Interview with photographer Jessica Cantlin
F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Jessica Cantlin: I was drawn to photography in high school. The darkroom was a place to escape and explore and create. Though I always loved photography, It was many years later that I came back to the medium full-time.
F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your work “Sea Pools,” can you tell us about this project?
JC: These images represent the beginning of an expansive body of photography documenting sea pools around the world. A few years ago, I was introduced to these unique swimming spots while on a trip to the Azores Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. After a bit of research, I came to discover that sea pools have been built as safe swimming areas all around the globe in coastal communities that are subject to unpredictable ocean currents. Many sea pools are adapted from naturally formed tidal pools, while others are often completely man made from concrete, brick or rock but incorporate the natural flow of the sea water. One thing is for certain, no two are the same, which makes this project architecturally and anthropologically interesting. During the first two years of the pandemic, I spent my time researching sea pools and locating them using Google Maps. With more than 300 pools identified, when this project is completed, I hope to assemble these images into my second monograph, which will not only contain photographs of the most interesting pools, but will also include historical information about how they came to be.
F-Stop: Water seems to be a feature in your work often, is there a particular significance to this?
JC: I am really attracted to the natural landscape, and I happen to live near the water, so it comes as no surprise that it is the subject of a lot of my work. I am specifically drawn to making images that incorporate water and weather – when the two elements interact with a landscape, anything can happen.
F-Stop: How do you choose the subject matter of your projects?
JC: I typically shoot outdoors using natural light and am specifically drawn to landscape photography. These parameters curb the content of my subject matter, but all rules are meant to broken, so I’m always exploring new ways to express myself in the environment.
F-Stop: Why do you photograph? What motivates you to make the images you create?
JC: I like the idea that every photograph captures a specific moment in time that is never going to happen again. I think of this every time I shoot people interacting with the environment – this specifically comes to mind when it comes to my beach photography. I love witnessing body language that no one pays attention to until it is captured in one of my photographs. Telling stories through split seconds of making photographs is what motivates me.
F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?
JC: Devil’s Point Tidal Pool is one of my favorites. The luminosity of the water is incredible. It’s hard to decide whether it’s blue, green, or purple. It also captures the moment of hesitation to get into the water and the joy of swimmers returning to shore.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
JC: In addition to this series, which has a long way to go, I am currently working on a group of black and white images of the wild forests of Cumberland Island that I shot last March.
F-Stop: What or who are your photography inspirations – and why?
JC: I am always inspired by the minimalism of Richard Misrach’s images. I draw on my love of beach photography from the wide expansive large format images of Massimo Vitali. I love Julie Blackmon’s staged photographs of Midwest life. And Leila Jeffries bird portraiture is absolutely captivating.
Jessica Cantlin is a fine art landscape photographer from Seattle. Blending texture, scale and natural light with water, weather and wildlife, Cantlin creates photographs that elegantly capture the intersection of humanity and the environment. Cantlin works as a curious storyteller, discretely observing and capturing people in the landscape. Every detail of her photographs has significance. From the facial expressions and body language of the people she shoots, to the colors and textures of the landscapes that make up her sets. It is the juxtaposition of these details that lends an ordinary scene a surreal, dreamlike quality; a reminder to look closely. Cantlin is represented by Winston Wachter Fine Art in Seattle.
To see more of Jessica’s work visit the Portfolio 2022 issue of F-Stop or Jessica’s website www.feedmywanderlust.com
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