Following high school in Ottawa, Ontario, I attended college for photojournalism with no prior knowledge of photography. I loved the news industry: the excitement the diversity and the challenge. After college, I had the fortunate opportunity to freelance for a large daily newspaper in Montreal, Canada. But at twenty-one, I was not happy. I could see my life heading in a direction that was unhealthy and detrimental. I was presented with many opportunities to shoot many soul-fulfilling images, but there were also many life-altering situations I had to photograph that didn’t feel right to me. I did not find the support I needed in those circumstances, felt alienated and alone, blaming my camera for the loss I felt.
I became fixated on the ocean and how it made me feel, so I booked a one-way ticket to Hawaii, telling friends and family I had given up on journalism and was becoming a surf photographer. I contacted a few famous surf photographers to inquire about the industry only to receive nothing but negative replies. One even said, “I would not quit a perfectly good job and try to find work in the surf scene. It’s almost impossible to get work. I just wanted to let you know this before you made a foolish move.”
When I got to Hawaii I put down my camera and picked up a surfboard. I quickly fell deeply in love with surfing. I felt home. I felt accepted. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
I did not anticipate how long my break from photography would be. I travelled around the world for nearly three years, working various jobs in order to scuba dive and surf and falling deeper into a relationship with salt water. My desire to be in the ocean became a necessity. However, my dream to shoot surfing never went away and without my camera I felt unsatisfied and undeniably lost. I had drifted so far from the industry. I felt anger towards photography and getting back into shooting was simply too overwhelming.
When I arrived back in Canada I applied to a school for holistic nutrition and quickly tried to erase any evidence I had ever been involved in photography. I wanted to sell everything. The burden and guilt were too difficult to bear and without camera gear I would no longer feel guilty for not taking photos. My parents intervened and encouraged me to hold onto the gear just in case, and I am thankful for that advice every day.
During my earlier travels, many people told me I should go to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is famous for surfing. So I decided to spend my summer break from school, there, and drove out in the late spring to meet with the Surf Sister Surf School owner, Krissy Montgomery. Little did I know that interview would be a pivotal point in my life.
Once I began working at Surf Sister Surf School, with an all-female staff of surf instructors, I was drawn into one of the most inspiring and unique communities I have ever come across. A thriving sisterhood of women living unconventional lives to fulfill their need of being in the ocean and surfing.
To say I was inspired was an understatement. These women lived and breathed the wild west coast of Canada. They found beauty and strength in our cold waters, while building a deep understanding of the ocean and the importance of a strong female community.
I fell in love with it all and as I became more familiar with Canada’s surf scene, I realized there wasn’t nearly enough focus on these dedicated women. I wanted to have tangible evidence of this magical experience I had found in Tofino that had quickly become my reality.
Since moving to Vancouver Island and being back in school, I had begun shooting very briefly, however, when I decided I wanted to dive deep into surf photography a dream I had for so long,
For so long I had been haunted by my past experiences in photography, but the ocean became a vessel of healing for me and my relationship with my camera. I felt like all my years since high school finally made sense. I made up my mind and returned to my long-time dream of diving deep into surf photography.
My work has given me much more than I could ever articulate. It has made me grow, heal and find my creativity again. It has helped me work through fears in the water and on land. It has taken my life and refashioned it in the most poetic way and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
Without ever taking for granted my journey and the opportunities I have had, my goal is to invigorate people with my images to get outside. To find the part of nature that makes them feel strong, confident and inspired. Because when you do, I can promise it will change your life.
At Barnacle Babes, we aim to be interactive, engaging, proactive, purposeful, actionable and supportive to all women, their families, their ocean cause and sport.