Even as a teenager just beginning my journey, I was drawn to photograph bodies of water, the oceans in particular, as they seemed to have a special attraction for me. Perhaps this was because of the majestic and ever changing nature of them due mostly to fluctuations in the weather, the seasons, and the shifting of the tides. From the crashing waves of the oceans, to the stillness of mountain lakes, this life affirming energy has been a tremendous inspiration in my work, which has spanned the last 35 years and afforded me opportunities to photograph some of the most beautiful places in the world.
While most of my earlier photographs affirm (and quite often dramatize) these natural phenomena, there are unnatural changes occurring throughout the country which are having a very negative impact on the American coastline, and these changes are caused largely by humans. Our very existence has altered the natural beauty of our coastline, leaving behind man-made objects that over time, nature slowly dismantles, as if a gentle reminder that the natural world will persist and whatever we do is hopefully temporary. It is these very obscure and unnatural objects that fascinate me and draw me in as a photographer.
When I arrived in the United States twentyfive years ago, I photographed the coastline in the various places I lived or vacationed – Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, and parts of California. I was struck by both the similarities… and dissimilarities I encountered on each and every occasion. Having lived in Naples for the last twelve years, a significant part of my portfolio is of this area.
When assignments for clients like Clipper Cruise Line took my wife and me to the remote Kuril Islands north of Japan and much of what extended down the coast to Vietnam, I was equally fascinated by the amazing characteristics of water.
One of my goals for a number of years now has been to allocate time to explore and experience the entire American coastline, and become completely absorbed in what lies before my lens…the obscure and the beautiful, the old and the new. Basically, whatever catches my eye.
Because of the scope of the project I am proposing, it will be divided into two parts – “West Side” and East Side”. I will set out the beginning of May 2014 on this extraordinary adventure with my wife and fellow photographer, Jan Soderquist, and our little Havanese, Lily.
We will make the journey in our vintage Airstream trailer and anticipate being away about six months. We will head up the west coast of Florida exploring the Gulf states, and proceed to the Pacific Coast where we will continue north to Seattle. Upon completion of the West Side Project, we will begin planning for the East Side Project which will be launched in 2015.
We are so excited about putting what has been a long time dream of ours in action, and I am convinced that it will culminate in my best work to date! We hope you’ll join us on this journey and follow us on Facebook. We’d love to take you along!
We will be maintaining a regular blog of our experiences on a new website: www.greatamericancoastline.com. To view a portfolio of my landscapes to date, please go to: www.garethrockliffe.com.