With the opportunity to spend two months in Iceland, Devon Berquist took full advantage of the beautiful landscape that the Land of Fire and Ice has to offer. Her unique portraits are absolutely stunning and the stories behind them are captivating. While Devon continues to pursue her degree in Fine Art at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, she is also advancing her career in photography through her various exhibitions in the greater Halifax area. Although she enjoys the scenery Atlantic Canada has to offer, her favourite place to shoot brings her back to her roots in Dawson City, Yukon. Adventuring has become a staple in her work and is synonymous with us here at Venture Collective. With this in mind we hope to inspire you to Find Your Adventure.
You can find more of Devon's work here:
Facebook: Devon Berquist Photography
How did you get started in photography, and what inspires you today?
My dad is a hobby photographer and always had numerous film cameras around the house when I was growing up. He let me use them but I often spent what money I had on disposables. When I was about 10, I’d have three or four cameras on the go at all times. Back then, I used to take photos of my friends, my life, everything really.
Things aren’t so different now. I’ve found myself 7,000 km from my home of Dawson City, Yukon Territory, studying photography and visual arts at NSCAD University. What inspires me today? I’d have to say all of the incredible, supportive people in my life who push me in all the right directions.
You recently visited Iceland, what was your experience like there?
After spending the summer living up north in a cabin (a shed, really) without running water, the transition to living out of a tent and backpack was fairly easy. Through NSCAD’s Roloff Beny Scholarship, I had the awesome opportunity to spend two months in Iceland developing my skills as a landscape photographer. I spent a lot of time outside, hiking, camping, and climbing, and waiting to “get the shot” and to create images telling the story of a beautiful, unique, and dramatic piece of the Earth. My favourite shots though, are ones with people in them. I’ve always liked portraiture and it definitely crept its way into the work I was doing while I was there.
"My favourite shots though, are ones with people in them. I’ve always liked portraiture and it definitely crept its way into the work I was doing while I was there."
What was the biggest cultural difference you noticed while visiting Iceland?
This is a tough one, but the first that comes to mind is the water: Iceland has an incredible number of swimming pools and natural hot springs, ranging from intimate cobblestone ocean-side pools to hot-flowing rivers, to full on geothermal bathing parks. One night, I found myself in a swimming pool with a rope-swing in a greenhouse full of flowers and apple trees.
If you could only recommend one landmark to visit in Iceland, what would it be?
Landmannalaugar is an incredible area of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the highlands. It’s accessible by 4X4 roads in the summertime and is absolutely gorgeous. The colourful minerals in the mountains are matched by a vibrant green moss, and it was a wonderful sight after driving an entire day through the deep rivers of the interior, an endless barren-but-beautiful volcanic field of ash and rock.
You’ve also explored the east coast of Canada, what is your most memorable adventure on the east coast?
One time some friends and I went swimming in the Halifax Commons fountain on a really foggy summer night. Maybe not the best idea, but hands down the most hilarious east coast “adventure” I’ve ever had. It’s tough balancing the fun weekend stuff with university, but Cape Breton is high on the awesome-list, particularly in autumn. I’ve got some pals in PEI who are keeping their cabin and toddler warm with a woodstove... Every visit to the island has been a blast so far, a kitchen full of banjos and violins and chanterelle mushrooms is something I really appreciate. Snowshoeing around the Bay of Fundy is a highlight as well.
What is the most unexpected thing that happened to you while out shooting?
In Iceland, I was chasing the sunset for a particular shot one night and I met a gang of photographer boys roughly my age doing the same thing. What struck me the most is how ridiculously fun they were while still being total photo nerds. It made me wish I had an adventurous travel crew of my own. The sudden longing made me realize that photography has become central in my life. Since I’ve been back in Halifax, I’ve been making a point of shooting with other Instagrammers to build that sort of community of my own. It’s been great. I think for overall unexpectedness, it’s when people recognize me in real life from Instagram. It’s weird and cool.
Do you have any tips/advice for people looking to get into landscape photography?
Look, don’t see. I’ve been traveling my whole life, but my favourite place to shoot is always at home in the Yukon. There are mountains and trails I’ve seen a thousand times but every sunrise is different. Every snowfall is different. Every tree is different. It’s not necessarily about seeing new landscapes so much as seeing the same ones with new eyes. Notice the light at dawn and dusk, the weather, the season. Explore new vantage points, shoot in the rain, play with reflections, moonlight, just have fun and don’t be afraid to try new things. Make the photograph, don’t just take it. Be patient with yourself.
"It’s not necessarily about seeing new landscapes so much as seeing the same ones with new eyes."
If you had a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Dildo, Newfoundland. Blowhard, Australia. Tightsqueeze, Virginia. Just kidding. I do love bad jokes and terrible puns though. When I was sixteen I thought about getting a summer job in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. I’ve always been interested in Arctic history and environment preservation and protection, so I’d love to spend more time photographing the circumpolar regions of the Earth. Northern Canada, Svalbard, and Greenland are definitely on my radar.