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Hope of Loss

This photo series depicts a woman (modeled by Nina Naval), in times before modern technology and communications, whose husband went off to sea and never returned. Not only had he not returned, but the entire ship is missing. At this point, it has been long enough that it is clear what happened, but she does not want to give in and lose hope, she does not want her husband to be gone, so she stands by the waves hoping to see the boat upon the horizon. The town knows the truth. The ship has sunk. The sailors are no more. She knows the truth too but will not admit it. She is not ready to lose him.

In order to express this idea, I styled the model in a bygone era, employing a muted color palette and evoking a somber atmosphere. In the images, I captured not only the model and the raw emotions she expressed but also the ocean itself; it becomes a character, an ever-present backdrop, symbolizing the profound connection between the woman and her husband's unknown fate. I would have liked to take more close-up pictures of her hands in the sand and her feet leaving a trail along the beach but was limited due to the weather. October evening (it was necessary to take the photos in the evening to create the lighting that conveys the mood of the piece) temperatures combined with sea wind and water posed a risk to the model’s health so time-efficiency was prioritized.

My editing techniques, including a warm vintage aesthetic and grainy textures, infuse the images with raw emotion. The use of a lower shutter speed creates a sense of motion blur, emphasizing the turmoil of anguish and sorrow. Through these visual elements, I seek to draw the audience into the protagonist's world, where hope and despair blur together.

Oftentimes, a shipwreck is invisible. You may not know exactly what happened. If you do, it may not be until years—or even decades—have passed. The Sewol ferry was not taken from the water until years later. The Titan submersible was a mystery for days; people questioned if those inside were dead or alive. The ocean holds many secrets. To this day shipwrecks are mysteries and in the times before modern communication methods, they were even more so. Sailors without radio could not call home for help. They could not attempt to send a last message to loved ones. They were alone. They would be gone before their loved ones were even concerned something could have happened. When they did learn, often there was not even a body for them to bury, for them to grieve over. There is an emptiness that accompanies a shipwreck death.

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