The Sea

Selections from a new anthology of maritime photography by Pierre Borhan.

The Sea

One of the nice perks of a job at a nautical magazine are the occasional books that come across our desks, in search of a little print love. Many are worthy and we do what we can but, recently, we received Flammarion's gorgeous boxed photography book, simply titled The Sea: An Anthology of Maritime Photography Since 1843. It is beautifully packaged, of course, but the range of photography it contains is dazzling. From an 1843 photo of the harbor of Rouen by William Henry Fox Talbot, whose early experiments were known as "photogenic drawings," to modern photography by artists Thomas Ruff, Elger Esser, and Andreas Gursky. The Sea comprehensively laps the shores of time with photos that document, celebrate, interpret, and eulogize. Arranged in sections that examine the sea and its people, adventure at sea, ships as art, life at sea, and artistic interpretations of the sea, this book seems to magically capture not just every mood the shifting oceans evoke in us, but to chart the sea's glorious endurance as we have scrambled around trying to capture it through various techniques, epochs, tragedies, and passages. Here are a few of our staff favorites with comments, as well as words about the sea that will probably endure at least as long as these photos, if not as long (we hope!) as their inspiration. -Mary South

The Sea

Francisco Fernandez Trujillo Launch of the Liner Magallanes May 1, 1927 There's a scene at the beginning of James Cameron's Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio has just won the luckiest hand of his life and runs to the steerage gangway to board the ill-fated ship. Once he's aboard, the scene pulls back to reveal the entire ship in all its grandeur. When I study this photo, I begin to see everything that Mr. Cameron's technicolor imitation of an elegant ocean liner didn't capture: immense pride, pure joy, genius engineering, hard sweat, and the many hours away from home and family that were part of the unseen costs of building this particular ship-all this and more, in simple shades of gray. -David Pollard

The Sea

By Anonymous Children Watching the Bay at Cancale, France 1899 Waterfront wharfs around the world continue to lure and dazzle the minds of youth. They serve as a canvas for thoughts that wander through minds as yet uncluttered by the static and weight of age. The band of brothers shown here in Cancale, France, may be waiting for their fathers to return after working one of the local oyster bars-the sleepy village is known as the oyster capital of Brittany. I can still excavate a few similar snapshots from my youth, which was spent along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. I would stand post, peering over the horizon for the blue bow of our family's 12-foot skiff as it crested the waves, returning my father from a day of work. Nope, he wasn't searching for shellfish-he used the little skiff to commute down the Severn River to his advertising agency in Annapolis, an attempt to secure as much time as possible on the water. I waited along the dock to help tidy the boat, and then walked him home for dinner while chatting about the events of the day, his boating adventures, and my mischief along our little beach. The enthusiasm that propelled him to substitute a leaky skiff for a perfectly suitable car on many mornings became contagious. Thanks for the memories, dad. -George Sass, Jr.

The Sea

By Rosell Meseguer Proa: From the series Bateria de Cenizas, Metodologia de la Defensa, 2003 The horizon may be the original abstract concept-a line you can plainly see but never reach. In this view from a bunker, one can imagine a young soldier, placed in a dreamlike environment and assigned the monumental task of guarding his homeland from invasion, only to be interrupted by a barking sergeant, a dull meal, or a cigarette. The play of light on the water, shifting clouds, banks of fog, rays of sun, and falling darkness all alter the view, but the line remains, to his real eye or that of his mind. Peering out to the absolute farthest distance, our soldier's desire to see something and raise the alarm-and become his country's latest hero-is eclipsed only by his relief not to see anything at all. -Jason Y. Wood

The Sea

By Georigia Fiorio Radiant Star, Lenwick Fleet, Shetlands, Scotland March 1999 Gulls screech. Water slaps, slaps, slaps against the hull. It's cold, it's wet, and it's probably windy, but I can smell the brine in the air and I wish I were there. My first crush was on a fisherman. And my father and brother were both stern men on lobster boats. It's hard work and it can be dangerous, but sometimes I think I should have been a fisherwoman. Is there anyone who lives closer to the hugeness of nature and the flimsiness of life than the men and women who rise in the dark, don their foulies, and set out to sea in every kind of weather? This Scottish fisherman has a hell of an office, but half the joy of his job must be getting back to the dock each day. There's probably a warm, peaty fire waiting when he gets home, stories to tell before its glow, then a smoky single malt he sips in quiet contentment before he goes to bed and gets up in blackness to do it all over again. -Mary South

The Sea

By Adolf Fassbinder Crashing Wave 1930 This picture reminds me of the sheer and unbridled power of nature. The sea erupts and shoots like mountain peaks into the air. When I look at the wave, I am reminded of the first time I saw the Tetons. And yet, while one might think this is happening in some remote area where man dare not tread, the children and the lamppost in the foreground show how small the boundary line is between the raw world of nature and the civilized world of mankind. -Christopher White The Sea: An Anthology of Maritime Photography Since 1843 by Pierre Borhan; Flammarion, 300 pages, $75, is available at www.rizzoliusa.com