Sunday, 11 April 2010


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last photo by Paul Indigo

I grew up in Ostend, a great city, with industrial-, fishing- and yachting harbours.
It is situated in the center of the Belgian Coast, with its gorgeous dunes and wide beaches.
I was warned from a very young age about the dangers… the vortexes around the wave-breakers, I learned about the tides and their effects.
I was taught about sand!!! Do not delve deep sandpits or tunnels, they can collapse, and sadly each year they do and take lives… usually children!

Whenever we visit Flanders, to see family and friends, there is ALWAYS that pull towards the beach and the sea. We love it.
So, this time was no different.
Having some ‘free’ time, we drove to our old hunting grounds, under the tall lighthouse, where the East-pier used to be, it has been demolished, apparently to make the harbour-entrance bigger. It used to be so special! The two piers like two embracing arms, either welcoming you when you came home or loath to let you go when you were leaving…
Whether for pleasure or work…
Getting out of the car, I felt like an animal, ready to go, head and nose towards the sky and sun, snorting the familiar air and smells of tar and salt, my eyes taking in all the old and the changes.
I ran down the slope, onto the beach, it was Easter Sunday; gatherings of family dotted the huge sand planes, with children, dogs…
The top of the Dyke was fenced off, full of cranes and bulldozers, heavy machines, on the beach, it was beautiful, wooden stakes each with their own orange buoy… the tide was out, it was very photogenic… however, they were connected with rope, and at the top, there were not one but two warning signs, NOT TO ENTER the CONSTRUCTION SITE!!! Forbidden!
Now as a photographer, hhhmmmm, often when you want THE shot, you sometimes (OFTEN?) have to take risks?
Plus, I wanted to climb onto the latest ‘wave-breaker’, to make images of the changed harbour view! The main (remaining) pier taken from the other side! With the city behind it! Unique! What an opportunity.
There was silence, judging by the tracks from the trucks they had been working there earlier! The tide was coming in though, so they must have gone home… the path was clear, I composed image upon image, excited and exuberant, it felt like there was not going to be enough time… a photo-frenzy, lol!

I saw three tall guys coming off the rocks, crossing a patch of sand, walking bye…
I neared the huge blocks (some weigh 10 tonnes), came to a sandy patch, after all the rain and probably the type of sand they used to ‘create’ the beach they were working on, I’d felt and seen that my shoes were leaving deeper imprints… so what?
I stood and saw two wet areas, left and right, the middle patch was ‘dry’, THAT was where I was going to cross!
I jumped as far as possible and felt not only my foot but my leg go in, my boot filled up, I put my other foot down for balance, and it also disappeared and filled, I tried to lift my leg, but that did not work, on the contrary, QUICKSAND!!!
I called Paul’s name, and spread my body out as much as possible, holding my cherished camera above my head.
I did not panic, but was well aware of the possible implications. I looked around, the beach was now deserted, no-one to be seen.
Paul came running, quickly, assessed the situation, realising that speed and care were off the utmost importance.
He stayed as far back as he could, we reached out, he grabbed my wrist, his shoes sank away, he yanked me out with one huge pull, I turned sideways, all I did was shout: “ My camera, my camera!!!!”
A little later, after overlooking the ‘damages’, we sat on one of the rocks, the sun and wind already drying the fine sand on my clothes.
We climbed up, somewhat shook up, we nervously joked about, ‘why had Paul not taken a photo first, before pulling me out?’, he’d missed an interesting photo-journalistic shot! Clearly he has his priorities right!
We continued our photo-mission.
It was only later, when we came home that it dawned fully on me, how silly I had been… all the pains and ‘ifs’ came out… what if you were there by yourself, what if it had been Paul, could I have pulled him out? What if he had NOT been able to reach me?

We came home with lots of good images; whenever I’ll see them… they will be a constant reminder of what happened.
I know that next time, I’ll not ‘tread’ so lightly and enthusiastically where it tells me NOT to go.
As a photographer you need to take risks to get THE shot! Also, can you call a life without risk LIVING? I don’t, however each one has to make that out for themselves, how far are you prepared to go.
We now carry an extra bit of kit… rope! Tee hee.
Thanx, take care but have fun! M, (*_*)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Magda, simply put it was not your time and the world is a better place for your presence.
I know what you mean when we photographers take stupid chances for 'that shot' . Last year I frequented a broken, burned out damp ridden death trap of an old asylum near where I life. There was the two models my son and me all clambering over this derelict masterpiece of a building. Over the next two hours I took what I consider some of the best shots in my portfolio. Our adrenaline was on an all time high but were we warring any safety gear, hard hats, sensible shoes etc, no, but we all had a ball. Now in retrospect it was so stupid to put so many people in harms way and for what a photo...but sometimes the creative mind just knows its going to be OK and pushes you on.
Unfortunately the building is nothing more than a pile of ruble now, thankfully without any of us beneath it.
If in doubt always go with company.
Luv Victor x