Swimming in the sand

I have long been convinced that camera and a good eye are not the only things that make for good photography. The best images need a little more. They need an unrepeatable moment, courage, and sense of light. Yet at the same time, it is sometimes good to avoid all thoughts about equipment, setting up, or staging the model in any way. One must simply press the release button at the right time at the right place. I am happy that I have taken several such photographs in my life. The one I would like to introduce to you today definitely belongs among them.

Swimming in the sand

It is in no way a new photograph in my archive. I created it on an island in the Atlantic Ocean that I often use as a natural studio for my fashion and art photography. In the same place, for instance, I created the black and white photograph of the half-naked lady who used my sweater as avant-garde pants and performed sumo rituals while standing on one leg. I will introduce this photograph here soon. But now back to the point. I’m simply very fond of this island and perhaps it rewarded me for it. I spent that whole week working on a catalog for the fashion label Fisher Collection and I can say that on the last day I’d had enough. I struggled with high fever, and whereas others walked around almost naked, I was running around with a camera dressed in a sweater and hood. Due to the unexpected illness it was a true photographic hell for me, and even today my memories are still quite mixed. But that does not change anything about the fact that the catalog, which I created there, belongs among the best I’ve created in fashion photography to this day.

I remember the moment quite clearly because swimsuits were photographed last and involved the most difficulties. I had an idea that we would do the last roll of film (yes, you read right FILM) on a huge sand dune and the model would be jumping down to make it seem as though her legs were at least twice as long as her torso. I used a 24 mm focal length lens for this effect. I used it for the whole roll of film and hoped that I had it. When I started to descend the top of the dune on the hot sand down to the car, I noticed that I still had one photograph left in the camera. Or more precisely, the control signaling the end of the film was not on, even though I had exposed 36. Sometimes it happens that the film is longer and there is space for one more photograph. I shouted to the top of the dune to the model, who was about to climb down that she should wait for me; I was coming back for one more photograph. I had no idea at the time that I was returning for one of my best photographs. When I was about two meters away from her, I said, „Hey, Marťa, it’s the last photo, so just jump into the sand as if you were jumping into water.“ I exaggerated a bit but what happened was exactly what I had in mind. The atmosphere, dynamics, and light were perhaps a reward for me coming back. Since then I’ve always exposed rolls of film until the very last shot and it has paid off many times. This was the field labeled 37e.

I had a hard time once again even in Prague though. The original negative of this image was being scanned in the graphic studio for so long as no one knew about it. It took exactly half a year, even though they searched for it several times in the same studio, in the same places, always with the answer that someone must have taken it. I refused to accept that it would not be found. You can imagine how I felt when six months later I went to pick up the lost child filled with fear that it might be a silly joke.

Adolf Zika

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