5 Questions with Justin Dutcher

APRIL 14, 2022 — Nature NB and Aitkens Pewter collaborated to bring you a Nature NB 50th anniversary ornament! The limited ornament features a Black-capped Chickadee which has featured in Nature NB’s logo since 1989 and is a widely recognized bird across the province.

The design for the ornament was based off of a photograph by NB-based photographer Justin Dutcher, who kindly lent us his photo for this project. Justin’s main focus when capturing photographs of nature, other than personal enjoyment, is to help others gain an appreciation for the environment. Ideally, this admiration for the natural world around them spurs people to action in conservation at all ages. For Justin, nature photography started at the age of 8 when he began taking photos of the birds in his backyard, and he hasn’t stopped since.

We asked Justin a few questions about his photography, what he loves about New Brunswick nature, and about the little Chickadee that inspired the ornament.
Here’s what he had to say:

1. What inspires your photography?

I like to think that my inspiration comes from a mixture of what I care about most and what I find most visually appealing. There happens to be a lot of overlap between these two sources and so 90% of what I shoot are either things in the natural world or candids of my family and friends. Years ago I heard Freeman Patterson say that “the camera looks both ways.” So without even knowing the photographer you can learn something about their values just by looking at a collection of their images. I’ve always loved capturing all aspects of nature and consider myself a generalist/opportunist style nature photographer.

2. You say you started taking photos of birds when you were 8 years old. What was it about the birds that drew you to photography?

I grew up in a rural subdivision with a decent amount of wildlife around the house. I love watching birds at the feeder, especially chickadees and one day my mother let me use her point and shoot film camera. That’s really when I connected my love of birds/wildlife with photography. My mother continued to let me use her camera as my father took me on many hikes looking for birds and other wildlife. I think birds caught my attention early on for several reasons. Their ability to fly, their physical beauty/colour, their diversity and also their connection to dinosaurs would have really tickled my 8 year old brain.

3. What was the first bird you ever photographed?

The first bird I ever got a recognizable photo of was a Black-capped Chickadee when I was 8 years old. The bird may have filled 1% of the frame but I was thrilled just the same. I took the photo into show and tell and had to convince my classmates that there was in fact a bird in the photo.

4. Tell us about the Chickadee in the photograph that inspired the Nature NB ornament. Where were you when you took the photo?

I believe this shot was taken in my backyard here in Fredericton, NB. They can be difficult to photograph as they are always on the move. They are such a common sight but are without a doubt my favourite bird. Chickadees will keep you company all winter long and there is something so upbeat about their call and behavior. I’m always impressed by how resilient they are during New Brunswick’s harsh winters.

5. What is it about New Brunswick nature that you love?

We are lucky to live in a province that has a great amount of diversity, both spatially and temporally. Habitats including wetlands, coastlines, and our Acadian Forest all house different kinds of wildlife. In New Brunswick we also see a dramatic change of the seasons. As these seasons take place we see species adapting or migrating away. So the subject matter can be quite diverse in the span of a year. Taking photographs in every season gives you such a diverse and unique portfolio without even leaving the province.

You can view more of Justin Dutcher’s work on his website, Dutch Elm Studios. If you’re on Instagram, we highly suggest you follow him there @justindutcher for beautiful nature photography in New Brunswick.

The limited Aitkens Pewter ornament is for sale on the Aitkens Pewter website. Celebrate Nature NB’s 50 years of celebrating, conserving, and protecting New Brunswick’s natural heritage with a locally crafted New Brunswick Chickadee.

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