Jul 21, 2016

On the Fence about Boundaries

Visitors are reminded that sandstone cliffs can give way and the drop offs are extremely high into treacherous currents    ©2016 Kristina Hockley

This post is going to explore boundaries because I think it's a topic that needs to be discussed. Traversing a boundary means so many things depending on your perspective and the motivation to cross them can be so compelling. As a culture we like to keep each other safe and rationally we understand that when we put our own life at risk we are also potentially putting others at risk because we have all agreed that society will attempt to assist another in distress. We also value freedom and adventure. We enjoy photographs, stories, and videos of people who have survived to tell the tales. So do you play it safe or leap across?
a slight step forward or sideways and your content changes. moving to include or take away © 2016 Kristina Hockley

As a landscape and travel photography freelance artist I cross boundaries all the time. Both mentors and my instincts have told me that to capture the most compelling images you have to be willing to move into the best possible perspective and this drama often exists beyond the safe lines that society has set.

Recently, I joined my local fire and rescue volunteer team and gained a new perspective and getting to know the crew has caused me to hesitate at boundaries where I didn't before. This time I stop and actually look at the fence, read the sign, consider its placing, and wonder what events led to this warning to be posted. The first tragic search result in Google is of a teen who was never recovered after she fell off one of Cape Kiwanda's cliffs into what is called the 'Punchbowl'. Two local fire and rescue volunteers had a close call trying to recover her. This teen like the people in the photo below believed it couldn't happen to them. I, the photographer of these images, up there bearing witness to not just the landscapes but to the people in the landscapes who like me are crossing over to witness the beauty of this amazing world from sometimes less safe perches.

two enjoy a view of a sea stack, named Chief Kiawanda Rock © 2016 Kristina Hockley

How far would humans have developed and progressed if we hadn't taken risks? What makes one person more qualified for an adventure than the next? Is the culture, going to give permission to venture out and possibly make mistakes in the hopes that we gain more than we lose. Are we willing to risk our own lives to help those brave people when things go wrong? When do we draw the line and say if you cross this we won't be helping you if things go south? Recently two men fell off a California cliff while playing the new craze Pokemon Go. One man fell 75 to 100 feet. As firefighters rescued the man, they found the second man unconscious 50 feet down the bluff, said Battalion Chief Robbie Ford of the Encinitas Fire Department. Both were taken to area trauma centers and suffered moderate injuries, he said.

Adults playing a video game where they cut a fence and step through to catch a fictional character, I personally, draw the line there. I would never ask anyone to risk their life rescuing a fellow citizen whose irresponsible life choice led them to this predicament. Both the examples I gave though were people outside taking risks but deriving pleasure and aren't we all here to enjoy life however we do that?
Looking west over the Pacific at Cape Kiwanda. Sandstone cliffs © 2016 Kristina Hockley
I believe it is more that as a society we ask that if you are going to step over a boundary we ask that you do so with attention, deliberation, and respect. Keep your wits about you, be aware of why the boundary exists, know your own limitations, be prepared with the right equipment and clothing, tell people where you are going and when you'll be back, and accept that this risk might be your last so you better appreciate what you are doing or don't bother.

Hand written clothes pins on the fence line at Cape Kiwanda © 2016 Kristina Hockley

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