Roth and Ramberg wrap it up

It's been a few days since our last post. Since then we've covered a lot of ground and have been busy taking photos as well as having plenty of fun. Just to round out the rest of the crew on the trip, we want to introduce Courtney and Claire.

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Courtney works for our friends at Ray Agency and was instrumental in bringing us on board. Although we had only talked on the phone, we knew we would get along just fine. Courtney has been art directing the entire shoot as well as doing various photo assistant, beer opening, and candy buying duties.

Claire is in charge of the wardrobe, and had a hand in most of the tails we have been using on the trip. Having a background in textiles, Claire and her team have created some beautiful tails and without her the photos would not be the same.

Day 5

We woke up and headed down to the local hardware store/restaurant for breakfast. After a delicious meal, included fried bologna, we were off. With Dan at the wheel, we spun our MerMobile around and we headed down the highway to Arches Provincial Park. Being able to park close, we were able to easily bring the gear down to the ocean, but the wind was blowing hard and the tide was rising quickly. The whole team went into work mode as everyone held onto a light stand and followed our instructions as we hurried to shoot. The models hit it out of the park and we were able to wrap up with photos in hand and no wet photo gear.

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Afterwards we backtracked to Deer Lake and drove up to the Insectarium. It was closed to the public but Mark, one of the employees, was there to meet us. Makeup was applied, the tail donned and photos were taken. Again the crew went to work, this time trying to catch butterflies and hand them to Mark to use as a prop. As with all the photos, good times were had. We wrapped up and headed down the road to our hotel. With all six of us crammed into our hotel room, we shared beers, pizza, and plenty of laughter.

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Day 6

We were up early again as we made our way to the airport to catch a plane to Labrador. After one stop on the milk run, we arrived in Goose Bay. We can guarantee the people in Newfoundland are friendly, but perhaps the folks in Labrador will kick it up even a notch higher? Gabe, one of the Merby's to be photographed, was there to pick us up, along with Sheri from PAL Airlines. We sorted out location options and decided on Gosling Lake with some Labrador Regatta canoes as props (Thanks Myrna!). The models - John, Gabe, Nat and Shaun had all of us in stitches throughout the shoot.  Well, mainly Sean as we had him in quite the contorted positions and he had no trouble pointing it out to us! We wrapped up and all of us headed back to Gabe's house for a BBQ dinner, again a wonderful evening with new friends. Gabe and Sean were kind enough to share their homes with us and as it turned out, we each had our own private bed complete with a door!

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Day 7

With a 5:30 am wake up call, we headed down to the float plane dock with a new set of Merb'ys eager to pose for us. We took some photos as we enjoyed the beautiful views and the conversation with new friends. The shot was successful and we wrapped up what would be our last photoshoot of the project. Right now we're sitting in Gabe's kitchen drinking some delicious coffee, clean after a refreshing shower, ready for our final flight back to St John's.

Tired but happy we're finished, we're also a little sad as we know our team will be spreading apart, but we look forward to seeing them all again some time in the future.

There was a whole lotta love and respect being spread around this project. Here's a shout out written by Dan, after he dropped us off at the airport when we flew to Labrador, so he could do the long drive back to St John's with the empty MerMobile. He said it way better than we could have. Much love to the entire crew and talent!

“After five days, eleven shoots, and 2,132km, the island portion of the #merbys2019 shoot is complete. Who would have thought that you could spend a week trapped in a van with five other people and come out of it liking them even more than when you started? Well that's how MerB'ys roll. Hasan HaiClare Fowler, and Courtney Elliott, you're all the very finest kind of people. Even greater than that, we have come away having made new friends in Dale Roth and Michele Ramberg of roth and ramberg Photography. Not only are they astonishingly talented photographers, they are friendly, warm, kind, and absolutely hilarious.
It was a hectic week, but I saw parts of our beautiful province I had never seen and met more of the beautiful people who live here. Each and every one of the models, make up artists, families, and sponsors reenforced the values which underpin this project, each bringing their own interpretation of how the calendar can help to improve our society in the present and the future.
My back is sore from driving, my feet are blistered from hiking, my sides are stiff from laughing, and my heart is filled with gratitude for being able to participate in this wonderful project in support of ViolencePrevention NL. Be safe in Labrador!

 

 

Roth and Ramberg and the team

The crew had a tiny bit of a sleep in - 8 am, and Dale cooked breakfast for everyone while Michele snuck in a few photos of Hasan in the shower (with tail). We pushed off to the first destination Bonne Bay, located in Gros Morne National Park.

It's a cute little town along the ocean with a tiny main street dotted with cafes, and restaurants and B&B's. We stopped into an awesome cafe located in an old fishing shed. Besides great coffee, the owner Jen has beautiful artwork and ceramics done by local artists, including herself. Jen was our host for the evening as she kindly offered up her house for the crew to stay in.

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Yesterday we talked about Hasan, one of the crew of six including us on the trip. Today we want to mention Dan. Dan owns a high tech security company called Chudworth Technology Solutions. Dan was part of last year's calendar and liked it so much his company has come on board as a sponsor. On this trip he graciously donated his company van, as well being our chauffeur, photo assistant and general all around fun guy. His humour has us all rolling in the aisles and we have certainly found ourselves a new friend.

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The first shot was in a place in the National Park called the Tablelands. Courtney, our designer and art director on the trip promised it was a 1 km hike to the location along a boardwalk. By the 2 kilometre mark, the boardwalk appeared and we began to set up near a river/waterfall. As you can imagine, having big hairy men with mermaid tails tends to gather a crowd. This one especially did as the tail was made out of chain mail (scale mail to be precise), weighing in at over 40 pounds. Dan in his business suit, wrapped the tail around his neck and made the hike to the first location.

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Quite a few of the tourists we met knew all about us as the CBC story has been making the rounds (The story made it on The Weather Network too!) With the first shot under our belt, we headed down the road a few minutes and hiked in to a river to set up for the second shot.

