From The Heart

Well That Hurt: Finding Inspiration the Hard Way in Underwater Photography

Probably shouldn’t have done that…

From time to time I like to browse some of my favorite photographers’ work to see what they’ve been up to. It gives me inspiration, new ideas, and also lights that competitive fire under my ass.

But sometimes it has the opposite effect. Sometimes I see something so unbelievably good that I sink into a deep chasm of self-doubt and frustration.

Today was one of those days.

Now when it comes to underwater photography, I am obsessed. So obsessed in fact, that when I learned the cost of underwater camera housing apparatuses ($2,000?! What?!), I built my own. Hell I’ve been obsessed with water itself for as long as I can remember. I think it’s the weightlessness of it mixed with just a touch of danger. Swimming to me feels like flying – if the air could kill you at any moment.

Even in my above ground portfolio, you really don’t even have to look very hard to see watery influences. In almost every photo, there are people and objects floating around, and water is consistently a central theme. I’m either standing in it, sitting on a car in it, put someone else under it or have it coming out of an umbrella (multiple times). It’s actually pretty funny to look back and see that unintentionally, I’ve always had water somewhere in my photos.

So one of the photographers I casually stalk (read: intensely dream about working with someday) is Zena Holloway. Her work is stunning. Like, crazy good. It’s so gorgeous that it actually pisses me off on a certain level and if I ever meet her I already know she’s going to hate me because I will either completely freeze up and say something creepy and inappropriate (my default mode) or I will ask a million questions and annoy the bajesus out of her.

So two great options, really.

But last month she posted a behind-the-scenes video of one of her underwater photography shoots:

An Underwater Film: Behind the Scenes of ‘How to Spend it’ Magazine from Zena Holloway on Vimeo.

As always it’s amazing, but shortly after watching I found myself frustrated. Seeing her models gracefully pose while I consistently flail about made me think of the countless “Nailed It” moments you find on Pinterest. I should’ve known just from reading the description what I was getting into.

“750,000 litres of water
One 5m high bed
Six hours to set up
Eight hours to shoot
1,468 photographs
Nine underwater crew
Seven underwater cameras
53 seconds without drawing breath
1,609m of hair extensions
217 Valsalva manoeuvres
…and 62 wet towels!”

Holy fuck.

I spent all day yesterday setting up and shooting. My list was as follows:

One assistant
Two models
1 Camera
Dresses from Goodwill
Light from Home Depot
Bottle of Jameson

Ouch.

And then comes the self-pity party. “If only I could just borrow some designer clothes. If only I knew a qualified hair and makeup person that could do the look I’m going for. If only I had access to a better lighting system, a different lens, or a better location.”

“If only, if only, if only, blah, blah, blah, blah blah!”

See, this actually happens a lot. The pity party hits, and then I calm down and remind myself of a few solid points: 1.) All of this awesome stuff does not make an amazing photographer, these are tools that amazing photographers have acquired over the years. I’m very doubtful anyone has access to all this amazing equipment and vendors from day one, and 2.) It takes time. Photography is an art that takes for-freaking-ever to learn and there is no rushing the process. Eventually, slowly but surely, I’ll get there.

And you will too :).

Essentially, the video below is all you ever need to keep in mind. Trust me – I watch it anytime I need to pull myself out of a bit of a slump :).

THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.

And if I ever do get to meet Zena, maybe we can just hangout. Nothing serious, just, like, drink some tea, talk about photography, get matching tattoos…that sort of thing ;).

 

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I Am a Complete Failure

It’s true.

I am a complete and utter failure.

I have failed in relationships (both romantic and platonic), in plenty of career opportunities (still have just a teensy problem with authority), in schooling (I left my Master’s program with only one internship left), and in countless other areas, including photography.

Especially photography. Hell my first photo composites were replacing friends’ drinks with cats so we could post them on Facebook.

No…scratch that. Those non-alcoholic cat photos are brilliant.

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But nonetheless, the fact remains: I have failed at virtually everything.

And thank sweet baby Jesus that I have.

Let’s backtrack for a bit to my freshman year of college. If I had been successful in everything I set out to do, where would I be right now?

Let’s see…I’d be an aerospace engineer (my very first major) married to a very, very abusive man (my first serious boyfriend). I’d still talk to my father on a regular basis (no, trust me, this is probably the worst thing about this little flashback) and…actually, I don’t even want to think about my possible alternate life. That already sounds pretty horrible.

The truth is, if I had stuck it out for the sake of avoiding the dreaded “failure” stamp, I would be pretty miserable right now. Failure, as it turns out, is not that bad of a thing. Boil it down and you see that failure is really just another way of saying whatever your end goal might be, your current track isn’t going to get you there. It gives you the opportunity to recognize something isn’t working, make an adjustment, and try again.

You know what’s worse than failure? Inaction. Standing aside and doing nothing. Making the decision (yes, inaction is a choice), to literally do nothing about your current life situation.

Falling on our face is natural, having an idea go horribly wrong usually makes for an amusing story later, and stopping in the middle of something that isn’t working and starting over is just plain good time-management. But without action, we are stagnant. We cannot grow or develop. We experience nothing, we learn nothing and we gain nothing. Sure there’s the possibility things might not work out, but the sting of embarrassment is a helluva lot easier to swallow than the sting of regret. That shit lasts forever.

So from this point on, redefine how you see failure and redefine how you see success. Don’t stress so much about the end result and focus more on the process. As long as you’re trying, you’re still moving forward; no matter how slow it may feel.

And if you’re still a little wary of the whole idea, think of this fun fact: a high failure rate is actually what sets apart the most successful people in our society. The more you fail, the more you learn, the more you improve.

So with that being said, yes, I am a complete failure. Come join me down here, the future looks pretty fantastic :).

 

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Get anything out of this? Share it so someone else can too!

And if you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to talk to me – I answer best through email or on my Facebook page, Jenna Martin Photography :).

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