Caleb Harding

Caleb Harding

Caleb was born and raised in Cedar, BC, just south of Nanaimo. Brought up in a family that took full advantage of the natural wonderland Vancouver Island has to offer, he frequently rode his bike to the Nanaimo River, Hemer Provincial Park, and his grandmother’s house on the ocean only minutes away from his home. Now, with 6.4k followers on Instagram, he is widely recognized as a stunning nature photographer. However, his following wasn’t always so big.

“My initial audience was much smaller,” Caleb recalls. “My mom got sick in my mid-teen years and increasingly could not go out to the river, beach, etc. with us. I picked up a camera to show her what her kids were still up to.

“Over time, other people became more interested in following as well. I became more interested in sharing what makes Vancouver Island so unique, and that platform continued to grow.”

Through mutual friends and shared experience at summer camp with Caleb as teenagers, I’ve been close enough to see his passion for all things wild and follow his journey. His close-up interactions with BC wildlife such as sea lions, cougars, and birds of prey always leave me awestruck, if a little concerned for his safety.

“I shoot nature less as a celebration of nature alone, but to further understand our relationship to those species and systems,” he explains. “If I shoot a bear, I try to engage with the human relationship to bears. I always try to reveal the interaction between different species and animals.”

Not that he’s lost a prudent fear of the wild, or wild animals. “Smelling the musk of a bear or hearing it cough nearby is terrifying. A Steller sea lion, which can weigh thousands of pounds, looks like a minivan swooping by you. I do not recommend that anyone approach some of these mega-fauna. Their behaviour is unpredictable, and it’s important to give them space.

“From time to time, I will have them come up to me and that is when the interaction starts. Fear has been a big obstacle.”

What does he appreciate most about Vancouver Island as a subject? “Concentration. Nowhere else can you find such a variety of environments to explore. The rugged west coast, the islands of the straits, Strathcona peaks, nearly a thousand lakes, streams, caves, and dozens of parks for every activity and skill level.”

But he has his eye on more than just its beauty.

“I want to make sure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy what I have, and that will not come without a fight. There is less than 10% of productive old growth forest left on Vancouver Island, and yet the largest trees still get cut down. Salmon are at record low numbers. Southern Resident Killer Whales are on the brink of extinction and many other species are at risk.

“I hope that I can use my photography as a platform to introduce people to the amazing natural areas we have here. I hope they will be instilled with the same sense of awe and thankfulness.”


Caleb comments: “Sea lions soaking up some sun on a cold, clear, January day.”

 

“A far warmer day and a sunset in Clayoquot Sound.”

 

“Finding the best seats in the house to take in all that the west coast has to offer.”

Follow Caleb’s Instagram account

Jessica Nwaibuke | Kent MacDonald