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Arctic Bay hare takes flight
First Air chooses Clare Kines' photo for aircraft tail

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The next time Clare Kines sees an Arctic hare at the Arctic Bay airport, there's a good chance it will be a lot bigger than the one he recently photographed. That's because First Air has chosen his photo for the tail of one of its ATR42 aircraft.

NNSL photo/graphic

This is what the ATR42 may look like with Clare Kines' photo on the tail. His image of an Arctic hare will be seen in Nunavut's skies at the end of the month. - photos courtesy of Clare Kines/Casey Lessard illustration

"It will be cool to see my photo winging its way through the air," he said, praising the airline's marketing program. "It showcases what the North has to offer in terms of wildlife and different Northern-themed photos on there."

Kines' image was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Of course, he had to be ready to shoot.

"We just happened to be out for a drive," the photographer said, "and fittingly, this was out by the airport. I walked up to the three hare there and managed to get fairly close and a picture I really liked."

The photo opportunity was on Kines' mind after meeting First Air's vice-president of marketing, Chris Ferris, at the Northern Lights conference in Ottawa. There, Kines showed Ferris his books of nature and landscape photographs, which he sells in his home community.

"He said he liked what he saw and said 'from time to time, we need photos for our planes if you're interested'," Kines recalled.

Kines sent a link to a website with his images, which were in consideration for one of two planned tails.

"One of the subjects they were looking for was Arctic hare, and it's been a great year for Arctic hare up here," he said. "I submitted a bunch."

First Air had already made their selections when Kines went for the fateful drive. He thought his new photos were better than the ones he had previously submitted, and First Air agreed.

"It looks really cool," he said, having seen the image in First Air's mock-up. "The tail will be filled mostly with the ears, head, shoulders, and the front legs."

First Air marketing and communications manager Jennifer Alldred said the plane bearing Kines' photo is scheduled to start flying Baffin Island, but she could not guarantee that to be the case. The plane will start flying at the end of the month.

Two other ATRs will bear the logos of Sakku First Aviation and Qikiqtani First Aviation. A jet will carry a photo of eider ducks, taken by Michelle Valberg.

Photographers are welcome to submit their work for the program, which has been in place since 2005. Kines confirmed he is being compensated.

"We do receive lots of submissions," Alldred said, noting photos need to represent the culture, traditions and symbols of the North; they also have look good on the tail. "We are very proud of the high level of positive feedback we continue to receive on our vibrant tail designs."

It will be the biggest Kines has ever seen his photos.

"Yeah, it will be, by far," he said. "It will be quite a massive hare."

Now that he's on the radar, it likely won't be the last big opportunity for the avid birder who takes his Canon 5D Mark II and 100-400mm lens out most nights.

"It's nice to have an outlet. If you have a good image, you can sell and market yourself in a big way," he said. "I live in a drop-dead gorgeous place where I get beautiful photo subjects just by stepping out my front door. I'm lucky to live up here."

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