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Chris Gale: Living through the lens

People of the Northeast

Chris Gale has learned a lot since his mother bought him his first camera.  He was 16 then, and that old Kodak, now a relic of the first generation of digital cameras, has been replaced with several high-end Nikons, his three prized possessions.

You can find at least one of them on him at all times.

He has used those cameras to shoot thousands of photos that encapsulate living in Northern B.C. Even if you never set foot outside your home and decided instead to take in the region's landscapes, wildlife and rough terrain from Gale’s lens, the only thing you'd find lacking is fresh air.

The shut-in life never appealed to Gale.

Growing up in Fort Nelson — the town his parents moved to from Sussex, New Brunswick when he was four years old — Gale found his love for the outdoors at a young age. 

“My dad always took me hunting and fishing,” he says. “There's not much to do in a small town but outdoors stuff. When my mom got me my first digital camera, I took that thing out and I started to do landscape shots and wildlife.”

It wasn't long until he bought his first pro camera, which opened his eyes to the possibilities of professional photography. But he quickly became frustrated.

 “I actually quit photography for about three years,” he said. “I couldn’t get it at all. In can be overwhelming. [But] when I went back, it was like I knew everything.”

When it comes to photography, Gale is entirely self-taught.

Aside from an online course on the basics, YouTube and the influences of wildlife photographers like fellow British Columbians John E. Marriott and Wayne Sawchuk have guided his work.

Gale’s website, wildnorthphotos.com is his main outlet, but he also runs a Facebook page called Chris Gale Northern Photography.

Chris has won awards and had his work featured in both Canadian Geographic magazine and British Columbia Magazine.

When he is not out in the bush with his camera, he’s hanging out at home with his wife and son — working on photos or taking his three Labrador retrievers Moose, Trapper and Cowboy out for a run.

Photography is a full-time love that he has turned into a part-time job, supplementing his income earned with Kledo Construction, a road building company.

Gale admits it would be a hard go to make it as a full-time photographer. He agreed to take photos at a friend's wedding, but that is not the kind of work he would like to do for a living.

“I try to stay away from that kind of stuff,” he says. “I just keep it to landscape and wildlife. I am not good at telling people how to pose,” he said with a laugh.

Gale is also a songwriter.  His song "That's Where I Was Raised" is an ode to the Alaska Highway. His songwriter page is available online at reverbnation.com/chrisgalesongwriter

On his frequent trips into the bush, Gale likes to bring one of his three faithful Nikon cameras, either a D810, D7000 or D7100. For wildlife, he prefers to shoot with a 200 - 400-millimetre telephoto lens, and for landscapes and portraits he likes to use a 24-70-millimetre wide angle.

He takes his time planning, usually having an idea in mind of the kind of image he wants to capture before he leaves the house.

His favourite place to shoot is right around Fort Nelson, in the Stone Park area where you can find sheep, black bears, moose, and his favourite subject of all: grizzly bears.

"In some parks they're easy to find," he said of the mammoth mammals, "but up here you kind of have to go into high country to find them unless there is something dead on the road."

Conveniently enough, Kledo Construction happens to be working in the Northern Rockies right now, widening the Alaska Highway, allowing him to spend his evenings doing what he loves.

"Just about every night I am up there. It's a nice place to work. The lakes and rivers in the Northern Rockies are so pristine and the mountains are so majestic I usually take pictures there all day, and spend the night at the Liard Hot Springs, relaxing in those magical waters."

It all started with a Kodak camera, a love for the wild and an eye for photography.

“[When] my dad used to take us up the Alaska Highway... I just fell in love with all the nature," he said. "I wanted to try and capture all of that."

dcreporter@dcdn.ca