Guiding Polar Bear Wildlife Photography Tours. Another piece in the annual photography tour cycle filled!

Guiding Polar Bear Wildlife Photography Tours

Another piece of the annual photo tour cycle filled!


It’s official, I’ll be guiding several polar bear wildlife photography speciality tours up in Churchill, Manitoba late this Fall for Frontiers North Adventures.  Yep, there goes another tick off of the outdoor photography bucket list.  I may do this every year for the foreseeable future.


Snowdome Sunset on the Columbia Icefields near the base of Mount Columbia.  ©

The photo above isn’t in Churchill, it’s near my home in the Canadian Rockies.

But, it helped to provide the inspiration needed to fulfill one of my professional photographic dreams.


You asked and now I can deliver!

Some of  you have asked me if I would consider hosting a polar bear wildlife photography tour in Churchill Manitoba.  I already have an extensive list of diverse landscape photography tours spanning the globe with more international photography tours in development.  Watch for more on those tours to World famous destinations coming down the pipe too!  A Churchill, Manitoba polar bear tour was one of those tours in development.  I’ve been listening to your event suggestions seriously over the years.  A wildlife tour to Churchill is one of your suggestions that I’ve been getting from many of you too.  I’ve been researching the possibility of building and offering my own polar bear wildlife photography tour.  I’ve discovered that I’d need to use the established infrastructure in Churchill to make a wildlife photography tour there viable.

Building tours that offer you the best value is a core paradigm in all the photography tours I design

I discovered that Frontiers North Adventures already offers an amazing and diverse lineup of quality wildlife photography specific tours at Cape Churchill.   They already offer tours to photographers at reasonable prices given the high production costs of hosting a quality tour in Churchill, Manitoba.  In good conscious, I felt that I couldn’t add enough additional value over what Frontiers North’s Wildlife Photography specific tours were already offering for the price that I would have to charge.  After all, I’m going to have to mark up the tour costs to pay for my expenses and make a profit too.   I concluded that Frontiers North already has the best valued polar bear wildlife photography tour available.  

The best polar bear tour available is to stay out on Churchill Point at the Tundra Buggy Lodge, owned and operated by Frontiers North Adventures.  Additionally, you sould stay at the lodge in the town of Churchill and do day tours out to Churchill Point. 

The people who run the Tundra Buggy Lodge are the good people who I’m going to be contracting with leading some their polar bears wildlife photography tours out on the legendary Cape Churchill for three weeks during the usual peak of the early winter polar bear viewing season.  This is the period of time right before the polar bears head out onto the ice for the winter.  Imagine polar bears lazing around and playing in fresh snow on the shores of Cape Churchill on Hudson’s Bay.  They’re waiting for the pack ice to get thick enough for them to head out onto it for the winter.  This makes them very approachable for wildlife photography.  This is the life I’m going to be living and sharing with my guests at the Tundra Buggy Lodge on Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park.

Why is staying at the Tundra Buggy Lodge the best option to maximize your polar bear viewing time?

Commercial access on Churchill Point is strictly controlled by the the national park managers, and Frontiers North Adventures is only tour operator allowed to operate polar bear photography tours based out of the lodge right on Churchill Point.  Frontiers North is the company that owns and operates the famous Tundra Buggy Lodge.  I’ll be leading tours out of the Tundra Buggy Lodge during during my tenure with them.  Parks Canada has an excellent management plan in place for wildlife viewing.  In this plan they manage access to the highly vulnerable habitat found at Churchill Point.  Frontiers North Adventures is only tour operator permitted to operate a seasonal lodge right on Churchill Point.  This is right in the middle of the polar bear action.  This is where you want to be to see polar bears!

Why reinvent the wheel?

So, I parked my “go it alone” ego and decided to join who I think operates the best polar bear tours up there.  Thankfully, Frontiers North thought I would be a good fit in their professionally lead wildlife photography theme tours too.  If you’d like to join me to photography the famous polar bears then come on up!  I’ll be one of their professional photographers on staff for three weeks during the usual peak of polar bear photography.  The bears will be milling about in the fresh snow waiting for the ice to get thick enough to venture out onto for the winter.  I’ll be there Oct. 28th – Nov. 19th.  When you call to reserve your tour, let them know that I sent you.  I may be your wildlife photography guide in Churchill this Fall. 

Let’s capture one the trophy wildlife photographs that many wildlife photographers have on their list.  Come on up and join me if polar bears are on your wildlife photography bucket list too!


