In this post, I’ll be talking about my ongoing assignment with the Mont St-Hilaire Gault Nature Reserve—my favourite assignment yet (bold statement, I know)! I need to tell you the back story first.
Back in the day, before photography, when I was still studying biology at McGill, I would take all the field course options that I could.
One of these field courses was this ecology field course in Mont St-Hilaire. At that time, I didn’t think much of it. I had just come back from Barbados, and I knew that the following year, I’d be going to Panama, so I just saw this short course as a bonus. So I went, took a ton of photos and had a blast.
Now before I go further, it’s important for me to note that I’ve always considered these field courses to be where I’ve learned photography. I’d always bring a camera with me, I didn’t really know how to use it, but I’d love taking photos of my classmates and the beautiful scenery we were in. I only had biology on my mind during most of trips—little did I know that they would lay the foundation to my photography life.
The course helped me form two serendipitous connections.
First, the editor of McGill News (Daniel McCabe) was looking for photos from this field course for an article they were writing. A professor put us in touch, I was able to sell a license for a few photos, and this sparked the first of many more assignments with the magazine. To this day, I still get sent on assignment on behalf McGill News for all kinds of shoots.
Second, I met staff members from the Gault Nature Reserve while there and agreed to share with them some of the photos I took. It sparked a partnership, I took some photos during my subsequent visits, and we even worked together on an unusual project in which I helped design a room on McGill Campus to promote the nature reserve. I always had a great time working with them.
They recently reached out to me again with this current assignment. They simply need photos for promotional purposes, and lots of them. Photos of wildlife, photos of hikers, photos of the scientists working there, photos of the reserve itself. So they’re giving me occasional access to the chalets on the mountain to stay there and come back with memory cards full of photos.
For this trip, I enlisted the help from four of my outdoorsy friends: Fabio & Samia (who you may be familiar with thanks to this post), Meags (who you might recognize from my portfolio), and Laura (who is currently co-conspiring on an awesome side-project with me, which I’ll tell you about soon). They made great models and good company too!
Over the week, we had time to visit the four summits—Burned Hill, Pain de Sucre, Dieppe and Rocky. Can’t wait to re-visit these when they’ll be covered by a blanket of snow.