‘I’m very, very lucky to be doing what I do’

Vancouver Island photographer Boomer Jerritt brings Antarctica to life

Boomer Jerritt has been slinging a camera around professionally for 30 years, and he’s bringing the story of his life in photography to the Timberline Theatre Jan. 29. Photo courtesy Boomer Jerritt

Boomer Jerritt admits that he’s got a pretty awesome job.

“Everybody I talk to tells me how they want to retire and do what I do,” he says with a laugh. “I mean, they see how I travel all over the world taking photographs of animals and teaching people photography, and they think that’s amazing. Which it is, but that’s not the whole story, obviously.”

After all, it took a long time to get where he is in his career, and he’s certainly paid his dues in the world of professional photography over his 30 years of slinging a camera around professionally.

“There were a lot of years where whenever the phone rang, I was out the door, whether it was for family portraits or a wedding or flying off somewhere to shoot architecture or some restaurant calling to get me to get shots of their food,” he says. “It didn’t matter what the job was, I had to take it. I was good at it, but I wasn’t great, at it and it wasn’t where my heart was. But I had to do it to pay the bills.”

These days, however, he spends most of his time on zodiacs and ice flows in Antarctica shooting wildlife and spectacular vistas very few others will ever get to see as Photographer in Residence for One Ocean Expeditions, an expedition cruise company that touts itself as being committed to environmental and social responsibility with destinations to some of the furthest-flung areas of the planet.

But even as awesome as his job is these days, it’s not like he gets to just to show up, point a camera at a penguin, click a button and go home.

“Yes, I’m very, very lucky to be doing what I do,” Jerritt says, “but I don’t like being away from home for so long – a typical trip down to Antarctica is 50 days. No days off. Living on a boat. And it’s not like this is a cruise ship, luxury-liner kind of boat. It’s a research vessel that’s been turned into a passenger excursion ship. It’s tight quarters.”

Then again, he also gets to see things that very few people on the planet will ever get to see. And he gets paid to do it.

Jerritt has been sharing his photography – and the stories behind the photos – in presentations to sold-out theatres in Courtenay for a few years now, and later this month he’s bringing his show to Campbell River.

But this isn’t the slideshow of your youth, where your parents’ friends would invite you over to watch them project slides of their trip to Hawaii up on the wall and bore you to sleep.

“What I try and do is show people how much fun it is to do these cruises,” he says. “But it’s not a marketing thing for the company. It’s more of a chance to engage with people and get them jazzed about travel in general and how cool it is to see things very, very few people get to see.”

And he says it’s not just for travelers – or those interested in traveling – but especially interesting for anyone into photography.

“A lot of photographers are generally interested in my presentations, obviously, so I also go a little bit into the stories behind the shots and some of the technical details like what shot was taken at what aperture and what shutter speed and whatnot,” he says. “Whatever I think will really bring them into the experience.”

But it’s also a chance, Jerritt says, to help the planet, “at least in whatever little way I can.”

Each presentation he does sees partial proceeds go to a local organization he believes is making a positive ecological difference in their community. The proceeds from the Campbell River presentation will be going to Greenways Land Trust.

“I think it’s important that while we’re on whatever journey we’re on, we do whatever little bit we can to make the world a better place,” Jerritt says. “That’s a big part of why I do what I do: to show people the wonders we’re going to lose if we don’t change what we’re doing to the planet. By partnering with people like Greenways, it’s just another little way that I can help. Even just a little. Like we all should.”

Tickets to the Jan. 29 presentation at the Timberline Theatre are $18 in advance or $20 at the door (cash only).

Advance tickets can be purchased online at strathconaphotography.com/events

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