Unlike most people, Australian photographer Georgia Sheales isn’t much of a beach-goer. But in her series Interlude, she went people-watching at the beach to figure out why others do.
For the series, the Berlin-based creative spent two summers documenting different visitors at seaside settings in Portugal, Spain, and France. What she found was that people longed for the beach because of the timeless disconnection it requires.
The images she took are different from the ones you see in travel magazines or on your Instagram feed. Instead of highlighting a destination’s beauty or a person’s OOTD, the pictures capture the mundane moments that are often overlooked in an otherwise chaotic, fast-paced world.
For instance, a woman puts away her smartphone to focus on her tan, or a man forgets all his worldly problems by sinking into a book and calmly listening to the crashing of the waves.
“The project intends to express the fleeting hours of peace that one has on a hot summer’s day, in a world that is increasingly difficult to disconnect from,” explained Sheales.
We had the opportunity to talk to Sheales to know more about her. Take a look:
How did you end up in Berlin and what do you enjoy about living in the city?
“I was travelling Europe in 2015, and the whole time I was thinking that I wanted to leave Melbourne and move out here, but I didn’t have any tangible plans or anything. Then I got to Berlin and unexpectedly fell in love, so I thought ‘well, there’s no better time to move than now’, and within five months I was living in Berlin.
“There’s so much to love about this city – it’s so easy to be stimulated here because there’s always so much to see and so much happening. The neighbourhood I live in is really culturally diverse, and full of artists too.
“And the city feels very free. You can drink a beer on the street, you can get party favours in the park, and you’re constantly surrounded by street art and trendy people. It’s no nanny state, and I love that freedom. It’s what gives Berlin so much character, and makes it so unique.”
Where did the idea for your Interlude series come from and how did you select the destinations to shoot it in?
“I grew up in and around bayside Melbourne, but I never really was a ‘beach person’. I always found it a bit boring, but I grew kind of fascinated with the obsession that people had with just going to the water and just laying there on the sand.
“It sort of reminded me of the way that animals are so naturally drawn to water – and we are just animals after all. What separates us from animals, in the end, are things like societal expectations, technology, anxiety, and stuff like that.
“And I think that the beach is a neutral place where we can literally and figuratively strip ourselves of those things, and ultimately become a sort of primitive version of ourselves. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what you do. I think it makes people happy to just take a break from being ‘human’ for the afternoon, and just allow our natural instincts to take over.
“Most of the series was taken in Portugal where my boyfriend’s family lives, and consequently, where I spent a lot of time. I had a lot of time to ponder this idea in Portugal, so whenever I was near a beach, I was always looking for new people to shoot.
“I’ve travelled Europe extensively over the past couple of years, so I had the opportunity to visit the French Riviera and Spanish coast and shoot there also.”
Tell us about your background as a photographer.
“When I was probably about 13 or 14, my parents gave me this old Minolta film camera to play with. I barely even remember it, but my mum says I taught myself how to use the camera.
“After a couple of years, they got me a dSLR for Christmas – cue hundreds of terrible photos being taken and uploaded to MySpace.
“I never got any photography training or classes or anything, I guess I just kept taking photos as a hobby until my boyfriend suggested that I should start a website and actually try to publish them somewhere other than Instagram – so I did, and here we are!”
What gear/equipment are you using these days?
“I have about 15 different cameras in my collection now – I get a bit impulsive when I walk into a second hand camera shop. Only one of them is digital, and it collects dust. I shoot entirely on film, but nothing super fancy.
“My latest favourite has been a really simple and cheap Canon SLR that I picked up on eBay for $50 with a 50mm lens on it, which is what I used to shoot most of Interlude.
“For my pocket, I carry a Yashica T4 or Canon AF35ML. And my parents recently gifted me my first medium format camera – a Fuji GA645w, which I am super excited to start using!”
What’s the secret to taking a memorable photo?
“I think you have to really feel the photo when you’re taking it, or even when you’re editing it. I’ve taken a lot of photos where I was subconsciously trying to appeal to someone or something else, and in the end the photo would flop. It wasn’t me. You can’t be every photographer.
“And I think that’s the great thing about film, is that it forces you to question your decision every time you click the shutter – you start to wait for moments, and practice patience.
“And when you become patient, that’s when you start to take memorable photos. You can’t expect to have a folder full of interesting moments if you won’t take the time to stop and appreciate those moments.”