BE INSPIRED Session featuring Cara Hodge Photography


Is this personal work or client work?

This is a personal project, just documenting an evening at the beach in Bentota, Sri-Lanka. We live in Abu Dhabi in the U.A.E and one of the best things about being here is the easy access to places like Asia. Sri-Lanka is just a four hour flight from AD – so this was our Spring break from school.

What about this session was most memorable?

Okay. Well, this session followed a kind of disaster for me, at the time. On day one (yes, ONE) of my holiday, when we were still in Colombo finding our feet, I managed to fall down a sand bank right at the shore and my camera (then a Nikon D7000 was dunked in seawater and just, well…petered out). So the memorable thing about this session was that I rented a camera – an older 2008 Nikon D90, to take these pictures over at Bentota where we spent a week. The focus was a little off at wider apertures, but I was just determined to get *something* I liked. In the end, although the pictures are more crude in some ways, and less polished compared to those from my previous camera, I love the grit some of these pictures have, and in some ways they document the carefree life at the beach pretty well. I’ve grown to love them. I recognize my children in them and that gives a certain feeling of satisfaction.

Were there any hurdles?

Well it’s always a hurdle chasing two people around a beach who are more bothered about having fun then being photographed! My little boy, Benedict Gabriel (5) bombs about the place so I had to hope for the best a lot of the time. When my daughter, Florence Chantal (15) is in the mood she takes a lovely portrait, full of character. I had to get used to my rental camera, though, which was a bit of a challenge. There were focusing difficulties (I had to be a LOT closer then usual at wider apertures), and the camera’s sensitivity to light seems a lot less…well…sensitive to light, somehow. But I figured that the most important thing about taking pictures hasn’t changed over time, despite “better” cameras – and that’s just to try and take an interesting, compelling shot. I tried to remind myself of this basic fact when I was frustrated!

What is your best photographer/session advice?

Oh my gosh, I’m still learning that for myself. Recently, my advice to myself has been to Let. Go. Really push different perspectives, not just go for the middle comfortable distance. Try really, really up close, for instance (something I still want to try more of) as well as the opposite, pulling further back…and… details. Details matter a lot, A LOT. Just hair flying, or something about what a person is wearing, or something in the landscape around, or up close features: hands, eyes… I’ve seen gorgeous examples of details around in this community, and I’m like…Gah!.. realizing that this type of variety is great in a series of shots. Also, I’m really trying to go for the “in-between” moments; the moments that are a little unspecified and chaotic, full of movement and anticipation of what comes next – well, often these moments tell the best stories. And this goes back to the Let.Go advice at the start.

What gear was used to achieve these?

This was the rental 2008 Nikon, D90. I’m pleased to say when I got home to Abu Dhabi I upgraded to a newer full-frame DSLR camera. The Nikon D610. But I’m grateful for the experience of having to be forced out of my comfort zone, it really helped me to grow and realize the importance of being in the moment. Mostly it’s not about the camera, it’s about the seeing.

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About the photographer:

My name is Caroline Hodge (but Cara Hodge is my “pixel name”). I’m from the West country of England, near Bath. I am married to a salt-of-the-earth Irish guy, Nick, and have two children, Florence Chantal, 15, and Benedict Gabriel, 5. I’ve been photographing for about 4 years now, since my son was about 18 months. I’ve mainly just taken pictures of my family in Abu Dhabi and on holiday, but recently I’ve been thinking of taking some clients and have spent time getting a website together. My passion is dark moody colors – the darker and moodier the better – and I’m also pushing harder at finding my black and white style, which I adore as a genre. I love all light, but that last bit of light – when the sun is just dipping and the sky turns to bruised purple and I have to max out my settings – is probably my fave right now. The colors can be amazing…

Website. Facebook.

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