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Behind the Lens—Catherine Bernier

You sometimes encounter people in your life and instantly think that their connection to the world is a truly special thing. It’s not necessarily in who they are, but it’s more about their actions and presence in the world. That’s how I feel about Catherine.

Looking carefully at the world with a unique love for details and the human mind, Catherine always conveyed the beauty we often forget to see. Originally from Gaspésie, a wild and remote place in Quebec, Catherine established herself in the city of Quebec for a few years to finally find an environment that truly fits with her mentality: Nova Scotia. Moving there in search of a new adventure and improving her surfing skills, Catherine quickly fell in love with the place, its wilderness, its people and its waves. Building relationships along the way instead of making interviews or constantly capturing photos, Catherine became part of this tight community.

Both a photographer and writer, Catherine’s always been an inspiration for us, no matter if it was in French or in English. To learn more about this talented girl and her art, we’ve asked her a few questions. A passionate girl that proves that no matter where you’re from, the surfing lifestyle is never unattainable.

You’ve always been writing and taking photos, but we’ve never heard any stories about how it all started. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

I’ve always been attracted by the images of language and playing with words to express my creativity. Before, I could spend hours and hours cutting images from paper magazines to create my own mag and add my photos, drawings and texts on it. Even if it was my secret dream, I never thought of photography or writing as a job. When you come from a rural place (Gaspésie), becoming a photographer or an editor in chief seems like Utopia.

I always questioned the norms and tried to understand human behaviors in this environment and this is why I choose to study psychology and sociology counseling. Actually, I have a master’s degree in career counseling. I worked a couple of years in a government office and felt so lost that I decided to reconnect with my creativity and jump into production video without any experience, then in a web agency as a content strategist. I learned a lot from these experiences and it helped me find a way to express my creativity through photography and writing. My background in psychology helps me bring a deeper perspective when I interact with my favorite subject: the human in their environment.

When you come from a rural place (Gaspésie), becoming a photographer or an editor in chief seems like Utopia.

Was it always clear for you that writing and photography would become such a big part of your life?

Not at all! As you can see, my path is quite an unclear path with many detours. But now, it’s clearer than ever. I am glad that I found writing and photography to explain my perspective of the world, to show the relationship of human with their own life, and just life in general! In a certain way, that’s my way to help people. Being on the land with them, listening to their stories, their initiatives, their passions and to share it with other people helps create powerful connections. Humans are all connected together and it’s the same for nature. So yes, being a connector has always been a big part of my life. Photography and writing are my weapons to celebrate the love of life!

You are now focusing your work on the surf lifestyle as well as the outdoors. What do you find inspiring in these topics?

As I grew up in front of the sea in a big piece of wild land, I’ve always been surrounded by nature. It’s a part of who I am. I really think that humans are made to be surrounded by it, not the opposite. I love to show the positive cohabitation of both. We need to repair our relationship with nature (a relationship that we’ve created as nature doesn’t actually need us). Surfing is a strong connection we have with mother nature. It’s not just my favorite subject to shoot but also one of my biggest passions. I recently moved to Nova Scotia to improve my surf skills and take more photos. But I am always focusing on surfing more than shooting! I have so much to learn in surf photography still that I think I need a mentor. Anyone?

Art is a tricky passion that keeps teaching us lessons over the years. If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?

That I should believe in my artistic flame and the power of art, even if people tell me in an implicit way that it is not a way to earn your life. Then, because of that, I might have made different choices. But you know what? I think everything happens for a reason, so no regrets. I am grateful for learning more about people before being involved in photography and writing! I can now focus on the technical aspects of it.

Why have you decided to become involved with Nouvelle Vague?

I saw Nouvelle Vague evolve beautifully and connect the surf community in a bright way. I love the way Nouvelle Vague acts as a connector for the Canadian surf community as much as for the international surf community. I feel grateful to be a connector in a network of creative connectors, haha! We need inspiration, and we need Nouvelle Vague as a voice for every passionate human who is involved in the most beautiful sport in the world!


This interview is part of our series “The Digital Return” – a series of articles that present each contributor of our soon to be released digital magazine. 

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