This morning I’ve received a warm email from Jesse Blackadder, the author of a great novell “Chasing the Light”. It reads: “I’m the author of the book that features one of your exquisite photos on the cover. I’d really like to link to your website for more information about that shot. … I’m sure my readers will be fascinated – I’ve had so many great comments about the cover!”
Dear Jesse, that is a good question, I’ll tell you the story with pleasure. The woman on this photo is Natalie Avseenko, twice world champion in freediving.
These two women (Natalie’s and your heroine) were seperated with 80 years and resided on the opposite ends of the earth, but their stories seem to have similar features. These two women are very feminine and strong at the same time; I think, it was their inner integrity and fidelity to themselves made them who they are.
The shot had been captured by Viktor Lyagushkin in the White sea, behind the North Polar Circle, 2011. In this project Natalie freedived naked with white whales. Swimming with belugas was her child dream, but why she was naked?
Natalie explains her deed so: “I thought approaching belugas on equal conditions – to be as vulnerable as they are – would allow them to reciprocate. I had to be exposed to the climate, the cold water and to the people around me. First of all, my soul had to be “naked”; the body being just a derived demonstration of the soul. This was what I thought about when I was going to dive with the belugas without any thermal protection. It was purely for research.” So our Princess of Whales project started.
Our story happened at the “Polar Circle” dive center situated on White sea: “Polar Circle” dive center has well organized infrastructure for diving: small huts heated with stoves are mounted on sledge runners; this makes possible to quickly move a hut to any place with snowmobile. Thus, we had warm place anywhere we needed. Of cource, they did not forget about toilet which was also mounted on sledge runners. 😉
Sun partly melted an ice brick, extracted when an ice hole had been done. A girl was stuck in it, so we had to help her. 😉
Natalie in a scenic dress prepares for the dive.
Beneth the ice – safety diver helps Natalie with her dress:
videographer beneth the ice is ready for the work while Natalie enters the water:
The White sea water is greenish, but the story by Jesse Blackadder happened in Antarctica; antarctic waters are blue, that is why photoeditors of the book should change color temperature of the shot.
Photos by Viktor Lyagushkin, Alexey Sapkov, Bogdana Vashchenko.