John Kelsey

John Kelsey

2 minutes

There are some who learn the power of the ocean’s call later in life. For John Kelsey, it’s been his home, and hallowed ground ripe with inspiration, for a lifetime.  

Born and raised on beautiful Vancouver Island off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, John grew up on the water of the Pacific Ocean in the temperate rainforests and under the snow capped coastal mountains of the Pacific Northwest. It’s the natural beauty of the coast that’s been John’s anchor to the community he grew up in, that’s been the calling card that’s brought him ‘home’ throughout years of travel and exploration, and that’s ultimately the main source of inspiration in his impact-rich professional photography practice. 


His bi-coastal adventure began when he was called east to Quebec to complete a degree in political science and economics at Montreal’s McGill University. Following that, he landed back on the west coast of North America - this time in sunny California at the renowned Brooks Institute of Photography to complete a degree in professional photography. That program in California launched him back east - landing in New York City to work with two iconic, industry-defining (in their own rights) photographers: Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger. 


Never far from the ocean, he found his way onto the water while in New York; refurbishing and living aboard a sailboat off the island of Manhattan. Through years of international travel with some of the world’s best photographers, finding his way to get his fill of ocean time while not abroad, the PNW eventually pulled him back home in 2018, operating from BC’s west coast ever since. Now refurbishing a 1977 DownEast 38’ sailboat while exploring the coast with his partner Meesh, John finds himself bringing the natural world back into focus in his photography and videography, highlighting coastal environmental conservation in his work; a passion that’s fueling his days and sparking his excitement for some big opportunities ahead in the field.  


Fast Facts: 

  • Worked for Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger, in succession 

  • Lived aboard a 1979 Sabre 28’ Sailboat while working in New York City 

  • Currently living on BC’s West Coast while refurbishing a 1977 DownEast 38’ sailboat 

  • Has shot multiple photography and videography projects with environmental conservation organizations internationally


Back to Ambassadors