In the rural fishing community of St. George, New Brunswick, Canada, the daily routine revolves around twenty-six-foot tides and biannual lobster harvests. Each season begins with the ritual of extended families gathering on the wharf in the frigid pre-dawn. Excitement, laughter, and chatter fill the moments before one last hug with their loved ones and repeated pleas to “be careful,” as lobster fishing is a dangerous profession. Finally, a horn announces the 6am rush to drop the traps into the depths.
One day in 2006, a friend, who is a local fisherman, arrived unannounced, at our door, bearing a box brimming with live lobsters. Soon after I found my daughters and nieces sincerely engaged in a scientific exploration, “hypnotizing the lobsters.” I clearly recall this moment, as it inspired me to make a photograph of each of them holding “their” lobster with the seascape beyond. It became an annual event and the seed for “Sea Change,” which I began nine years later and expanded to include girls who live in our community.
Over 6 years, I have assembled sixty-five photographs of seventeen girls with two to six portraits of each. The photographs in “Sea Change” underscore the importance of girls and women in this community and beyond.
This series recalls historical and social media pictures of fishermen holding up their “Big Catch.” In “Sea Change,” I hope to reveal something of each girl’s character as she takes stock of, and poses with, a lobster, the symbol of her community. Some are cautious while some are proud, and still others are nonchalant.
Capturing how each girl responds to the influences of her family, local culture, community, and more broadly society, I explore female identity and how it evolves. Collectively the photographs in “Sea Change” illustrate the dramatic transformation from girlhood to adolescence to womanhood.