Posted in Fall, Hidden gem locations, Location Profile, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife, Winter Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Emotional Communication through Landscape Photography

What is Emotional Communication and Photographic Excellence?…


This is the question Kristian Bogner asked me, and it caught me off guard.  Surprisingly, I hadn’t really thought about photographic excellence before.  As I tipped my head I looked down at my knees for a bit.  A felt a calmness begin to flow over me.  I could feel that I was about to take a large step in my artistic growth.  I felt myself opening up and started thinking deeply into the meaning of his question.  

As I opened myself up farther emotionally I started to concurrently practice a bit of internal reflection.  The path towards realizing what emotional communication in landscape photography was going to mean to me began to reveal itself.  I tempered my growing excitement out of concern that I could miss out of the subtleties of the important lesson I knew I was about to receive on emotional communication.  I wanted to see it all though clear and undistorted glasses.  Remaining objective, observant and disciplined was important.  

I prepared myself like a sponge.  I wanted to be ready to soak up every last little bit of truth that I was about to realize.

A vertical pan blur photograph of a burnt forest in winter. I developed the vertical pan blur technique for landscape photography after being inspired after reading about Freeman Patterson’s wind motion blur and multiple exposure photographs the © 2001 book he co-wrote with Andres Gallant, Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image.  (Photo ©

Personal reflection

My thoughts defaulted to the technical side of photography at first.  The landscape photography journey for me started out in 1989 as a serious amateur.  I haven’t really looked back and have since branched out to add many different styles of photography to my repertoire.  My thoughts also drifted through the years of struggling through my own self directed photographic experiments.  I stumbled gleefully through the trial and error learning picking up the fundamentals of exposure and flash photography, refining my technical skill along the way. 

I thought about the circular polarizer and a 2 and 3 stop graduated neutral density filters that I used to use back then.  The colour intensifying filters like the sig-ray golden’ blue polarizer and the cokin blue/yellow polarizer were frequently in front of my camera lens 15 years ago.  I used to use these colour intensifying filters when I shot with Fujichrome Velvia film.

What about having Great Gear and near perfect technique?

I thought about HDR and my raw workflow through Digital Professional Photographer (for canon users), Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.  I thought about my decades long financial journey from my “el cheapo” kit lens to the pro set of lens that I use today.  Having Great gear does help to produce good photography.  I thought about the long road I took moving up through the lens quality scale towards eventually owning the best set of Nikon lens, the Nikon trilogy set of lens.  Then, after switching to Canon I started using the best lens in the Canon line up too.  

I also thought about how digital sensors and camera bodies have evolved over the years.  I started out shooting digitally with a Nikon D1, 2.74 MP Pro DSLR.  Now I use the beautiful 30 MP Canon 5D mark IV.  BTW, that Nikon D1 cost me about $5000 in ~2002, 15 years ago.  That was a lot of cash to pay to buy the best pro DSLR on the market at the time.  Now my Canon 5D mark IV cost less than that, 15 years later!

  “Hummm,… But all that cool equipment is just, well,… stuff!  The equipment is not Who You ARE or How You FEEL.”

The artistic side of photography

After a while I realized that having great gear and becoming technically proficient isn’t photographic excellence.  It is necessary to become technically proficient with your gear so you don’t think about it when you use it.  However, there is something more needed to achieve “Excellence” in landscape photography.  Remember the saying, “it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer”, right?  Having the best photography gear on the market helps, but it doesn’t make you a Great photographer.  Just like buying the best woodworking tools or oil painting brushes and paints available doesn’t make you a master wood-carver or celebrated painter either.


I felt my way through the process towards digitally creating an Infrared interpretation of an RGB image. There were no examples or blog posts to learn this technique from.  I simply looked at my RGB image and interpreted through the Infrared Spectrum.  Now, six years later, I see this technique popping up all around the World.   That’s six years after I created this photograph.  ©

After a while I could feel my perception broadening.  I could feel the muscles in my face relaxing as I began to completely understand and open up about how I truly felt about his question.  How did I REALLY FEEL about my answer to his evocative question.  Then, the true meaning of emotional communication came to me like I’d known the answer for decades already.


And,… the breakthrough, Intentional Emotional Communication!

