With the ocean, sand, and sky as a backdrop, Jessica Cantlin‘s book of color photographs, Captured by the Sea, transports viewers to ocean shorelines around Europe and Brazil where people and nature are connecting. Several years into isolation periods evoked by Covid restrictions, these images taken between 2016 and 2021 remind the viewer of the interrelatedness of land and culture, and the unique kind of joy and relaxation that accompanies the beach visit experience.
Based in Seattle, Cantlin has called herself a “timeless observer of human behavior,” and indeed the expressions and body language details throughout the photographs reveal moments of interaction with each other, splashing or walking along the coast. In part because of how they are composed, and in part because they were taken at locations throughout the world, the images also remind the viewer of the uniting and communing environment of the beach.
Cantlin highlights this in her writing on the project, noting that factors like race, class, or age don’t necessarily define beach culture. She shares, “A day in the sun by the sea draws on everyone and is unifying in its ritual, one that when placed under the microscope of a camera is very telling anthropologically.”
Artist Jennifer Ament contributed the book’s foreword, and she highlights this signature to Cantlin’s photographs. “She quietly sees humanity going about its business, and through her photos invites you into the daily, weekly, or yearly routines of one of everyone’s favorite pastimes, a day at the beach. We see real emotion in the faces of people who seem like they have been waiting for years to find relief from daily life and finally get to breathe and be in the moment.”
Cantlin’s consistent stylistic choices allow sweeping skies, vibrant water, and horizon lines to interact in equal measure to the people populating the spaces, creating a kind of cinematic feel. This approach also allows all layers of content to potentially pull on viewers’ own memories and visceral senses such as the smell of salt air and the sound of water lapping and people laughing.
As well, Cantlin notes the research that has shown the therapeutic benefits to water and to the beach itself. Blue is a color clinically shown to be associated with a sense of calm, and all the other multi-sensory characteristics of the coast can help promote a sense of relaxation and decompression.
She writes, “Just the physical act of transporting oneself to the beach, let alone turning off the phone and breathing in the air, is enough for the brain to enter a state of mindfulness that transcends the psyche and reduces stress.”
The entire globe has experienced a unique chapter in world history navigating the pandemic and all the accompanying implications and factors. Captured by the Sea is both a transportive escape and a reminder of community and connection with each other and the landscape.
Jessica Cantlin is an award-winning fine art landscape photographer from Seattle. Cantlin travels the world with her cameras, curiosity, and love for wide open spaces. Blending texture, scale, and natural light with water, weather, and wildlife, Cantlin creates photographs that elegantly capture the intersection of humanity and the environment.
Jessica Cantlin : Captured By The Sea
Published by Daylight Books
7.5 x 11 inches
128 pages, 75 color photographs