A photo Andy Beaver shot of the northern lights over a forest fire. It’s his favourite shot

The Photography and Photo Art of Andy Beaver

Story by Sara Sadeghi Aval, Photos by Andy Beaver

Artistic photography provides the opportunity to expose nature’s secret moments, capture one-of-a-kind shots, and digitally enhance the photos. And that is exactly what artist Andy Beaver aims to do behind his lens. 

Beaver’s intimate connection to the land and scenery around him began in his home community of Nibinamik First Nation. His ability to witness unique moments in nature from a young age grew with him. “I started [taking pictures] on an iPod,” he chuckles. “After a while I saved up a couple hundred dollars and bought my first camera.” He eventually ventured into night light photography and long exposure shots, and in doing so he has built himself a pathway to the animals and land that surround and inspire him.

The Milky Way photographed over rapids. Beaver quickly became interested in night sky photography

His talent was quickly noticed, and his high school principal approached him on behalf of Thunder Bay’s mayor in 2018 for a specific snapshot that also happens to be Beaver’s personal favourite. “There was a forest fire a few years back. It was dark outside, and I had my camera,” he says. “You could hear the flames raging in the night and the northern lights were visible overhead. Just this huge green band over the fire. It only lasted a few seconds, and I snapped the shot. That’s the one I gave the mayor, because it was something so rare. Not many people get to see that.”

However, he has no formula for the perfect shot. He simply insists that there are moments when the camera clicks, and others when it doesn’t. He talks about the instance he missed the perfect shot of two majestic swans as he flew over a lake. “My camera was in the luggage and so I missed it,” he says. “But that was a perfect moment.” He also believes in creating the moment, opting to digitally manipulate a photo to create an out-of-this-world shot that still feels real to the viewer.

A photo manipulation of a loon under the northern lights

Beaver is a recent graduate of the Matawa Education and Care Centre, the place he believes sparked his professional career and the fountain of support that enabled him to continue with his passion. “I was taking pictures before, but my confidence is completely different now,” he says. “The more photos I take, the more people I reach, and the outpouring of support on social media has boosted me mentally and pushed me to continue and expand.” Beaver says he also hopes to take his talents to the side of film production, hoping to capture the same wildlife, landscapes, and sky through the motion picture medium. 

You can find all of Beaver’s work on Facebook and Instagram at @NorthriverStudios.