To me, photographic excellence means becoming fluent with the connection between the technical aspects of photography and our deep emotional reaction to all beautiful things so that pure, raw emotion can be captured in the camera, cared for in the editing process and communicated through the photograph later with ease to the viewer as an uninterrupted extension of my own personal expression through pure, RAW emotional communication.


To me, this is photographic excellence and this is what I set out to do every time I pick up the camera.





Posted in Philosophy, Technical side of photography Tagged with: , , , ,

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly for Aug. 25, 2017 Featuring Mexican Fireflies is published!

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife

Photography Weekly featuring Mexican Fireflies

and 25 more amazing landscape and wildlife photography articles

Aug. 25, 2017 edition is published!


What an amazing week for landscape photography, both personally and for the Continental community.  We started off the week with a beautiful eclipse that may possibly the most photographed eclipse in history.  And, the lead article this week highlight what is the best eclipse photograph that I’ve seen browsing the web since it happened.

Banff Aurora Night Photography

The Aurora in Banff National Park ©

The cool crispness and sunburst diamond emulating from the feet of the rock climber perched on the ridge attracted me for two main reasons;  Firstly, I admire the technical excellence that went into this photograph.  I’ve seen a lot of photographs out there this week that tried to combine climbing with the eclipse, and this photograph beats them all.  Amazing job by photographers Andrew Studer and Ted Hesser along with climbers Tommy Smith and Martina Tibell.  You can see the photograph in the photos section of the newsletter.  It’s pretty cool and worth checking out.

Other headlines include the power of the Golden Ratio in landscape photography composition and a story by National Geographic about the amazing Mexican Fireflies in the Santa Carla Forest Sanctuary near the tiny little Mexican town of Nanacamilpa.  The little town has recognized the power of the firefly population with regards to it’s ability to boost eco-tourism in the town.  The town has gone through great lengths to protect this insect population and has learned how to profit from their efforts via the tourism dollars in the process.  Talk about a win/win/win arrangement between the town/the tourists/and the fireflies too!

The Nikon D850 video reviews:  Learn about Nikon’s amazing new camera

As usual we also have a great lineup of relevant videos this week too.  There are two about the exciting new Nikon D850 camera that proves that Nikon is still in the game of producing leading Dslr cameras, and five other videos about interesting aspects of landscape photography from North America, Iceland, Europe and an interview with Dominic Bryne.

Photograph Maple Tree Fall Colours and Mountains

I also included a link to the small instructor to participant ratio (5:1) Cape Breton Landscape Landscape Photography Photography Tour during the usual peak of the Fall colours on Cape Breton Island.  The first Cape Breton tour tour that I announced to photograph  the spectacle this Fall sold out quickly 2 months ago.  Since then I was able to recently add a second tour for this year during the weekend of Oct. 13-15, 2017.  Cape Breton is amazing and I believe that we’ve been offering the best tour of the region now for the past three years including the grand landscapes pf the mountainous side of Cape Breton along with the plentiful bird and ocean wildlife photography during an included whale cruise during the weekend.  This is a great all tour at a great price.  Check it out.

We have a lot in this week’s edition of the newsletter.  There are 12 spectacular photographs, 7 videos and about 30 cool landscape and wildlife photography stories included this week.  Don’t miss this issue and sign up to receive the newsletter each week in your email inbox.  I enjoy putting it together for you, and me, and I think it’s one of the best non-egocentric newsletter out there on landscape and wildlife photography.  Hum, the fact that I said that it’s not ego-centric suggests that it may be just that.  Humm……  When I’m confused about the direction I should take with regards to my photography, I remember the ILPA mission statement.


The International Landscape Photographers Mission Statement:

“Bringing landscape photographers together to Learn more, See more, Feel more and Communicate more through our Art”

These are words to live by!


I hope that you enjoy this week’s edition of the International Landscape Photographers’ Weekly newsletter!


Sincerely yours,


Brian Merry,

Landscape photographer and ILPA President

Posted in ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Technical side of photography Tagged with: , , ,

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly Newsletter for Feb. 10, 2017, the Bison issue, is published!

Follow the link to read this week’s edition of the ILPA weekly .  Some of the highlights include articles about the reintroduction of bison into the wild in Banff National Park, a new 48MP sensor developed by Panasonic that allows recording of 8K video at 30 fps and an offer for a free license of DxO Optics Pro 9 until the end of February.  Don’t miss out on a free version of this amazing software.  We’ve even included links to the DxO Optics tutorials to help you to hit the ground running editing your own pictures for free with a very capably editing software suite.  AND, I’ve collected another 68 landscape and wildlife photography articles to include in this edition of The ILPA Weekly,… for you.

