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Reflections on the Water Challenge: Drowning

The latest ICM challenge from #charlottebellamy was Water. A very popular topic for ICM photographers, as it provides endless variety, from calm lakes to tumbling waterfalls, gentle waves sparkling in the sun to raging stormy seas. And in my archive I have some great examples of all of these:

But my intention with this challenge is to create something new, not draw on previous work. And also to learn from the judging process from the last topics in the fortnightly challenge. Originality, distinctiveness, seeing something different, telling a story all stood out for me.

But underpinning the creative process is also my state of mind as the creator.

This summer has been one of such contrasts. Long, hot, lazy days on the beach. Bathing in the warm seas, wallowing and floating in the sun, not being driven out by the chill as in previous summers. Reading a whole book in a day, just breaking off to take a few photos of the waves which have been the soundtrack of my summer.

Alongside these pleasures though is the increasing despair and anger at the climate breakdown that is giving us such rising temperatures. And the knowledge that there are some solutions, there is still time to act, and yet nothing is happening. The void, the lack of urgency, the short-termism continues. I watch the news from Pakistan and despaired. The topic of 'water' for me was no longer a portrayal of joyful sparkles on the sea but life-threatening floods and deluge. People drowning.

I set out to represent these ideas photographically. I wanted to placed myself in the image, under the water. I layered a photo of my hand floating in the sea with ICM images of water rippling over the sand and the pebbles to give a sense of depth and submersion. I called it 'Drowning'. It was nothing like any of the other images already submitted.

The image came 7th in the challenge. Here are the submissions and feedback:

Still so much to learn from my peers and judges. The judge for this challenge was whose sea photography is outstanding.

I have since carried on playing with my 'Drowning' image, mixing different images of water with the hand under the sea. And been amazed by the outcomes.

From drowning and despair, to the light coming through to the glow and sparkle of hope.

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