THEY ARE THE SEA
A conversation with photographer Benjamin Ono
Ok Ok... Interview
Yeah, is this your first interview?
First Earth Family interview!!
Where do we start?
Is it okay if I just start?
Okay, my name is Benjamin Ono - I was born in 1993 in Bishop California, first day of Aquarius, a wind and a water-sign but I donʼt know anything about that... I do let other people tell me a little bit about spirituality these days though... The last couple of months especially - I started questioning things about myself, see where I was at.
Where are you at?
I still donʼt know (laughs)
‘Not knowing is true knowledgeʼ. Opening another door can make us see our lives in a different light though - do you sense something shifted for you after widening your world?
Yes, for sure.
I used to organize my work into a couple different boxes, some projects I would do to make a living, some I would do for my heart and some to curate my creativity. I think Iʼm finding that whether it is through spirituality or just through living that I want to combine all of those to one.
That to me is ultimate fulfillment.
Sounds like the dream.
It is definitely the dream!
So how did you dream yourself into this dream?
First, ask yourself “What do you want to do?”
Once you figure out what gives you purpose. Invest in that purpose, invest in your tree of life. From there, take small steps, one step at a time. Take steps into unknown spaces, be open to wherever they might take you.
Once you figure out what gives you purpose. Invest in that purpose, invest in your tree of life.
From there, take small steps, one step at a time. Take steps into unknown spaces, be open to wherever they might take you.
I love that. Looking at your work - itʼs easy to notice your close connection to the Ocean.
What keeps drawing you in?
The pureness of it. The unpredictability. You canʼt enter the water with any expectations. Thereʼs this constant lightness of not having any control. Even though you set everything up perfectly, you can be on that boat, you can be riding that perfect pocket of a wave thatʼs about to break.
But you really donʼt know what itʼs gonna do in the end.
Not having a choice, I think that is what I love. The uncertainty. The randomness. Always something you never quite expect.
I know the frustration and disappointment of going home with ‘empty cardsʼ ...
Totally - yeah not getting the shot is definitely disappointing, sometimes itʼs sad, Iʼm guilty of it, Iʼll go home and Iʼll be like “Dang it,I didnʼt get anything today”. “I was in the water for 6hours - I didnʼt see any animals - There were no waves - Nothing happened”
I guess you just accept it. Itʼs part of the process. Thatʼs life.
I think thatʼs a pretty good lesson in life.
Yeah, it is. Itʼs not always gonna go your way, especially when youʼre working with nature. You just have to be able to flow with it.
Itʼs a very fine line, letting things happen and pushing for things you believe in. Itʼs all about staying pure to who you are while trying to grow and move forward.
Looking through the viewfinder, you have such a concentrated view of reality, itʼs easier to spot a moment of un- pureness in front of your lens, do you sometimes sense yourself stopping from clicking the shutter when that happens?
Yes, for sure, it happens all the time, especially when shooting models. Iʼm all about capturing that true feeling.
I learned to see the difference by photographing children and wildlife - they taught me how to recognize purity (and so much more).
Itʼs about being able to take off all those layers we built up over the years. The way children see everything new for the first time, every single time - thatʼs ultimately the goal.
Purity/Nudity... Before we linked up you werenʼt too experienced with photographing the nude form...
Do you feel like your view on nudity changed after that introduction?
It was a completely new experience, I had no reference, I never looked at other peoples imagery of nude art. I think I never tried it because it seemed so taboo, the notion around it gave it a negative connotation.
It wasnʼt until our first experiment that I learned the amount beauty it can bring to an image. Honestly, in a way it was life-changing...
Capturing a clothed person in nature is not as fun, not as pure. “So thank you for that” (laughs)
‘Youʼre welcomeʼ (laughs)
After talking about it for months, yesterday we finally got to create the image that initially brought us together.
Iʼm so grateful.
Iʼm so happy you the got to experience this, itʼs only a select amount of people who truly get to look below the surface and truly witness how these animals live their lives. Itʼs so humbling to see these prehistoric (creatures) move the way they do, and allow us humans to be in a space with them, a space we are not actually meant to exist in.
How do you think they felt about our visit?
They loved it. Sharks are a bit like dogs,
Theyʼre like: ‘Hey whatʼs up? Howʼs it going? Good to see you again!ʼ
Theyʼre very welcoming animals. You sense an unlimited amount of forgiveness. Humans sometimes tend to take advantage of that.
Instead, observe that forgiveness. Acknowledge it. Learn from it.
And perhaps return the favor.
To see more of Ben’s work, visit his website & instagram
by Marisa Papen
Feet dangling in the Pelagic
A shadow glides
“Danger of the Deep”
Men say many things
I say “Taboo”
Appearing through a curtain of blue
Dorsal fin sails close
To the level of my nose
One breath later
I am Now
Lower then the level of the Sea
No sight on my side
Them and Me
I touch upon close
Sensation of ethereal essence A direct line to God
Because they know
What they Are
When you exist over 400 million years
You become what surrounds you
And what surrounds you becomes you
They are the Sea
And the Sea is them
They are the Salt of the Sea
As balanced as Chi
Ancestors of the Deep