Eefje Ludwig: «I aim to strengthen the connection between humans and nature»


Photography: ARR


Eefje Ludwig was born in the Netherlands. In April 2019 this photography producer, advisor, and curator moved to Ericeira, where she experienced a huge impact of living by the ocean on her mental and emotional wellbeing. After starting to work on the ‘Blue Mind’ project, in the last Summer she decided to photograph and interview thalassophiles, which stands for sea lovers. In a while the Thalassophiles project will be featured in AZUL – Ericeira Mag, so after reading this interview keep in touch with our website and social media for more updates.

blue mind refers to the immeasurable sense of peace that we humans feel around water

What was the sparkle behind this project?

Soon after i moved to Ericeira in early 2019 i started working on my project called ‘Blue Mind’. In this project i explore the so-called ‘blue mind’, a term introduced by a marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols, by which he refers to the immeasurable sense of peace that we humans feel around water. It’s a feeling that i experienced since moving to the ocean, which came as a surprise to me. I did expect to really enjoy living at the sea, but i did not expect to feel the impact of it so strongly on my mental and emotional wellbeing. This Mr. Nichols believes that we all have a blue mind, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. So, trying to understand this feeling and processes in me better, i visually investigated my own personal connection with the ocean through visual abstractions of sensory experiences. After working on this project for some months, i felt it was missing the human element, visually speaking. And since i knew through the people i had met by then, that many people experienced this ‘blue mind’, i started inviting and asking people who identify themselves with the term thalassophile to be photographed and interviewed by me. It was a way to continue the conversation about this topic and also show that eventhough everybody has different reasons and emotions with the ocean, there is also something in common, and this thing exactly is this ‘blue mind’.

Thalassophile stands for “a lover of the sea, someone who loves the ocean” – do you consider yourself a thalassophile?

Yes, eventhough i have to be honest, i don’t like to box myself too much into something specific. I can also really experience the same feelings and emotions in green surroundings. I grew up in the forest, so being surrounded by trees feels very natural and ‘at home’ for me. But, yes. The ocean, and specifically the Atlantic Ocean, has something very special. An energy that gives and takes. It is so powerful. It strengthens my emotions, for better and worse. But, overall, it makes me feel like part of something bigger. And that feeling, i really enjoy.

i started inviting people who identify themselves with the term thalassophile

This project started in Ericeira. How has it been going on?

As i said, i started working on Blue Mind around April 2019 and i started photographing for Thalassophiles in summer of 2019. As i am back in The Netherlands for the moment and not close to the sea, i am not photographing, producing, but i continue to work on the concept and develop new ideas and ways of continuing to work on it. It’s on the shelf for a few months and then i’ll continue. I also plan to shoot more video, next to the still images.

Everyone i photographed brought me to their favorite spots at the ocean

You shoot the guests and register their answers on a few topics: what do you like the most doing – the photos or the interviews?

Well, i love photographing obviously. Everyone i photographed really gave a lot and brought me to their favorite spots at the ocean, some spots i did not know. So it was one big adventure and inspirational activity for me. But yes, speaking to everyone was very valuable as well. Particularly for the reason of talking about the ocean, it’s powers and hearing what everybody gets and gives to the ocean.

Until now, what has been most impressive about the guests’s answers?

Well, what i enjoyed a lot was that common agreement on the potential and power of the ocean. It was like we were all speaking the same language. Next to that, i also asked everyone what they gave to the ocean (next to what they get from the ocean). The interesting thing was that many people had to stop and think for some time and it made some people realize that they don’t give something or enough. Which is such a great insight. Also because it’s exactly what i aim to do with my work in general (next to this project), is to strengthen this relationship and connection between humans and nature. I guess in some cases i did succeed a bit in that sense.


Anything else you’d like to share?

It’s a project i really wish to continue and share with a wider audience. Particularly in and around Ericeira. Because it’s the people who live there and i met, and where the ocean’s waves touched the sand, that gave me this project for which i am very thankful.

Esta publicação também está disponível em | This article is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)