Snow, sled dogs and Klondike skin

Kyla is mushing in her underwear. Gaby gardens topless. And Loire is biking in a thong and chaps. But Ed Vos insists his third Dawson Girls…

Kyla is mushing in her underwear.

Gaby gardens topless.

And Loire is biking in a thong and chaps.

But Ed Vos insists his third Dawson Girls calendar is not about the sex.

“I’m a sensual photographer, not a sexual one,” he said from his home in Dawson.

“I’m trying to bring out the beauty in women.”

The 65 Yukon females who fill the pages of the 2008 calendar are “just girls having fun,” he said.

Laura is standing on the ice topless, holding a wolf skin against her chest.

Kirsten is tucked behind an outcropping of rock, naked.

And Tina is shoveling dirt in a rather risqué black lace top.

The photo shoots are therapeutic, said Vos.

Most of the women haven’t modeled before and are often nervous.

“They are all amateur girls,” he said.

“So I give them a crash course on modeling.”

It’s easier with guys, he added.

“You just give them a beer, have them strip down and you’re done within the hour.

“With women the shoot is a lot more involved. It takes longer and there’s a lot more fussing around.”

Vos shot his first Dawson Girls calendar in 2004.

It was a fundraiser for Dawson musher Agata Franczak, to help her run the Yukon Quest.

The calendar sold well.

The next year, Vos did another to raise funds for the Fetal Alcohol Society of Yukon. He also shot a Dawson Boys calendar and a sled dogs calendar.

The guys calendar sold best.

Around this time, Vos’ fiancée was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I spent my last three years dedicated to her,” he said.

“We’ve lost six Dawson women to cancer in the last few years.”

Vos’ fiancée died just a few weeks before Franczak.

The 2008 calendar is dedicated to Franczak, who is featured for February, running dogs topless.

“I want to use this calendar to raise awareness about cancer,” said Vos.

“Breast cancer is reaching epidemic proportions and women are hit the hardest.”

A frightening percentage of the women in this calendar will at some point in their lives face cancer or some other disease, he added.

Vos blames the state of the world.

“We are poisoning the planet and basically ourselves,” he said.

“We are such big consumers in North America and most of it ends up in the dump.

“But we need to think about what we put in our bodies and the air and water.”

After losing his fiancée, Vos wasn’t thinking calendars.

“I wasn’t sure about it last winter with Sherry sick,” he said.

But after following Kyla Boivin on the Quest, he did a shoot with her.

“And it was so good I decided to do another calendar,” he said.

When Vos started shooting for his first calendar in 2004 with Franczak, it was going to be a series of topless tableaus.

But then he had Franczak cover up “the important bits,” and both agreed it was better.

“It leaves more to the imagination,” he said.

Vos, who’s had a camera in his hands since he was 12, used to work in Banff as a ski photographer.

“I specialized in winter sports and portraiture,” he said.

Five years ago, after coming north to visit his brother, Vos decided to move to Dawson.

“I fell in love with the Yukon and skijoring,” he said.

“So I finished my Banff contract and moved here.”

Shooting nudity wasn’t part of the plan.

But during a camping trip on Kathleen Lake with his brother, the two guys ended up naked.

Vos set up a tripod and took a bunch of shots.

“And every time the shots came up in slideshows, people just howled,” he said.

“Shooting women naked is much more respectful,” he added.

Vos talks with his models, to find out their interests and hobbies.

“And sometimes it’s just about getting them in beautiful places,” he said.

When Vos shows the women the finished portraits, they sometimes start to cry, he said.

“They say, ‘I can’t believe that’s me.’

“It’s the inner beauty that matters more than the outer beauty,” he added.

“A woman gives you this radiant smile and that totally shows up on the film.”

There are lots of characters in Dawson, said Vos, whose calendar features women 18 to 55.

“And they’re always willing to have fun.”

Vos is only printing 2,000 calendars, at $25 a pop.

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