Add to MY PASS


Having an image displayed in the Smithsonian is a career goal for many artists – and this honour was bestowed upon a few young Crowsnest Pass residents and photographers many times over.

Some might say talent is innate, and for the Launsteins it certainly runs in the family. John Launstein has been photographing professionally since 1989, recently starting up a family business: a wildlife art gallery, Launstein Imagery on Main Street in Blairmore with his wife Melanie and their four children.

His passion for photography has been passed down to his daughters Jenaya, and Marlise, and son Josiah, who are all award-winning artists prior to age 20: Marlise and Charis for their artwork, Jenaya and Josiah for their photography.

Several times a week John and family embark on photography excursions into the wild with their collection of landscape and telephoto lenses in tow. They plan their work a day ahead, keeping an eye on the weather and taking into account what the wildlife they are seeking are up to from season to season. It is physically hard work that demands research, patience and good luck for the right moment in the animal’s activity, in the right light in the right location.

And while the young photographers are finishing schoolwork, or out shooting, Melanie manages the gallery and sells limited edition copies of their work.

The Launsteins have won a number of prestigious prizes for their photographs, most of which feature the wildlife and natural splendour of their home in Southwest Alberta. The family’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC; The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Louis, MO, the Natural History Museum in London, UK, and the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, ON.

Amongst the roster of awards from reputable organizations like Canadian Geographic, Jenaya is only the second young woman to be named the international Youth Photographer of the Year, and Josiah is the youngest ever to be named international Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year. Jenaya and Josiah have been overall winners in major international competitions including Nature’s Best Photography, National Wildlife Federation, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Big Picture and more. Josiah has also been awarded in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Most recently, Josiah (accompanied by his father) was commissioned by Nikon to travel to Thailand, while a production crew chronicled their adventures in photography. Nikon Asia declared it to be “one of our most-loved films to date” and it has surpassed 1.5 million views


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