Brownsville Photographer Wins Provincial Photographic Artist of the Year Award

Trevor Pottelberg of Brownsville, Ont. received the Photographic Artist of the Year award from the 2021 Ontario Professional Photographers of Canada (PPC) competition.

Pottelberg has been a photographer for 23 years. At a recent provincial competition, he received the honor of signing up at the last minute. “I was blown away, I was so surprised I had to recheck,” he said.

As part of the competition, photographers were required to submit four images to Professional Photographers of Canada. Three out of four of them were categorized as wild animals, which Pottelberg says he just started doing in January. One of her winning images was of a mother and baby fox.

“I have always been in love with nature, wildlife and landscapes,” said Pottelberg.

When he learned he had won the award, Pottelberg said the first person he spoke to was his wife.One of Trevor Pottelberg’s winning photos. (Source: Trevor Pottelberg)“It’s a moving thing for me because it’s been a lot of work. So I told her so she cried and I cried. She has been my number one supporter through it all.

Pottelberg was a wedding photographer for over 10 years. However, he said, “it got to the point where it was too much.”

He said the stress of working through multiple marriages combined with the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease, he knew it was time for a change.

“It’s a very debilitating disease sometimes and it’s hard to do things in public,” Pottelberg explained.

He made the switch in 2014 when he decided to pursue landscape and nature photography as well as night and wave photography in Lake Erie depending on the weather conditions.

He has been teaching at Fanshawe College in the photography program for 13 years. Pottelberg said it can sometimes be difficult to find wildlife in southwestern Ontario to photograph. But when he started to engage in this type of photography, one of his students told him about a den where foxes were sometimes found.

“After about three trips and two or three hours each time of waiting, I finally got to see the baby kits come out of the den and I fell in love.”

In the new year, Pottelberg plans to start photographing other animals, including local songbirds, waterfowl and birds of prey, as well as white-tailed deer. Pottelberg says he would eventually like to photograph other Canadian species such as caribou, polar bears, arctic foxes and bison.

Michael E. Marquez