Artist Guide - Allan Li - Calgary, AB

Hi, my name is Allan. I am a 21-year-old accounting student based out of Calgary, Canada. I spend most of my free time photographing scenes that invoke my interest, my passions. Rather than sticking to a single theme, I capture everything from landscapes to urban shots and portraits in a bid to share as much of my experiences as I possibly can. This broad approach maximizes the berth of experiences that I can share with my followers and keeps things both engaging and meaningful. For those who are interested, I go by the Instagram handle -- feel free to take a gander at it if you feel inclined.

My journey with photography started off as more of a “secondary” thing and was reserved for the times I would bring my camera along during routine hikes with friends. It was a way for me to preserve a fleeting moment of my life that could never again be fully reciprocated. The pictures I took allow me to relive every exact emotion at that specific point in time. Looking back, falling in love with photography was inevitable considering my longstanding childhood passion for the unique.


Things in my life were not always “rainbows” and “butterflies”; just a couple of years ago, I felt as if I was trapped, had hit rock bottom and had no way of making it better. Everything from school, to family, to relationships were not working out. I felt helpless and believed there was nothing stopping everything around me from caving in. It wasn’t until I took a leap of faith, that concept everyone always talks about but rarely acts upon, that things began to change. I decided that it was important to focus on the positives and move forward no matter what. Armed with my mottos “just do it” and “why not”, I made the decision to explore photography as a profession. Up until that point, I allowed myself to succumb to every negative thing, and was left feeling more and more strained by the day. Fast forward to today, I feel as if I have finally found my stride in life, I’m happier than ever before and wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. So, if there is something you want to do or something you need to do, ask yourself, “why not?”. This is why photography holds a special place in my heart.


Alright, there’s my obligatory self-advertisement. I’m sure none of you came here for that. Right, on to business. Here are some of my personal favorite places to visit here in Calgary and its surrounding areas. 


Downtown Calgary

Let’s be honest, Calgary isn’t exactly well known for an amazing city life and most of downtown is closed at night. Of course, this didn’t stop our local politicians from spending four hundred seventy thousand hard-earned tax paying dollars on a giant blue ring to place in the middle of nowhere in the name of “art” (that’s if you can even call it that) … But I do have to admit that occasionally if you’re stumbling around downtown, you can come across a gem like this one:

Downtown Calgary

                   -Photo by Allan Li (

Stephen Avenue

Stephen avenue is another great place to stroll through when you’re visiting the city. It’s your one-stop-shop kind of deal. There are many restaurants and two big malls along the strip which can consume your entire day if you’re not careful. I recommend checking out the “steel trees” while you’re at it. The strip gets decorated with beautiful lights when the holidays are near and can be quite the sight at night.

 Stephen Avenue Calgary                       
                  -Photo by Allan Li (

Lake Louise

You have all probably seen a million pictures of Lake Louise on Instagram, so let’s make it a million and one. This is definitely a must visit while you’re here in ‘Berta'. In the summer, you’ll find people kayaking and canoeing in the lake. It’s a lot of fun and a definite must do! In the winter, you’ll still find many tourists gathered here either ice-skating or taking pictures of the ice castle. There are also many great hikes and a world class ski resort here at Lake Louise if that suits your fancy.

 Lake Louise

                     -Photo by Allan Li (

Two Jack Lake

You’ll find a lot of lakes on this list because there is absolutely no shortage of stunning shorelines within the mountains. Two Jack Lake is a great stop by on your way to Lake Louise. You’ll find that many people like to picnic here with family and friends on a nice hot summer day, heck it’s even great when the temperature dips below zero (Celsius, not Fahrenheit for all my American friends or 32F). You can catch some pretty killer reflections when the sun starts to set behind the mountain.

Two Jack Lake Alberta                         -Photo by Allan Li (


Emerald Lake

Okay, I’m going to be honest, Emerald Lake is technically not in Alberta but it’s right next to the border so I’m going to include it on our list. Again, this another great lake to visit. In the summer, the lake is green in color… I kind of gave that one away, didn’t I? You might even get lucky and find a stranger posing in the most candid fashion.

 Emerald Lake Alberta

                   -Photo by Allan Li (

Peyto Lake

The next destination I would stop by is Peyto Lake. It offers a great view with minimal required hiking. Upon reaching the top, you’ll be able to witness this deep blue lake in all its glory. The lake really is this blue, I swear. According to Google, the lake gets its color from the glacier rock flour that flows into it during summer.

 Peyto Lake Alberta

                        -Photo by Allan Li (

Icefields Parkway

Consistently rated as one of the most scenic routes in the world, your multi-hour drive to Jasper can be made just that much better if you take Icefields Parkway. This road takes you through a glacier dotted landscape, traversing multiple different ecosystems and offers some of the best chances of spotting wildlife -- especially bears and sheep in the world.  I DO NOT recommend speeding through this national park because you’ll not only be dodging wildlife and the cops, but also pedestrians who are standing in the middle road who are “doing it for the pic”.

 Icelands Parkway Alberta                           
                          -Photo by Allan Li (

Sunwapta Falls

This brings us to the last destination on our list, Sunwapta Falls. Again, many of you have most likely seen this shot a million times on Instagram, but hey, it’s not without reason. If you’re lucky enough to come during the fall, you’ll be able to capture it in all of its glory. In the winter months, the snow sets ever so softly on the trees making for a beautiful sight.

 Sunwapta Falls Alberta

                     -Photo by Allan Li (

Being surrounded by nature grounds me, it reminds me of how big the world is and just how small my personal issues are. No matter how bad your day is or how big you think your problems are, just remember that there is something beautiful out there, something that is worth going outside for. That being said, there’s more on offer than just a good shot. A close friend of mine recently said something along the lines of: “Instead of reaching straight for your camera, take a moment to take in the air and to appreciate your surroundings.”. The more I think about this, the more I realize the value behind those words. So, if you do decide to make the trip out, make sure you get more out of it than a picture.

 Moraine Lake Alberta                     -Photo by Alvin (@alvnklein)

J: Thank you Allan for giving us a little insight into your life as an artist in Calgary. For those of you within the AOV community who would like an opportunity to be a featured artist make sure to download the new AOV App and send us an email at

Suggest Reading: 8 Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

For more information on your next visit to Calgary: An Insider's Guide To Calgary

#AOV #AOVblog #BeVisuallyInspired

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