Pottelberg wins coveted Photographer of the Year award

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Trevor Pottelberg did not intend to enter the 2021 Professional Photographers of Canada competition in Ontario.


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Too busy with other commitments, he thought.

He actually forgot about the contest until the last day to enter, and an hour before the deadline, he decided to submit four images that needed to be edited, titled, sized and saved.

He made the right choices.

Pottelberg received the 2021 Ontario Photographer of the Year Award from the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC).

“This is the price I’ve been striving for since I joined PPOC (in 2014), so it was very exciting.

The Brownsville photographer also won two Judges Choice awards and two Best In Class awards (Fine Arts and Pictorial classes).

The Judges Choice awards are selected from among the most striking images in the competition by a panel of five judges who choose their “absolute favorite”. Two judges chose a Pottelberg image.

Sibling Love is a photo taken by Trevor Pottelberg in County Oxford this year.
Sibling Love is a photo taken by Trevor Pottelberg in County Oxford this year. Photo by Trevor Pottelberg /jpg, TN


Known for his award-winning fine art / landscape photography, including a national PPOC Best in Class award in 2020, Pottelberg focused on wildlife in January 2021.

“I haven’t totally given up on landscapes, which I’m primarily known for, and I will definitely come back to these at some point in the future, but my love for nature is what kept me going. first brought to photography and I wanted not only to spend more time photographing our local fauna, in its natural environment, but also to study them, to document them, to observe them.

This led Pottelberg to launch a three-part photographic project, The Wild Canids of Ontario, which became very dear to his heart.


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“Its main objective is to bring essential awareness to these misunderstood creatures. This would include red foxes, coyotes, and possibly wolves. “

This year he started to photograph mainly red foxes. Part II will be devoted to local coyotes, and a few years (and miles) later it will focus on Algonquin wolves for Part III.

“For now, I wanted to keep it very local, which is why I’m working with red foxes and (next year) coyotes.”

Many of his fox photographs have been posted on his social media

“I spent at least two months in a row last year, from May-June to July, almost every day – hours and hours and hours every day shedding blood, sweat and tears in there, just trying to build a really good portfolio of the different red fox families in the area, especially in County Oxford. “

It all started with a tip from a former student who knew foxes on a small Oxford road that she had photographed.

“It took me a few trips and sitting around for hours before I could finally see my first (fox) kits come out of the den. As soon as I saw the first one, I hooked. It was so cool how playful they were and it just grabbed my attention and my heart. This is something that I did not expect. “

After posting several photos online, he started receiving advice from private messages from local farmers. He received permission from two farmers to set up an awning that could be used at any time, dressed in camouflage, sometimes just watching the foxes.


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“Sometimes I just looked at them and tried to learn more about their behavior.”

When driving on back roads he was always looking for more.

“I have spent a long time, a good part of my life, never seeing a red fox in the wild. And for most people it’s the same. But I found out that in late spring when the kittens reach this age between 6 and 8 weeks old, they come out of the den and start to get a little more curious. As they go 8 to 12 weeks, they start to move away from the den a bit more so that you would actually start to see them. It wasn’t much, but I found a few other fox families just by driving on the back roads.

In total, he found four different fox families that he was able to document while growing up.

He remembers one particular image as soon as he took it, thinking it was “that one.”

“It was the right lighting, the right conditions, and it was just the right pose.”

This image, he said, scored fairly high in the PPOC competition and won him the Photographer of the Year award.

“This award was really, really special this year because I had completely changed my focus from what I normally do and what I’m comfortable doing to something completely out of my element.

“It came full circle by spending all the time there. It wasn’t all about the PPOC competition… everything I do is geared towards this Wild Canids project. It’s a personal thing. But when that image came up and I saw it… I knew, “This is it, this is the one I want to go in.” “


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“You put your whole heart into it and put in a lot of days without any results. I sat sometimes 3-4 hours and got no results. I haven’t seen anything, heard nothing – and it gets frustrating after a while if it happens on consecutive days. But I found that the more I learned about these animals, the easier it was to understand their locations, their behaviors, when do they sleep in the den, when are they out of the den and active.


Pottelberg wants to exhibit his red fox images in a local art exhibit, displaying them alongside some informative material that will educate the public on “all about the red fox”. Expect more details in 2022.

“It would be like an informative interactive art exhibit based only on this project and only on red foxes for Part I.”


For coyotes, Pottelberg plans to be active this winter.

“Hopefully we get a lot of snow this year,” he said, noting that it would help him track coyotes, identify areas where he might be able to set up temporary blinds.

“As the winter progresses and they find their mate, I will look for signs that they are preparing a den (usually in February). Depending on where it is, then I might ask a landowner if it is possible to install a blind. I want to keep the blinds far enough… I don’t want animals to be affected by me at all, and it was the same with red foxes. I don’t want to distract them, or they’ll just pick up and move, because that would crush me. I try to educate them, not be part of the problem.


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His plan is to observe coyote puppies as they grow.

“The coyotes are definitely going to be more difficult. You hear them, but you don’t see them. So I think it will require a lot of experimentation and a lot of tracking.

Pottelberg is hoping that locals, who could support his Wild Canids photography project, will help him locate the coyotes.

“I hope some people in the local community will step in and do the same as with the red foxes, and say, ‘Hey Trevor, we have a place where I know we have coyotes and I think there might be. have a den in this area… ‘We’ll see how it goes. It may or may not happen.

If you would like to be a part of Trevor’s Wild Canids of Ontario Project (contribution tips, land use, locations, etc.), please contact him directly to discuss ([email protected] or 519-933-8999) or through his social media accounts (www.facebook.com/tpottelberg or www.instagram.com/trevorpottelbergphotography) or its website at www.trevorpottelberg.com.

When not working on the Wild Canids Project, Pottelberg photographs local songbirds, waterfowl, and birds of prey, as well as local white-tailed deer.

“My favorite birds of prey are owls. “

Eventually, he hopes to expand his wildlife photographs – and travel many miles – to include other Canadian species such as grizzly bears, caribou, polar bears, arctic foxes and bison.

“Sales of my artwork will be used for trips to other parts of Canada where these animals live. “

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Michael E. Marquez