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Photographer Profile — Dani Lefrançois (Exclusive behind the photos interview)

If at first you don’t succeed…

Nature photographer Dani Lefrançois proves persistence pays off

©Dani Lefrançois
Mount Assiniboine

By Stephanie Hounsell

Dani Lefrançois is the first one to say that being a landscape photographer isn’t easy. She’s full of stories of how things didn’t go exactly as planned on various excursions through the mountains she loves to photograph.

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But a common thread weaves itself through those anecdotes: one of perseverance. The photographer, who lives in Alberta in the Rocky Mountains, isn’t one to give up and knows success comes from persistence.

Mount Assiniboine

The first time Lefrançois hiked to Mount Assiniboine (pictured above in a photo taken on a later trip) in the Canadian Rockies, she almost didn’t make it. In what she calls a “comedy of errors,” a string of unfortunate events seemed to conspire against Lefrançois and her accompanying friend.

It all started when they made the decision to take the short trail rather than the longer, more popular one. After numerous navigational challenges, river crossings and downright tough hiking conditions, the trail disappeared. The pair hiked back to the parking lot.

Plan B: Take a helicopter in. But after a crazy drive to get to the helipad on time, they arrived only to see the helicopter take off without them.

Unwilling to give up, they decided to take a chance and start the 23-kilometre hike to Assiniboine on the other trail. Unsure how far they’d get before nightfall, they packed their tent and ended up spending the night on the side of a mountain, their tent tied to a tree so it didn’t slide down.

The next day, with just four kilometres to cover, they finally arrived at their destination. Getting there was certainly rough, but Lefrançois learned Mount Assiniboine was a place she wanted to see more of. She also learned to take a helicopter on future trips, including the one when this photo was taken.

Moraine Lake

Lefrançois’s favourite photo (below) holds that special honour because it took her almost 20 visits and four years to get.

Moraine Lake, which is in Banff National Park, Alberta, is one of Lefrançois’s favourite places to begin with. It’s open from May until the first weekend of October, but Lefrançois wanted to capture it in its “winter coat,” she says. For that to be possible, an early snowfall was needed. But, during the years Lefrançois was trying to get the photo, that either didn’t happen or, if it did, she was working and couldn’t get there on time. “Here it all came together,” she says.

©Dani Lefrançois
Moraine Lake

Although she originally wanted more colour in the sky, she says she likes the way it turned out, the blues and whites looking almost monochromatic. And the green of the lichen on the rock and the bit of red on the dead limb of the bush really pop.

Every time she looks at this photo, she thinks of all the times she tried to get this shot but didn’t, she says. Once again, her perseverance paid off.

To read more of Dani Lefrançois’ interview with OPC, and to read more of this not-to-miss issue please pick up the Winter 2018 issue today online or at your local newsstand. To never miss an issue you can subscribe here

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