.
Although I studied journalism and photography in college, I believe the past two years have developed my photography skills more than anything else. Constantly producing and sharing images forces me to work hard. The immediate feedback taught me what works and what doesn’t.
As you mentioned in the intro, I began using instagram with purpose after @LaurenEPBath and @Garry_Norris introduced me to the app. Before that, I used it for vacation photos and I probably knew all 200 followers. After spending a week with those two, I learned that it was a great photography-marketing tool. In the past two years, it’s also become a leading marketplace for photographers.
Are you a writer who takes photographs or a photographer who writes?
I started out as a writer and I forced myself to take photos to accompany my travel articles. It was the only way I was able to break into the industry. Over the past five years, I’ve watched the transition completely switch. Today, I am a photographer who rarely writes.
If I count the countries I visited prior to my career as a adventure photographer and writer, I’ve visited about 25 countries. I don’t really keep track. My travels have definitely picked up in the last 18 months, so I hope to add to that list soon.
It’s impossible to pick which countries appeal to me most; however, the easy answer is the more mountainous regions. I live in the Canadian Rockies by choice, because I love playing in the mountains. When I travel, it’s usually to see some of the world’s other great mountain ranges like the Andes and Alps.
I am itching to return to southern Patagonia and have hopes to visit the Himalayas for the first time in 2016.
Is there anywhere you haven’t been in Canada?
While I have spent the most time in Alberta and British Columbia, I have been to nine of our 13 provinces and territories. I’m still missing Newfoundland, which is high up on my bucket list for its amazing scenery, and the three territories. I’d love to make an autumn trip up north next year, as the scenery in the north is just bigger than anything I’ve seen.
Where did you grow up?
I haven’t really grown up yet, but I split my childhood between Fredericton, New Brunswick and Fort St John, British Columbia. The two towns couldn’t be more different. Fredericton is a quiet city in the Maritimes. Fort St John is a booming oil and gas town within view of the Canadian Rockies. It’s also a rugged outdoor town, where hunting and fishing trump my preferred sports of skiing and cycling.
Prior to moving west, I had my eyes set on a career as an engineer. After discovering the mountains, I knew I couldn’t work indoors. It took me years to figure out a career in writing and photography, but exploring the mountains remained a necessity.
If you were going to take your Aussie friends on a 10-day holiday around Canada what would your dream itinerary look like?
I think I’d opt to do the western mountain loop. We’d depart Vancouver and head north through Whistler and Lillooet to the Okanagan, before turning north towards Jasper. Once in the Canadian Rockies, we’d drive south to Banff, across to Golden, Revelstoke, and then hightail it back to Vancouver. This is a classic route that takes in all three major mountain ranges – the Coast mountains, interior ranges, and Rockies – in both booming resort towns, like Whistler, and in quiet mountain towns like Golden and Revelstoke.
Where would you take your Mum?
My mom is a pretty adventurous soul, so I’d probably head north from her house in Terrace, British Columbia, along the Steward-Cassier highway to the Yukon. We’d just keep heading north, until the Dempster Highway spills into the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyuktuk. This route isn’t for city folk, as it traverses some of Canada’s most remote wilderness!
Beach or mountains?
Schwartz Deli in Montreal
Wildebeest in Vancouver
Oka Sushi in Jasper
Favourite scenic views?
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
Black Tusk in Whistler, British Columbia
Rampart Mountains in Jasper National Park
I’m not much of a city person, as I prefer to spend time in small towns. If I had to choose, I’d say Quebec City for it’s old architecture, Vancouver for it’s proximity to some big mountains, and Dawson City because it’s home to the hardiest souls in Canada.
Favourite adventure activities?
It’s a pretty easy answer. Canada is home to some of the planet’s best powder skiing and mountain biking, so I’d put those two at the very top of my list. Try a day heli-skiing with Selkirk Tangiers in Revelstoke and chances are you’ll return. Mountain biking is huge all over British Columbia, but Squamish has the best trails in the business.
For a third sport, I’d say bring a surfboard. The water is cold in the BC Pacific, but the waves are prime.
Where else would you like to live in Canada?
I’m going to cheat on this answer, because I think I live in the best location in Canada. If I had to move, I’d move 300km south to Canmore, Alberta. It has all the scenery that Jasper National Park has, but it’s closer to a major city and international airport. It’d be nearly impossible to move me away from the Canadian Rockies.
Most romantic place?
I think it’s pretty romantic any time you camp under the stars, so I’ll go with Coronet Creek in Jasper National Park. It’s a 20km canoe trip down Maligne Lake that passes Spirit Island.
Where do you go to get away from it all?
I live in the Canadian Rockies on purpose, so I rarely have a reason to get away from it all. As soon as I am 10 to 15 minutes from my house, I lose cell reception and it’s just the mountains and me. I love how I have access to a seemingly endless trail network in my beautiful backyard.
Do you have any advice for photographers planning a trip to Canada?
Don’t plan to sleep too much, as we have some of the most spectacular landscapes and most challenging light imaginable. On the east side of the mountains, it’s all about sunrise. In the west, it’s sunset, but it takes luck and good timing to catch the perfect light in the best landscapes here.
Name three places or things to do on your bucket list in Canada
Hike in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Bike across Canada, following the TransCanada Trail.
Drive to Tuktoyuktuk, the northern most community with road access in Canada.
Jeff Bartlett is a writer, photographer and social media influencer who lives in the Rocky Mountains.