After just over two years of pool only shooting, last week I was back in the ocean aboard the Hurricane. We boarded at Marsa Alam in Egypt and sailed south..
A few days prior to flying out, I was at Photo London, and had the pleasure of meeting Sebastiao Salgado – an iconic Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist who lives and breathes his craft in the purest sense. Salgado works by immersing himself for long periods of time: up to 5-6yrs on self-assigned projects living with his subjects on location & often separated from his close family for long periods at a time. He’s an example of absolute committment to the craft as there are few. And we were fortunate as he shared some images for about an hour followed by a candid talk which led to a set of deeper questions about what photography is really about and of what the future holds for his genre. And in listening to this wise man, the conversation made me think about a fundamental aspect of the profession that is rarely talked about: one’s unique and very personal approach to the craft. I get asked about what gear I use, how deep I go or most often how long I hold my breadth for.. These are fairly typical. But one rarely has a conversation about how to internally approach a shoot. This is something my friend and mentor, Stuart Weir touched on a few years back before I head out to shoot Oceanic White Tips at Elphinstone Reef. I was pleasantly surprised when Stuart suggested I take time to meditate and pre-visualize a shoot before getting in the water. Something we are taught to do before freediving but never before a dive..
I remembered Stuart’s words over the course of the last week as I spent less time preping in my head than usual, and this led to some disappointing results early in the week.. As soon stepped back and took that extra time, my head and focus got where it needed to be and the work improved significantly. The time out also made me revisit how drawn I am to water….and how it was water rather than what was in it that pulled me to photograph. Nice to be home again.