Sunday, July 20, 2014

Under the Sea: Summer Photography Fun

Sometimes the best way to love your own photography is to put it away for a while, especially if you've been critiquing a project for too long. When you pull those old friends back out of the virtual filing cabinet and reacquaint yourself with them, you often see the photos in a new light and realize you could have been happy with them in the first place. 

A couple years ago, I hit a mind-block with this film shoot. Right after I uploaded the scanned files to my computer, I spent an hour or more looking back and forth through the album trying to tell myself that the excessive graininess and the "incorrect" focus were artsy effects, that they added interest. At the time, the message would not get through, but now I realize that I was correct. As I was culling through my external hard drive trying to find sneaky ways to create more space, I stumbled across this fun underwater session and fell in love for keeps this time.

These ethereal little models are, in fact, my cousins, and this shoot was a far cry from the high-drama, high-tech (I used an $8 Fujifilm point-and-click disposable waterproof camera) underwater shoots that grace magazine covers. But, that does not mean I had any less fun shooting it.

I fervently believe in the importance of teaching kids to love and embrace art, in any medium they choose. I also strongly believe in enjoying artistic pursuits - the "art" disappears when it begins to feel like work. So, while babysitting one warm afternoon when they were chomping at the bit to cannonball into the pool and I was itching for the click of a shutter, I decided we had the perfect opportunity for some creative fun. And what splash the idea made!
To be honest, half of my motivation came from the need to occupy these two crazies. I thought we might wrestle out a few funny action shots of the kids cannonballing before they got bored and started splashing each other (and me.) But I gave my cousins far too little credit, they rose (and sank) to the occasion in true energetic-child fashion and turned out to be wonderfully fun models.

The difficult thing about underwater photography is that the photographer and subjects have to compose themselves and the shot while chlorinated water fills their eyes, taking into account the lighting, body positions, facial expressions, and overall composition. (Oh, and you can't breathe. Perhaps a snorkle would have been a good investment.) Nonetheless, we braved the elements, first just practicing holding our breath under water long enough to get a decent shot, then having the kids jump into the water to explore what bubbly results we could get. By the end of the roll when we'd really hit our creative stride, we tested the capacity of our lungs with both subject and photographer swimming to and fro, but mostly toward each other, taking more care in creating interesting compositions.

The end result was a series of beautifully grainy, somewhat unfocused, bubble-filled, blue-saturated shots capturing the unbridled amusement of an afternoon of family swimming. The kids even enjoyed themselves enough to hug each other for my last exposure.

An afternoon time-killer, a way to get kids outside and active, an introduction into art - and a fun one at that - for said kids, and a beautiful keepsake for years to come; photography in all its versatility is truly the art of the people.