Wild bison in Northern BC. Bison are being reintroduced back Banff National Park.

On behalf of ILPA I’m happy to bring you this issue of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly newsletter.  If you haven’t heard about the newsletter yet then I hope you’ll enjoy it.  I also hope that you choose to sign up to receive it in your email inbox every Friday too.  You can sign up for the ILPA Weekly newsletter by clicking the “subscribe” button on the top right of this page, or on the button found in top right of the newsletter front page, just below the banner photograph.

Each week I collect articles from around the world and showcase my interesting finds in the ILPA Weekly.  I do this because two of the key points in of the ILPA mission statement,  They state that we are bringing [international] landscape photographers together to learn more and to communicate more through our art, through our photography.  The weekly does a big job in helping us to accomplish this B-HAG mandate.  What is our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (B-HAG) of a mission statement you may ask …?

The ILPA mission statement is:

 “Bringing landscape photographers together to Learn More, See More, Feel More and Communicate more through our art!”

Speaking about B-HAGs, our lead story is about the brought to us by Parks Canada.  It’s about the BHAG of Parks Canada to reintroduce Bison into the wild in Banff National Park during a 5 year project.  Be sure to read about this monumental task being undertaken.

Thank you for your interest in the ILPA Weekly, and I hope this week’s edition lives up to your expectations.

Posted in ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Landscape, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Tagged with: , , , , ,

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly, Fed. 3, 2017 edition, is published!

The Feb. 3, 2017 edition of the ILPA weekly is here!

“I think landscape photography in general is somewhat undervalued.” – Galen Rowell, Aug. 23, 1940 – Aug. 11, 2002

     Galen was, and still is one of the landscape and adventure photographers I look up to for inspiration.  I studied his work, followed him when he was alive and grieved when I heard that he and his wife Barbara died too soon together in a tragic small plane crash near their home in Bishop, CA.  So I’d like to respectfully, and sheepishly comment on Galen’s quote that I believe landscape photography has since gained notable value and much of the recognition it deserves as a solid form of art.

     It is out of this belief, and from ILPA’s mandate to learn more, see more, feel more and to communicate more with the entire photography community that I bring you this week’s issue of the International Landscape Photographers’ newsletter, the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography weekly.  Click on the blue link in the title to go directly to the newsletter.  The following is a summary of the highlights of what I’ve found for you this week.

Let the sharing and learning continue…

Banff Landscape Photographer

Petrified Sand Dunes, Arches National Park, Utah by Banff landscape Photographer, Brian Merry 


The ILPA Weekly Highlights

     One of the headlines this week include an article by National Geographic about how Instagram is changing the way we travel.  Yes, Instagram is influencing where people choose to travel now-a-days.  Pretty interesting read…

     There’s also an article in the headlines about the congregation of wintering Eagles in the South Delta of BC.  That reminds of another popular place to photograph Eagles in the winter.  I have a photograph of 16 eagles preached in trees in Annapolis Valley, NS that I captured while working on my Honours Biology degree at Acadia University.  The story in this article is a video news story, so sit back and enjoy it as you learn about this Bald Eagle hotspot in the BC Lower Mainland.     

   There are many more stories, blog posts, cool photographs and videos in this week’s issue.  A 

Join a Regional Landscape and Wildlife Photography FB Group

     Did you know that there are eight Canadian regional landscape and wildlife photography FB groups administered by ILPA?  These groups are an excellent resource for travelling photographers to learn about an area before they go and visit.  One of the reasons I started these groups was to connect photographers with each other to share their knowledge and inspiration.  

     I choose to create regional groups instead of one huge group because one of the pet peeves I have for the larger groups is that the posts get buried in their timelines soooo fast that I simply can’t keep up with them.  Many of the posts are Worldwide or Continent wide in scope as well, so there are a lot of good posts that I’m simply not interested in.

     I’ve found that by breaking up the Country into more information manageable areas, I can keep up with the wildlife photography and landscape photography conversations going on in the different regions I’m interested in at the moment.  Sometimes smaller is better!  😉 


What is the International Landscape Photographers’ Association

Member discounts on ILPA events

     Yep, you read that right.  When you’re a member of ILPA you’ll receive at least 10% off of the regular registration prices of events advertised by ILPA Pro Photographers and ILPA Industry Partners.  This can add up to many hundreds of dollars in savings if you go on an event that an ILPA Pro or Industry Partner is advertising through ILPA.  

