Having taken a look through Paddy’s photographs, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that he is the resident professional photographer at Fogo Island Inn. And who could be better to chat to about island life than the person that spends their days on the lookout for the most spectacular sights?
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
My name is Paddy Barry. I’m the resident photographer for Fogo Island Inn and serve as Ambassador. This involves working in media relations and in this capacity, I act as a liaison between the Inn and the community. I handle requests from journalists for images and information and act as their main point of contact when they visit Fogo Island to feature the Inn in a print, TV or web story. I manage social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and I am called upon to do some printing, writing and design work. I also sing songs, tell stories or emcee events such as the Great Fogo Island Punt Race.
Have you always lived and worked in this part of the country?
I was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. Like many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I set my sights on Canada once I hit eighteen years of age. I have travelled the length of this country, and have lived and worked in Vancouver, Burnaby, the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Calgary, Toronto, Scarborough, Labrador City and now Fogo Island, where I intend to stay for as near to eternity as I can get.
What’s unique about your day to day life?
What’s unique about my day-to-day life is how varied the experience can be. One moment I am hosting a visiting journalist for lunch at Fogo Island Inn, or accompanying them on an open boat tour of the abandoned, outlying archipelago known as Little Fogo Islands. The next moment I may be designing promotional materials, taking pictures and writing daily posts on social media platforms, updating or devising a layout for marketing purposes, or videotaping a geology lecture in the Inn’s cinema. At any time, I may receive a phone call from someone in the community, informing me that the capelin are rolling on the beach in Oliver’s Cove, or caribou are crossing the frozen ocean in Shoal Bay; the eider ducks have pitched in Tilting Harbour, or whales or porpoises are skeeting across the water in front of the lobby of Fogo Island Inn. (There have been times when I have received two such calls at once). When this happens I drop everything, hop in the car and race to the scene, hoping the light holds out for a good snap – all this with a cup of coffee in hand.
How does Canada inspire you?
This is a vast country, stitched together in many ways, from coast to coast to coast; a country full of friendly neighbourhoods.
Our stars and celebrities are down-to-earth and accessible; they are our own. We are united by a great highway, a superior public broadcaster, a vibrant arts community and our love for, or disdain of, politicians. In Canada, we enjoy a good argument about politics and still find ourselves living in a relatively safe and progressive country; free to travel and work anywhere within our borders. I am inspired by many different cultures in Canada, especially aboriginal culture from which we have much to learn. And I am proud to live in a country where hockey is a religion.
Why would you encourage people to visit Canada?
I would encourage people to visit Canada to experience its vast beauty, to witness our quirky, yet connected, multinational cultures, and to feel the kindness and sincere hospitality found in all corners of this nation. I would especially encourage travelers to visit rural parts of Canada. Rural places everywhere are under the greatest pressure, yet they hold the key to knowledge and ways of understanding in self-sufficiency and sustainability that are not as readily seen in urban centers, nor found in a search engine or a smartphone (although we do utilize these tools on Fogo Island, as well).
In particular, why would you encourage people to visit the part of Canada in which you are based?
Fogo Island is an island off an island, and sits well off the beaten track and this sense of remoteness alone makes it special. It is a cultural stronghold in a province already known for its strong and vibrant culture. This is a tremendously beautiful island that is rugged, windswept and sometimes even harsh in the challenges it presents both on land and on water, yet the people here carry a hospitable nature that comes easily. Fogo Islanders have always looked to one another for support and exude a warmth and kindness, a sense of humour and a deep knowledge of the land and sea that is rare and inspiring. Once you visit here, and get to know the place and its people, you are changed by it, and most people look forward to their return visit.
What sort of images can we expect from your camera roll?
You may expect any part of community life or nature captured spontaneously by my lens. I don’t go anywhere without my camera.
If you could sum up your daily life in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Working on an island that offers inspiration and tremendous photographic opportunities at every turn, my daily challenge is to capture as much of life as possible while helping visitors understand the great mystery that is Fogo Island.
Finally, how would you describe Canada in three words?
A Tolerant Beautiful Patchwork (okay that’s four words).