Saskatchewan. wildlife photographer wins sixth place in photography world cup

“I love nature. I love wildlife. I respect nature. And I just hope some of these images convey the beauty of our world to people.”

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When Deborah MacEwen submitted five nature images to Team Canada for the ninth edition of the World Photography Cup, she had no idea she would win a prestigious award.

“Sometimes when you do things like that, you do it, but you really don’t think for a moment that your image is going to stand out from so many others. But when it does, it’s just something different. ‘incredible,’ she said.

Deborah MacEwen won sixth place in the World <a class=Photographic Cup with her photo Coalescent.” class=”embedded-image__image lazyload” src=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/thestarphoenix/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/0519-you-wpc-macewen-deborah-macewen-photo-taken-by-stan-mac.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288″ srcset=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/thestarphoenix/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/0519-you-wpc-macewen-deborah-macewen-photo-taken-by-stan-mac.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288, https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/thestarphoenix/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/0519-you-wpc-macewen-deborah-macewen-photo-taken-by-stan-mac.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=576 2x” height=”750″ loading=”lazy” width=”1000″/>
Deborah MacEwen won sixth place in the World Photographic Cup with her photo Coalescent. Photo by Stan MacEwen /Photo provided

MacEwen, a fine art nature and wildlife photographer from Warman, won sixth place in the international team competition, which received submissions from 36 countries this year.

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“I was pretty ecstatic. It was surreal. It was just a very surreal moment,” she said.

The award-winning photo, Coalescent, shows a whale surrounded by snow-capped mountains in Alaska’s Ice Strait. MacEwen said it was the last whale-watching excursion of the season. She waited nearly an hour to get that perfect shot.

“Of all the images I took that day, this was the only one that was in front of the mountains like that…it all came together in one – the mountains, the whale, the lighting, the colors, everything,” she said.

Coalescent is the nature photo that earned Deborah MacEwen sixth place at the 2022 Photography World Cup. Photo by Deborah MacEwen /Photo provided

She felt honored to be part of the team representing Canada and to travel to Rome for the awards ceremony, MacEwen said.

“Just being on the team has probably been the most exciting thing I’ve come across in my photography journey…and representing Canada. Of course, I was just beyond thrilled.

Team Canada placed three photographers in the top 10, including Ottawa’s Michelle Valberg, who won gold. The team finished seventh overall, its third consecutive top-10 finish.

Two former recipients joined the team on the podium this year, finally receiving their medals after a two-year wait caused by the pandemic. Jacquie Matechuk won bronze in 2021 and Kristian Bogner won bronze in 2020. Both are from Alberta.

Deborah MacEwen photographing grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen Valley, a remote inlet north of Prince Rupert that is only accessible by sea or air.
Deborah MacEwen photographing grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen Valley, a remote inlet north of Prince Rupert that is only accessible by sea or air. Photo by Stan MacEwen /Photo provided

MacEwen has been working in photography for about 40 years. After receiving a camera as a gift, she began to learn art and do portraits.

“I was doing portraiture and weddings and everything for so many years. And the reason I was doing that is because I like giving people memories. That’s what started it all for me,” she said.

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From an early age, she knew she would do nature photography one day, she added.

“From the age of 10 I had seen my first National Geographic magazine and in my heart I just knew it was something I wanted to do…And seven years ago I was able to begin this journey.”

She said she hopes her photography shows her love for nature and encourages others to see the appeal.

“I love nature. I love wildlife. I respect nature. And I just hope that some of these images will convey the beauty of our world to people and that we can preserve it,” she said .

The most memorable excursion her photographs took her on was a trip to Africa.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and photograph animals, so we stayed there for five weeks. We did five different countries. And it was just amazing,” she said.

Deborah MacEwen walks with a lion cub in Botswana, Africa.
Deborah MacEwen walks with a lion cub in Botswana, Africa. Photo by Stan MacEwen /Photo provided

MacEwen said this award validates her craft for her. It also opened many doors.

“I have ongoing royalty contracts. I also hope to do a book at some point in the near future… It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.

She also plans to continue taking nature photos and exploring, following that passion wherever it takes her.

“If I had any words of wisdom for photographers in the future, it’s just to keep following your passion and keep believing in it, because you never know where it’s going to take you.”

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Deborah MacEwen on safari in South Africa.
Deborah MacEwen on safari in South Africa. Photo by Stan MacEwen /Photo provided
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Michael E. Marquez