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After a quick picnic in the parking lot, we made the trip down the path to the river. Our second merb'y was a local DJ and a great sport as we had him in many, many uncomfortable positions. Again the crew were a big help and by Day 4 it seems we are a well oiled machine. We made the hike back to the Mermobile and drove back to Jen's house. A few beers and stories later we settles in for a good night's sleep.

Roth and Ramberg explain the details

The morning started with us tiptoeing down the stairs of the bed and breakfast. It was 6 am as we loaded up the Mermobile and headed a short distance around the bay in Twillingate.

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First stop of the day was Twillingate Adventure Tours. Chris, the owner was kind enough to give us access to his boat and dock for whatever we needed. The previous day we had tried in vain to think of a safe way to tie a merb'y to the front of his boat (almost Titanic style) but soon realized it was not possible.

Plan B was to photograph two Merb'ys on the rocks with the bay and town in the background. The morning light cooperated and the shots turned out beautiful. After breakfast, we photographed a clothesline and then we packed up and headed southwest to Springdale.

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After our mandatory car nap we learned more about the Beard and Moustache Club of Newfoundland and Labrador. Hasan Hai is the president and founder of the club. It is open to everyone, including those without facial hair and women. It's basically a social club to meet people and share experiences and to do good things in the community.

Last year Hasan and friends came up with the idea of photographing members of the club in mermaid tails and produce a calendar. They started in September and by Christmas time they had their first ever Merb'y Calendar. The money from the sale of the calendars went to a local charity (Spirit Horse NL). They were hoping to sell 500 copies but ended up selling 14,000 calendars worldwide and raise over $300,000. This year the charity is Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador. The cause was a perfect fit as the goal of the charity is not only to stop violence against women, but all violence, whether against LGBQT or minorities, etc. The idea of big, burly men in mermaid tails helps break down the stereotypes and we are so honoured to be a part of this whole project.

We arrived at Springdale and hiked down to Glassy Beach (a beach where an incredible amount of sea glass has gathered). Jack and Jeff our models were stellar as they were in some pretty uncomfortable positions. Wind whipping and waves crashing made the shoot a bit trickier but we managed to pull it off. Afterwards we headed to Indian Falls Chalet where the owners gave us two beautiful chalets to stay for the night. The rum was opened and drinks flowed as we enjoyed our bbq dinner cooked by Hasan. Tomorrow we get up and head out to Gros Morne, stay tuned.

Roth and Ramberg return to Twillingate

Day two of our adventure began with the sound of the fog horn in the distance as we all rolled out of our various bunk beds. Last night's accommodations were located in a hostel in the small town of Port Rexton, about a three hour drive West of St John's. Besides having a cool hostel, the town boasts a local brewery, appropriately named Port Rexton Brewery Company, and the brewery is where we began our day (taking pictures, not drinking).

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Inside, the taproom looks like it's made for a giant shed party, with a wicked bar, plenty of seating, and a spot to set up and play music. Our three merb'ys arrived and sat down for makeup, while we lit the interior of the taproom, focusing mainly on the bar area. Breakfast was served by Oh My Cheeses (say it with a Newfoundland accent and you will get the pun). The majority ordered the Kevin Bacon grilled cheese sandwich... yum.

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The shoot ended with a few samples of beer before we headed off in the Mermobile for the long drive to Twillingate. Dan, the driver, took over while the rest of us caught up on some much needed rest.

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During the drive/napping, various phones went off in the vehicle. Friends and family were texting that they had seen us on the CBC news, not only in Newfoundland, but nationally. Big Score for the Beard and Moustache Club and their goal to raise money for charity.

https://www.facebook.com/cbcnl/videos/10156691933717174/
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/merbys-calendar-fundraiser-1.4750246

Twillingate is one of our favourite places in Newfoundland. We have been extremely fortunate to have visited this classic fishing village on three other occasions. In fact, we saw our first iceberg very close up in this town, which ended up as little bits of thousand year old ice cubes floating in our whisky.

Our next shot was on the beach were we met up with Crystal. She had organized everything in Twillingate for us. We also met our next Merb'y, Mark, who along with his mother, had custom-made his own tail out of seal skin, with some tartan thrown in for good measure.

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Mark was a bit nervous being a model but he handled it like a pro. The sun beat down on him, and us, but we all managed to plow through to get a killer photo! After a quick stop at the Bed and Breakfast to unload and charge our gear, we headed directly back to the beach where Crystal had a fire going and the best cod chowder a person could ask for, complete with local beer and good conversation, it was again one of many wonderful nights spent in the Canada's friendliest province.

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Roth and Ramberg meet the Merb'ys

So when your friend’s at Ray Agency call and ask if you want to come to Newfoundland for a week-long shoot, you immediately say yes! When they tell you it’s to shoot a Merb'ys calendar for the Beard and Moustache Club of Newfoundland and Labrador, you say F$#k yes! What’s a Merb'y? Well, imagine a mermaid being, big, hairy and, well, a boy (b'y).

We flew into St John’s late last night and today was a 6 am start. Our van, with Uhaul in tow, appropriately named the Mermobile, slowly made its way to Cape Spear. Cape Spear is the Eastern most point in North America. It has a beautiful lighthouse and a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. The more we drove, the heavier the rain became. As we pulled into the parking lot, it began to ease up a little and the skies started to clear.  

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Like Sherpas, we hiked our way up the steep stairs, gear in tow, to set up our first shot - the cover! Slowly, ten merb'ys, with tails in hand, made their way up, and as if on cue, the sun came out and the lighting turned into magic. The rain stopped long enough and so began our adventure. A few rain soaked portraits later, we loaded up the Uhaul and made the short drive to a beautiful fishing stage located in picturesque Petty Cove.

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Needless to say the sight of merby’s on the dock attracted some curious onlookers. News traveled so fast CBC showed up to do an interview with Hasan Hai the President of NLBMC.

