Let me say it right up front – I like being “nowhere.” No, not just sitting around doing nothing, but being somewhere that doesn’t look or feel like anything else and has no particular name. In other words, nowhere.
In Newfoundland, there is plenty of nowhere and that’s a really good thing. There is so much good stuff there that if it were named or claimed, it wouldn’t be nowhere. That said, what does it mean?
Simply stated, there is so much land between formal towns and/or outports that is not settled or built upon, that is virtually untouched and untrod. It is glorious in it’s natural state. No malls, no convenient stores, nothing. As I said, glorious. And glorious in its isolation.
And where I’m going on this second trip to Newfoundland, I’ll be traveling through a lot of nowhere before I get somewhere and I couldn’t be happier. As a photographer, it’s very rare that we get to visit land unsullied by power lines, billboards, and visitor centers. This is land one doesn’t so much visit as experience. Nothing can prepare you for it. It is not postcard pretty in the traditional sense. Rather, it has a raw, vital beauty. Not the beauty say of a New England fall, but the unyielding beauty of a land defying commerce and compromise.
In the west, there are mountains, lakes, fjords, and caribou. Everywhere, there are bogs, moose, streams, and birches. And everything, every thing is informed by the sea. Oh, the sea. It is the lifeblood of the island even though its bounty has long been gone. It is in the DNA of the people and the culture. It is that that has helped me to decide where to go.
In a song by the Newfoundland group Great Big Sea, they sing: “There is no place quite like this place…”. They got that right.
Newfoundland is an island, about the same size as the state of Tennessee. But where I’ll be going to photograph this time are two islands off the coasts of Newfoundland – Fogo Island and Ramea: two very different islands sharing a similar story but ultimately with dissimilar outcomes: almost nowhere on the map, but home for a few hopeful and determined people.