A wildlife image featuring a fierce momma brown-haired bear fishing has earned Cochrane photographer Jo-Anne Oucharek the Best of Nation Award in the World Photographic Cup.
It was Canada's highest-scoring image of the 24 submitted to represent Canada at the international competition.
The photograph was taken at the top of Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska.
“Waiting and watching for eight hours, with action continually happening all around, my patience and focus paid off, capturing this iconic moment,” Oucharek said.
She says Team Canada gathered on Monday night for the live stream of the announcement of the international pool of photographers named finalists. It was the first award announced for the Canadian team.
“When I heard the announcement, I felt a flood of emotions, pride, success, and accomplishment," she states. "What an honour it is to experience the camaraderie of this elite group of Canadian photographers who welcomed me onto the world stage. I feel privileged to be recognized for my art.”
Being Canada's top-scoring photographer doesn't mean you necessarily make it in the top 10 in your category.
She enjoyed the whole process of being involved with and getting to know an elite group of photographers.
"This is a great learning experience, and I encourage all photographers to look at representing Team Canada. Not only are you in a great group of people, but the curators are there to help and guide you."
She'll be cheering on two Canadian photographers whose work has advanced to the top 10 in the world. Canada will be ranked based on the images of finalists Holly-Lynn Latimour and Ron Gesser during the world finals awards ceremony in Singapore on Mar. 17.
Latimour advanced in the commercial category with an image of a soccer cleat considered a be a perfect blend of science, art, and creativity. Gesser portrayal of an elderly woman from the Kutia Kondh ethnic group in central India is said to reveal a genuine and emotional expression of a woman who has led a long and challenging life.
Right now, Oucharek is focusing on capturing images of Snowy Owls. To better photograph bears, she became a bear guide. To photograph Snowy Owls, among other birds, she has been studying ornithology, which is the study of birds, including bird physiology, behaviour, population structure, and how they live in their environment.
"This time of the year, they migrate here for the winter months and they're so amazing to watch," says Oucharek.
She says we're fortunate to have them in our areas and the size of the population migrating here varies from year-to-year.
"A few years ago, there was an abundance of them. Then for the last few years, they were pretty scarce. They follow the food patterns and go to different areas in Alberta, but there's a tonne of them this year."
The photograph will be on display in Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery, 18 312-5th Ave. for a month, starting sometime next week. It will be available for purchase.
Different sizes of the image are also available for purchase on her website here.