July 08, 2019

Esme, Ingrid, and a Misfocused Session (Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia)

This session was planned for over a week; typically, when I head out to photograph I don't have any preconceived images in mind, but after the previous session with Esme, I had the image we made of Esme rising out of the ocean and seaweed (the last image in the blog) stuck in my head...I though it would be great to work with a couple of models in the same setting, with the forms mirroring each other, and focused tighter on the interplay between the water, seaweed and skin.
Digital Infrared Original

Almost from the start of the session though, this planned set of images seemed destined not to be made. After walking to the coast, the space I'd hoped to work in turned out to be directly below some hikers, so after some debate, we decided to head to a different spot to the right, where the people wouldn't be able to see us. After arriving in the new location, I quickly realized there wasn't any spaces where my idea of sea, seaweed and bodies would work. Fortunately, there was a great flat area of seaweed right by the ocean and a small water-pool...so for lack of a better space to work in, I suggested we start making images there, and find the space for the images in my mind's eye later in the session.
Digital Original
After making some images of each model individually on the seaweed, I changed my vantage point to be directly above the rock shelf (looking down on the seaweed and models) and asked Esme and Ingrid to model together. Once the pose was worked out, I photographed them through a hand-full of wave breaks, wanting the image to play between the still serenity of the models and the raw power and motion of the ocean around them.
Digital Original
After finishing the images on the seaweed point (which was rapidly disappearing under the rising tide), the three of us moved inland, again searching for a space to pursue the images I'd planned the session around. The issue was the light, and landscape were just wrong for what I was hoping to do. Instead, I decided to take inspiration from the images we'd just finished, and work with the waves breaking over the models. An early success of this is above (make after Ingrid wrapped herself in kelp.
Digital Original
As the tide was rising, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that every second wave seemed to come in higher than the previous - but for one image of Esme, the sea literally enveloped her (fortunately she was sitting, as opposed to lying down, as Ingrid had minutes before in the same place). The chaotic energy of the wave around Esme's is really pleasing, and a strong contrast to my usual approach to photographing moving water (as displayed in a session last year with Esme in a river). Between this session, and the couple before it, I am coming to realize I may have been photographing the ocean in a completely inappropriate way...and will begin consciously exploring how to take things in a different direction in future sessions.
Digital Infrared Original
As the evening progressed, we eventually stopped working in the ocean, and made a final set of images working the the dramatic, angular light and some shallow rock pools a little inland. And I never got to make the images I'd thought the entire session would be revolving around. In the end, I am more certain than ever that planning and specific photographs (for me) do not go hand-in-hand. I certainly plan sessions out (the model(s), location, time etc), but for this session I ignored a simple truth - my work is driven by happenstance and the magic of the moment...not by planning.

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