Celebrated Hay River photographer Adam Hill says goodbye to the North
'The North's been extremely, extremely good to me... It's been a spectacular 8 years here.'
He came to the Northwest Territories as a budding nature photographer and is leaving as an acclaimed aurora and wildlife aficionado.
Hay River's Adam Hill, after eight years of celebrating Northern nature and wildlife with his breathtaking photos, is heading back home to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
"The North's been extremely, extremely good to me," said Hill. "It's been a spectacular eight years here."
Hill said he came to the North looking for work to make a living.
"When I realized I was coming to Hay River, a little bulb went off in my head. I thought, 'Oh my god, the aurora,'" said Hill.
He's been chasing the "captivating" sky ever since.
Hill has travelled far and wide — as far north as Ulukhaktok, to Fort Liard, and "everywhere in between," he said. He says one of his favourite experiences was photographing caribou on the tundra.
"It's hunting for me essentially. I know people love to go out and hunt. I just prefer to shoot with a camera," said Hill.
Hill has had his work featured on covers of magazines, online with National Geographic, and even in the women's fashion-oriented Elle Magazine. What Hill calls the "pinnacle of [his] career" is to have his work exhibited at the Prince of Wales heritage centre in Yellowknife.
Then, there's the coin.
"Well of course the coin is usually the most talked about one," said Hill, whose aurora photo is featured on an exclusive $10 coin for Canada 150 celebrations.
"A coin. Would you ever think to have your photo a coin? Never."
But his most recent feat?
"I had a drink named after me at the local cafe here. That was a really nice gesture," he said.
Hill said that leaving Hay River was inevitable, as "East coasters always have this connection to their home.
"When an east coaster leaves, usually their first goal is to get back as soon as possible."
Now with a new addition to his family, his toddler, he said it's time to head back to be closer to relatives. But he leaves with a tip for future northern photographers.
"Patience is a lot of it," said Hill, who once spent three weeks chasing an owl in Hay River.
Hill also recommends a lot of what he calls "pre-visualization," especially for aurora shots.
"Just trying to imagine a photograph that you want before you get there. And then try to make sure that you're in the best position possible to get that photograph."
Hill is planning to leave the territory next month.
With files from Marc Winkler, Lawrence Nayally