Launstein Imagery, from left to right: Jenaya, John, and Josiah.

John Launstein isn’t the father of just one photography prodigy, but two exceptionally gifted young photographers: Jenaya and Josiah. On Saturday, October 19th, 2019, John and Josiah of the Launstein family will deliver their HOWL presentation from 4:30pm-6pm.

John’s father introduced him to photography as a hobby. At a young age, John took the photo baton and ran a little further with it. As a student he developed a small business based on horse and commercial photography. By the time he finished high school he was officially a self employed photographer. He built the business up with the help of his girlfriend that he would eventually marry. In 90s John took a sabbatical from photography to focus on non-profit work, but his 13-year old daughter, Jenaya, would bring photography back into his life again. At a young age Jenaya decided she wanted to pursue wildlife photography as a career, and as a supportive parent, John purchased an entry level camera for her. Josiah, a few years younger, didn’t want to be left out of the fun, and eventually joined John and Jenaya on photography trips. Josiah learned by using John’s backup camera.

“Little Hunter” Photo by Josiah Launstein

John grew up in an artistic household where he became very familiar with the business of fine art galleries. In an age where bricks-and-mortar businesses are struggling, The Launsteins run a very successful gallery in the Town of Blairmore (located within the municipality of Crowsnest Pass). Although they have plans to offer photography courses in the future, at the moment The Launstein gallery is keeping the family busy enough.

How Is Launstein Imagery so successful? Their award winning work speaks for itself and their location in Blairmore seems to serve a competitive advantage.

“We’re surrounded by wildlife. It’s harder to avoid wildlife, lots of things to tempt me as I drive into the gallery every day… We’re 20 minutes from the continental divide where B.C. starts, and 20-30 minutes north of Montana. The prairie grasslands extend to the base of the Rockies without any transitional foothills. That creates an incredible opportunity for wildlife photography. You have the mountain species that use the base of the mountains as a corridor, and then you have the grasslands species that come right up and use that same area. You have an incredible mix of species. I don’t think we could ever get bored of bighorn sheep! Josiah and I are sometimes photographing bighorns less than 1km from our gallery door.”


 

 

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At age 14, Josiah has been behind the camera for 9 years. He has probably earned more awards than most adult photographers. Josiah says that wildlife photography is “definitely what I’m going to do for hopefully my whole life.” When I ask him if he has advice about wildlife photography, he tells me: “Always keep you and the animal as safe as possible. Patience is a big thing. You have to be very patient. Know where the animal is, and wait. Use long lenses, stay in your vehicle – depending on the species. Always constantly take your gear with you.”

“Watching,” a black and white photo of a cougar, and “Rain Drops,” a monkey moth caterpillar from Thailand, are 2 of his current favourites from his own portfolio. High on his wish-list of places to photograph next is Alaska. His other goals include photographing Snow Leopards and Muskox.


 

 

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John describes his family’s approach to wildlife photography almost like “dating.” He says “nobody likes a pushy first date. It’s a type of courtship with the animal. You reap what you sow. You need to be nice in the field.”

“We never want to change the behaviour of the animal… It is honestly so tough for an animal to make it through 4 Canadian seasons. It’s a harsh environment. Whether it’s an owl, a bear, or a moose, there’s a fine balancing act between calorie intake and calorie expenditure. The last thing we want to do is cause an animal to spend a lot of energy unnecessarily and encourage it to abandon its range. It’s important to be nice!”


 

 

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John agrees with his son’s advice of needing patience while in the field.

“We get it all the time, ‘gee you must have been at the right time at the right place for that shot, eh?’ It’s so true, but what a lot of people forget is that you have to be at the right place at the right time a lot of the time. Getting out there constantly, always have you gear. You never know when nature is going to surprise you.”

Thanks for reading about our featured speaker, Launstein Imagery! HOWL is beyond excited to feature John and Josiah on Saturday, October 19th, 2019.

Images copyright © by Launstein Imagery used with permission

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