• Artist Project

Photographer Holly Andersen on Capturing Life in Makkovik

Apr 25, 2023
by Holly Andersen

Following a recent spring week of freezing rain and drizzle, photographer Holly Andersen decided to hit the trail from her home in the Nunatsiavut town of Makkovik over to her mom’s cabin. 

The artist is rarely without her camera, but she didn’t want to take any risks damaging her equipment while on her Ski-Doo, unsure of the trail conditions. Instead, she tucked away her iPhone and hoped that she didn’t encounter that perfect scene without her camera on hand.

Andersen estimates that she has taken thousands of photos capturing the day-to-day life of her family and their relationship to the land and local wildlife through the seasons. 

Her documentary-style practice captures narratives through both quiet moments and sweeping shots of landscapes. “I want to shoot places around Makkovik,” she says. “Someday I would like to compile place names of old fishing spots where families lived (or moved there) for the summer.”

Here, Andersen takes IAQ on a tour of some of her favourite photos from the past decade.


Egg Hunting (2014)

This is my aunt and my sister looking for duck and gull eggs. Usually in the spring or early summer is when people go to get them. I don’t eat them, but other people do, and they often break them up and put them in Ziploc bags and freeze for later.


Cliffhanger (2014) 

This photo was taken the same day [as Egg Hunting]. We’re all looking in little grassy spots to see if there are any eggs. It’s like Where’s Waldo? with my uncle up on the cliff.


Helping Hands (2011)

There are different names for what people in Newfoundland called toutons. We also call them panitsiak or stove cakes, which is a dough mixture fried up in a pan. You just flip it over, fry the other side and cut it in half and put butter on it, and have it with a cup of tea.


Bakeapple Picking (2022)

This is Jessica picking bakeapples. Everyone wants them! We pick in August and September, and they’re really good in pies and cheesecakes.


Hunting at Night (2017) 

This was taken at night, probably around nine o'clock. My uncle was plucking a goose. He had three or four of them, and they’re so heavy, like dead weight. I didn't have a headlamp so I was behind him, lugging them back in the dark.

I managed to get this picture as he was picking the geese up before we went home. As we were leaving in the boat, we could see plankton glowing. It’s so dark but you just see little specks glowing where the water was stirred up. My uncle said that happens sometimes at night. It was so cool—I'm glad I went with him that day.


Quota (2016) 

After having a cod moratorium in the early ’90s, we had to make sure not to overfish other fish in our area. So we have a quota on our salmon fishery, beneficiaries are offered licences to catch their quota throughout the summer. We like to have salmon fried up in the pan, stewed and even smoked.

I like taking black-and-white photos. I don't edit them later: I know I want black and white at that moment. But often I'll also take them in colour at the same time—just in case.


Feathers (2016)

This is my sister. Usually we might get a partridge or two when we're out hunting. I think it's just the perfectionist in me but I need to get at least one good picture out on the land. That's my goal.

We usually try to pick the feathers of partridges before they get too cold. This was taken on a nice spring day, also around a place where some people like to cut down firewood.


Honest to Cod (2022) 

My father is a fisherman, so it’s pretty cool to go out in the boat with him and hear stories about where he’s been, and what the fishery was like long ago. We managed to get a pan full of cod fish that day, and even had a shark chase our fish and try to take it off of the hook from us.


Boilup (2014) 

Nothing like having a good ol’ boilup when you’re "out on the land." We usually pack some tea, bread with butter and some Vienna sausages, and have a little snack after riding around looking for partridges or getting a load of firewood.

I did a short course with Geoff Goodyear, who is a photographer here in Labrador, and he talked about ratios in pictures. I didn’t know or think about that before but then when I looked back at my pictures, I realized I was doing the right thing. There is my dad's foot in one picture over this side, and the fire on this side—I just knew it looked good.

Holly Andersen Hare Hunting

Hare Hunting (2021)

I remember this day was cold, but sunny. It was in the middle of winter, don’t forget to dress warm! You can see my dad and my sister having a look for some arctic hares. They are usually hiding around rocks and they’re pretty fast.

I like this one because it looks like a barren, harsh land. It looks like we’re very isolated—you can’t see any houses or cabins around. 


Holly Andersen is a photographer from Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL. Andersen is interested in photography’s ability to preserve moments in time, or capture minute details. Her photographic practice encompasses a wide range of subjects including candid and portraiture photography of family and friends, macro photography of insects and nature, and landscape photography including local wildlife. Andersen is a participant in the National Film Board’s Labrador Docs Project, where her film focuses on the relocation of Inuit residents to other Labrador coastal communities around 1959 when the Moravian mission at Hebron closed down.


CanadaCouncilLogoLongThis story was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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