I’m not an environmental activist. I’m more or less a regular dude who hates taking out biowaste, still drives a diesel because it is cheaper and recycles plastic because my wife says so. I enjoy our Finnish lake views, clean air, and peaceful sunsets, but rarely think about losing them…until recently.
I was on one of my workshop trips, this time I was heading to Belgium to have a couple of workshops with Chromaluxe. I was browsing through the Finnair magazine and came across an article about the plastic pollution in the ocean and how people try to clean the garbage we just throw there. Maybe the idea had been brewing in my head already earlier, but now I had a flash image in my mind, a dystopia located in our not-so-distant future. I pulled my faithful Moleskine notebook out of my bag and started sketching an image split in two halves: a polluted beach with a couple fitting on virtual glasses and an “Alternate reality” where people see their fantasy world through VR, turning a blind eye to all the shit we have caused to our environment.
It took a couple of months before I finally realized this idea of an image will not leave me alone before I create it. The final boost for the idea was seeing the movie Ready Player One with cool visions about people immersing themselves in virtual reality. To make it even more personal, I took a walk to the nearby lake to take some shots of “our” beach and asked my wife and kids to portray the family in the picture. My trusted stylist Laura and her fiance played the part of the couple about to by VR glasses and some missing pieces such as the tropical scenery (we don’t have palms and turquoise water here in Finland) I got from Adobe stock images.
Having a strong vision about an image can ruin your nights by not leaving you alone, but it does make it easier to plan and execute the photoshoot. I shot every character in the image individually doing some varying poses and decided in post-production which poses were best for the dynamics of the group. The rest of the work was just gruesome retouching until I felt that the mood is right to portray the idea of a reality where the clean beach can only be enjoyed by renting a pair of virtual glasses.
So here you have it .. Image “Turn The Blind Eye”. Finally, I have the flash image from my head in its final form on the screen and for others to see. It will not save the world from drowning, but maybe images like this could work as a wake-up call for somebody to do something about it. I know I will be more enthusiastic to recycle my plastics and enjoy a beautiful, real lake view while we still can.