Amar Athwal knows how to live on the wild side. On any given day, he can be found in position and ready to capture photos anywhere in Banff National Park — and all before he starts his work shift. Then it’s the same situation near sunset, this time, it’s after punching the clock at day’s end of working at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site or at the Banff Park Museum for Parks Canada. A wildlife photographer, Amar said what started as a hobby back in 2007, quickly turned to an addiction. To motivate himself to continue practicing his craft, Amar would email eight friends once a week with his favourite photo. Today, that mailing list includes 600 fans of his work, including folks from Australia, England, and South Africa. He calls these snaps and stories of wildlife and landscapes his ‘Banff Moments.’
“This is my way of sharing what we’re protecting here,” he says.
And he’s enjoyed learning about the roles of animals and how they connect to one another through his time behind the lens.
“Nature never shows you everything in one day but does show you enough to get you to come back.”
It was the mountains that kept this Torontonian in Banff during his first visit in May 1993. (Even though the snow falling did seem unusual to him at the time.) In this time, he’s been exploring the outdoors and working in different roles for Parks Canada. From the Information Centre to the Cave and Basin, he also works at the Banff Park Museum, where he helped Walter Phillips Gallery staff with the Drawn to Nature program.
“Amar’s generosity, kind spirit, and deep love of Banff National Park is inspirational and impacts all who participated in the Drawn to Nature program,” says artist and public programs officer Karly Mortimer. “His immense appreciation for the valley is evident in his reverence and intimate portraits of terrain and wildlife. Always willing to share his passion for Banff, Amar brings great joy to those he shares his stories with in person and online.”