Ontario-born, but now longtime Northern B.C. resident Brandon Broderick is Canadian Geographic’s 2023 Photographer of the Year, for his impressive and time-consuming wildlife photos, taken up the Alaska Highway to the Yukon, near Muncho Lake by Fort Nelson, and near his new home of Tumbler Ridge.
Broderick drives thousands of kilometres each year, tracking and photographing a variety of wildlife – ravens, bears, mountain goats, bison, and his personal favourite, lynx. One even took a nap not far from him, after it had been hunting voles along a trail.
“Lynx have been my focus for the last five years or so. I just started to have lots of luck seeing them and getting photos, and I don’t know, I just love them,” said Broderick. “I’ve got four cats of my own at home, I just love cats. They’re very entertaining to watch, and getting to spend time with these wild ones is pretty special.”
Lynxes have huge ranges in the wild, and so Broderick follows suit by not staying in one place too long, with the long drives needed to cover ground and spot the wild cats and other species.
“It’s definitely tough to find some things. Owl species will stick in a pretty small area often, so they can be easy to find if they’re around. But I like to cover lots of ground, rather than pick a spot and hope for the best,” he said.
Contending with the elements is also a crucial part his of adventures, he noted, in addition to early morning starts, when animals are more active. He often leaves well before sunrise to make he’s there just as the daylight arrives, spotting animals getting up and nocturnal animals heading to bed.
“Weather plays a big factor in it, if there’s going to be a big storm, snow storm, rain storm, whatever, then there’s no point in going out. A lot of animals like to hunker down and not do much,” said Broderick. “As soon a storm breaks, that’s a really good time to get out, because all those animals need to get out and feed.”
Back roads and secondary highways are good places to start searching for animals, especially near sources of water, he added.
His first three published books feature photos of Northwest B.C., having lived in Terrace for nearly 11 years, but he moved to Tumbler Ridge just over a year ago. Broderick says he also spends a significant of time in Jasper and Banff, another stretch of the Rocky Mountains providing excellent wildlife photography opportunities.
While he enjoys the scenery in Tumbler Ridge, wildlife can be a bit skittish, says Broderick, noting his craft is one of patience and dedication, seeking animals by streams, rivers, mountainsides, or sometimes from the safety of his Toyota pick-up truck, which acts as a portable blind.
“Vehicles make great blinds too, most animals that are near roads are used to vehicles, so you can do a lot of photos right from inside the vehicle,” he said.
Broderick studied fish and wildlife in college, and started taking photos in 2007, sparking a lifelong passion of capturing wildlife on film, while practicing ethical wildlife photography, making sure he doesn’t impact or alter the natural behaviour of animals.
His next book is planned to be broader in focus, with photos taken across Northern B.C. and Western Canada.
“That’s the current project, something that has more of a reach,” Broderick said.