The warm, teasing breezes of summer have begun to float in, bringing with them thoughts of languid sunbathing and beachside frolicking. Many of us have places that we associate with this time of year, stretches of sand that we look forward to visiting time and again. Such is the case for Christian Chaize, a photographer who has returned to the same strip of coastline in southern Portugal for nearly a decade. But where we take snapshots of our sun-kissed families and friends in vacation-relaxed poses, he has turned his gaze to the landscape, documenting the same patch of beach from the same vantage point as it changes from day to day and year to year. In doing so, he reveals the nuances of a place that he comes back to over and over again like the very tide whose ebbs and flows he lovingly documents.
Through this time-lapse process, Chaize turns the familiar into the new—to both his eyes and ours. Chaize began visiting Praia Piquinia in 2000, but it took four years for the enchanting landscape to take hold of his creative energies and become one of his primary subjects. "For the past thirty years, I have been taking orders for photographs that are made in my studio,” he writes the preface of Time & Tide, a new offering from Chronicle Books. “Since 2004, Praia Piquinia has been ordering me to make them there.”
During family naps, Chaize recalls growing restive and slipping away with a large-format to explore his surroundings. “One day,” he writes, “I suddenly saw beyond its obvious beauty, to its fluctuating atmosphere, its treasure of narratives.” The photos taken over the years record the passage of time and capture not only the variations in nature but of the people who drift and out of the pictures. As Jen Bekman notes in the introduction, “Seen at different days and hours, the simple charm of the vista evolves into something richer: All the details unique to each moment are evidence of the transience of time and tide, creating a framework for human narrative, real or imagined.”
Although Chaize’s large-scale photos have made the art-circuit rounds, Time & Tide is the first complete look at the breadth of the series. Peruse a selection from the book in the slideshow above; the book is available for $23.