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Profile- Josiah Launstein (exclusive online content)

Where the action is

At just 13 years old, award-winning photographer Josiah Launstein takes photos that showcase the beauty — and fury — of wildlife

Story by Stephanie Hounsell with photography by Josiah Launstein

Thirteen-year-old Josiah Launstein has taken his share of photos that capture nature at its most peaceful. But he knows first-hand that the outdoors can also be action-packed and aggressive. And that’s sometimes when the best photos are taken — and the best stories told.


Treetop bear

Josiah, who lives in southwestern Alberta with his family (several of whom are also photographers), took this photo of a bear cub atop a tree, entitled ‘Waiting,’ in Waterton Lakes National Park, AB. What people who look at the image don’t know is that the cub has escaped to the top of the tree to avoid the fighting going on at the bottom between the mother bear and a male bear.

“She must have had enough warning to either order the cub up, or he perceived danger and ran up the tree,” explains Josiah’s father, John, who witnessed the incredible scene alongside Josiah.

©Josiah Launstein

When boars come upon a female with her cub, they sometimes try to kill the cub, sending the female into a reproductive state, John says.

The spirited exchange lasted almost half an hour, he remembers. “It went on and on and on and on.”

Josiah — who was twice named Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year — likes the image for the way the cub is looking straight at the camera, as well as the colour contrast between the green tree, red candles — the first growth on conifers — and blue sky.

Although the lighting would have been better had it been a bit closer to sundown, they both agree, not all photos can be taken under perfect conditions. “Not every picture has to be about this dreamy, soft, romantic light. This is the real world and they (animals) live all day, not just during the golden hour,” John says.

Goose attack

This award-winning photo, taken at Burnaby Lake, British Columbia, tells the story of a territorial Canada goose protecting its home, Josiah explains.

Josiah first noticed the protective goose while standing on a pier with his father, sister Jenaya and a fellow nature photographer. He stepped away from the rest of the group and immediately began thinking about how he could best capture the bird. At water’s level was the answer.

“The expression he captured on the territorial goose’s face is so obvious. This is a mad, determined goose,” his father says of the image and its success.

©Josiah Launstein

Josiah is a very intentional photographer, John says. He isn’t one to snap a bunch of photos in hopes of getting a good one. Throughout this entire sequence, Josiah took just seven shots, and every one of them is top notch, John says.

The image was awarded in the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and was displayed in galleries and museums in more than 70 countries around the world.

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


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