The shoot wrapped up and 6 of us climbed into the Mermobile. Daniel - driver and newly crowned photo assistant, Courtney - production designer at Ray Agency, Claire - wardrobe and glitter queen, Hasan and the two of us. Destination -Goobies Irving Big Stop for dinner and overnighting in Port Rexton.  

Keep checking back for new posts.

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Roth and Ramberg rise above

Our friends at ClearMotive gave us a call and wondered if we would be interested in viewing their ideas for a sports medicine client. We sat down with Dan and Rod as they presented the ideas that were to be shown to the client. To be honest, it was the first time we’ve ever been brought in this early in the process, but we were happy to share our opinions of which concept we liked the most and how to go about achieving the final results.

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Regular people were sought out to be the talent as the idea was to show everyday people, not super athletes, or fashion models. The trick, of course, was to capture the action and in some situations, capture them in mid air.

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Our choices of people couldn’t have been better, as they really gave it their all.

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Roth and Ramberg go spelunking

Recently we had an incredible opportunity to take some photos with the wonderful people at Travel Alberta. Our mission, if we chose to accept it, was to hike up a mountain, gear up in coveralls, harnesses, helmets and head lamps, and go inside a deep pitch-black cave. Adding to the fun, we would also have to carry heavy backpacks with our camera gear and lighting. Oh, and to top it all off, we'd be inside the cave for about 6 hours and there's no bathroom.

Michele was able to scout the location a week prior so she was able to get a game plan in mind. The conversation of tight quarters and physical exertion began to scare even the non-claustrophobic Dale and our assistants.

Heading up early morning, we met Max and Brandon from Canmore Cave Tours and gathered our red coveralls, harnesses, etc. The we drove to the base of Grotto Mountain and parked our cars. From there we proceeded to hike the 40 minute climb up to a makeshift tent and benches where we got suited up and started our journey down the cave.

We descended bit by bit handing over every piece of equipment, one at a time, and climbing over, and under, whatever obstacles got in our way. In the end, we shot in several different locations deep within the cave. An experience we will not soon forget.

Michele loved the experience so much that she went back the week after with some friends to do the complete tour, including the 6 story rappel and the tight squeeze called the 'laundry shoot'. You should go too! 

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Roth and Ramberg meet the Torngats

Day 11-14: Torngat Mountains National Park

Posted by Terri

(Day 11)

We woke up with the moon perched over Forteau at 5 o’clock in the morning. After ten days, 20-odd communities spread across three time zones, hundreds of photos, today we were heading to the Torngats. 

We caught a flight from Blanc-Sablon to Goose Bay to meet up with our charter. When we arrived, the Air Labrador lounge was already buzzing with people, luggage carts, and general excitement. Waiting passengers, mostly seasoned travel media, were decked out in zip-off pants, puffy coats, and hiking boots. They shook hands over coffee, muffins, and an abundance of camera gear. 

The newly minted Torngat Mountains National Park is a rare, remote part of the world. Located on traditional Inuit hunting grounds, it’s as rich in Inuit culture and history as it is natural beauty. It was everything we could hope for, and nothing we expected.

Arriving at the airstrip in Saglek was like landing on Mars, or so I imagined. As we deplaned, everyone was quiet, and our heads twisted and turned like bobbles, absorbing the strange, new landscape.

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We passed a group of people waiting to board our plane and head back home. It was easy to tell they’d been in the wilderness for a while. By comparison, we looked and felt like fresh meat. 

Walking down the rocky slope towards the zodiac waiting below felt a bit like walking the plank, all of us about to jump into the unknown together. At least we were wearing PFDs and an abundance of bug repellent.

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After a short ride to the boat, our eclectic group of travellers settled in for a one-hour steam to Basecamp. Along the way, we passed the kind of iceberg that every other iceberg aspires to be. Highlighted by cool greens and bright blues, it was sculpted into nature’s finest example of Northern architecture.

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When we rounded the bay, we could see Basecamp in the distance, a blend of safari-like white tents and Arctic green domes that would be our home for the next four days.

On the wharf, we stepped onto a little wooden step painted with the word Welcome. And it was exactly how we felt in this strange, new world. 

The first day anywhere new is always a little awkward – where’s the bathroom, what time is dinner, does this bug net highlight my eyes? But we soon found our way around and happily settled into our new life in a deluxe tent, outfitted in Ikea furnishings, fixtures, and linens, surrounded by mountains, the sea, and an electric polar bear fence.

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By the end of the day, it already felt like a tightknit community, where everyone waves and says hello, good night, and sleep well. On account of not having any Internet or cell service (bonus feature), we found the time to practice the ancient art of conversation over dinner, around the fire, or hiking up the side of a mountain.

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(Days 12 – 13)

In the days that followed, we found there was never a dull moment, unless you wanted one. Guests could choose their own adventure, as long as the weather cooperated and you were accompanied by a bear guide for any offsite excursions.

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When the sun came out, we took full advantage of spontaneous hikes above Basecamp, or boat trips through deep waters, surrounded by mountains on either side. Some sharp, some soft and round. All ancient.

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When the fog camouflaged the surrounding mountains and any safe passage out of the bay, plans quickly changed. Everyone just rolled with it, the staff expertly so. And every day was delightfully different from the next.

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We were fortunate to be at Basecamp at the same time as three amazing musicians: Joe Grass, Mike Stevens, and Elisapie. I couldn’t think of a better soundtrack to help us absorb the surroundings. Or a cooler jam than Willie Thrasher’s Wolves don’t live by the rules.

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Though the epic Torngat Mountains themselves didn’t disappoint, from the geology to the incredible history, our stay was about much more than grabbing a screensaver panoramic. It’s an incredibly special place where you don’t just hear about Inuit culture, you experience it firsthand.

On a day trip to North Arm, three hours by boat from Basecamp, we fished for char in the middle of a stunning fjord. Then they were cleaned on the beach and prepped for lunch. We watched as Sophie, a beloved Inuit elder born on nearby Rose Island, made Bannock (traditional Inuit bread) and served it with the freshly caught ‘fjord to fire’ char.

