PHOTO: Paul Esposti

PHOTO: Paul Esposti

Paul Esposti has led a very colourful life, to say the least. 

After originally studying biology and working in an etymology lab for several years, he moved to Honduras to pursue a career in scuba diving. Armed with the technical skill required, Esposti became a certified commercial diver.

A few years down the road, yet another field sparked his interest, and Esposti decided to try his hand at boat building.

In 2015, Esposti had just finished up 7 years in the field as an R&D consultant. Once again, he decided it was time for a change and started looking for opportunities that linked back to his love of conservation and the outdoors. 

A random Google search led Esposti to stumble across an advertisement for Photographers Without Borders' very first workshop in Costa Rica. As outlined in the itinerary, the team would spend some time volunteering for the ASVO turtle conservation project at Matapalo Beach, the oldest community marine turtle conservation program on the Pacific Coast.

 A baby sea turtle makes its way across the beach in Costa Rica. PHOTO: Paul Esposti 

A baby sea turtle makes its way across the beach in Costa Rica. PHOTO: Paul Esposti 

Esposti liked the work PWB did, and although he had never heard of the organization before, he signed up. And then, he quit his job of 7 years.

Armed with his digital camera, to which he admits he had working knowledge of, Esposti packed his bags and flew out to Costa Rica in September 2015. In Costa Rica, he teamed up with fellow PWB Founder Danielle Da Silva and former Curator Tallie Garey in order to document the work of ASVO, an NGO committed to preserving the habitats of sea turtles. Due to their breeding habits, every year, thousands of sea turtles die or are at risk of death due to interactions with tourists on Costa Rica's bustling beaches.

Once the workshop ended, Esposti found himself back in Canada, no longer in beautiful Costa Rica, and without the security of his former job. Tallie Garey advised Esposti to enroll in the Environmental Visual Communications program at Fleming College. The program is a joint effort with the Royal Ontario Museum, where it is taught. "Part of the program is to do a placement for two months with an environmental organization," Esposti said. "The entire course prepares you for the placement - photography, videography, social media, and communications."

It was in his program that Esposti learned of an organization called SeaLegacy--a marine and conservation organization devoted to protecting marine life and the oceans. SeaLegacy also happens to be run by famous photographer, conservationist, and Executive Director Cristina Mittermeier, as well as her partner Paul Nicklen, the only Canadian photographer for National Geographic. "Some people go to an organization and sit in an office handling their social media feed but I wanted to be out in the field, and luckily I had the skill set as a diver and boat builder to be of use to Nicklen and Mittermeier," Esposti said.

 Whales surface in northern British Columbia during Esposti's trip with Nicklen and Mittermeier. PHOTO: Paul Esposti 

Whales surface in northern British Columbia during Esposti's trip with Nicklen and Mittermeier. PHOTO: Paul Esposti 

With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of newfound skills (and some strong encouragement from Tallie), Esposti approached the famous duo. "They [Mittermeier and Nicklen] were planning a trip up the coast of Northern B.C as SeaLegacy's first official expedition just at the time I was to be on placement," Esposti said.

To make a very long and very inspiring story short, Esposti was accepted to SeaLegacy and embarked on an epic journey with Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mitetrmeier as they explored the extreme beauty of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest, which is brimming with biodiversity and endangered species. 

For the first leg of the journey, Nicklen put Esposti's boat building skills to good use to make sure that their tiny motor boat would hold up for the entire trip. Over the course of four incredible weeks, Esposti was able to follow the lead of Nicklen and Mittermeier and assist with some incredible shots that have since been published by National Geographic online and through their social media channels.

 On board the Martin Sheen. Left to right: Paul Esposti, Paul Nicklen, Alexandra Morton, Cristina Mittermeier, Simon Ager, Tamo Campos.

On board the Martin Sheen. Left to right: Paul Esposti, Paul Nicklen, Alexandra Morton, Cristina Mittermeier, Simon Ager, Tamo Campos.

 

When you sign up with a workshop from PWB, you really have no idea what to expect. So many of us have likely weighed the odds of our futures at some point or another--do we stay at the job we aren't in love with in order to make ends meet, or do we abandon all of it in support of a life-changing opportunity we've fallen in love with a very long time ago?

You don't have to scroll through the rich travel-inspired social media feeds of strangers or friends and wish for that to be you. Way too often, we consider people who get to travel to new places "lucky", when in reality, they've chosen to make a sacrifice in order to make their dreams more than wishful thinking. You'll never know what the future holds if you don't take the risk. At PWB, all of our workshops are led by certified professionals who hold degrees in everything from Journalism and Videography to Conservation and major sciences. We're always along for the ride and are excited to help others accomplish their dreams. Whether your camera strap rests around your neck like your best fashion accessory, or it's your very first time shooting, we work with you one-on-one to sharpen your photography skills, while instilling in you the values of story-telling, ethical journalism, and wildlife conservation.

Our next workshop is in Uganda where we are working with a children's empowerment organization.

To read Paul Esposti's full story, click here


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