TThis may be 7 years old, but it's still amazing. Beautifully shot off the coast of Ireland. Director: Micky Smith. Astray Films.
Darkside of the Lens offers a surreal, ethereal, passionate and personal glimpse into the life and motivations of an ocean-based photographer - working on a magical, yet isolated, frozen and dangerous stretch of the Irish coastline.
The story of the photographer is a tale seldom told. Through poignant, poetic narrative, the film eventually transcends itself as an abstract reflection of one photographer’s ideals, to become a voice for the artform.
Indeed the film itself becomes a visual poem of sorts, set in a mindblowing environment of epic heavy waves, strange sealife and monolithic stunning clifflines. Land, sea and wavescapes illustrate the grandeur of this environment, and huge explosions of water bring its realities home, as the photographer swims through the epicentre of it all.
Through one man's translation of what it takes to create images that inspire, we also gain insight into the unheralded and misunderstood art form of ocean-based photography.
The merits of the artform itself come into focus: how it is unique, the risks involved, the challenges faced, the highs and lows of the game. The narrative delves into the reasoning behind risking your life for a photograph when there are meagre financial rewards, and illustrates what it takes to succeed in a specialist niche that demands such a strange combination of photographic and physical prowess.
The result is a unique, moving and inspirational understanding of the nomadic lifestyle involved, and the subsequent realities of living it in the brutally cold big wave environment of Ireland.