A photographer’s guide to Prince Edward Island

Anticipation builds as you make the eight-mile drive across Canada’s longest bridge, which links New Brunswick in mainland Canada to the country’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island (PEI). The island’s red hue intensifies on approach; the coastal cliffs, rich in iron oxide, tumble down to rust-tinged sandy beaches. During sunset and sunrise, the landmass seems to glow upon the silky expanse of the Gulf of St Lawrence, often frozen in winter. Inland, the scenery unfurls like a pastoral landscape, with rolling hills blanketed in colourful swaths of lupins come summer.

It’s a photographer’s dream canvas, and having lived there for more than a decade, Dave Brosha knows precisely when and where to capture the island in its best light. From May to August, visitors can participate in Dave’s photography workshops to see the island through his lens. Still, Dave insists: “Even if you’re a complete amateur, or taking photos on an iPhone, the island is so beautiful there’s a good chance your photographs will be amazing. All you need is just to get outside and observe.”

Much of Dave’s childhood was enjoyed nearby in Nova Scotia. However, after spending many years in the Canadian Arctic photographing icebergs and polar bears, he knew exactly where he wanted to put down roots. “I’d visited Prince Edward Island many times on vacation, so when I thought about where I wanted to settle, the most beautiful place in the world seemed an obvious choice.”

PEI, at 140 miles long and 40 miles at its widest point, is a huge contrast from the vastness of the Canadian Arctic, but its diminutive size has its advantages. “One of the wonderful things about PEI’s tiny land mass is that if you drive for 20 minutes in any direction, you find a different beach, coastal cliff or lighthouse.”

The island is famed for its exceptional seafood. Charlottetown, PEI’s charming capital, has a variety of excellent restaurants; however, Dave favours the eateries that lie a little off the beaten track. In summer, you might spot him on the terrace at one of his favourite restaurants — such as Sou’West Bar and Grill — enjoying the views of New London Bay while feasting on Atlantic scallops or freshly shucked oysters. Or you may catch him at one of the many fish restaurants in the north shore community of North Rustico, tucking into seafood chowder made using the island’s famous potatoes.

One way to immerse yourself in the island’s culture is to wander around its open-air markets and embrace the artistic vibe by exploring the many studios selling everything from pottery to paintings. Two of Dave’s favourites include Village Pottery and The Gallery, which combines a coffee shop with the works of many local artists.

The island hosts numerous cultural events with eclectic small festivals and ceilidhs held during the summer, celebrating the island’s Acadian, Celtic and Mi’kmaq heritage. “There’s a strong Irish, Scottish and French immigrant background reflected in the folk music here, but there’s also a wide variety of bands playing everything from hip-hop to alternative rock, which can be heard in the small halls, churches and community centres.”

While PEI doesn’t have large wildlife such as moose, bears or deer seen on the mainland, Dave is passionate about photographing its foxes, and he knows exactly where to find them. “I run several different workshops. Some are wildlife workshops, where I look for foxes and bald eagles, whereas others focus on landscapes or astrophotography. There’s nothing more beautiful than capturing the Milky Way over a lighthouse at night,” he says, singling out the New London Lighthouse as his most treasured of the 63 lighthouses dotted around the island.

You can explore much of the island by cycling the 170-mile Confederation Trail or hiking the 435-mile Island Walk. However, Dave recommends appreciating the island’s beauty at a gentler pace. Take your time to witness the sunrise at locations like Borden-Carleton, paddle at Canoe Cove or go for a walk on one of the island’s 90 beaches, renowned for their expansive red tidal flats. “When the water regresses, it leaves beautiful tidal pools. Because of the red rock, when the evening sun begins to disappear or when the morning sun rises, the water glows, and the colours in the photographs project an incredible vibrancy and magical light.”

The internationally acclaimed photographer continually tries to capture his home island from a fresh perspective. So, despite the overwhelming beauty of the colours found on PEI, he’s now producing a body of work in monochrome showcasing the island in a distinct way. When you visit the island, aim to follow Dave’s advice and zoom in on some of PEI’s lesser-known spots, where you can take the time to capture the island’s breathtaking character and charm with your own unique angle.

This paid content article was created for Tourism Prince Edward Island. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveller (UK) or their editorial staffs.

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