©Ting Ting Chen

Unexpected Muse

When Ting Ting Chen befriended a white-bearded local named Robert Tilley during her visit to Newfoundland in 2017, she had no idea where the acquaintance would lead. When she returned in 2018 to pursue her doctorate, she and Tilley became best friends, travelling the country together as Chen honed her photography skills.

“If I hadn’t come to Newfoundland and met Robert, perhaps I wouldn’t have found my enthusiasm for art. I found here not only my new home but also my muse,” she writes in her new photo book, “Impressions of Newfoundland” (Breakwater Books). The book collects her haunting Newfoundland landscapes, many of which incorporate Tilley, as well as fine art portraits of Tilley.

©Ting Ting Chen

Chen made a photo of Tilley as they visited the Cape Spear Lighthouse and she noticed the lighthouse reflected in his sunglasses. Then she asked him to remove his sunglasses and found the reflection was just as clear in his blue eyes. “Of course, I took multiple photos until I got a satisfactory one, and during the shooting, Robert tried his best not to blink.” She got a great image, and Robert got a sore eye, she jokes. “I appreciate his dedication as a supermodel.”

CAMERA & LENS: Nikon D850, AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens

EXPOSURE: 1/200 second at f/8, ISO 125

Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.