By popular request (yes Fiona!).. Isabel from Contemporary Gallery P/Art in Ibiza was kind enough to share some images from the recent exhibition ‘Fantasy and Fairytale‘ which just opened and will run until March 2016.
From what I hear all seems to be going incredibly well…no doubt thanks to the organisational skills and persistence of Isabel and Veronica..Wishing a great Xmas to everyone over there.
In a recent conversation with the editor of a New York based magazine, I was asked how and what had initially attracted me to photographing underwater. My instinctive reaction was ‘how can anyone resist…?’
We’ve all felt it at some stage – the harmonising effects on mind and body. Be it in the open ocean or in a quiet moment somewhere alone. Many freedivers describe being underwater as a return to self… Where one calmly looks inside and becomes much less conscious of what is happening around.
Associated with both sea and sky, it can represent freedom, loyalty, intuition, inspiration, and spirit.
Love how an 11th century Chinese scholar described its power:
As a great outdoor shooting season slowly comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the incredible last two months…in terms of creativity and personal relationships. I´m thinking about strong & original women with whom i have had the pleasure of collaborating with, in one form or another over the last months and who have played an absolutely integral part of the creative process.
The highlight has probably been those who were initially hesitant about working in water, or for whom the conditions were not ideal for one reason or another but who placed their trust in my guidance, then made a decision to keep rolling with the process a little bit longer until they felt natural and content enough to give me something that was theirs…Interestingly these were precisely the underwater images i am most inspired by and which I feel went beyond my expectations…These women gave me something true to that moment and to their essence. This is something I could not have planned for. But that authenticity is what we look for and it’s what makes us keep looking.
I believe women, in particular, have a deep connection with water. Both are natural healers with an ability to give life, which probably explains some of the profound changes i´ve witnessed in those that are able to connect with this instinct…Food for thought.
We finally completed the edit for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ video of the Underwater Beauty shoot in Portugal. After the many logistical challenges – not least being finding a pool with a functional heating system ..! – the shoot went more smoothly than I had expected as a result of the great mix of people who were involved.
A big thank you to : Sara Menitra for her energy and encouragement during the shoot & planning stages, Mafalda at Central Models for being on call during her holiday period and going the extra mile for me and for the girls, Antony Frew for coming on board when I most needed it & dealing with anything that came up, and Lee Coventry for invaluable creative input. Images to follow…
This ‘Underwater Sculpture’ series is part of a personal project. Shot underwater at the end of day to evoke wonder and magic using silk fabric. The shoot involved negotiating with local Egyptian authorities to gain access to the right part of the ocean and was shot on the night of a Strawberry Full Moon in early June with natural light in the Southern Red Sea. Light and water were particularly harmonious. After a few days trying to work the fabric around models, I realised that once the human element was removed, and the fabric sculpted using feet and hands, it took on a life of its own and could be moulded into fascinating shapes with light behaving the way it only does in water.
So here goes some of the results of technical experimentation with strobes ve and below water…I believe no-one has tried this before! All achieved in camera with the best lighting gaffer on the planet..!
This shot reminds me of the title of a movie that stayed with me for a while ‘Lovers of the Arctic Circle’. It was of course not shot anywhere near the Arctic but we used a huge mirror underwater to multiply the reflections for a cool effect. The models are the amazing Natalie Chick & Brett Murray whom I had worked with before in studio. They were incredibly for a first shoot in water..
Jennifer Essex is a dancer and choreographer that I had the pleasure of working with in water. Her poise and natural grace in water were incredible and blew all my expectations. So it did not surprise me to hear that in her most recent project she has been choreographing for the Corin Sworn Exhibition which won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women at the Whitechapel Gallery and opens today. If you can do check http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/max-mara-art-prize-women-corin-sworn/
To find out more on Jennifer and her projects: http://www.jenniferessex.com
In the meantime, here go some dramatic images of Jen:
I love this image. It is of course a product of post production but was actually photographed underwater in two stages about 6 years apart. The great model is Robert Guy who is a dancer and circus artist & the coolest guy to have on set.
He was the ideal model for an underwater photoshoot because he seemed to love water, super adaptable with a hunger to experiment. But most of all he brought out the best of any female model he was paired up with and lifted everyone’s mood. I was sorry we did not have more time to work together.
The second model is an Oceanic White Tip Shark which is number 4 on the ‘bad boys’ list and as I discovered, with good reason. This animal showed absolutely no hesitation when charging as he moved from graceful glide to bullet speed in a matter of seconds. The shot was taken at Elphinstone Reef in the Southern Red Sea in August which is about the only time one can be sure to some into close contact with these glorious predators. The shot almost didn’t happen. After being at sea for a week I was quite ill on the day of the shoot and sat on deck for a good half hour contemplating not getting in the water as I was running a high temperature. In the end, the time and effort involved in getting to the site coupled with the prospect of a high probability of a White Tip encounter was just too tempting to stay on board… Once in, the shark displayed aggressive behaviour that I had only felt on one other occasion in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a storm when one would expect sharks to behave in this manner. At one stage, the Oceanic almost rammed into me were it not for my underwater housing. (Apparently the light hair colour has something to do with what attracted him…personally I felt he charged because I was diving solo and he knew I was frail). Bottom line I got the shots I was looking for and would have kicked myself had I missed the action.