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Surrounded by a fortress of ancient mountains on all sides, we felt quite literally in the heart of the Torngats. And each and every one of us knew what an honour that was. As we left, the sun warmed the steep slopes of brown earth, and us along with it.

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Another day, we learned about the forced resettlement of Hebron, a nearby community, that had a devastating and lasting impact on its people. A former resident of the community, John, told his story and answered our questions. His perseverance was astounding. His willingness to share even more so.

At lunch or around the fire, we chatted with Inuit youth, elders or one of the Inuit Basecamp staff. We tried (with varying degrees of success) to pronounce Inuit words. We heard stories of fishing and hunting and living off the land. We listened to incredible songs written in Inuktitut. We ate seal. (OK, Michele ate seal.)

And it was even more amazing than the Torngats themselves. If there’s one thing they don’t tell you on the brochure, it’s the tangible sense of community among staff, students, and guests, rooted in Inuit culture. It may not be as grand as the fjords but it’s equally important and leaves a lasting impression.

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(Day 14)

Though every day was incredible, our last night was particularly memorable. 

After a full day of relentless rain and heavy fog, we spent the evening gathered in a large tent watching, learning, and attempting Inuit games such as the Monkey Dance, Owl Hop, Airplane, Musk Ox, and Seal Kick. There was so much talent in one room, and so much joy.

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At the end of the evening, the doors of the hot tent flung open into night. The rain had finally stopped, and the sky cleared. As if on cue, the Northern Lights finally made an appearance. We stayed up until 2am in the crisp air, and nobody seemed to mind the cold hands, faces, and toes. The sky was dancing and so were we (on the inside at least).

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Perhaps it was the rawness of the landscape, or the fact that we had no buzzing phones to hide behind, but there’s something pretty magical about a place that makes you smile wider and feel more deeply. 

(Day 15)

On our very last morning, the sun was warm and strong as we toured the mountains by helicopter. As stunning as they are from the ground, they are truly incredible from the sky.

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After our epic tour, we knew we had to jump in the ocean at least once (and for a very short amount of time on account of hypothermia). So off we went, bikini clad in the Torngats, with our friend Janice as our fearless guide. We then spent a few quiet hours taking photos, writing, and processing the experience, as much as we could.

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Just before we were heading out, a new group of people arrived at Basecamp. It was almost startling to see their fresh faces. They looked just like us four days ago, and we were the disheveled group of people on the airstrip, shipping out as they shipped in.

We only wished we could go back and ship in once again. 

Thanks to the entire Basecamp staff who made our trip so incredible, and in particular, Janice, Jean, Gary, Joe (Hi Joe!), Brian, Chesley, Matt the Medic / Sherpa, and the amazing kitchen staff for feeding us so well (maybe too well?). 

Thanks to Peter, Rena, and Adam for letting us crash your ride, Marnie at Hotel North 2 for being a miracle worker when we needed it (and for putting my char in the freezer), our Universal Helicopters pilot Steve, and our Air Labrador pilots Bob and Dave for picking us and taking us home. Heartfelt thanks to everyone at Air Labrador, Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, and Parks Canada for an incredible Torngats experience. And thanks to Shelagh for being the best Musk Ox opponent a girl could ask for.

Nakummek, 

Dale, Michele, Terri

 

Roth and Ramberg say au revoir to the south coast

Day 10: Blanc-Sablon, Point Amour

Posted by Terri

Blanc-Sablon, Quebec

Dale and Michele had another early start. Thankfully, they were reunited with the sun, and chased it all over Blanc-Sablon and beyond.

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After a quick breakfast, we drove to the end of the road in Vieux-Fort to find the other ‘138 Fin’ sign, a twin to the one in Kegaska. Then we hopped our way back down the Shore towards Labrador, stopping to shoot in and around scenic St. Paul’s River, Middle Bay, and Brador Falls, along others.

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With warm summer sun, a light breeze, and zero flies, our last day on the Quebec Lower North Shore was made to order.

As we cruised along in our borrowed car, listening to borrowed CDs, somewhere between Quebec and Labrador, we talked about the places we’d been and the people we’d met along the way. People who were intrinsically tied to their remote communities and to their way of life. Bound by generations, a shared history, and a love of the land and sea.

While some people may not grasp the concept of clinging to tradition, enduring a harsher climate, or choosing a less convenient life, home is home. And in this part of the world, that’s everything.

Point Amour, Labrador

Besides being the end of our amazing journey on the South Coast, it also happened to be my wedding anniversary. And Dale’s. Just not to each other.

The irony of spending the evening at a romantic dinner at the iconic Point Amour Lighthouse without our spouses was not lost on us. But we embraced the chance to dine on locally-sourced cuisine in an incredible historic setting. And we were delighted with our little mason jar salads, not to mention the company.

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Thanks to Carmen for the wonderful dinner, Air Labrador’s Barb for allowing us to hijack your car again (Dale loves your Bob Seger’s Greatest Hits by the way), Julia for keeping our tripod safe and sound, and Michelle for absolutely everything. 

Signing Off

Tomorrow, we travel way, way North to the incredible Torngat Mountains. Part of that experience (rightly so) is to literally unplug from the world. No texting, no emails, no blogs. So we’re going off the grid. We’ll have one final post upon our return next week. Please stay tuned.

Before we sign off, we want to thank everyone throughout Northern Labrador, the Labrador Straits, and the Quebec Lower North Shore who shared their homes, trucks, quads, stories, and spirit with us. We also want to thank the entire Air Labrador team for making this adventure possible. It was an unforgettable journey.

 

 

 

Roth and Ramberg meet the fog

Day 9: Saint-Augustin, Quebec

Posted by Terri

As the day began, the magic light was nowhere to be found. Rather, we were greeted by fog. Being from the Island of Newfoundland, this was not a new concept to me. And if anything, we were surprised we had managed to outrun it this far. Perhaps we were due.

Regardless, Dale and Michele went out shooting at first light, and made the most of the moody skies over a still sleeping Saint-Augustin. 

