To belong to a place is a gift. And I have been blessed with a profound and abiding sense of belonging to Newfoundland. My family has lived here for four generations before me, and my grandchildren comprise the seventh generation. As my birthplace and home, Newfoundland dominates my photography and my life more than any other place. For more than forty years as a photographer, I have been seeking out the island’s gems and the light that washes over them.
Since the publication of my first book of Newfoundland images, Wildland Visions, the craft of photography has evolved and I with it. Starting as an enthusiast, I now make it my living. It is through photography, through learning the light and seeing the life of the landscape, that my connection with nature is the strongest. And this is how I’ve come to learn that the island of Newfoundland is a place apart.
Even the seasons here announce their arrival differently. Our spring does not occur as a sudden flourish, but rather pushes winter aside ever so slowly. On the northeast coast, March and April are the time of glorious sea ice sliding down on the Labrador Current and bringing with it harp seals and the occasional polar bear. The play of colour on the myriad glowing shapes is simply enchanting. The sea ice is followed by the great ice giants, icebergs brought from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic on a sea path known to both navigators and locals as Iceberg Alley.
Then the seabirds and whales appear with certain knowledge that the capelin will soon roll and bring an abundance of life to beaches and waters around the island. Gradually, the days grow longer and warmer as summer takes over, and a saltwater tang caresses the clean, clear air. Days on the water feel heaven-sent. Whales and seabirds abound. It is a time to be out and about.
Then, far too soon, a crispness invades the wind, a single leaf turns yellow, and the first insinuation of fall seeps in. At first, it is a disappointment that summer is over so early, but then I embrace the fall, my favourite time of year. The mosquitoes are gone, hiking opportunities are plentiful, and shooting comes easy in the warm, long-shadowed light. Winter, with its snow storms, reshapes and cleanses the landscape, turning rough, hard edges to soft forms that cast long, blue shadows across the land. Snowshoe-clad, I wander from shape to shape flicking up diamonds in my wake. Then, spring pushes winter aside ever so slowly.
I can be awed by the beauty and diversity of other places like Antarctica, the Hebrides, or the Rocky Mountains. I can photograph them and enjoy the process immensely. But the connection is different. They are not my place. I am a visitor. But in Newfoundland, I’m not a visitor. I belong. Just as the whales, seabirds, and caribou belong.
So with this book, small in size but large in spirit, I want to celebrate in images what this place means to me.
Newfoundland: An Island Apart
by Dennis Minty
$18.96, hardcover, 80 pp.
Breakwater Books, April 2015