My first French adventure occurred in the strangest place and in a destination that I’m sure not many people from my part of the world would even think to travel to – Quebec in winter.
When I was approached to visit Canada again, not too long after my first visit to the country, I jumped at the chance.
But I soon realised Quebec would pose a new set of photographic challenges.
You see, in the early days of my travel career I actually believed myself to be a landscape photographer.
I felt most comfortable surrounded by nature, with my bag of photography equipment and a sturdy tripod.
In Quebec, I soon learnt I could expect to spend more time in cities immersed in culture and history, which I was afraid might be a bit of a nightmare for a landscape photographer.
Despite my skepticism, not only was Quebec more than worthy of my lens, the visit to this French Canadian province was also a turning point in my career.
It was the beginning of my transition to becoming a destination and social photographer.
And I barely had to pick up my tripod!
Lauren Bath’s thoughts about Quebec
I spent a lot of time reflecting on the things that jumped out at me when I visit new destinations and trying to capture them in a series of images.
My revelation was it’s the little things that locals take for granted, such as fat squirrels in the park, ice-canoeing on the river (no I did not partake!) and hot chocolate clutched with gloved fingers.
Seeing snow in the city was a particularly magical sight for me.
1- Quebec City is not the kind of city I’ve ever known
I went on a photo walk with a local and had a wonderful time experiencing my first taste of rich history.
Actually, being hip deep in snow within city limits was a very strange experience.
I couldn’t resist attempting my first snow angel and took countless photographs of the city surrounded by the white stuff.
2- Huh? The Lawrence River in Quebec City is filled with crazy people!
I rubbed my eyes and tried again to focus on what I was seeing.
A canoe full of (obviously) escaped mental patients who alternatively rowed and walked the icy river.
This is something that I had never even heard of let alone seen.
It was worth waiting patiently for one hour for these crazy athletes to get close enough for a decent shot.
Quebec City is a city alright, but not as we know it!
3- Stunning Charlevoix reminded me of how to use my tripod
After a few amazing days in Quebec City, my group headed to Charlevoix for some rural action.
I dragged out my old tripod and discovered what it was like to take photographs at -20C.
It was a very interesting challenge.
We had travelled to this region by train, which is something I would recommend to anyone.
4- Dog sledding – in French!
One of the stand-out experiences of Charlevoix was the dog sledding.
Since I love animals anyway, it wasn’t a stretch that I would love to see a very happy pack of animals doing what they love.
The best part?
Well, these guys speak French.
So, as well as learning how to dogsled we also had to learn a few French words in order to tell our pack what to do.
Much comedy ensued.
5- The Quebec Ice Hotel is otherworldly
No trip to Quebec would be complete without a visit to the Ice Hotel.
You’ve never slept in a building made of ice, on a bed of ice and drank cocktails poured into glasses made from ice? Why not?
The ice hotel, just outside of Quebec City, is a must-do. You’ll get a surprisingly good night’s sleep too. Pictured is Emily Schreck, room buddy, occasional model (for me) and one of my travel companions.
6- The snow is fun
Unlike my previous visit to Canada, when I was focused on the landscapes, Quebec gave me a chance to concentrate on the little things.
On this day, we pulled off the road to photograph an abandoned barn and ended up making snow women and sinking into soft drifts of snow.
I had so much fun I rolled backwards down a small hill, giggling wildly.
7- There are lots of cool things to do in Montreal
Montreal is cold, there’s no doubt about it.
What struck me the most about Montreal was how the locals embrace the cold.
There are outdoor festivals, like Igloo Fest, public ice skating rinks and seats with amazing white winter views.
In Montreal you just rug up and get with the program.
After a few mulled wines and a dance at Igloo fest you won’t even feel it.
8- The wildlife in Canada is wonderful
This is a photo that taught me a lot about travel.
Squirrels are everywhere and are sometimes considered a nuisance to the locals.
But for visitors, like me, they are wonderful.
I loved reading all the comments that this shot attracted. They remind me that we should never take our home countries for granted.
The world is beautiful and everyone should take the time to look around and appreciate that fact.
This big, fat, pest is as wonderful to an Australian as a kangaroo might be to a Canadian.