To Capture the Invisible – A Q&A with Glenn Bartley

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Meet Glenn Bartley

Bio Pic - Highlands

Glenn Bartley is a professional nature photographer from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He focuses almost all of his efforts on capturing intimate images of birds in their natural habitat. Glenn is especially well known for his portraits of rare and difficult to photograph birds from the Neotropical Region and his portfolio of hummingbird images. Glenn’s love of photography dates back to his childhood backyard in Ontario, Canada. Lying under a hummingbird feeder with a simple 35mm camera, Glenn tried desperately to capture an image of these mesmerizing birds. The photos he captured that day may not have been his best – but the experience led to a love of nature and photography that would one day blossom.

Today, Glenn’s images are well respected and represented around the world. He is an award winning photographer whose work is regularly featured in North American and International nature books, calendars and publications. Glenn’s work is regularly featured in magazines such as Audubon, Birdwatching, Canadian Wildlife, Birders World, and many more. His images regularly appear in books on birds including several by National Geographic. Glenn has also published several books of his own including his most recent books “Birds of Ecuador” and “Birds of Vancouver Island”. In addition to his own photographic pursuits, Glenn also leads instructional photographic workshops to exciting destinations throughout the Americas. These tours are designed to take advantage of Glenn’s extensive experience in this region and teach participants to capture their own spectacular images of tropical birds.

What is your background/education?

I have a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) from the University of Waterloo and A Master of Science (Msc) degree from the University of Victoria

How long has photography been a passion?

Photography has been my main passion for over a decade now. As soon as I started photographing birds, it seriously grabbed hold of me immediately and hasn’t let go since.

Booted Racket-tail hummingbird (Ocreatus underwoodii)

How did you get your start? Did you have a special mentor?

I was always interested in nature and photography. My interest in birds in particular came through a naturalist mentor that introduced me more to the world of bird watching. Once I started to appreciate the incredible diversity of birds I was hooked!

 Any favourite photographers?

I am a big fan of the work by Alan Murphy, Matthew Studebaker, Tim Zurowski and Greg Basco. All great photographers!

What/who (where?) inspires you to shoot?

My inspiration comes mainly from the world’s tropical realms. I get so excited about thinking of all the ridiculously beautiful birds that live in the tropics.

Nature Photograph

How would you describe your style?

My style is pretty straight forward. I try to capture intimate portraits of birds in their natural environment.

What has your greatest career accomplishment been to-date?

Starting my own successful Photo Workshop tour company. (

Nature Photograph

How did you come to specialize in nature photography?

Nature was always what I was interested in. As I took more and more shots my interest narrowed in on birds. I would say that 99% of my photography now is of birds.

What was your most memorable experience?

I have had so many incredible experiences in the tropics that it is hard to name just one. Certainly seeing a Resplendent Quetzal flying through the cloud forests of Costa Rica would rank up there.

Is this series complete or will it be an ongoing project?

I am always working on expanding my collection of images of birds from the New World Tropics. My goal is to one day have shot in all of the countries in South America.

Can you share anything that you’re working on right now?

My next photographic expedition will be to Brazil in November. I’m also working on a new E-Book on post processing techniques that will be out this fall.


Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis)

What kind of cameras do you shoot with? Why?

I use Canon DSLR’s and lenses including:

Canon 7D Digital Camera Body
Canon 600mm f/4
Canon 400mm f/5.6
Canon 300mm f/4
– Canon 580EX Flash

What is your favourite photo accessory, other than your camera?

I would say my Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod, Wimberly Tripod Head and Flash Bracket. All essential for me to do what I do.

If you had to choose just one lens what would it be and why?

Definitely the Canon 600mm f/4 IS II. Hands down the best bird photography lens available.

Do you have any advice for photographers looking to get in to the industry as a creative professional?

I think the best advice is to shoot what you love and immerse yourself completely in it. It’s a tough industry to make a living at but if you have a passion it is certainly possible.

Is there anything you would have done differently in your own career?

I am very happy with where I am at right now. I get to shoot what and when I want and pursue the projects that I dream up. It is pretty awesome really.

Where else can people see your work?

My Website
My Facebook
My images have been featured in many books and magazines throughout North America and the world.
My latest book is available online 

Glenn’s gallery display will be up in our Toronto location until January 3, 2014 to see more dates and locations visit the gallery page here.

Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus)