How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies

A conversation with adventure and travel photographer, Rory Court (@rorycourt)

For most travel photographers, visiting the Canadian Rockies is high on their bucket list of locations. But with nearly 200 000 square kilometres of stunning mountainscape, getting the perfect photo can be daunting.

We talked to adventure and travel photographer, Rory Court, about how to make the most of your valuable time in the Rockies.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

Court is a passionate travel photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. What started out for him as a hobby has led him all over the world, photographing in New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, and Croatia. Yet despite this impressive international resume, the Canadian Rockies remain Court’s favourite place to shoot. Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, he says he’s been there too many times to count.

The sheer scale of the Rockies is absolutely mesmerizing and very humbling…being there really brings into perspective how small we really are on this planet and honestly gives you the perspective that there are many things out of your control as an individual.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

Court says that shooting in the Rockies is a real test of a photographer’s creativity and resilience.

You have no control over the weather or elements that are thrown at you, but you can control how you interact with the mountains.

His favourite season to photograph the Rockies?

Autumn, hands down…the Larches found in so many of the valleys turn a beautiful golden yellow colour. The temperature is also a bit cooler, which makes it great for hiking, especially when you are carrying heavy camera gear.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

In terms of gear, simple is best. Court says he is “not a complete gear freak,” but values being able to move fast and light, capturing things as he witnesses them. His go-to equipment is his full-frame Canon camera with a wide-angle 16-35mm lens and a cheap and light 50mm prime lens that fits in the hipbelt of his backpack.

There is the odd time where I may rent a lens if my setup doesn’t cover my needs, but I don’t usually find myself longing for other gear!

Court is a firm believer that every great shot is a reward of hard work, which is one of the reasons why his favourite time of day to shoot is at the crack of dawn.

There’s something about getting off to an alpine start in the dark and being greeted by the mountains awakening to a new day, with golden peaks all around and pure silence.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

Favourite location to photograph in the Rockies? Court loves Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park on the Great Divide. Mount Assiniboine is a pyramidal peak surrounded by deep blue alpine lakes, and part of the reason he loves it is for the challenge it takes to get there; the mountain requires a 30km hike one way to access it.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

As the Canadian Rockies become increasingly touristy, the effort required for a unique photo increases as well.

I heard a stat that something like 90% of visitors to Banff National Park don’t go more than one kilometre from their vehicle. It’s a shame because although the drive-up spots are stunning, the Rockies have so much more to offer…committing to the extra effort of hiking and exploring will allow you to truly connect with the sheer scale and beauty of the Rockies.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

In an age of content overload, and with a place as famous as the Canadian Rockies, it can be challenging for photographers to get a truly unique photo.

In response to this, Court has a simple answer: “never do a trip just for the photos.” It is a bold response for a photographer, but Court is aware of the tendency to stress over whether he has captured the photo or not. “This will take all the enjoyment out of the trip, both for yourself and others,” Court insists.

If you are out in the Rockies, do your best to enjoy your time and experience them authentically. Of course, have your camera ready, but enjoy yourself and interact with both the mountains and the people you are with, this will result in photos unique to your experience that you will be proud of, I promise you.

© Rory Court 2019 – @rorycourt

Now that you’re ready to get the perfect photo, book your trip to the Rockies here.

Written by Katrina Martin

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