Interview with Aidan Lee – Landscape photographer from Alberta, Canada
Thank you so much, Aidan, for all your availability for this interview! Could you start by introducing yourself?
Hello! My name is Aidan, and I’m a landscape photographer based in Alberta, Canada. As of right now, I am currently pursuing a Kinesiology degree at the University of Alberta and work freelance for a large clientele in Edmonton. Photography has always been an easy way for me to escape the rough reality of life and truly create on my own terms. You can often find me stargazing or chasing the elusive northern lights in Northern Alberta, seeking out different perspectives in the dark skies.
Even though I now mostly shoot landscape and astrophotography, I’ve spent years exploring my style, experimenting with street, portraiture, architecture and film; it has been a long journey to finally focus on the field that inspires me most. In the past few years, I’ve dedicated my travels across the world alone to seek out the most beautiful, untouched, landscapes of our planet.
How did your passion for travel and outdoor life begin?
To travel the world is everybody’s dream. Everybody wants to see the sights of the world and experience new things. Personally, the love I have for outdoor life began in Alberta, Canada. A place I call home. There’s something about the Canadian wilderness, the beauty of untouched nature, and raw, diverse landscapes that cover the land. The Rocky Mountains of Alberta gave birth to my love for camping, hiking, travel, and the idea of finding new locations to create. No matter how many times I go to the Rockies, it always gives me a sense of adventure and provides new opportunities to create.
Your travels are an excellent opportunity to take your camera and record everything you’ve seen and experienced. What came first in your life, your passion for travel or your interest in photography?
They sort of go hand in hand. My passion in photography has always been present and indeed did come first. Ever since I picked up a small point-and-shoot camera 15 years ago as a youth, photography has, and always has been, an outlet for my creativity and vision to paint the world in my own perspective. Meanwhile, my love for travel has always been inspired by photography. Driven by research and social media, the prospective list of countries is often composed of places I want to create in and explore.
The weather conditions – often quite harsh, of the places you visit on your travels in any way influenced the choice of your photographic equipment? What features do you favour in a camera system?
Harsh is a great word to describe it. I’ve been in weather that I wouldn’t wish on anybody, and having weather resistance has been single-handedly the most important feature in my equipment. Without weather resistance, I have no doubt that my X-T3 would be unusable. Whether it be downpours, windstorms, or the brutal -40° cold, rugged equipment has always been a critical feature to keeping my camera operational in rough weather. That being said, looking back I have to say I’m incredibly grateful for Fujifilm’s weather sealing, and it has always been a priority when shopping for equipment.
Another useful feature I prefer is solid ergonomics. A good grip on my camera is quite useful, as I find myself using my larger lenses a lot. It is simply uncomfortable and unbalanced with smaller cameras and will definitely impact my decision moving forward.
What is your current camera and lens setup?
At the moment, I mainly shoot with my Fujifilm X-T3 as a main body due to its ruggedness and weather resistance. In terms of lenses, I find myself utilizing my 10-24mm f4 WR, 50-140mm f2.8, and 100-400mm when I see fit. As a second body, I have a X-S10 and will often bring both cameras — one with a telephoto attached and one with an ultra-wide angle.
Besides cameras and lenses, what are your essential accessories, the ones that never leave your camera bag wherever you go?
If there’s one accessory that has changed my life, it’s having a backpack camera clip that allows the camera to rest on the shoulder. While it’s a little tiresome to carry the larger lenses, the clip has allowed me incredible convenience and allows me to shoot with ease. Instead of digging into my bag for my camera, I can remove it from the clip within seconds. I will also always carry a tripod, ND filter and a good cleaning kit. Another crucial item that is important to me is my drone. Not only does the drone take incredible perspectives, but it also allows me to scout an area and find creative compositions through an aerial view. I often try to find a unique field of view that I wouldn’t have considered, broadening the possibilities in creating a truly one of a kind photo.
It’s interesting to see that you often use the XF50-140mm and XF100-400mm, demystifying the misconception that landscape photography should only be done with ultra-wide angle lenses. In your opinion, what are the occasions when a long telephoto lens is the best choice?
Ultra wide angle lenses are great for landscape photography, though the precise, subject framing in a telephoto lens has always allowed me to create unique perspectives not common to the eye. I do utilize my wide-angle lens for many landscape shots, though when I want to isolate small locations and frame a scene, I often enjoy the compression telephoto lenses bring to emphasize scale.
When you plan a trip, do you research to find out in advance what kind of photographs you are going to take, or do you prefer to go without any preconceived ideas and, once there, simply let yourself be carried away by the inspiration of the moment?
The main objective of my trips are usually photography orientated, so I often will plan to visit a general location to explore during a certain time frame. This allocation of time in a given space usually provides me with lots of room for flexibility and the ample opportunity to create as I see fit. That being said, there will be a key shot that I want from each area I visit. For example, if I were to visit Southeast Iceland, I’d want the classic Vestrahorn reflection photo, and then go from there with a creative mindset to capture anything that I find peculiar.
Which countries/places have impressed you the most, and which one do you definitely plan to return to one day?
Among the places I have been to, the Swiss Alps have captivated me like no other place on earth. The lush green flora backdropped with the dramatic mountains is a paradise for endless creativity. Among my favourite places I’ve ever visited, the alps in the region of Appenzell, Switzerland, was one that holds close to heart. Out of all the places I’ve been to on my adventures, I could easily return there and even potentially live there. The welcoming atmosphere of the locals, tight community and picturesque village give off a lovely environment to thrive in. The efficient transportation system means Appenzell was easily connected to the big cities, and not as secluded as one would think. Not to mention the massive mountains surrounding the town are any hiker, skier, and photographer’s dream. The only regret I have in visiting this place is that I didn’t have more time there, it was truly a paradise in the couple days I stayed, and its low touristic profile makes this charming alpine village definitely worth it.
Aidan is a seasoned landscape photographer from Canada. Driven by his love for landscape photography, he creates stunning photographs on his travels inspired by his own perspective of the world. For work, Aidan works for a large clientele in Edmonton, creating branding, social media content, and portraiture for businesses. In addition, Aidan has been recognized in the community by devoting his time doing volunteer photography work for individuals living with disabilities. He is currently pursuing a degree in Kinesiology and currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta.