British Columbia·Photos

Two of the world's best nature photographers are from Burnaby, B.C.

Award-winning photographers Connor Stefanison and Jess Findlay grew up down the street from each other in Burnaby, B.C., and got their start shooting wildlife around Burnaby Lake. Now, their work is featured at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Award-winning photographers Connor Stefanison and Jess Findlay got start shooting wildlife around Burnaby Lake

Jess Findlay (left) and Connor Stefanison (right) are two award-winning photographers who grew up together in Burnaby, B.C. (Jess Findlay/Connor Stefanison/CBC)

When Jess Findlay was 11 years old, his family moved into a new home in Burnaby, B.C.

He now lived two houses down from his future best friend, Connor Stefanison. The pair grew up doing everything together: skiing, hiking, mountain biking — and shooting award-winning photographs.

"We basically started photography at the exact same time," Stefanison told host Sheryl MacKay on CBC's North by Northwest. "We really grew up doing it all together."

Now, the pair's passion has been recognized in a big way: their work is featured at the internationally acclaimed Nature's Best Photography exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Jess Findlay and Connor Stefanison stand in front of their award-winning photos at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. (Jess Findlay and Connor Stefanison)

Findlay and Stefanison took on photography as a hobby when they were in highschool, and their skills have since taken them around the world. They've shot everywhere from Scandinavia to the Andes — and recently made the trip to D.C. to watch their photos become inducted into the exhibition.

"You never assume that any pictures are going to be shown on this sort of scale," said Findlay. "We've both really enjoyed sharing our images ... having an image that can go on to do big things and be shown to millions of people that enter the Smithsonian, and potentially impact the way that they see wildlife ... it's amazing."

Sleepy sea otter

An easy-going sea otter takes a nap in Kachemak Bay in Alaska. (Jess Findlay)

Each shooter has one photo featured in the exhibition. For Findlay, his prized snapshot of a sleeping sea otter in Alaska's Kachemak Bay will be on full display for nearly a year.

He says he came across the creature after he kayaked into a small, secluded cove. He shot several hundred photos before he captured the image he'd been waiting for..

"The shot that I really envisioned was when their fur is really fluffed up," he said. "The pose that I captured I thought was something special."

Menacing muskox

Three menacing muskoxen stand their ground in Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park in Norway. (Connor Stefanison)

Connor Stefanison spent days hiking alone in the Norwegian back country, carrying a heavy load of camping and camera gear.

"It was really quite a tough trip, there was a lot of walking. I think I was averaging 20 kilometres a day trying to find [them]," said Stefanison.

He had to forego one his longest lenses to keep the load as light as possible — so he had to get close to get the shots he wanted.

"I got bluff charged a few times by a muskox — it's really quite nerve-racking."

Click here to listen to listen to their full interview on CBC's North by Northwest and hear more about their travels.

Some of their favourites

Mountain goats rest beneath a starlit sky. (Connor Stefanison)
Two snowy owl chicks no more than a day or two old await the hatching of their siblings. Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, US. (Jess Findlay)
A bobcat cautiously crawls over a toppled tree. (Connor Stefanison)
A map tree frog (Hypsiboas geographicus) appears to balance the full moon on its head in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. (Jess Findlay)