Ocean Lovers: Katierina Buben


Text and photography: Eefje Ludwig


This series (inspired by the project Thalassophiles, originally created and published by Eefje Ludwig on her website) shows people – all residents of Ericeira – who identify with the term thalassophile and who experience the ‘blue mind’. A thalassophile is someone who loves the ocean. Whether we depend on it for happiness, relaxation, a livelihood, a home, or for nourishment, some people simply must be near the sea.

All life on planet Earth started in the ocean

It’s no wonder there is something about the ocean that draws and fascinates us. It is the most omnipresent substance on Earth and along with air the primary ingredient for supporting life as we know it. All life on planet Earth started in the ocean, and the ocean is still part of all life. The proportions of the elements potassium, sodium and calcium in our salty blood are similar to those in sea water. The oceans runs through our veins. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, introduced the term ‘blue mind’, by which he refers to the immeasurable sense of peace that we humans feel around water. He 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. This portraits series Thalassophiles is part of the larger project ‘Blue Mind’, an ongoing visual investigative project about the influence of the ocean on the wellbeing on human beings.


Katierina Buben


‘I am water. I admire nature by showing us how different and beautiful we could be. However, living near the sea and experiencing it every single day this is a lot more powerful. Even from spending around half an hour per day near the sea i could say how i change slowly, how authentic i could be with myself and with people around me. Right now i can’t imagine my life without the ocean. This is a way of meditation for me.’


If there is one word that would describe your relationship with the ocean, what would it be?


I get from the ocean everything that i am asking for

What do you get from the ocean?

I get from the ocean everything that i am asking for. Sometimes the ocean helps me to let go of things that don’t serve me anymore. Sometimes i am looking for the calmness, quite often it could be creativity and inspiration. However, recently i would compare the ocean to the woman. It could be unpredictable, powerful, calm and emotional at the same time.


What do you give the ocean?

I give emotions to the ocean. I also play shamanic drums to the ocean by building stronger connection. What is more when i dance and sing whenever i have a feeling that i want to do it.

(Everyone who is portrayed in this series describe the relationship they have with the ocean, what they get from it and what they give the ocean. When asked that last question, several of the people Eefje photographed realised that there is little they do in return. This project, therefore also aims to open up the conversation about what we, humans, do for the ocean and how we nurture nature like nature nurtures us.)