Ben Thouard’s Fragile Balance

The work of Tahiti-based photographer Ben Thouard servers a greater purpose than merely showcasing the Pacific island’s unquestionable beauty. His work often depicts the island’s pristine scenes of nature along with the humans that interact with them, showing their harmonious existence.

In this image, the wave is the dominating presence and takes up the vast majority of the frame. The overwhelming size of the wave reminds the viewer of both of the ocean’s self-perpetuating motion of waves and tides, which almost give it a sense of being alive, and the ocean’s raw power and destructive capability. The wave could easily eclipse and crush the surfer, and yet, despite this vast imbalance of power, the two manage to peacefully coexist. The surfer glides smoothly along the surface of the water, hardly even disturbing its rolling flow towards the shore.

However, the same imbalance of power reminds us that this harmony between humans and the natural world is very fragile. More often than not, the balance of power favors humans, and the results are the antithesis of the serenity that can be found in this image. We decimate forests, pollute the atmosphere, and hunt species to extinction. Despite all this, Thouard managed to capture this image, and by doing so, he reminds us that peaceful coexistence between humans and nature is an attainable goal, and that the results of such an achievement are breathtakingly beautiful.

How does this photograph make you feel?