After a hearty 6am breakfast cooked up by Leo, we were back on the hovercraft to cross the river and catch our possible flight. We soon learned everything was on weather hold. So we settled in for a bit of a wait, and Dale introduced me to the wonderful world of Angry Birds.

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Being delayed indefinitely gave us our first real taste of what it’s like to live in a remote community where the daily forecast commands attention, and being able to roll with it is an invaluable life skill. 

An hour later, with no sign of blue sky, we took the hovercraft back over to Saint-Augustin to grab a few essential snack items at the dépanneur (store): coffee, fudge, cookies, Lunchables with bologna, and a variety of chips. We only had 15 minutes to get back on the hovercraft, which connects Pakuashipi (and the airport) with Saint-Augustin. It was a bit of a mad dash but we made it. And the fudge was totally worth the trip.

Slowly but surely, the fog began to lift. With it, our optimism. As we wouldn’t be shipping out until the evening, we hopped back on the super cool hovercraft once more to enjoy some borrowed time in Saint-Augustin. Not to mention another crab sandwich. 

On the plane back to Blanc Sablon, we reunited with our friends from Harrington Harbour. And before we knew it, we were already there. 

Thanks to Leo for the awesome breakfast, The Sisters for feeding us again, our friendly hovercraft operators for ferrying us back and forth, and Air Labrador’s Natalie, Greta, Hilary, Emedy, and Ian in Saint-Augustin for taking such great care of us, Julia in Blanc Sablon finding my purse, and our pilots Renee and Chris for helping us travel on. 

Roth and Ramberg by land, sea and air

Day 8: Harrington Harbour, Sept-Iles and Saint-Augustin

Posted by Terri

I woke up in Harrington Harbour at 5:30am, just as Dale and Michele were finishing up another sunrise shoot. Soon we were back at Jean’s for a great big homemade breakfast. As we ate, the fog rolled in and fastened itself to the Harbour. 

Somewhat concerned about our chances of flying out, we were also somewhat delighted at the prospect of getting to spend another night in Harrington Harbour. 

Without knowing which way the day would take us, we headed to the boat for the journey back to Chevery, and decided to leave it up to nature.

The marina was already buzzing with activity, with boats coming in to dock and small groups of fishermen relaying the early morning news. 

As we cruised along the open water and the sun began to peek out through the pea soup sky, we knew the decision had been made – we were moving on. 

Nicole picked us up on the other side of the bay and we just had enough time before our flight for a few more snaps. As we walked along the beach in Chevery, which looked like the backdrop of a Nicolas Sparks movie sans Channing Tatum, the fog all but disappeared, and we were soon on our way.

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Sept-Iles, Quebec

After spending the past seven days in tiny towns and villages throughout Northern Labrador and the Quebec Lower North Shore, Sept-Iles was a bit of a culture shock. With a population of 25,000, it’s one of the largest towns in the region. And it felt almost foreign to be in a place with more than one restaurant, let alone roads. But as we sipped americanos and lattes at the airport café, we soon acclimatized. 

Outfitted with a new ride at the airport, we set out to see what Sept Iles had to offer in a very short amount of time. We started out with a visit to Le Vieux-Poste, a historical interpretation site that tells the story of the old Innu-French trading post. Then we made our way down to the waterfront boardwalk where Dale finally got to try out the only line of French he knows: je m’appelle jambon. Which loosely translates into my name is ham. Luckily, the folks at the artisan shops applauded his efforts, and we could always rely on Michele for actual French language assistance.

Next we hit Moisie Beach to check out the paddle boarders and general beach vibe. Along the way, we stopped into the Surf Shack and met friendly owners Fred and Sandra. They quickly welcomed us to come in and look around, obviously well accustomed to all sorts of random drop-ins.

Fred showed us one of his amazing hand-carved boards, which took him 60 hours to make. As I secretly plotted a way to fit it in my carry-on, Dale and Michele took Fred’s photograph back on the beach and planned a possible meet up in Tofino, relying on the universal language of surfing.

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After the beach, we ate lunch on a deck overlooking the marina, enjoying the very warm afternoon soon. Then, once again, we headed back to the airport to catch our next flight.

Saint-Augustin, Quebec

We landed in Saint-Augustin just as the light was disappearing into the clouds. But not before we could see the hovercraft in the distance – our ride to town. Now while this is probably a major inconvenience if you have to do it every day, for us, it was another adventure, and we were totally game. In fact, we think every town should have a hovercraft.

We made it across Saint-Augustin River on our awesome ride just in time for a quick but delicious bite at Le Restaurant des Soeurs (The Sisters). After a quick scout around town in the dark, we got work downloading the day that was. It would be another short visit, but we were determined to pack as much in as possible. 

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Thanks to Greta for the wheels and the hospitality, and Air Labrador’s Michelle and Barb for the sunny lunch, Nicole for the pick up, Fanny, Jodina, and Jennifer for the big smiles, Natalie for the Saint Augustin welcome, and our pilots Simon, Renee, Felix, and Chris for once again getting us there.

Roth and Ramberg say bonjour to the Quebec lower north shore

Day 7: Kegaska, Harrington Harbour

Posted by Terri

We spent the night in Blanc Sablon, Quebec. The fact that we’d crossed the border was not lost on us, especially at the grocery store, where you can find a bottle of rosé to go with your Camembert. That and the accents had shifted from English, to English mingled with French. There were as many bonjours as hellos, and on account of the friendly people, they were both plentiful.

Armed with our prior warning about the shifting time zones, but iphones / alarm clocks that seemed slow on the uptake, we did the best math we could given the fact that were we up since 5am Labrador time, spent the day on Newfoundland time, and were going to bed in Quebec. We made a plan to regroup at 6am. So off to bed we went, secure in the knowledge we wouldn’t miss our flight. 

A few hours later, I woke up to a gentle knock at my motel door. Here was Dale, freshly showered and ready to rock. It was 4:30am, Quebec time. 

