Many people are capable of taking a beautiful photograph. The question is, can they take more than one? If they continually tend to do so, they are photographers, but having been one for well over 50 years, I know it is an art that requires basic skills, creative input and patience… lots of patience.
Nick Vanderzwet has a combination of all three of those elements. His wildlife and nature photography is among the finest anywhere. I do not think I have ever interviewed another photographer. Maybe because I am concerned about the competition, however in the case of Nick Vanderzwet, his work is fantastic.
Of course, my first question is, how did he get into photography and his answer surprised me. “I more or less started about six or seven years ago.” I was stunned, as his photos have the quality of someone with years of experience.
Nick started life in Oshawa, but when he was two his family moved to Port Perry, specifically Scugog Island. His father had purchased a piece of land there many years before. The family would spend weekends, and summer vacations in their trailer. “I loved the area, “Nick explained, “So when my parents decided to build a home, I was elated.”
Similar to all children of the area, Nick attended R.H. Cornish elementary school and later Port Perry High School. His parents bought Nick a camera when he was young and he used it a great deal, but like all things when you are growing up, new interests peak your attention. When Nick was 14, his father bought him a drum set, which was a fantastic gift for anyone with the slightest interest in music.
Nick certainly had that, for it was not long until he joined a band. To this day, Nick is still quite the musician and plays regularly at gigs all over North Durham.
The band is called the Battered Mushrooms. They recently played at Colonel Mustard. Most of their engagements are private parties and, even after nine years of playing together, they still practice once a week. “We play mostly, classic rock,” Nick explained.
During the high school years, Nick was not averse to working. He pumped gas at the XL station (now Pioneer), and started a lawn cutting service with his best friend. He was also quite the athlete, playing rugby, volleyball and basketball. In fact, Nick won the MVP award for basketball.
“I had always considered myself handy with tools,” Nick explained, which is no doubt why he ended up in the construction industry.
“I still build houses, mostly in the north, which gives me a great opportunity to take my camera out in the early morning or just before sunset, and capture some fantastic shots.”
I asked Nick why he enjoyed nature and wildlife photography. “Being a nature photographer is a dream come true. I find solace in capturing the beauty of the natural world.” And capture it, he does; from beautiful loons on still lakes to blue herons in their native environment.
Nick explained that photography requires infinite patience, as capturing the flawless shot often means waiting hours or even days for the perfect lighting or elusive wildlife. However, the reward is immense, and as someone who has spent hours attempting to capture the perfect image, I can attest to that.
Nick shoots at a ratio of 200 to one, which means for every 200 pics he takes, he ends up with one shot, he is happy with. Those are great numbers. I have been doing this much longer than Nick, and I shoot about 150 to one.
Nick has a studio in his home, where he displays more than 80 framed prints, on paper and canvas. “I love to show people my work, and I am pleased that so many have found it good enough to purchase prints from me.”
You can see many of his images on Facebook, under Nick Vanderzwet. You can also set up a visit to his gallery by contacting him on FB Messenger.
I asked Nick what the future had in store and his reply was simple, “I hope to be able to take many more photographs and improve my skills.” As a fellow photographer, I certainly wish him all the best in building on an already fantastic base.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.