Just south of the Arctic in the Northern Hemisphere, the Subarctic is one of the most far removed regions on Earth. A lonely planet in itself, it is cold, desolate, dark and filled with deep glaciers and dangerous icebergs. But for photographer Dave Brosha, it’s one of the most picturesque places in the world.
“I’ve discovered the Arctic is one of the most beautiful places on Earth,” he tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “The light, the color, the landscape and the people. Being out there is a magical experience, and it changed my life.”
In 2002, Dave and his wife took a giant leap of faith that many of us wouldn’t dare dream of taking. The couple left all they knew in Eastern Canada and moved up to the Nunavut in search of adventure.
“We looked north to try to expand our careers and just to not be the person who’s stuck in a rut in their hometown the rest of their life,” Dave explains. “We wanted to give things a chance, just see what else the world had to offer. My wife got an offer in Nunavut, and we thought, ‘Why not? Let’s try this!’”
They settled in Resolute Bay, Nunavut — a tiny community of about 220 people north of the Arctic Circle. “Nothing but miles and miles of land between you and the next community”, Dave describes.
“In the beginning, we experienced complete culture shock,” Dave admits. “But one thing we realized as soon as we got there, was this was an incredibly unique place that very few people have seen. And it very quickly grew on us.”
At the time, Dave was an aspiring writer and created a blog to share stories and experiences with his family back home. Throughout this project, he quickly became drawn to the physical beauty of his new home. He soon bought a camera to capture every moment: the scenery, the animals, the people, etc. Within a few months, Dave knew he wanted to be a photographer and would work to make it happen.
Dave was in awe of the landscape and the unique conditions the Subarctic provided for photography. In terms of light, he experienced twenty-four hours of sunlight in the summer and the opposite – complete darkness – in the winter. Temperatures too were also a factor, offering unimaginable shooting conditions.
“The coldest day I ever had was 72-degrees Celsius below zero with the wind chill,” Dave recalls. “I can’t count how many times I’ve gone out photographing in minus 40 or minus 50 degrees. It takes a special breed of person, I think, to live up here, but it’s one that grows on you very quickly. You experience lonely but fascinating conditions everyday, but it’s worth it when you look at what you capture. It’s beautiful.”
After spending two years in Resolute, Dave and his wife moved to Yellowknife — a bigger city in the Northwest Territories. During this time, Dave became more serious about photography, but in order to become a professional, he knew he’d eventually have to photograph people — something he was initially terrified to do.
“I was very reluctant to photograph people because I was petrified of the idea,” Dave admits. “At the time I was very much an introvert. Let’s face it, I was used to shooting landscapes and being on my own! But I begrudgingly did it. And after a few portrait sessions, I quickly realized that I loved it.”
Dave got heavily into portraiture; spending months inside different studios, perfecting his photography. Over time, however, Dave felt a big part of his creative soul was missing.
“I’ve always had this love for landscapes,” Dave says. “And one day, I thought, ‘Why can’t I do what I’m doing in the studio — in terms of the portraits of people, trying to light them perfectly and evoke emotion — but do it by taking advantage of the broader landscape around me?’ I had these beautiful landscapes to work with, and it would just be a matter of mixing them together: people and place. I wanted to try and come up with something more beautiful.”
Thus began Dave’s evolution as a photographer that he continues to explore today.
“I think it’s my favorite kind of photography to just have a person or an idea and mix it into the great natural landscape — creating something magical!,” Dave says. “It’s a fun thing, and I love that creative process.”
One of his favorite series is called Territory, which personifies women as Mother Earth. It’s an idea he had with one of his favorite models. With the help of a make-up artist, Dave painted the model in mud and used elements of moss and parts of the Canadian landscape around her.
“It was eerie,” Dave says. “She looked like she was part of the land, but it was such a stunning photo shoot. It ended up being one of my favorite creative shoots.”
Originally when Dave and his wife moved to Yellowknife, they had a two-year plan. They figured they’d move to a remote place, live their adventure, make some money and eventually retreat back to civilization. Today, 11 years later, they have three beautiful little children who were born in Yellowknife, and he considers Yellowknife home.
“It’s a place that’s been great to us, it’s a place where I feel like I can be who I want as a photographer,” Dave admits. “This place that just feels right.”
“My photography is my life,” Dave says. “It’s become my identity. I’m just very fortunate and very happy that I’ve had the chance to do that. I can’t imagine anything else.”
Visit Dave’s photostream to see more of his photography.
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