JR: Tell me about what this photo has captured.
ZS: The photo was taken from the deck of my grandparents’ time share beach house in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. I took it at sunset after a giant storm that had passed through the area during the day. What this photo was meant to capture was both the beautiful sunset that happened after the storm as well as the memories of the beach that day.
JR: Tell me about life on the beach that day.
ZS: That day we actually spent the morning at the local aquarium, mainly because we couldn’t go outside. The aquarium on the island was a private one and on the smaller side but had some amazing exhibits. My favorite one featured the wreckage from a navy ship and had all kinds of marine life, including a few sharks. I remember how, although we ate lunch at home, each of us (my brother, my two little sisters, and my two cousins) each got an ice cream cone from the Dairy Queen just outside. Once we got back to the beach house, the storm had for the most part past, so we went outside and ended up digging an enormous hole. Each time we’re at the beach my family has tried to either dig a giant hole or build an awesome castle. Because it had stormed during the morning, we dug a hole in the hopes of catching fish. I do not remember if it worked, but I can remember how that night my mom, my sister Kateri, and I walked the dogs over 3 miles down the beach. Walking on the beach after a storm is always peaceful, with not a lot people on it, besides a few other walkers and some fishermen. Actually, we came across a fisherman who ended up catching a small shark. My one dog, Doogal, was shocked by it to the point where he kept barking at it. It was after we got back from our walk that the picture was taken.
JR: That sounds like a wonderful day. Definitely a memory to cherish. What would you say is specifically beautifulabout this image? What are you thinking about it when you are thinking it beautiful?
ZS: What is specifically beautiful about this image is the actual image of the sunset. The sunset itself was rather pretty, but it is the picture that I took that I think is truly beautiful. The blending of the colors, the outline of the beach and boardwalks, all work together to create a scene that captures a beach. When I am thinking that it is beautiful, I am thinking both about these physical components and the different memories attached to it. I do not think about them separately, as the image and my memories surrounding the image are linked. Because of the personal nature of the photograph to me, the beauty of the image and my memories are inseparable.
JR: How important is it (and in what ways is it important) for you to have beauty and experiences of beauty in your life and on a regular basis?
ZS: I would say that experiencing beauty in my daily life is something that were it missing, I would be lacking all direction in my life. My drive to continue and succeed in what I do is based in the hope of one day being able to experience the ultimate Beauty that existence can offer. Beauty is important to me because it gives me this inspiration and desire, while at the same time providing me guidance toward what is good in life. The beach picture guides me toward the desire to care for and appreciate my family and, similarly, the daily encounters with beauty now guide me toward the eventual unending Beauty.