I want the audience to appreciate the beauty of nature that surrounds us. I am going to realize this aspiration by taking photographs of something that I personally admire and that has always intrigued me with its beauty: ocean life.
For as long as I can remember, I always had the desire to create an illustration of some sort that revolved around marine creatures and the sea in general. As a child, the ocean was a place where I spent a lot of my time. I marveled at the incredible colors of the fish, conceptualized the project I would hopefully get the chance to do in the future and created paintings of the intricate shapes of the coral reefs. When this project and the trip to Barbados came up, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to create such an illustration!
While trying to capture the marine life and shipwreck in the Caribbean Ocean off the coast of Barbados, I managed to photograph certain fish and animals as I had planned. However, I encountered a couple of technical problems when it came to photographing the shipwreck and the coral reefs. But all in all, and in spite of the adversity I faced, I think that I did a pretty good job.
My inspiration for this project came largely from the beautiful and brilliant photographs exhibited at the National Geographic and on their website. To be more specific, the collection that made the biggest single impact upon me and inspired me to attempt to achieve the same magnificence and exceptional composition, is the Coral Reefs photo collection. These images convey the true sense of beauty in nature and the photographers that took them demonstrated excellent skill. The different angles of the coral reef photos portray a variety of the elements and principles of design. The zoomed in images illustrate detailed textures, patterns and shapes in one group of coral as well as depicting the contrast in value between dark and light spaces that serves to emphasize the brightness of the coral itself. In contrast to this, the distant images (that were not zoomed in), make the viewer’s eye wander from the sharp movement of the waves above to the variety of colors and shapes at the focal point, the coral.
In all of their collections the photographers manage to tell a story whilst keeping the audience hungry for more. In my project, I know I will have achieved what I aspired to do when my personal story of the wonders of the ocean keeps those who have seen it wanting more. When people see my work, I would like them to marvel at the surprises that lie within the ocean and be as awestruck as I was by its remarkable flora and fauna.
Before I began to execute my project, I researched the local Barbados area in detail to make sure that I had a variety of species and objects that I could capture. I faced slight difficulties because did not find as much information as I wanted to and the weather forecast kept changing. These uncertainties and random elements meant that I didn’t know what to expect. However, I did make backup plans in case I couldn’t do what I wanted that had a similar theme and objective. The only downside was that these would have to be done in DC, which meant no shipwreck.
The production period took nine days in total. Five days were spent on researching the area and creating and researching back up plans, two days on producing my original plan and the final two days to incorporate some of the backup plan when my original concept did not work out as I had thought. Nevertheless, I did use some of the images I took from the first concept.
Due to my camera’s limitation of only working 10 feet underwater, I had to use a disposable camera to capture the shipwreck, which was about 12-15 feet underwater. Not being able to see the images on the disposable camera, I had to wait and see how they turned out after the film was developed which didn’t leave me as many options as using a digital camera.
Another issue that affected my first concept was the weather forecast in Barbados. The small island had been expecting some storms during Thanksgiving break, which is when I had planned to do my project. It was due to this factor that was entirely beyond my control that my photos were affected adversely. The water whilst scuba diving to take the pictures wasn’t as clear as I had hoped it would be and all the shipwreck and coral were covered with sand. Nevertheless, I still took as many pictures as I could and made sure I had the time and resources to accomplish my backup plan just in case the quality of the pictures on the disposable camera were not as I had wished.
After returning to DC and developing the pictures, my fears came true, as the photos didn’t come out as clear as I had expected and with the quality that I had needed for the assignment. Instead, I decided to use the images that did work, the ones I had taken on my digital camera, and replace the ones that did not work with images that I had captured at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. In retrospect, the execution of the objects I wanted to cover in my original idea worked but in a different way than I had previously envisaged. I had originally wanted the common theme to be the diversity of the ocean, and figured that with or without the shipwreck I was able to accomplish and execute my goal accurately by illustrating the variety of species and creatures living in the sea. The photo essay was not that different from my initial idea. I just had to adjust the subjects being photographed according to my predicament. The only major change was not using the shipwreck that I originally planned on using.
My biggest personal disillusionment was not being able to depict the stunning and fascinating shipwreck that I saw. Ironically, I believe that my biggest success came out of this disappointment. If it wasn’t for the setback I faced after seeing the disposable camera pictures, I wouldn’t have been able to portray the beautiful colors, patterns and textures of the coral and fish I saw at the National Aquarium and that would have been something that my audience would have missed out on. It is through this experience of trial and error I learned that with art, no matter what medium you are using, there will always be a bright side. Even if you strongly dislike the first outcome, there is always the possibility of trying again and you just have to be creative and imaginative. In addition to that, I learned that for everything you do, you should always consider a backup plan just in case things don’t go according to your original idea and to work with what you have to convey something spectacular.
I am confident that I was able to visually convey the wonders and beauty of ocean life. I also believe that after viewing this project, some, if not most, of the viewers would be interested in further exploring ocean life, or just appreciating and marveling at the beauty of marine life and nature. In conclusion, if I had the chance to do the project differently to improve my work, I would use a different camera, a digital one that allowed me to go deeper into the depths of the ocean. Other than that, I don’t think I would make any changes because I believe I have created something unique and simple that I am very proud to present in its current form. This journey has made me eager to explore different oceans and take advantage of the chances and opportunities that life has given me. I can’t wait to explore the beauty of the world we live in, starting out small and making a bigger change every day.