     Tis makes searching for a tours or workshops easy.  Look on the ILPA Events webpage first and you’ll receive a discount right off the bat if you’re a member.  There are many more benefits too.  Check out the ILPA website to learn all about the benefits of being an ILPA member.

     If you’re a professional photographer and you would like to promote your workshops, tours and seminars to ILPA members, then Join ILPA and advertise your events for free on the ILPA Events webpage, or advertise them in the ILPA Weekly newsletter.  ILPA is all about connecting and sharing with each other.  Check us out and consider joining ILPA.  It’s a great organization that I’m proud to be a part of.

      This was just a short summary of what you’ll find in the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly this week.  Please check out the link to read the full newsletter!  If you like it then sign up for it to receive it every week in your inbox until you decide to unsubscribe, if ever.

Enjoy the Feb. 3rd, 2017 edition of the ILPA Weekly!!

Posted in ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers Tagged with: , , ,

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly, Jan. 27, 2017 edition, is Published!

The Jan. 27, 2017 edition of the ILPA weekly is here!

Take a few minutes out of your day to nurture your artistic side!

Sunset on the Cheticamp Beach 2016, taken during Cape Breton Fall Colours landscape photography tour there last October 2016. Details of the next Cape Breton tour are here.


     The following post is a summary of the headlines in the newsletter.  To read the entire newsletter just click on the link in blue above the photography of Cheticamp Beach directly above.  If you decide you like it after reading it, you can sign up for it there, or on the top right of this page.  

Let the sharing and learning continue…

    Many of us enjoy reading the ILPA weekly newsletter.  I know I enjoy cruising the web to find, read, and screen each article and photograph to see if they’re the right fit to include in the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Weekly.  Let me introduce you to what’s in this issue.

This week’s Highlights

     This week I’ve highlighted a time lapse video of aerial images of lava flowing into the Ocean off of the Island of Hawaii.  There are not too many places on the Earth where you can find a volcano that is relatively stable enough to photograph.  I’ve tried too.  A few years ago I rearranged my trip to Japan to photograph Sakurajima erupting on the South Island of Kyushu.  I arrived about 5 days too late to photograph the lava flowing down the mountain, but I can take comfort in knowing that I tried my best to capture this photograph that I have on my bucket list.  This persistence technique of relentlessly pursuing photographs on my personal bucket list has paid off for me multiple times in the past.  I’ll include an example of that from my blog in next week’s issue of the ILPA Weekly…

     Another headline article is on colour theory, again.  This article is a short and concise summary of colour theory.  I also recommend that you check out this comprehensive, and slightly longer article on colour theory to learn more about this compositional technique to boost your expression in your creative colour toolbox.  You can also browse the newsletter archives link on top of this newsletter.  The archive button to the page of the past newsletters is located right next to the date of this issue.

     If you like learning and sharing then you might want to join on of the the Canadian regional landscape and wildlife photography FB groups listed on this website.  I started these groups because I found other larger groups covering large geographic regions are quite hard to follow because posts and photos get buried so quickly in the news feed.  A smaller group is better in this case.  I wanted to create a place to share and learn about all of the other great places in Canada too.  The list of the Canadian FB groups that I link too in the opening sentence in this paragraph is the best that I’ve seen for this in Canada.

     I’m also happy with the public feedback and support that these groups have received so far as measured by the number of photographers joining them and posting.  This success is kind of a “catch 22” though.  The more photographers in  each group, the more quickly stories get buried in the timeline.  Right now the groups seem to be working well, and I think they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  There are about 6000 members in the eight different regional groups representing all of Canada.  You should click on the link to the see list of these groups and join one or more of them.

About our Parent organization,

the International Landscape Photographers

ILPA member discounts on ILPA Pro member events

     There are many benefits to becoming an ILPA member.  You’ll receive at least a 10% discount on the annual ILPA Photography Summit.  The next Summit is tentatively booked to happen in February 2018.   You’ll receive a subscription to Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine, and ILPA members also receive discounts on all of the ILPA supported workshops, tours, and events that ILPA pros list on the website under the ILPA community Tours and Workshops around the world.  Some of the events listed on this page right now include tours on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island during the red, orange and gold Fall colours, Lake O’Hara during the peak of the Fall colours, a travel photography tour to the cultural heart of Japan during the peak of the Cherry Blossoms.  The amount of money you’ll save on the discount for one of these tours will likely cover the entire cost of your membership to ILPA as well.  It just makes sense to become part of ILPA.  

