behind the seams: Fogo Island, Newfoundland
posted: November 20, 2013
photo by Paddy Barry, courtesy Fogo Island Inn
Neither Newfoundland nor Fogo Island was a top contender as places I wanted to discover. I feel so naïve admitting that considering Fogo Island was one of the New York Times’ “41 Places To Go in 2011.” Now that I have discovered it, I urge you to add this to your list of places to travel.
The production team here at lululemon (a creative designer, photographer, producer, videographer, myself as brand coordinator and stylist) and the amazing runner we photographed went on a mission to this place at the ‘edge of the world’ to capture photography for our winter 2013 brand story.
It takes a fair bit of effort to reach the edge of the world, which according to the Flat Earth Society is indeed home to one of the actual four corners of the flat Earth (in a place called Brimstone Head on Fogo Island’s northwestern coast.)
We coveted this island for its arctic tundra temperatures and pure environment, which didn’t always make getting the shot easy—especially, as it turned out, our last shot. This was supposed to be the easy one, the shot we should be able to get with our eyes closed and a celebratory beer in one hand. It wasn’t even being shot on-body, just a flat image of a jacket on a rock.
Due to the high winds, what should have taken five minutes to shoot ended up taking almost 60. We could not get the jacket to lay flat on the rock! The winning formula ended up being four of us holding down the jacket, counting to three and the photographer snapping a shot within half a second before the jacket would be picked up by the wind. (The good news is that shot looks awesome and will be used in our email next week!)
For any challenges we may have had with the weather, we certainly had none with the island’s inhabitants. The people we met on Fogo Island were some of the kindest individuals that I have ever met in my life. We became regulars at Nicole’s Café where our server Pauline was our ‘in’ to island life. Everyday we went to her with questions like, “Why is the town called Joe Batt’s Arm?” and “What are partridge berries?” or “Where can we buy warmer socks?” And she had an answer for everything, including what to do on a Saturday night in Fogo. We were not expecting her to tell us to crash a wedding reception!
That’s right, all weddings in Fogo are open to the public. But before going, she recommended, we should “prime” at Phil Foley’s shed adding “it’s not licensed, so just bring your own beer.”
We forwent Phil’s shed party, but we couldn’t pass up a local wedding—especially since we had been ‘invited.’ We donned our Fogo finest (Native boots, Wunder Unders and high buns) and asked the taxi driver to “take us to the wedding.” She knew exactly where to go, and gave us the pep talk we needed to ‘crash’ the wedding. She had, of course, already heard all about our lululemon crew (news travels fast in a town of fewer than 3,000 people).
As it turns out, the bride was one of the only people in town who hadn’t heard we were there visiting, yet she greeted us on the dance floor with, “I don’t know who you are, but all I want is for you guys to have the best time ever.” And with that, we proceeded straight into the limbo line.
The warm sentiment we experienced at the wedding is exactly what we got throughout our entire visit to Fogo Island. The residents were so pleased to share Fogo with us, whether it was through a story, cuisine, directions or a wedding.
above photos of Fogo Island Inn by Alex Fradkin, courtesy Fogo Island Inn
The rest of our stay was broken up between card games (side note: I dominated playing Big Two), cheese sandwiches grilled on freshly-baked local bread, and 8pm bedtimes, thanks to long working days out in the cold and wind that took it out of us.
We stayed in what the locals referred to as a “soapbox” house—a small, simple home with a dollhouse aesthetic, but made our way to the architecturally spectacular Fogo Island Inn (above) for lunch to celebrate wrapping our shoot. There, the delicious clam chowder and handcrafted burger redefined comfort food.
Fogo Island was never on my to-see list, but now that I have experienced it I just may need to return.
What off-the-beaten-path places have you been that you would love to go back to?