Needless to say, we went back to sleep and enjoyed the temporary advantages of cross border travel.

Kegaska, Quebec

Despite our early morning challenges, we made our flight in plenty of time, and began our trek across the Quebec Lower North Shore (along the Jacques Cartier Trail).

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As the plane hopped from one coastal community to the next, we got sense of the new (to us) landscape – lush green mixed with rugged rock, endless sandy shores, and thousands of islands.

We spent the morning in Kegaska, the western most village on the Lower North Shore. The tiny fishing community with a two-room school is wrapped around a crescent shaped beach. It was the perfect spot to dine al fresco on a picnic table, especially on account of the restaurant being closed. Our lunch (or dinner, depending on where you’re from) consisted of chips and dip, Swedish fish, beef jerky, and butterscotch pudding (with a communal fork). It was almost as good as the view. (Note to self: eat a salad.)

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Since we had another plane to catch in the early afternoon, we got to work roaming around town in our borrowed black truck. The only sounds you could hear were an occasional speed boat, the odd seagull, and the snap of a camera. 

Harrington Harbour, Quebec

Two quick hops later, we landed in Chevery. Nicole, our Air Labrador agent and wheels on the ground, took us on a quick tour on the way to the dock.

Our final destination for the day was Harrington Harbour, a tiny fishing village on an island about a 30-minute boat ride away with no roads, no cell service, and an unlimited view. It sounded perfect. And it totally was.

Since there are no roads, there are no cars. Instead, locals rely on quads to zip along the boardwalks that connect every inch of the place. In fact, other than the ocean, it’s the only sound you can hear. 

We wasted no time chasing what was left of the late afternoon sun. And we couldn’t think of a prettier place to do it.

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The evening ended with supper at Jean’s Auberge (Inn). As we dined on fresh lobster caught that morning (OK, Dale and I had the chicken) we chatted to guests from all along the Lower North Shore, and discovered that this too is a small world in a big land, just on the other side of the border. 

Thanks to Air Labrador’s Julia & Tristan in Blanc Sablon for handling our excessive baggage, Brenda in Kegaska for scoring us a truck, and Nicole in Harrington Harbour for the tour and the ground transportation, and our pilots Sean and Simon for getting us there. Also, thanks to Jean for feeding us, not once, but twice.

Roth and Ramberg head south

DAY 6: Blanc Sablon, Labrador Straits

Posted by Terri

 

Though it wasn’t the promise of magical light that woke us at 5am today, we were still up before the sun. This time, to catch a flight all the way to Blanc Sablon to explore the scenic Labrador Straits.

We were joined by Air Labrador’s Michelle (not to be confused with Michele Ramberg, half of Roth &Ramberg), who grew up in Forteau, and knows every inch of the place. Luckily, the sun had followed us from Nain, and the light would be perfect today.

As we drove along the shoreline in the quiet hours of the early morning, we noticed how the landscape had changed dramatically from the harshly beautiful North Coast. It was softer somehow, and quintessentially seaside, complete with sandy beaches and rolling waves, with the Island of Newfoundland barely visible off in the distance.

Our first stop was the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, a National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we learned about the incredible history of the Basques whalers during the 16thcentury. After a tour of the Interpretation Centre, we parted for Tracey Hill Lookout, leaving Dale to shoot the town below.

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Though the boardwalk up took exactly 670 stairs, the view over Red Bay was well worth the climb. Along the way, Michelle told us stories of picking berries as a kid, and schooled us on how to pick a proper Bakeapple (also known as a Cloudberry). As we climbed down, we hunted the hillside for perfectly ripe berries made warm by the morning sun. Needless to say, none of them made it back to the parking lot.

After a lovely lunch (including Bakeapple Pie), we drove along the Straits, stopping at several picturesque communities along the way, including Capstan Island, L’Anse au Loup, and L’Anse Amour.

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We arrived at Point Amour Lighthouse, the tallest in Atlantic Canada, late in the afternoon. Being self-proclaimed champion climbers, we couldn’t resist another 132 stairs (including two rather steep ladders) straight to the top, encased in 6-feet thick stone walls.

With nothing else to worry about, other than how to change our iphones from Labrador to Newfoundland time, we talked about the peculiar name of the place. And how, perhaps, we’d finally found the point of love, right there on the Straits.

Thanks to Air Labrador’s Michelle for being our amazing tour guide, and our pilots, Shawn and Ben, for taking us South.

Roth and Ramberg and the carvers of Nain

Day 5: Nain

Posted by Terri

Upon the promise of early morning sunshine, Dale and Michele were up and on top of a mountain at 4:45am, like champions. Turns out it was a really good idea. The sunrise didn’t disappoint.

After a hearty breakfast we were joined by Isabella, our host in Nain, and set off to photograph some amazing carvers. (Just after a quick shopping excursion into the craft shop, of course.)

First up was John. The stone carver, jewelry maker, and painter was already hard at work, even though he says he’s retired. As we sat in the warm morning sun, with Mt. Sophie reigning supreme on the other side of the harbour, he told us that he gets his exceptional stone from a secret spot. He did not, however, tell us where that was.

Next we met Gilbert, known throughout the world for his beautiful carvings. It’s so popular, he can’t keep it in stock. 

He showed us the giant slab of Labradorite next to his house. He called it Blue Eyes on account of the glistening blue flecks of colour throughout. With a little bit of water, the colour popped out of the stone, the sun making it even more magical.

Gilbert told us about all of the moral support he has received, especially from his wife of 38 years, Sue, and how his children are his pride and joy. It also happened to be his 65th birthday (Happy Birthday Gilbert!).

Last but certainly not least, we visited Isabella’s Uncle Johnny in his wood shed. At 86 years old, his imagination is alive and well, and ever present in his hand crafted boats, fish, dogs, and ookpiks, among many other brightly painted animals and characters.

Three incredible carvers (and characters) later, we were off to the airport to catch the long flight back down the coast to Goose Bay, saying good bye to Isabella, Nain, and the rest of Nunatsiavut (for now). Tomorrow we’d be heading South, all the while hoping the light would chase us. 