     Incidentally, if you’re a professional photographer offering workshops and tours you can also have your tours list on the ILPA website and promoted in the ILPA newsletter.  Check the benefits of your ILPA Professional Photographer membership here to read how and about all of the other ILPA Pro Photographer benefits.  ILPA is all about connect and sharing with each other.  This is an inclusive organization.

      This is just a short summary of what you’ll find in the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly this week.  Please check out the link to read the full newsletter!

Enjoy the Jan. 27, 2017 edition of the ILPA Weekly Newsletter!!

Posted in ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Technical side of photography

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly Jan. 20, 2017 Edition is Published!

A new issue of the ILPA weekly has been published!

Follow the link to read all the great landscape and wildlife photography articles that we’ve collected and screened for you this week!


The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is out! 


     Happy Friday, or TGIF as the saying goes.  The end of the week is here and the weekend is about to start.  For many of us that means that we finalizing our plans for our downtime over the coming weekend.  If you’re reading this blog then some of your plans might include getting outside to enjoy the outdoors with your photography.  I know that’s what I’m planning now that another issue of the International landscape Photographers’ newsletter, the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly, is published.

     The past week was very busy for us at the International landscape Photographers’ as we held our annual conference, the Banff Photography Summit, here in Banff again this year.  We had presenters fly and drive in from all over the country.  Do want to learn more about the International Landscape Photographers?  Then follow the link to learn all about ILPA and what the benefits of your ILPA membership are.  I won’t get into details about the Summit too much here because you can go to the website to read about the leading landscape, wildlife, and travel adventure photographers we had presenting there.  We also had the largest Camera retailer in Western Canada, The Camera Store, there to show you the latest and greatest gear.

What’s in this week’s edition?

     This week in the ILPA newsletter we have another great lineup of interesting articles that we’ve found for you over the past week.  One of the headlines is about a tutorial on focus stacking.  This technique is very useful to help us to create images with everything in tack sharp focus in our ultra wide landscape photographs.  We’ve linked back to our list of Canadian regional landscape and wildlife photography FB groups again too.  Why?  Because these group are a great way to connect my local photographers and learn about new areas in Canada from the locals before you travel around the country.  BTW, if you would like me to start up regional groups for other regions in North America then just let me know.  If there is enough interest I might do that or I’ll search those regions for you to connect you with these groups if they already exist.

One last thing.

Discounts on Workshops and Tours for ILPA members

     One of the benefits of being an ILPA member is that you receive at least a 10% discount on the annual ILPA Summit and all of the ILPA supported workshops, tours, and events that ILPA pros list on the ILPA website under the ILPA community Tours and Workshops around the world.  The amount of money you’ll save on the discount on one of these tours will likely cover the entire cost of your membership to ILPA as well.  It just makes sense to become part of ILPA.  

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of the ILPA Weekly!!


Posted in International Landscape Photographers Tagged with: , ,

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly Newsletter, edition Dec. 30, 2016

The Newsletter

     Christmas has come and gone with another week passing.  And with that, we have the latest edition of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly newsletter published.  This issue features the legendary Art Wolfe as this week’s headliner.   The weekly is ready for you to pour over during your leisure time leading up to the New Year.  Just click on the link above to read it.  If you’d like to have the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly emailed to your inbox every week, then simply sign up for it in the top right corner of the newsletter, beside the orange “Subscribe” button.  I hope you choose to subscribe to it and continue to enjoy reading the ILPA L&W photography Weekly as much as I enjoy finding the great articles each week to share with you in it.

Polar bears on frozen tundra © Mike Grandmaison

     Our headliner this week, Art Wolfe, is highlighting some of his stunning wildlife photography from his travels around the world in his article.  We have a story from Outdoor Photography Canada magazine on Macro photography, a video on Sunrise and long exposure photography, and even a daring story about a photographer who approached to within inches of a crocodile to “get the shot”.  That last one probably raises several safety and ethical questions for many of you.  It certainly does for me.  When that article caught my eye I knew I had to include in this weeks edition of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly for you hoping you’ll think about your own safety and ethics in landscape and wildlife photography.

