Sea Smoke

Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Stephen Shore

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Sophie Davis

Sea Smoke Artist Statement

May 2014

This body of work is about a feeling. The best way I can describe this feeling is through the use of the image of sea smoke. Sea smoke is that divinely beautiful fog that appears on the surface of water when cold air comes into contact with comparatively warm water. To me, this image captures the way that my pictures feel. These portraits appear as moments of calm but in fact are rooted within the stir of my own circumstances as well as those of my subjects. A mutual mood shared between myself and my sitters affects the atmosphere of the photographs. On the exterior, both sea smoke and my portraits have an air of quiet beauty, but below the surface of the water and of the photographic subject there is a turbulence that causes a visible reaction to occur in the external world.

When there is a disturbance in my life I tend to respond to it with stillness. Whether it’s a fight with a friend or an accident involving a loved one, my natural response is to turn inwards and become calm and quiet. When I feel as if forces are pressing too hard upon me I find these moments of stillness and let the tumult wash over me and through me. Likewise, these images are constantly balancing on the edge; each one threatening to tip over if the turbulence becomes too much.

I photograph my loved ones and my acquaintances, anyone who I am physically near and who will allow me to take their picture. I rely on my subjects to reveal themselves to me and in return they place their image in my care and expect that I will not take it for granted. I never aim to mock or expose in my photographs; my goal is to share a feeling that I experience so strongly and so often but that is often disregarded as a facet of my quietude. I’m searching for connections, ties to people so that I can claim them as my own, my familiars, similar to me. Taking pictures of others gives me the ability to reach a closeness with them that I am often unable to achieve through verbal communication.

My picture making process involves a great deal of observation. My disposition is that of a somewhat reserved person, I like to remain on the outside and survey before I interject myself into someone else’s life; never wanting to intrude past my welcome. I am very conscious of my surroundings and the moods of those around me. My photographic practice mirrors the way I act in social situations: I observe the characters in my life and when I find a moment where guards are let down, that’s when I step in. Often times, my subjects are not looking into the camera because I am not asking them to be models. Instead, I am witnessing the moments that take place when nobody is watching but me. I influence the direction of the photograph by choosing moments in which my subject appears like sea smoke, calm and quiet, yet stirred by internal happenings.

Sea smoke is something that covers and shrouds. Similar to screens, curtains, and glass, sea smoke makes you look a little more carefully at what’s in front of you. All of these covers call for a pause in one’s normal activities to allow for full reception of the image and to make sure that you catch sight of the moments hidden in the folds of the facade.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

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