Blackfish. The documentary about captive whales that will break your heart and move you to action.
By now, you all have probably read my open letter to Jack Hanna. You probably saw Concrete Cell, the first of a short series of underwater photos inspired by the film. As I do, I turned to art to help me express my thoughts. I’ve just completed the last two photos for the series, and I’d like to share them with you here.
I set up an underwater shoot with Katie, with the intention to create something inspired by Blackfish. Something sad and cold, that touched on the tragedy of the film. Something that would help me work through the troubling emotions the movie had brought up, and lessen my feeling of helplessness about the plight of the whales.
It was a great shoot. We captured everything we wanted, my camera behaved itself, and even the sudden appearance of gardeners tending to the yard around the pool was just another story to laugh about. As she often does, Katie seemed to instantly understand what it was I wanted to express and needed very little direction. My new wetsuit worked wonders and even though I still hated being wet at all, at least this time I wasn’t a purple, shaking mess by the time the shoot was done.
Editing the photos was another matter. Having to visit such an emotionally dark place whenever I worked on them was not easy. I had to take breaks and work on lighter photos. But I’m proud of myself for sticking it out; doing what I felt I needed to do despite the difficulty of it.
In the first photo, we wanted to recreate Tilikum’s misery in this iconic photo of him, taken by Colleen Gorman, languishing alone in his solitary confinement.
The second photo is an impression of the anguish of all the captive dolphins and whales and a memorial to all their deaths.
As this year draws to an end, I can’t help but think of what a huge impact Blackfish has already had on society. It was only shown on CNN in October of this year. The backlash against SeaWorld and its supporters has been immense. Sponsors have fled, popular bands have refused to perform there. Petitions of every kind are circulating, making demands. Change is coming. But it cannot come fast enough.
It’s easy to feel helpless to bring big change about. We are all only one person after all; one drop amidst a great ocean of people. But, as they say in Cloud Atlas, what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?
I want my drop to fall on the side of animal rights. And I hope that 2014 brings about the ocean of change that has already begun. I believe it can happen