Edward Burtynsky was born in 1955 in Ontario after his parents migrated in 1951 to Canada. A widow sold her husband’s darkroom and camera equipment to Burtynsty’s father. Then both the father and son practiced making monochrome photo prints. With his sister, he opened a small portrait photography business. During the 1970s, he worked at a printing press and joined Niagara College to avail a graphic arts diploma. He then enrolled into the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1982.
Most notable photographs by Burtynsky are comprehensive landscape views distorted by piles of scrap, quarries and tailings of mine. Hence, nature is altered by an industry environment. He has paid many visits to China to photograph the emerging industrial setting and to take pictures of Three Gorges Dam, the largest project of engineering in the world.
Burtynsky gained influence from Edward Weston, Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge and Ansel Adams. He viewed their work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other photographers who do similar kind of work as Burtynsky were included in the New Topographics exhitbition.
Most of Edward Burtynsky’s work has been shot using a field camera with a large format. His photos are usually aerial or taken from an elevated vantage points. To do this, he uses helicopters, small jets, or soaring platforms. He started using a digital camera with high resolution in 2007.
Following are some of his photo series: Makrana Quarries in India, 2000; Iberia Quarries in Spain, 2006; Ship-breaking in Bangladesh, 2000 to 2001; Urban Mines: Metal Recycling, Canada Tire Piles, USA from 1997 to 1999; Australian Mines in West Australia, 2007; and so on.
In 1985, Edward Burtysky established Toronto Image Works . It is a rental facility for darkroom and equipments. It also offers a course of digitized new media. A year later, a gallery opened within the space that displayed the works of international and local artists.
In 2006, he was featured as a subject in Manufactured Landscapes, a documentary that was shown in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival (2007).
Burtnsky presented the Long Now Foundation seminar in 2008, titled The 10,000 year Gallery. The foundation deals with many clients, such as Clock of the Long Now, a clock fashioned to mark the 10,000 years. Danny Hills invited Burtnsky to participate in the project. In return, Edward Burtnsky suggested that the clock should be accompanied with a gallery. He proposed that an annual photo show should capture all the moments of their time.
In addition to the respectable positions the photographer has been given, he is one of the members of board at the global photography festival in Toronto known as CONTACT.
Burtnsky has received awards as well, such as he became the Order of Canada’s Officer in 2006. He received honorary doctorates from Mt. Allison University, Queens University, Ryerson University, and Bonston’s Montserrat College of Art. In 2005, he was awarded the TED Prize. Moreover, he is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 2013, he received the President’s award by the Geological Society of America.
Edward Burtnsky has been a dynamic lecturer on photography and art at many places, such as the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. ; National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa; Art Gallery of Toronto; George Eastman House, Rochester; and etc. His photographs are featured in various publications, like The Smithsonian, Art in America, Art Forum, Playboy, New York Times and in some more.