Focusing on the Classics Reveals Why The Rock is a Photographer’s Dream
How popular is the island of Newfoundland with photographers?
Most shutterbugs will admit a visit to the rocky isle is on their bucket list and a Google search of Newfoundland photo tours yields dozens of options. Greg Johnson of Tornado Hunters fame says whenever he offers a photography tour, it sells out quickly. There’s even an app called Really Good Photo Spots with the best places in eastern Newfoundland to photograph.
Why is it popular?
Visions of icebergs, puffins, whales, colourful houses, and wooden docks entice photographers to Canada’s most easterly province. And they are not disappointed. Newfoundland and Labrador is the rare place that has managed to maintain its distinct sense of place while running some of the world’s best tourism advertising campaigns. Visitors are lured by the rocky beauty, lively music, English-speakers that sound a bit different than the rest of us, and casual hospitality.
Where to Start . . .
Before you ever look for photography locations, look for a rental car if you’re touring the island on your own. They can be scarcer than hen’s teeth so book a car before you buy your airfare, and then plan your itinerary.
Start with the classics, and it won’t be long ’till you’re telling your own tales:
Icebergs – These masses of frozen beauty are best spotted in spring but not all parts of the island are created equal when it comes to iceberg viewing. Icebergs tend to drop down from the Labrador coast and follow Newfoundland’s northern coast. Check IceBergFinder https://icebergfinder.com for their map and plan accordingly.
Puffins – These colourful birds will turn even the crustiest photographer into a birdwatcher. But they live at sea most of the year so they are only visible while nesting and raising young. These colonies are often viewed from water so you might need to join a boat tour and bring a long lens. The birds are small. Some good places to see puffins include Witless Bay Ecological Reserve or Elliston Point on the Bonavista Peninsula.
Whales – The cold Atlantic waters that surround the island of Newfoundland are important feeding grounds for many species of whales and dolphins. From May to September you can even watch them from shore although boat tours may give you a better perspective. Tours at Witless Bay Ecological Reserve have the advantage of providing whale and puffin watching a short drive from St. John’s.
Docks, lobster traps, old boats – Early settlers to Newfoundland made their living from the sea and you’ll find plenty of people still fishing in the small towns along the coast. Turn off the TransCanada Highway onto smaller roads and keep your eyes turned towards the water. It won’t take long to find a picturesque scene.
Laundry – Is Newfoundland and Labrador the only province to turn laundry into a tourism attraction? Many of their travel commercials feature clothes drying on an outside clothesline and if you explore the small outpost towns, your odds of finding laundry on the line is good. If you have the chance to meet the person hanging the laundry you might also discover there’s a “right” way to hang your laundry (big items go on first, smaller items last as they dry faster).
Crayon-coloured buildings – The brightly painted buildings of Jelly Bean Row in St. John’s are arguably the most famous of vivid-hued structures. Vinyl siding has taken the colour out of some communities but you will find plenty of buildings sporting pinks, blues, and reds to add some pop to a landscape photo.
People – In a province where a kitchen can be the most social room in the house (never turn down an invite to a kitchen party) or locals welcome strangers with an invitation to kiss a cod, you know there’s going to be opportunities for great portraits or candid human interest photos. Leave time in your itinerary to go to cultural events or visit local pubs.
Funny Place Names – Reading signs can be great entertainment while touring Newfoundland and Labrador. Some of them will make you laugh (Cow Head, Famish Gut, Witless Bay), others will make you blush (Cuckolds Cove, Come By Chance, Blow Me Down) but perhaps the most sought out signs are in the town of Dildo. Photographers can take a picture of the sign or head to Dildo Brewing Co. & Museum to celebrate a successful photo shoot with a glass of Stout Dildo.