The ‘Almost Free’ Banff Sunrise/Sunset Meet Up Group

     One of the other headlines this week is about the ‘Almost Free” sunrise/sunset landscape photography meetup in Banff that I practically give away to photographers once a month.  At first glance it may seem a little crazy that I practically give a tour away once a month that I normally charge 10x the price for on any other day during the month.  I thoroughly explain why I do this in here.  

     It all comes down to the the fact that more people come to the meet up if I charge a few dollars than if I simply give it away.  I know, that’s weird.  You’ll understand after reading the article I linked to in the previous paragraph…  At any rate, space is limited in this almost free tour and it fills up very quickly after I announce it in the meet up group and in the free North American regional landscape and wildlife photography facebook groups that I administer, which is another totally free thing I do to support the industry right across the Continent.  Anyone can join the meetup group for free and sign up for the almost free photography tours through the group.   This is a great way for photographers on a budget to get some almost free experienced professional guidance once a month in Banff.

     Do you like to travel for your photography?  I do, and there is another great article in the newsletter by the Globe and Mail highlighting the National Geographic top travel photography destinations in 2017.  This article will help to give a little inspiration for us all to grab our camera backpack and to hit the road!  Check ’em out.  I was inspired to get out there by their list of top travel photography destination for 2017.

The 2017 Banff Landscape and Wildlife Photography Summit

     How about combining the Summit with one of National Geographic’s top travel destination for 2017, Banff National Park?  No kidding, the Globe and Mail reported that Banff made Nat Geo’s 2017 list of top travel destinations.  Why not combine your trip here with attending the ILPA Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  We have some of Canada’s top landscape Photographers coming to present again this year.  One of them is the legendary Mike Grandmaison.  Mike is coming to deliver his keynote presentation on Friday to open up the 2017 ILPA Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  Mark the Summit weekend of  Jan.13-15, 2017 off in your calendar to be here.  This pure landscape and wildlife photography conference is probably the event of the year for the industry.  You’ll want to be here for it.

     There are a ton of other reasons to come to the Summit this year.  Check out the Summit website for all of the details about the speakers presenting in Banff in two weeks.  I hope to see you here at the Summit too!

**   The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography weekly is a free newsletter offered by the International Landscape Photographers.  To learn more about ILPA and about the conference that we host every year in Banff, please click on the ILPA link.  I hope to see you at the Summit! **

Posted in Banff Landscape Photography Summit, International Landscape Photographers, Landscape, Photography, Wildlife

An Almost Free Sunrise Landscape Photography Tour in Banff National Park!?

Yes, it’s true.  Once a month I host an “almost free” sunrise photography meetup tour in Banff National Park.  Offering an almost free tour seems counter intuitive to running a photography business to make a living, doesn’t it?  And, at first glance, it is.  Keep reading to find the link to this amazing sunrise tour towards the end of this article.

The Rundle Diamond in Banff National Park

The reason I do this is to give people new to the area or people who really can’t afford to hire me at my regular rates a chance to get out shooting with a bit professional guidance.  Most of my business is geared towards offering landscape photography tours and events where I do charge enough to make a living from photography.  That makes sense, right?  I have to make a living.  But, if you look deeper into why I started my photography business way back in 1997, you’ll also understand why I choose to practically give away my services for free, once a month, on a predetermined date.

How and why does a pro photographer practically give a photography tour away that he normally charges for?

I started my professional photography business way back in 1997 for two reasons.  Firstly, because I have a need to express myself emotionally through photography,  AND secondly, because I wanted to share my emotions with others through my art.

Whoa!  Reality check Brian!

I also need to make a living.  That is a reality.  Giving my services away doesn’t make sense.  Starting a pro photography business to make a living two decades ago seemed logical, and somewhat romantic at the time.  LOL!  Ah, the innocence of youth!  The landscape photography business has an incredible amount of obstacles in it, including a plethora of excellent photographers giving their services away practically for free, myself included!

The two reasons I started my photography business above are somewhat contradictory.  Let me explain.  To emotionally communicate with the masses almost for free by practically giving a sunrise tour away seems contradictory to my effort to actually charge a sustainable rate for my other tours, workshops and for the annual landscape photography conference that I host, the Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  These two desires obviously create psychological and financial barriers for myself, and many other people too.  Some people simply can’t afford to pay for my tours and workshops, while other people simply don’t want to pay for photography services from a so called “professional” who occasionally gives his services away.

