Photographer Jon Babulic’s unplanned life of adventures

Photo credit: Jon Babulic (used with permission)

Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words may well have been describing wildlife photography. Like nature itself, it is elemental. Wildlife photography zooms in on the two primary questions posed by the camera as metaphor: where and when? Point and shoot! ‘Where’ is anywhere an intrepid wildlife photographer would go, that ideally being where very few have gone before. ‘When’ could be that moment in which nature rewards the photographer’s epic patience with a one-in-a-lifetime sighting. A great adventure story is told by each image, and Jon Babulic is just such a photographic storyteller, and a man who is living proof that a pivotal opportunity is a moment to be seized.

Jon has been involved in plenty of big ventures. He was the president of Expertech Network Installation Inc., a Bell subsidiary that builds telecom infrastructure including, under Jon’s leadership, the first fibre-optic trans-Canada cable. Jon served as chairman of the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, and as chief administrative officer of the City of Barrie. But it was it through an opportunity via his wife Linda (she, too, with a mile-long resume) and via this magazine that Jon upgraded his camera and his photographic skills to the professional level. The chance came up to write and shoot a travel article in London. Jon has been seeking provocative and singularly magical images ever since.

Jon and Linda met in their hometown of Sudbury, so it was natural that a childhood of canoeing and fishing in the vast and rugged landscapes of Northern Ontario would tilt Jon’s newly inspired photographic eye back to his roots. After Jon’s most recent retirement, the couple moved to the eastern edge of Orléans in close proximity to the Ottawa River. A typical day begins at 4:00 a.m. with a paddle along the shoreline with a Nikon D850, a 200-500mm super telephoto lens, and a Nikon D800 with a wide angle should the moment require it. By 7:00 a.m. the shoot wraps up and Jon sets to work in Photoshop.  

Like all of his previous ventures, Jon chose to pursue photography with zeal and excellence. He enrolled in courses and sought the accreditation of the Professional Photographers of Canada. This gave him the structure and rigor to improve his craft. The PPOC requires candidates to submit images in chosen categories for critical peer review. It paid off, with one image receiving the prestigious PPOC “Judges Award” and becoming part of their Loan Collection. “Sometimes you are drawn to a scene and you just have to make a picture,” says Jon “not as it is but as you see it.” He strives to combine the tools of digital editing to maximize the use of light, colour, contrast and texture, all while maintaining the essential photographic attributes of the image. He captured the award-winning “Burnt Sunrise” on a quiet road near the Ottawa River.

“Snowy Owls” was taken on Amherst Island in the St. Lawrence. Jon may always keep owls in his mind’s viewfinder, owls being the favourite of the love of his life, Linda. He describes them as “extremely patient. I watched this one for hours before he finally decided to fly.” Jon is evidently a patient being himself.

“I’ve always had a close affinity with bears. This young sow and her cub were as curious about me as I was with them.” Jon captured his kindred spirit at Blue River, B.C., located halfway between Kamloops and Jasper. The subject’s charisma is conveyed by her eyes in this candid ursine portrait.

Wildlife photography seems to come intuitively to Jon as he continues to seek inspiration in his surroundings. He offered one bit of wisdom in which his life seems to be reflected in his art, a true measure of success in any creative practice: “I’m glad I didn’t plan my life” he shared, “it wouldn’t have turned out so good.” Jon’s gallery is available for viewing at