Behind the Lens: with Dave Bouskill

by Alicia Taggio
camera lens, Mike Corey

Known as one half of Canada’s Adventure Couple (The Planet D), Dave Bouskill is a freelance travel photographer and avid traveller who has explored everything from Central and South America, to Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada…and well, the list goes on! When he’s not travelling, Dave is also a Rigging Gaffer in the film and television industry in Toronto. He has taken his knowledge of lighting movies to create texture, mood and contrast in his still photography which you can’t help but fall in love with. I caught up with Dave in Toronto between his travels to pick his brain on photography and what inspires him most:

Dave-Bouskill-photographer-theplanetd1. How long have you been a photographer for and what motivated you to first pick up a camera?

I’ve been photographing professionally since 2008 but it as always been more than a hobby. I originally worked in the film business as a rigging gaffer. I spent over a decade honing my craft lighting feature films and learned a lot from the cinematographers that I worked with. I swapped tips and tricks with the on set stills photographers and between what I learned from them and my knowledge of lighting a scene and setting a shot, turning to photography was a natural progression. Many Gaffers move on to become cinematographers, but my passion for travel made me choose a different path in a similar vain.

I was motivated to pick up a camera early on when my parents gave me a Canon AE-1. I started playing around with it and seeing what it could do. I remember seeing my first Ansel Adams print when I was 12, Pine Trees in Snow. It was the first image that made my jaw drop. Ever since then I was hooked.


2. Who are some of your favourite photographers and why?

Karl Grobl and Gavin Gough have been 2 of my favourite photographers for years. The way they capture light, emotion and everyday life has always impressed me. When it comes to wildlife Paul Nicklen is the guy. His underwater shots in the Arctic and many stories for National Geogaphic have always been an inspiration.

Last but not least is Timothy Allen. His travel photography and forays into indigenous cultures have been groundbreaking. He brings you with him through his photographs. Emotion is an important part of photography and Tim is the master.


3. How important is social media to your brand?

Social Media plays a very important role in my brand. Photo stories have gone viral simply by people noticing them on a social media site and sharing the post with others. It is difficult to compete in today’s market, but with social media it is easy to stand out. When a photograph resonates with people, they are happy to share it with their friends and family and it can snowball into huge exposure.

As your reputation grows online, the right people start to take notice and with very little investment in marketing, you can make a mark.


4. What are your essential camera gear items on the road?

I always carry a full package with me it consists of

Camera: The Canon 5D Mark II,

Lenses: Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8 L II USM, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L II IS, Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM

2nd Camera: Olympus EP2 with a compliment of lenses

Waterproof Camera: Olympus TG-810

Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fibre Ultra light

F-Stop Camera Bag : The Loka

Storage: Lacie 1TB Rugged HDD


5. What’s your favourite thing to shoot and why?

I enjoy shooting people. I love capturing a moment in time and the expression on their faces. It is the interaction that I enjoy. I don’t sneak a photo or use a long lens, I talk to them, joke with them and learn about their way of life. I then snap a moment in their life.




6. You’ve captured some amazing things around the world. Which place was the most memorable?

As far as landscapes, New Zealand has the most spectacular scenery to shoot. It is diverse and offers the photographer several different options. The North Island is Volcanic and the South Island is Glacial. Such a contrast.


When it comes to culture, India is the most colourful and interesting country to shoot. There is always an exciting event, festival or piece of architecture to photograph.

For people, Myanmar; they were the most welcoming and their photographs portray many layers of emotion in the eyes of the people I met.


7. Which place surprised you the most?

Jordan surprised me the most. I wasn’t expecting to capture so many amazing shots of people, monuments or landscapes. There is a rich culture and history there and people were very warm and welcoming. I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the Arabian Desert and mesmerized by Petra.
The colours of the rocks, sand and landscape gave a rich texture to my photographs and the experience and maturity behind the eyes of the people we met gave my portraits a depth and story.


8. Aside from your camera, what things can’t you live without on the road?

My computer and hard drive. I spend my nights editing photographs and backing them up on my hard drive. I can’t live without my Lacie Rugged drive. It has survived the elements and being crushed by two computers falling on it from a 3 foot drop. I also love my Belkin Mini Surge Protector, I can charge many things at once including electronics that charge over USB and it protects my precious cargo from surges and power outages in countries where electricity is not so reliable.


9. Where are you off to next?

I am off to Antartica in January with Quark Expeditions. I am looking forward to stepping foot on my 7th continent and photographing the most epic continent on earth.



10. What is the #1 tip you would offer a budding photographer who is about to hit the road?

Learn your camera. Know your tool inside and out so that you can automatically get your settings right in any situation. You don’t want to waste time fiddling with your settings while trying to capture a once in a lifetime moment. You should know how every aspect of how your camera works and how to apply it to different situations.


A BIG thank-you to Dave for sharing his knowledge and stories with us. To follow more of Dave’s adventures or to see more of his work, check out his website or follow him and Deb on on Twitter @theplanetd.

You may also like