RETURNING TO THE SEA – SELF UNDERWATER PORTRAITS
Taking a couple for a portrait session underwater, to me, it’s offering them a new sense of adventure, trust and connection. It’s teaching them to touch each other intentionally, as a way to communicate. It’s teaching them to close their eyes and let go. It’s giving them a chance to experience silent interaction, to open up to an inner world of poetry. It’s cutting them from everything, even breathing. Cut them from everything, but each other. It’s making them feel the rush, the adrenaline, the pulse, together. Little things invigorate passion like salt on your skin. Little things free us from all our social restraint like gravitating freely in the blue. Little laughter sounds the same as the childish exuberance released by the sight of corals and star fishes under our feet. A day out in the water is refreshing, resourcing, and liberating. Photographs of you and partner underwater hold a sense of secret bond, mischievous playfulness, intense connection and deep passion. They seem out of time, out of reach from daily wear and tear. They hold a whole world that belongs only to you two.
As a person, I spent most of my childhood in the water. Most of my memories are sun bathed and ocean splashed. Every weekend, my siblings, cousins, friends and I would be in the water from dawn to dusk and often long after. We could catch fishes with our bare hands just to admire them for a few seconds before releasing them to the wild. I grew up in this element and felt so comfortable in it I never questioned or even considered the natural bond between humans and water, just like you never actually consider the air you breathe, it was just “normal”. During my teenage years, I remember spending most of my free time free and scuba diving, and how good it felt each and every single time, to find refuge from the emotional turmoil of these years in the colorful silence of the ocean. I remember loving being a spectator to this world so fascinating yet alien to my own. I remember the magical feeling of floating, free of gravity, with all this incredible life surrounding me. I remember night dives, hanging in complete darkness with hundreds of flashlight fish dancing their ballet all around me, and wondering whether I was still under the surface, or if I had fallen into the starry night sky somehow. Because you see, that is the thing about the ocean, it blurs every line, breaks all the rules of physics as you know them, allows you to walk upside down, to carry weight far beyond your capabilities, and to fly, to even, actually, fly.
Then I moved to Paris, where I became an adult, and while the child in me was always strongly alive, it suddenly had other worlds to explore, and slowly, I left the water world behind me. For years. The ocean was still there, still an inspiring presence, a comforting companion, but just as we take some people for granted and never call, thinking we would see them soon enough, I was okay just knowing the ocean was there, I didn’t feel the need to actually go back under.
So why go back now? I’m not precisely sure. It’s a matter of timing I think, a matter of healing, too. I lost my baby sister to drowning, and while I never actually thought of it that way, maybe at some point, some sort of anger was directed at the water element, some feeling of betrayal. Now I have returned to my island after years away. My husband is an aquatic human and a huge part of him belongs out there, past the shore break, in the waves he loves to ride. Our baby girl is not even two yet, and all she thinks about already is going out there, in the surf, in the blue. Nothing makes her happier. And I, I wanted to create this series of self portraits with Oli as a first step to answer the calling I feel coming from deep within, to return where I belong. To experience this ethereal freedom again, this soothing silence, this slow heartbeat pace, this absolute grace.