Meet the man behind the camera lens

Dropping the name Adam Hill two years ago may have given you this response: “Who is Adam Hill?”

In some circles it could still be that way, like many newcomers who pop onto the radar just to disappear a few years later. 

But over the past 24 months the local freelance photographer has carved out a name as one of the few professional wildlife photographers in the area and has had his work displayed throughout the town, published in the local media and now has his first published book of photography. 

The book is also the first in recent years dedicated to landscapes in and around Hay River.

A wildlife technician by trade, Hill said he didn’t plan on yielding mass profits from the book but wanted to compile his collection of images that depicted the land he’s gotten to know through his lens.

But somehow word of mouth worked in the book’s favour.

“I ordered 15 books and I thought that would be it,” he said. “But they were claimed in less than one week, so I ordered 110 more, and I might have to order more.”

It wasn’t all happy times though. When Hill first moved to Hay River with his partner, it was with one month’s rent and not many job prospects.

“We came from teaching in Korea, went to Calgary and came up here completely on a whim,” said Hill.

“Eventually it turned out well. I think we’ve carved out our little niches here in this community.”

Creating a job niche proved to be arduous at first, as did photographing the northern climate and wildlife coming from the diverse landscapes and climates of Hill’s homeland and small Eastern province of Nova Scotia.

“At first I came up here and thought there wasn’t a lot of geographic diversity,” he said.

“It forces you to be more creative, but there are a lot of different places, a lot to photograph. The best thing of the North is the aurora, they still blow my mind.”

On Sunday evening, Hill was out trying to catch the last decent light of the day.

Since beginning to photograph more seriously, Hill has become a Canon camera nerd – a virtual dictionary of what functions and settings will offer what result.

“Luck favours the prepared, and I find that to be very true, especially in photography,” said Hill. “Sunset’s a great time to photograph. We call it magic hour. But a lot of it is about knowing the area and knowing where there is going to be good light. Every spot is very unique.”

His kit is a bit weightier, a substantial 35 lb. of filters, lenses, a large tripod and of course, the camera itself. Waking up at 6 a.m. to photograph new his home base, it can still take two hours to span the light and wildlife in a one kilometre stretch.

A proponent for autumn, Hill said he is out photographing most from spring to fall, but makes a concerted effort to get out in the colder months, too, even though sometime it can take hundreds of shots to get one that’s just right.

“I figure if I get one good shot a week, I’m happy,” he said.

“It’s a good time to get out and see the places around me, to see what the rest of the world is up to. You can sit in your apartment as much as you want, but you’re not going to see anything.”

For the time being Hill will continue to photograph without abandon and work on his website and blog on adamhillstudios.ca, where he regularly posts his work.

Next, Hill is planning to apply for art council grants for a project he is dreaming up.

With the help of northern artists he wants to focus on the environment of the NWT, its issues and how it’s changing.

He’s hoping to work the project into a show before moving onto the next challenge.

“Two years ago I had an idea of where I wanted to go but didn’t know how it would take shape,” said Hill.

“When I’m out there I’m not thinking ‘this won’t sell.’ I don’t do it for the money. I’m thinking, ‘how can I make this nice to look at.’