As part of our project documenting lobster culture on Prince Edward Island, we were keen to learn how a lobster trap works. Unassuming though the traps may look, with their weathered wood and knitting, their operation is actually a little hard to wrap your head around. And they’re an important part of the business and its history: the sizes and shapes have evolved over time. And even today, some fishers build them almost entirely by hand.
But as our trip wound down, we still hadn’t found anyone to explain to us the intricacies of a trap. Enter our Uncle Richard. We were having lunch with him one afternoon, and as he was expertly disassembling a cooked lobster, he shared stories of the time he spent fishing with his father back in the 1960s. Here was our chance! We asked him if he would demonstrate how a trap works, and he agreed. We were invited to join him in a few days’ time, for another lunch and a lesson.
When we arrived, Richard was ready not just to tell us how a trap works, but also how it’s built. He had pulled out his father’s old trap-making tools and showed us what each one was for. He shared stories of the years he spent fishing, and took us out to his parents’ old house to point out markings written on the wall recording the number of pounds of lobster they took in each season. And then, of course, he explained how a trap works, using a plush lobster to demonstrate, and kindly obliged our request for a second take so that Rob could catch it all on video.
This is one of the things we love about PEI: Its people have a deep connection to their province’s history, and are always willing to share their stories. We hope you enjoy them!
Slideshow: How a Trap is Built
Video: How a Trap Works
Whenever Rob travels, he brings along his Holga – a medium format film camera. It’s nothing fancy; it’s made out of plastic, and one of the things it’s best known for is its tendency to produce effects that are usually thought of as errors, like heavy vignetting, light leaks and serious blurriness.
But these effects, it turns out, make for distinct and captivating images. Looking through a roll of film from a Holga feels a bit like travelling back in time!
Over our last two trips to Prince Edward Island, Rob has turned his Holga on scenes related to lobster fishing. Here are some of our favourite shots from Rob’s Island series. We hope you enjoy them!
Slideshow: The Island on Film
Click on any image below to open the slideshow.
Welcome to Lobster Island – a documentary photography by Lauren Lim, Stephanie Simpson and Rob Lim. In the summer of 2013, the three of us spent a month exploring lobster culture on Prince Edward Island, a small province on the east coast of Canada.
We drove along the coast, photographing picturesque wharfs, talking to people who make a living fishing lobster, and even spending a day out on a boat with a fishing crew. We learned the best ways to cook lobster, and sourced recipes from people who call the Island home.
Lobster Island lets you join us on the adventure. Take a look around the website, and here’s what you’ll find:
Stories: This section gives you an in-depth look at lobster culture. Here, you’ll find videos that let you experience a day on a lobster boat, and take you behind the scenes of a classic PEI lobster supper, photographs and stories that take you on an adventure around a wharf, recipes that let you bring a taste of the Island home, and lots more. Don’t miss this!
Buy The Book: We know the value of being able to hold a book in your hands, so we’ve taken the stories and images from our travels and turned them into a beautiful, fine art book. We designed the book ourselves, and worked closely with a printer here in Canada, to ensure that every last detail makes for an incredible viewing experience. If you want to take the adventure (and the recipes!) home, and see images that you won’t find on the website, be sure to get a copy of the book!
Behind The Scenes: Planning, executing and publishing a documentary project is a lot of work. But we think it’s important to share the stories you’re passionate about, so we’ve put together a behind-the-scenes eBook. It will show you how we made Lobster Island happen so that you can more easily bring your own amazing ideas to life.
The Crew: Want to know more about the people behind the project? Head over here!
Galleries: Here, you’ll find two photo galleries that will give you: 1) A condensed look at the stories of Lobster Island; and 2) A quick, behind-the-scenes look at how the project was made. Be sure to click on the photos and read the captions for the full experience!
Journal: We collected a lot of great material while we were on Prince Edward Island. We weren’t able to fit everything in the book, so we’ll be sharing our extra stories, videos and photos in the Journal. We’ll be posting new Journal stories regularly, so check back often to learn how lobster traps are made, find out what it’s like to explore a wharf, and see the awesome images of PEI that Rob created with his medium format film camera.
Contact: Want to get in touch? Send us a message via the contact form you’ll find here. We’d love to hear from you!
We hope you enjoy exploring the site, checking out the book, heading behind the scenes, and joining us on our adventure around the beautiful province of Prince Edward Island!