Thanks to Isabella for taking such great care of us, Air Labrador agents Crystal and Amanda for helping with the bags, and our pilots Ben and Kevin for taking us back down the Coast.

Roth and Ramberg do three flights and to boats

DAY 4: Hopedale, Postville and Nain

Posted by Terri

After a quick weather check at 4:30am by Dale and Michele, we knew there would be no magic morning light in Hopedale, but there would be a magic morning flight straight to Postville. The fog had lifted, so we were travelling on.

We hopped on a cargo flight and flew into the tiny community with a big heart. Not to mention, an equally big view.

We were met at the airport by Ruth, a retired teacher and current economic development officer who literally taught most everyone in town. And now, she was schooling us on all things Postville. 

First up, an epic lesson in Labrador hospitality. We knew we were in for a treat when she described the freshly made tarts, sandwiches, toutons, and jams she had prepared for our trip up English River.

After a quick change into rubber boots, she took us directly to the dock, where a crew was already aboard – Samantha, Nicole, and Ruth’s husband Amos. We were off to the Salmon Counting Fence to get the day’s tally. 

Along the way, we learned about the history of Postville (a trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company), shared stories, and got to know each other in short order. Two boats later, we arrived at our destination – a newly built outpost by the side of the river. The stove was lit, kettle boiled, and a feast served. 

With full and thankful bellies, Dale and Michele were hilariously kitted out in borrowed, and somewhat ill-fitting, neoprene hip waders. Amos is probably still laughing. 

The group then got down to work, waist deep in the river, counting salmon (and 1 char).

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From the shore, I could tell they were simply having too much fun to call it work. But work was done (including photos) and it was time to go. 

We spent our final hours shooting around the community, including the beautiful Post Hill wearing a crown of fog. We also got to meet Douglas, father of Amos, and town elder. We photographed him on the wharf sitting on his bench, where he waits for the Northern Ranger (a passenger ship) when she comes to town.

Before we knew it our pilots were back to pick us up. We said good bye to Ruth, took our bakeapple and rhubarb jams, and went on our way.

Back in the air, with the sun breaking through, we chatted with fellow travellers like Douglas from Rigolet, and Mustafa and Lauren from Halifax. Within minutes, we found common connections, or at least common ground. It occurred to us how small this place really is, just as the landscape seemed to grow bigger and bigger. Perhaps that is the Labrador paradox. A small world in a big land. 

NAIN

With the sun now out in full force, we touched down on the prettiest airstrip, cocooned by mountains and water. Welcome to Nain, the largest and most Northern community in Nunatsiavut.

We were greeted by Isabella, hopped aboard her truck, and started a new adventure in a new town. We visited the beautiful Moravian Church (thanks Simon!), saw the new Cultural Centre from afar (opening 2017), and gazed up at Mt. Sophie, overlooking the community.

After Isabella gave us a grand tour, from waterfront to mountain top, and we stopped for a minute to grab a bite, we then set out to chase the evening light over Nain. 

Thanks to Jeremy in Hopedale for returning our truck, Ruth, Amos, Samantha, and Nicole for an incredible day in Postville, Benny and Dillon of Air Labrador for getting us there (again), and Isabella for a wonderful Nain welcome.

Roth and Ramberg head to Hopedale

DAY 3: Makkovik and Hopedale

Posted by Terri

While I slept like a princess without a pea, Dale and Michele got up at 5am, beating the sun by a full half hour to catch the magic light over Makkovik. After some beautiful scenics of the harbour, they wandered over to the fish plant where folks were hard at work processing Turbot.

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They were already back to the hotel and knocking at my door before my head left the pillow. Which is exactly why no one ever gives me a camera.

After a quick breakfast we headed up the road to the airport, returned Barb’s truck, and chatted away with Captain Benny before take off. As the day’s cargo was being dispatched, we talked about the changing landscape from South to North. And once up in the air en route to Hopedale, you could see the dramatic shift into barren rock, rolling hills, and a sprinkling of tiny islands.

Hopedale

After we landed, we hung around the airport to capture the take off. Within a few minutes, it seemed to be just us and our endless line up of heavy gear left. We thought maybe this was a good time to figure out a way to the hotel. All of a sudden, we were asked if we needed a ride into town by a random voice. It turned out to be Tina, our transportation angel. She even agreed to take our picture climbing up a hill to grab a photo with the ‘Welcome to Hopedale’ sign. A kind introduction, indeed.

Once we dropped our colossal assortment of bags at the hotel, we headed out in search of the story of the day.

Being in the Legislative Capital of Nunatsiavut, we visited the incredible Assembly Building, complete with stunning Labradorite floors and blue sealskin chairs. (Thanks to Ian for the tour, by the way, sorry we couldn’t get hold of your mom.) Here, the story of Nunatsiavut continued, as we were once again welcomed with open arms.

We also met up with David of the Agvituuk Sivumuak Society at the Hopedale Interpretation Centre. We learned about the Moravian history of Hopedale and roamed throughout the 150-year-old buildings where the stories still felt very much alive.

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Later in the day, Sarah of the Hopedale Moravian Sewing Circle opened up her workshop. Minutes later, Michele and I opened up our wallets, unable to resist the beautiful moose hide mittens and hand beaded slippers.

As we sat down to put our daily post together, the fog hung low over the ridge over Hopedale. Would we be travelling on tomorrow? Would we be fogged in? We didn’t have the answer but we were happy to roll with it either way, being in no hurry whatsoever.

Thanks to Barb, Carla, Benny, Dillon and Inez at Air Labrador. Thanks to Tina for the lift, Danielle, Matilda, and Maria for the truck and the phone numbers, David and Ian for the tours, and Sarah for the mittens and slippers. 

Roth and Ramberg hit the north coast

DAY 2: Rigolet and Makkovik

Posted by Terri

Rigolet

We started the day just before sunrise and managed to squeeze in a few last snaps in the pretty morning light before we took off to Rigolet. 

