An Octopus Movie – I Haven’t Stopped Thinking About It

My Octopus Teacher

Octopus Teacher

This has been an incredibly strange year. Each day, things seem to get even crazier. I can’t make sense of it. If it isn’t politics or the pandemic, it’s endless thoughts on how I need to change my business model and adapt to our new world.

My wife and I have struggled through countless challenges, as I am sure you have too. The year started off so well and then it just went to crap. The pandemic rained down on us, and no one had any idea what to expect. My workshop business and my personal photography were adversely impacted, and I had the carpet pulled out from underneath me.

From My Octopus Teacher
From My Octopus Teacher

Then Debra’s dad caught COVID-19 and passed away. And then Debra caught COVID-19 and had a close call. As the months passed, Debra got well again, and I started dealing with the new reality of our lives. We learned about takeout dining and social distancing, as well as masking up. We made adjustments to our business model and optimistically looked forward to 2021.

Also, living in such close proximity to each other, we made a new normal. One of those normals was finding movies and TV shows that gave us an escape. We binged through a number of shows. Succession on HBO was one of the best.

Then the other night, we stumbled on a Netflix movie that impacted me so much I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. This magnificent and beautiful story, “My Octopus Teacher,” has kept me thinking for days now.

Scene from My Octopus Teacher
Scene from My Octopus Teacher

The movie is a documentary about a filmmaker suffering from burnout, who decides he is going to swim in a South African kelp forest every day to reduce his stress. While doing so, he, one day, stumbles upon an octopus. What happens next is a story of beauty and kindness and heartfelt emotion that will bring tears to your eyes.

Craig Foster, Filmmaker and narrator
Craig Foster, Filmmaker and narrator

The filmmaking aspect of the movie is spectacular. Documentary Emmy nominee Craig Foster did the underwater photography for this film as he bonded with this special octopus. An octopus, you say? How could you bond with an octopus? For nearly a year, Craig dived the kelp forest every day and made friends with an octopus. You’ll learn about the innocence and special love this amazing creature shared, and you will be awed by the suspense and tender moments.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because the movie made me think about my photography (or the lack of it this past year). It made me think of the projects that I still want to accomplish in my life. It made me reflect on the photography I have done and what I want to still do when we are able to get back out there and photograph in faraway places again.

It made me consider committing to a project and seeing it to completion. I have four books I am working on that aren’t getting done because I suffer from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADDD). I start a ton of things and have a hard time completing them. This guy went swimming with a camera each day and not only built a relationship with a strange creature, but he was also able to make a story from it, share it, and emotionally affect us.

Scene from My Octopus Teacher
Scene from My Octopus Teacher
Isn’t that what we try to do with our photography? Why is it we seem (or I seem) not to be able to find the depth in photography to change the world? I look at photographers like William Neill, who has Yosemite in his backyard, and he returns there every day or when the mode, weather, and light moves him. He has managed to tell, through his images, a story that attaches him directly to Yosemite. His book Light On The Landscape is serving as one of my inspirations to get a project completed.

Q T Luong has done a beautiful book, “Treasured Lands,” which is a photographic odyssey through America’s National Parks. He spent years working on this project and published this book that makes your heart itch to get out there and do photography.

Stephen Wilkes, who we recently did a story on, has an amazing journey with his photography. But, his project, “Day to Night,” shows a whole new level of commitment to a project and the creation of one image of amazing locations.

My Coffee Table

My coffee table, which is rather larger, has a ton of examples on it that shows this commitment to developing relationships with the land, locations, and a project to tell a story.

I could go on and on, but I think I am going to reflect on not only the story and movie but also where the story might help direct me to do something better, helping me become more focused on my photography.

Scene from My Octopus Teacher
Scene from My Octopus Teacher

Watch the damn movie. It is spellbinding and inspirational. It will keep you in your thoughts for days from the time you watch it. Bring a box of Kleenex, as it will have you misty-eyed, if not full-blown crying. The soul-stirring music couples so well with the visual narrative. And the filmmaker himself narrating the story adds his own emotional moments that you can feel in your heart. The cinematography is a breathtaking work of art and an impressive cinematic achievement. Plus, what you will learn about an octopus will fascinate you, as you would not have guessed these creatures could be so incredible. You’ll be left with a profound sense of wonderment. If you are like me, you will start to reflect on your own art and, maybe, even find a newfound inspiration just at the right moment in this crazy, upside-down world that we are living in these days. God only knows in times like we are experiencing this film is a much needed fix.

Please share your thoughts on this film in the forum. Also, be sure to watch it with friends and family. It’s a truly special experience when shared.

Kevin Raber
October 2020

Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: News, Reviews, Columns, MISC

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