This is the third of a series of four articles by photographer/writer Douglas Faulkner. These photos were taken over a thirty year period, between 1962 and 1992. Faulkner stopped photographing marine life after companies discontinued the manufacturing of flash bulbs. “It was an unwilling act, but I was not happy with the quality of light from electronic strobes,” explained Faulkner, who went on to photograph manatees and underwater nudes with existing light.
My underwater photography is an outgrowth of my love of the ocean and the plants and animals that live in it. For as long as I can remember, I have loved colors, and the sea is rich with them in every imaginable form and combination. Colors I would never wear I collect nonetheless, thereby expressing my hidden needs. Like a bower bird, I select flower petals and beetle wings for my nest. For my Lady.
Windsurfers are often too busy at their favorite sport to scuba dive or snorkel, and some locations such as tropical bays or coves are too calm for their exciting sport. However, when winds are too slight to fill their sails, a day of diving can be an exciting alternative.
I neither surf or windsurf but I spent many years photographing what is just a few fathoms down and out of sight beneath the board and waves.
At the heart of the matter, my photographs express a love affair with our existence. If I depict Earthly creatures, to me they come from afar. For they have a strangeness, alien as from another planet. Only my relationship gives them a familiar humanity.
Of “airy nothing” a moon jelly pulses through a dark sea, hauntingly like the Earth in space. Every photograph of our planet awakens in me memories of a jellyfish in the sea.
When confronting creatures we consider wild, it is not our right to destroy them out of fear. We should not obliterate them from the Earth because they occasionally inconvenience us. All we pave over is our living heritage. All we destroy is the diversity of our lives. What we capture for our zoos, aquariums, and bookshelves is jailed or murdered. For a time, we may not miss what we destroy. We have duplicated so much of the world in our arts. In our polluted cities, our creations serve as momentary diversions. But the living colors and patterns of butterfly fishes and butterflies dance beyond ladies’ dresses. They become lifeless when embalmed as paperweights. No marble lioness can replace the lithe machinery of her muscle, flowing through the golden grasses before the rush.
If any of my photographs breathe for you, I have accomplished all that I would ask of any artist. My images only hint at the richness that I have lived.
Photography and cinema may show us what is too small, too quick, too far away for our eyes, but how will our creations satisfy us when what they depict is gone? By lamp or sunlight, they are most beautiful when their flanks, and wings, and paws, and their eyes are alert.
In turning the pages, you may wish to eliminate a creature who frightens or repulses you. One with whom you care not to socialize, however briefly. Someone I love. Some creature, or creatures who have enriched my life beyond explanations and definitions, beyond mechanics, equipment and everything taught in schools, and my wildest imaginings as a young boy. Much in human society moves me toward old age. Before the wonder of other beings, I am young.