Skip to content
As a landscape photographer who focuses on capturing seascapes, you might assume I chose this subject because I grew up around the ocean or maybe because the ocean is just full of beauty, so why not? While I did grow up around the ocean, and I do believe she is beautiful in every angle, the reason I choose to photograph seascapes is because the ocean helped save my life…and now I want to help save the ocean. I don’t have a degree in oceanography or marine biology but I want my photographs to show people her raw beauty and remind them how imperative it is for us to keep her healthy.
On November 4th 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. It was a long day of work at the television station. I got home to my parents house a little after midnight only to see my best friend of 13 years barely holding on to life. I’ll never forget that night for many reasons. My best friend’s name was Tarzan; a golden retriever/Labrador mix that was dog of the month at the local humane society. I adopted him as a teenager, so we experienced some important milestones together. As I approached him, I remember my mom saying, “He waited for you.” I sat next to him and rubbed his head for a few minutes. I went to the rest room to wash my face and when I came out my best friend had passed. Tarzan died peacefully of old age and he lived a whole year longer than the vet said he would. Although I found that experience to be very spiritual I was also very sad. The following week I was set to close on my first home and I wasn’t even excited. So much more sadness came into my life, from a break-up, and my parent’s sudden divorce. All this sadness started to compound, so much so that I became anti-social and also scared to be out. I went to work and came home everyday. The only places I went were the grocery store and drive thru to grab lunch. This social anxiety went on for years and my sadness got worse with me attempting suicide twice. I felt extremely alone.
Now I can’t remember exactly why, but I bought myself a Canon DSLR with a kit lens. I would take photos of birds, flowers and textures in my neighborhood. I also started taking pictures of my new four legged friend Buddy, a Lhasa Apso Shih Tzu mix I adopted a year after Tarzan passed. As I look back on that time, I believe that photography along with Buddy helped save my life.
My interest for photography grew and grew to the point where it was all I could think about, and to this day it still pretty much is. I ended up joining the online photography communities Flickr and 500px where I was exposed to so much great photography, however, I was drawn to landscape photography the most. I discovered a local Florida photographer named Carlos Molina (www.carlos-molina.com). To this day he is one of my greatest inspirations. His photographs are stunning and capture the plentitude of Florida’s beauty. Not only did his photography inspire me to take better photos but also to get out and explore. The only problem was that I wasn’t there yet mentally. I was still having a lot of social anxiety. Eventually, with the help of my new girlfriend, I started to venture out to local parks that were not too crowded. One day she told me she found a place I would love to photograph at sunrise. A new place? At sunrise? I was terrified at the thought and even more after she told me it was in South Beach, a place known for huge crowds. It took a lot of courage to agree to go but with her I felt safe so we set a date.
The big, seemingly scary day finally came. We arrived at South Pointe Park a bit before sunrise, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t looking too promising with distant storms approaching. Back then I didn’t know about checking the weather or tide reports. We felt a slight drizzle as we walked from the parking lot to the beach and my girlfriend started to feel disappointed, as this was turning out to feel like a bust. I told her that I at least I wanted to go down to the water, so we continued on. We got to the Jetty area and I was amazed at the beauty of the stormy ocean. Luckily the rain never showed up and we began to shoot. After searching for a traditional composition on the jetty, I decided to wander down to the water in search of a better more dynamic point of view just like the ones Carlos Molina is known for. I remember the water rushing over my feet. I could describe the feeling as amazing or incredible, and it was, but I prefer to describe it as just right. It just felt right, like I was in my element. The motion and the sounds of the waves made me feel at peace and I didn’t feel an ounce of anxiety. The experience that morning sent me on the path to recovery. I discovered I wanted more of this “just right” feeling. I wanted to feel and experience more of the ocean. I wanted to go to more places to photograph. Everyday I would Google search “places to photograph in Florida” and at that point I started to feel happy and fulfilled.
I also began to educate myself about the ocean and had a rude awakening as to how much trouble she is in. This was the point where I realized I wanted to use my photography to serve a greater purpose. My hope is that my photography evokes the same serenity I feel while standing on the shorelines or immerse myself in the waves and their beauty. If more people start to appreciate and respect the ocean, then maybe more will be done to protect her. I believe that educating others through my photography can have just as big of an impact as some big scientific projects aimed at protecting our seas. One of my many goals is to donate proceeds from my sales toward saving our oceans. The ocean helped save me from a dark place; now I am dedicated to helping save her. Her waters are healing. Everyday she provides life to the planet’s billions of inhabitants as well as fun and recreation for millions of people. Her beauty and richness is deeper than her own depths. I am humbled to photograph that beauty and to share my images with the world.
Follow me on Instagram and Facebook: @photographybysatesh