“Feet” by Ann Prochilo

Feet is part of This Is Water, a series exploring self-awareness and its nemeses: blind certitude and unconsciousness.

I started this project in the early days of the pandemic when my “pod” took to the sea to get out of the house and stay socially-distanced. As restrictions lifted, I engaged others who sought refuge and joy in the Mediterranean surrounding Malta.

This Is Water examines what is above and below the surface, bending light as it moves from one medium to another. I use water to point to ways in which we are ego-deluded and dissociated from ourselves – drawn to an anesthetized oblivion. This image is an attempt to express this idea. It speaks of disconnection and of hidden things made visible.

Feet was made off the salt pans in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, an oasis in the middle of a theme park, centuries-old ruins and an encampment of semi-permanent caravans. Favored by locals, it’s a place to take your family for the day, dog for a swim, or quick dip before sunset.

We had an extra-long summer. But on this late October day, the signs of Autumn were undeniable. The winds had shifted, the waters cooled and the rains were on the way. With lengthening shadows and choppy seas, I felt the existential anxiety that comes for some of us this time of year. I slipped into the water wearing a neck-to-ankle “skin”, goggles, and a pair of short fins to protect my feet from the rocks and to keep me afloat. There were few people, but thankfully, few jellyfish too. I approached two women, fellow summer-lovers clinging to the last golden days. They agreed to be photographed and have kept in touch as their images shape an evolving story.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The intrigue in this image is the illusion of a pair of feet dislocated from a surprised body. There are actually two figures in this photograph, one whose upper half is hidden by the swell and another whose entire body above the feet is concealed. I cropped the bottom of the image slightly to further the fiction of there being one divided figure.  

Secondly, I like the play of light and sky intersecting the wave that pulls the viewer into an upside-down otherworld.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I wish I could say I knew what I was getting when I clicked the shutter. In reality, it was a happy, if not completely unexpected, “accident”. Making photographs rarely unfolds the way I expect it to – the perfect combination of intention and serendipity. This is especially true when making images in the sea. While I’m deliberate about working with refraction and movement, I’m always surprised when things below the surface are wildly exaggerated, or light scatters across the frame, or a body part is obscured or dislocated. There are so many random elements, I try not to have too many preconceived ideas. I aim to stay in the moment and respond to the environment and opportunities that, literally, wash over me.

Ann Prochilo shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Ann Prochilo, Malta


Equipment and settings

Fujifilm GFX 50R + GF 30mm, F3.5, 1/420 sec at f/8.0, Outex waterproof camera housing, post-processing in Lightroom.

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