This creates a dilemma for me.  How can I share my love for photography with as many people as possible without their personal finances being a barrier, and how do I still attract enough customers to my ‘for profit’ events to earn a living from photography for me and my family?  Humm.

Part of the answer I came up with was to create the best, and the first, annual landscape photography conference in the North American continent featuring the best presenters, and photography tour excursions available.  That was a tall order to fill.  But the parent organization, the International Landscape Photographers’ Association, or ILPA, is fortunate enough to be based in one of the most desirable landscape photography destinations in North America, Banff National Park.  Because of this, I am able to afford to reach out and offer something to people who can’t afford to come on paid workshops, tours, or even attend the annual Banff Landscape Photography Summit which I priced very reasonably considering what you get when you register.  Collectively, I’m able to reach out and offer photographers who are on a tight budget something too, while I’m still being able to earn a living from my ‘for profit’ events.  

~The Almost Free Tour~

I created a cost effective alternative for photographers living on a tight budget.  I created the Banff Landscape Photography Sunrise/Sunset Meetup group.  This monthly meetup is about an hour to an hour and a half long and I take two lucky photographers out to shoot the sunrise or sunset in Banff National Park practically for free.  I think I’ve found the delicate balance by offering this almost free tour to just two people, only once a month, along with all my regular normally priced tours, workshops and the conference, the Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  I am still able make a living from photography.  

But, why bother to charge 10 bucks?

So, this is the question you’re probably asking yourself.  You aren’t alone either.  What is the point of charging $10?  That makes no sense,… right?

When I started this meetup group I did offer it for free to everybody.  What happened was disappointing and a bit humiliating personally.  The meetup always filled up almost as soon as it was announced, Yeah!  Success!  Right?  But, for 3 months straight I only had one person actually show up out of the six people who had signed up.  That was emotionally degrading.  I was donating my time organizing and offering this tour for free, and for the most part it seemed that people didn’t care, want, or respect my efforts.  I thought about simply giving up trying to give a tour away and go back to just concentrating my efforts on my paid events that still continued to sell out regularly.  It just didn’t make any sense at all.  My paid tours were still well recieved, but my free tours were a dismal failure?

However. instead of giving up I decided that I’d charged a modest $10.  Kazue, my wife and business partner, thought I was crazy.  But, I thought that, maybe if people felt that they have more “skin in the game” with a modest $10 on the line, they would take the meetup more seriously.  My “Almost Free” strategy was born, and it has since proven very successful.  Go figure, free just doesn’t seem to work anymore!

In my first three totally free tours, I only had 1 person out of 6 people who had signed up actually show up for the tour.  In contrast, for my first three $10 tours, I had 5 people show up out of the 6 signed up for the “almost Free” tour.  That’s about an 85% success ratio.  Humm, I wonder what happened to the one person that didn’t show up.  I hope he’s OK!  😉

So, there is the answer to the omnipresent question as to why I charge $10 for a tour once a month when I offer almost same tour for $200 available anytime during the rest of the month.  The paid Sunrise photography tour does include two or three more locations to shoot instead of just the one location in the monthly almost free tour.  I hope my lengthy answer to this simple question makes sense to you.  I also hope to see you out on ANY one of my tours in the future, paid or almost free!  Have a great day!

BTW, the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is a free weekly newsletter available to anyone.  This is something I do totally for free for photographers.  You can sign up for it in the top right corner of newsletter and have it emailed each week to your inbox.  If you  have a bit of disposable income then you may consider joining the International Landscape Photographers’ association too.  You can learn more by clicking through on the link with the logo.  Membership is just $95 and you’ll receive a ton of benefits worth more than $100 when you join, including a subscription to Outdoor Photography Canada magazine and other significant discounts on tours and workshops* offered by all the ILPA Professional Photographers* listed on the ILPA website.  When looking for a tour or a workshop, check out the ILPA Pros first and save on their tours when you’re a member!


Sincerely yours,

Brian Merry

Now, get off of the computer and get out shooting!!!!


 *  ILPA Professional Photographers may advertise their workshops and tours on this website and in the newsletter if they offer ILPA members 10% or more off of the event registration fee up to $300.  This is a pretty amazing benefit when you consider that costs only $95 a year to Join ILPA.



Posted in Hidden gem locations, International Landscape Photographers


This is the gateway page to the contest. Please fill out the form on my contact page to fill in the form to be entered into the draw!!

Posted in Uncategorized