When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
It is easy to say I am thankful for the sweet and beautiful things in life: flower gardens, ice cream cones, diamond rings, dances under moonlight, children’s laughter, birdsongs, and the like. The challenge is recognizing things of value in the dark, sour, uglier parts of life. But if you look hard enough, you will find that even tough times offer pearls worthy of gratitude.
The reckoning is how we walk into our story; the rumble is where we own it. The goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge, and reality-check these narratives.
―Brené Brown, Rising Strong
The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that, you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.
If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite – the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singularly generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment – is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most important challenge of our times.
–-Wade Davis, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
By identifying with a craving (‘I want this,” “don’t want’ that”), you tighten the clutch and intensify its resistance. Instead of being a state of mind that you have, it becomes a compulsion that has you. As with understanding anguish, the challenge in letting go of craving is to act before habitual reactions incapacitate us.
If you couldn’t sense heat, you’d not be alive. And if that heat never grew uncomfortable, you would never move. And if you were stagnant—unchallenged by unpredictable flares—you would never grow capable of shielding yourself from harsher flames. So yes, life was meant to drag you straight through the fire.
Like a snake sheds its skin, we are capable of getting rid of assembled habits, creating space to call matters into question. Instead of the Shakespearean “To be or not to be ” we could favor “to become or not to become”. By “becoming”, we challenge the range of possibilities in our life and go beyond the merely “being”. We can retreat, then, from the imprisonment of a deadly routine, acquire an identity and develop our personality.
Well-crafted portraits capture not only physical attributes, but hint at hidden truths. Underwater photography can provide unique and challenging perspectives.
Public Domain Image via Pexels.com
There is something about being submerged in water that dials directly into the human subconscious. When we view someone through water, especially when they are suspended in it, we feel as if we are seeing something very personal and private. The vulnerability of the human form is readily apparent underwater: movement is more languid and dreamlike, breath is made visible through bubbles, hair is carried away from the face and head while clothing may float away or plaster itself close to the body. Water imparts a sensuality and softness, further enhanced by the blue green light that reaches into its depths.
The challenges of underwater photography are many, even with modern equipment like the Go Pro camera. That blue green light I mentioned can be penetrating, but reds and oranges are lost as we descend, distorting skin tones. Many photos are taken a just few feet below the surface. Shooting close up with a wide angle lens is a must, as shooting through more than a few feet of water creates cloudiness. Costuming can create beautiful effects, but the photographer and model must understand how the fabric will behave underwater and how best to maximize its potential. Models have to be aware of their breathing and how bubbles impact the shot. They also have to be able to hold a pose– and their breath– while slowly floating up to the surface. If they aren’t specifically designed for underwater use, cameras must be waterproofed, which can make them harder to handle. Everything has to be done while the artist and the model are swimming and paying attention to their surroundings, with a minimum of vocal communication.
When it all works… magic!
Over the course of this week (and several posts) I’d like to introduce you to some fantastic artists and encourage you to visit their websites and become more familiar with their work.
Our first post will feature pioneer underwater photographer Bruce Mozert and will focus on photos made in Silver Springs, Florida in the 1950s, when pin-up models went underwater to advertise the premiere tourist destination in Florida. You can read the post here.