When I asked Bahamas based photographer Elena Kalis “what inspires you?” She responded, “in our web age there is no shortage of inspiration right at my fingertips. I have a blog where I collect all the art that inspires me.” Ironically I imagine you’ll find an abundance of Elena’s work gracing similar such blogs; with 268,595 Facebook followers, 3,699 Instagram followers, 1,385 Twitter followers and 336 Pinterest followers – I actually have very little reason to doubt that you won’t.
Kalis, who lives on a quaint island 50 miles northeast of the capital of The Bahamas, has recently made waves in international waters with her work being featured in the November issue of Rag Mag – a Bereuit, Lebanon based magazine. While she chooses to be a photographer who lives a decidedly private life – all but shying away from an in-person interview – her underwater photographs, and now her seascape and night-sky photography, are undoubtedly her greatest reveal. Having first seen her work earlier this year, I have since watched it evolve to capture darker and artistically harder topics. It is with each click of her camera’s shutter that I get to know Elena Kalis better, that an added wave of inspiration sweeps over my life and an enigmatic feeling is felt. Kalis – with her Canon 5D Mark2 in hand, and her photographic personality always in pursuit of capturing the beauty of island life through its lens – has every right to be deemed an Island Connoisseur, as she is one in every way.
VP: What inspired the shift from shooting photographs above the ocean to below the ocean? How are the dynamics different?
AK: The weightlessness and dreamlike quality of the underwater environment allows me to capture people in a very different way than I’m used to above the water’s surface. There are many new and interesting possibilities which includes the way light behaves underwater, the sense of being in a different world, and sometimes the feeling that we are returning to our origin.
VP: Living on a small island in the Bahamas how has it inspired your daily life? More specifically your work as an artist?
AK: You are very free and undisturbed, allowing you to experiment and follow your inspiration, wherever that may take you. There are fewer distractions and you live closer to beautiful, unspoiled nature – that in itself is inspiring and provides the calm which allows your soul, or whatever you wish to call it, to be open. Modern day life is so full of straight lines, hard surfaces, overstimulation, and artificial noise – all of which I believe grate the soul and lead us to develop thick skin as a means of self protection. Island life offers the opposite of that.
AK: I have to say people. When they open up to you and show you who they are it is then that I can capture a real connection through the lens of my camera. It is very powerful, so powerful that other people can relate to it as well.
VP: What Island best fits your personality and why?
AK: I live happily in the Berry Islands with my family. It is a beautiful and somewhat remote place. With no big hotels or many tourists milling about the island it is a place where everyone knows everyone else. It’s a friendly place where people wave to each other while driving and talk in passing. The lack of many modern conveniences and other “things to do” never leaves me bored. The reduced necessity for social interaction means less distractions and more time to concentrate on the things I want to. Community is very important to my family so we are very involved on the island. Of course living, working, and schooling our children puts us in a different frame of mind to that of a visitor or retiree seeking well deserved rest and recreation.
VP: What do you aspire your work to mean to those who follow it?
AK: I want to give people the opportunity to see things in a new way. I want to brighten their day with a little Bahamian sunshine and warm, crystal clear, turquoise waters. I want to give them the pleasure of a brief escape to another world.