A local photographer's intimate wildlife pictures have garnered him international acclaim, and it isn't hard to see why.
A scroll through David Leeming's Instagram reveals a smorgasbord of stunning, up-close-and-personal photos of local animals. From raccoons to beavers, herons to crows, foxes to rabbits, as well as sweeping forest views, his portfolio spans a wide variety of B.C. flora and fauna.
A lifelong Metro Vancouverite, Leeming tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that he's lived in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood for the last 17 years or so. And while his photos may seem like the fruit of a life's dedication, he says he only became serious about photography a few years ago.
"I’ve always loved to travel and it was just a few days before I took a solo trip to Japan in 2017 that I decided my iPhone 5S was just not going to cut it as far as documenting my adventure in that beautiful country," he writes. "So I did a little research, bought my first proper camera and used the next few days before my trip to give myself a crash course in learning how to use it. "
"The only photography experience I had was from Mr. Quan’s grade 11 photo class at Burnaby North high school back in 1990 and I have to say, the few things I could remember actually helped a lot!"
. Mother’s Day Portrait A mother black bear and her cubs take a moment to watch the sunrise together although one cub hasn’t quite finished breakfast. A mother’s work is never done. Last Thursday, the day after I returned home from photographing the foxes, I decided I needed to keep up the momentum and cross some more animals off the never photographed list. So I high tailed it up to Whistler with the crazy notion that I was just going to find me a bear. Well, two hours after my arrival, much to my complete shock, I found this family. This was my first encounter with wild bears since I was a kid. I was quite nervous because a mother with her babies can become quite aggressive if she feels there’s a threat, so I made sure to be extremely quiet and hidden from sight. This is one moment I will never forget. I hope this photo brings a smile to all the Mom’s out there today. I know my Mom would have loved it, and then she would have told me she didn’t like me hanging around bears! Thinking of you today Mom. Miss you so much. ❤️ . . . . Shot with @sonyalpha A7iii #animalelite #globalbc #allbeauty_addiction #vancityfeature #hubs_united #georgiastraight #vancouverisawesome #inspiring_photography_admired #insidecanada #ig_serenity #paradisecanada #mixvancouver #vancouver_ig #ctvvancouver #veryvancouver #explorebc #imagesofcanada #britishcolumbiamagazine #splendidcanada #shotzdelight #explorecanada #ig_myshots #live_love_wildlife #sharecangeo #enjoycanada #livelovecanada #justgoshoot #riyets #vancitynow #instagoodmyphoto @urbvancouver @vancouver @canada @wildliveplanet @nature
Leeming remarks that Japan offered a bevy of incredible photo opportunities, and that the country inspired him to use photography as a means to tell a story about the people and the culture that make Japan such an amazing place. He started posting the snaps to his Instragram while he was oversees, and started getting positive feedback and picking up new followers. After that, he says he was hooked on photography, and it quickly became a passion.
"For the next couple of years, I lived and breathed photography. Essentially every moment of free time was spent walking around the city doing street photography and landscapes. I met some great people in the local photography scene and did some portrait collaborations during that time. It’s a constant learning process so photographers are always bouncing ideas off each other trying new techniques or discovering new shooting locations," he explains.
. “Is it safe to come out yet?” . . . Shot with @sonyalpha A7iii #animalelite #yourshotphotographer #all_animals_addiction #birds_adored #birds_captures #georgiastraight #vancouverisawesome #bcisbeautiful #magic_marvels #ig_serenity #riyets #wildlive #birds_perfection #animal_sultans #birds_brilliance #explorebc #imagesofcanada #britishcolumbiamagazine #animalplanet #shotzdelight #best_moments_nature #ig_myshots #live_love_wildlife #sharecangeo #nature_brilliance #animal_fanatics #best_birds_of_ig #birds_private #nature_sultans #instagoodmyphoto @bbcearth @discovery @wildliveplanet
National Geographic has featured the Vancouver photographer a number of times and even chose one of his photos to be a feature story on its site. Leeming says that their recognition made him feel like he was on the right track and all his hard work and dedication was paying off.
"There were a few more Nat Geo features to follow but the one that really caught fire was a picture of a rabbit chewing on a leaf at Jericho beach. It wasn’t the first beach bunny I had photographed but there was just something about this particular shot that everyone seemed to love," he notes.
"It had already been somewhat viral for a number of months on Instagram but when it won “Top Shot” on the Nat Geo Your Shot site and was posted to their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, that really shot it into the stratosphere. It was and still is to this day getting posted daily on small and huge feature sites from all over the world which has been just amazing for exposure."
. . Just another blonde beach bunny in Vancouver. 😉 . . . Shot with Sony A7ii #worlds_beautiful_photos #604now #ig_myshots #604explore #vancityfeature #dailyhivevan #georgiastraight #vancouverisawesome #yourshotphotographer #vancouvercanada #sonyalpha #parkscanada #bestcaptureglobal #vancouver_ig #mixvancouver #veryvancouver #ig_eternity #explorebc #wanderlustofcanada #britishcolumbiamagazine #splendidcanada #ctvvancouver #explorecanada #imagesofcanada #igworld_global #sharecangeo #enjoycanada #livelovecanada #vancityscape #vancitynow
Leeming writes that the success of the rabbit photo and some of his other animal photos inspired him to focus on wildlife photography. Moreover, he says that he loves spending time watching animals in nature and seeing the reactions his wildlife photos get.
"As far as advice for shooting wildlife, something that really helped me was to first learn how to do natural light portraits, landscapes and even some sports and action photography. All of those skills are used when photographing wildlife," he explains.
"Portraits teach you how to frame a subject, and to focus on the eyes. It also teaches you the difference between good and bad lighting and how to work with both. Landscapes will teach you how to compose a background and the surrounding scenery. With action and sports you will learn to anticipate the moment so you can be ready to fire away at just the right time to get a great image. All of that plus a whole lot of patience and perseverance is needed but you get to do it outside with nature so I consider that a big plus."
Leeming adds that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been especially restricting for his craft, since the city parks are not closed. He also shoots alone, so physical distancing isn't an issue. However, he says that he misses visiting provincial parks and going on weekend trips across the border. Last year, he photographed newborn fox kits in Washington.
. What NOT to do when you see your friend at the grocery store: “Hey Jeff!! Did you hear we’re supposed to practice social distancing?!?!” . . . . Shot with @sonyalpha A7iii #animalelite #yourshotphotographer #all_animals_addiction #vancityfeature #vancouver_canada #georgiastraight #vancouverisawesome #bcisbeautiful #insidecanada #ig_serenity #paradisecanada #wildlive #vancouver_ig #animal_sultans #veryvancouver #explorebc #imagesofcanada #britishcolumbiamagazine #splendidcanada #shotzdelight #explorecanada #ig_myshots #live_love_wildlife #sharecangeo #enjoycanada #animal_fanatics #justgoshoot #riyets #vancitynow #instagoodmyphoto @vancouver @canada @wildliveplanet @nature
"All of us are missing things that are important to us right now but I just imagine how much more I will appreciate my life once we get through this," he says.
"It’s something to look forward to and until then, there’s plenty of amazing wildlife to photograph right here in the city."
See more of David Leeming's work on Instagram HERE.