Winner: Connor Stefanison

Connor Stefanison (1991) is a photographer from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Living in B.C., Connor has learned about wilderness firsthand. His photography draws from knowledge gained throughout his life spent outdoors in nature. Since taking up photography in 2008, Connor has worked as a photography instructor and photojournalist. Connor holds a biology degree in ecology, conservation, and evolution from Simon Fraser University. When not out making images, he enjoys mountain biking and skiing in the mountains around his home.

Project: Mountain Goats

Mountain goats have always been a favourite animal of mine. Their white coats and daredevil-like climbing abilities make them a true icon of the western mountain ranges of North America. Having had never photographed mountain goats before this project, I was very excited to begin. I learned about this location roughly two weeks prior to the shoot, from a friend, who had been rock climbing in the area. He showed me some goat images that he took with his cell phone, and I immediately started making plans to visit the area myself. With backpacking gear in tow, my friend and I made the 9 hour drive to the trailhead. After hiking up the mountain, we set up camp and woke up to a herd of goats the next morning. I spent the next three days photographing the goats in as many situations as I could. My goal was to create a series of images that would give people an insight into the life of mountain goats. After spending some time with the goats, they became more and more comfortable towards me, allowing me to capture some close and intimate images. Mountain goats are a species at risk because of climate change. They form meta-populations that occupy alpine areas. As temperatures warm, alpine areas are becoming smaller and smaller, thus reducing habitat size for the goats and bringing valley predators closer to them. Hopefully, these images can increase the amount of people who care about mountain goats.

Connor Stefanison: Schneeziegenfamilie

Goat Family
On a calm morning before sunrise, a small family of mountain goats rests in a boulder field on an alpine ridge. In the foreground is the dominant billy (male), and in the background are the dominant nanny (female) and their kid (baby).

Connor Stefanison: Schneeziegen am Morgen

Morning Goats
The dominant adult goats and their kid walk along the top of a tall cliff just after sunrise. Alpine rocks contain minerals that the goats lick to obtain necessary salts.

Connor Stefanison: Territorialkampf

Goat Fight
The dominant billy and another smaller billy fight a quick territorial battle. The dominant billy won, even though the smaller billy was able to remove a good tuft of hair from him.

Connor Stefanison: Schneeziegenantlitz

Goat Face
It was quite hot in the middle of the day. During this time, the goats would rest in the shade, trying to avoid the black flies that were always around them. They would then walk around the mountain, navigating the steep and rocky terrain.

Connor Stefanison: Gegenlicht

Backlit Goat
Once the sun started to get lower in the sky, the goats would return to my camp area. Here, they would feed on grasses and lick minerals off the rocks. In this image, a young billy walks along a grassy ridge before sunset.

Connor Stefanison: Sonnenstern

Sun Star Goat
Moments before the sun dipped below the mountains, I captured this nanny licking minerals below the mountain peak. Positioning myself in just the right spot, I was able to create a "sunstar" for an additional element of interest in the frame.

Connor Stefanison: Abenddämmerung

Dusk Goats
As day turned to night, the goats did not seem to slow down. The kids would often stay close to the adults for security. In this image, the dominant billy stares at me while his kid licks minerals off a rock.

Connor Stefanison: Nacht

Night Goats
Surrounded by stars, the dominant billy takes a moment to rest while the rest of the herd continues to feed on grasses.