We landed in light rain and heavy black flies. But we came packing with three kinds of insect repellent. And I’m happy to report, we won. Soon after, the sun came out and stayed out, putting a sparkle on absolutely everything.

We had arranged to meet up with Kristy, who graciously gave up her day off to show us around the Rigolet she knows and loves. Her pride in her hometown shines through, and it’s easy to see why.

Not only can you find the world’s longest boardwalk, you can also find something you can’t quite pinpoint on a map.

Just a couple hours on the ground, and I had forgotten about whatever was stressing me out just 24 hours ago. Mostly because my phone didn’t work (a miraculous discovery).

Friendly people, incredible natural beauty, kids who still ride bikes and skip stones, and a real sense of community that was palpable.

We photographed boat builders, craftspeople, carvers, off-duty police officers shucking scallops, on-duty police officers driving quads, a gentleman named Hooker from Mud Lake (Hi Hooker!), and many, many more.

The one thing they all had in common was their desire to maintain the traditional way of life, and their willingness to share it with open hearts.

During our short stay, we were fortunate to catch some of the annual Rigolet Salmon Fest, including the BBQ lunch, and the leftover floats from yesterday’s parade. One of the homemade signs said, “Rigolet, the place to be.” And how true it was.

Makkovik

With just a quick 25-minute flight North, we landed in Makkovik.

We literally weren’t in town for 10 minutes and Michele was in a boat. On our first scout about town, she met up with Reg who was just out for a spin. With his dog Bryce swimming behind him, it made for a pretty idyllic introduction to a pretty coastal town.

We heard about the Trout Festival happening and instantly wanted in on the Community Bingo. Sadly, it was being played by radio and we had shooting to do. But we did snag some amazing Trout Festival swag at the community centre, ate a pinwheel, and headed on.

We stopped by the White Elephant Museum, where we chatted with Joan, learned about the incredible Moravian and Norwegian history (Andersen, not Anderson), and bumped into some visitors who just sailed in on the Northern Ranger.

On account of some recent bear activity (and a general fear of bear activity), we missed out on the boardwalk, and decided to call it an early night (relatively speaking) and get caught up on some writing and editing.

So here we are, at the end of day two. Tired, sunburnt, and covered in more than one fly bite. And we couldn’t be more thrilled.

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Post-script:

A big thanks to Kristy for the unforgettable day in Rigolet, Natalie and Barb for the loan of your trucks, Garret for the quad escort to our hotel, and our pilots Benny, Dave, and Romain who not only got us there, but who had the patience to let us take many, many pictures.

Roth and Ramberg teams up with Air Labrador for Big Land adventures

Go big or go home. Every year, we try to find a new, exciting location to shoot our annual calendar. But this year, we really wanted to go big. We couldn’t think of anywhere bigger than Labrador. After all, it’s not called the Big Land for nothing.

So we’ve teamed up with Air Labrador and Ray Agency for an epic two-week adventure in one of the most beautiful, remote Northern destinations in Canada. We’ll be posting photos and updates daily, and you can follow our travel blog at rothandramberg.com

DAY 1: (A Retrospective)

Posted by Terri

I met up with Dale and Michele at the St. John’s Airport. Dale had just spent a week with his family touring around the Island while Michele was fresh off an all-nighter flight from Calgary (and surprisingly perky).

We set off for Goose Bay aboard Air Labrador and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day from twenty-something thousand feet. Dale and Michele being Big Land first timers (and me with limited mileage) we were more than a little excited. But still managed to squeeze in a nap.

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After securing the world’s largest van, we made our way to North West River, just a short drive outside of Goose Bay for some evening snaps.

Thanks to a chat in the local store over a harmonious ice-cream slushie concoction, we were literally led by a very kind man to a look out site above the community. There we stumbled upon a young woman sitting in a car eating sunflower seeds. The front tires were dug into a pile of loose sand, and it was obvious she wasn’t going anywhere.

She was waiting for her boyfriend to return with reinforcements, and was happy to pass the time getting her photograph taken, just as the moody, pinkish skies did their magic on an already magical scene.

As we chatted back and forth, she told us she watches the sunset there every evening. And I could totally see why.

When the reinforcements arrived, and the towing plan didn’t work quite cut it, we (miraculously) helped pushed the car out. I lost a flip flop. Dale and Michele gained a photo. And the car was back on the road. Much like us.

After a quick bite to eat, and a scan of the day’s visual haul, we were off to bed. Tomorrow promised to be an early rise. And we couldn’t wait to see what exactly it had in store.

Roth and Ramberg present 'Random Acts of Photography'

It’s that time of year- the launch of the annual Roth and Ramberg Calendar.

As commercial photographers, our job is to capture a moment ­­­­­- to document an instance that will never be repeated exactly the same way again. It’s about the details. The experience. Yes, we take pictures for a living, but we rarely put down our cameras down or stop looking at the world and what is happening endlessly around us.

This year’s calendar is titled Random Acts of Photography and the images inside are exactly that… random. Rather than showcasing our commercial work, we decided to show what inspires us to take photographs in our everyday world.

We worked with a talented team to bring it all together. The calendar was designed by Sue McGillivray from [e]merge creative and printed by Kallen Printing. Here is a behind-the-scenes video of the exceptionally complex printing/binding process and a sneak peek of some of the images.

Enjoy!

Dale and Michele

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Roth and Ramberg shoot for Rethink/Molson

JULY 13, 2015

Recently we had the opportunity to work with Rethink on their Molson campaign. The job consisted of two photos featuring Alberta Barley. Our rep Gina (They Rep) organized model, location and prop stylist and we were soon off in a motorhome to Southern Alberta. We spent the day waiting for the perfect light and weather. Creative Director Leia Rogers was on hand to oversee the shoot and did a stellar job.

As usual our in house photoshop guy who did an incredible job putting everything together! Thanks Geoff

Here are some behind the scenes photos from the day as well as the two final billboards.