Haley Wilsdon Captures The Cold, Uncomfortable and Beautiful

Haley Wilsdon is a 3rd-year photo student in the Image Arts Photography Program and RADmag's own Photography Editor. In her most recent series, she took on the challenge of pushing out of her comfort zone as she tried a completely new process of capturing images. She challenged her own photographic style and broke out of a stiffness she found in her usual process. This project involved waking up at 5am daily for three weeks straight to jump into Lake Ontario and document her experience from beginning to end. For Haley, who is habitually meticulous about the technical side of her photos, It’s Good Once You Get There was a challenge as she was limited to a cheap underwater camera.

Although being out at 5am so early in the dark can be very cold and spooky, Haley pursued this project to fulfill her desire to go swimming in the lake. And because of her work schedule, 5am seemed to be the only consistent time to execute the photos.

I’ve always had this vision of a dedicated old man getting up early and going for a cold swim in the lake, which I think is very admirable for some reason. And I thought I could never do that, not in a million years, which of course means I decided to do it. So 5am swims it was. When you publicly announced a project like this to everyone you know you can’t really back out after. Overall, I loved doing this project and if I could afford a wetsuit to keep me warm I would still be out there swimming.


"It's Good Once You Get There"

Photo Series By Haley Wilsdon.



Here's a rundown of Haley's typical schedule for the three weeks covering this series:

11:00pm -say you are going to sleep
12:45 -actually go to sleep
5:10 -get up with tears in your eyes
5:15-5:25 -frantically but glacially find everything you need
                -cheap camera
                -expensive absorbent towel
                -bathing suit
                -portage bag (don’t want to leave clothes on the beach and get robbed)
5:30 -wait/board streetcar (never on time)
6:00 -arrive at beach
6:15 -feel weird taking of clothes in front of the guy mowing the sand
6:16 -give in and reveal bathing suit that will not keep you warm
6:20 -swim and somehow enjoy it
6:45 -get embarrassed being spotted taking pictures alone in the water
7:05 -small talk with old folks walking their dogs
7:10-7:15 -frozen fingers make getting dressed a near impossible task
7:16 -try to get sand off feet
7:17 -give in and put socks on sand covered feet
7:20 -hobble to the coffee shop (feet feel like bricks they are so cold) to buy hand
warmer (small coffee you don't drink)
7:25 -walk to streetcar and feel like a god
7:30 -board streetcar and turn into mush
8:00 -get off streetcar (butt may be wet, but can people tell?)
8:15- have hottest/best shower of your life
8:30-9pm -alternate between feeling euphoric and being so tired you might as well die
11:00 -say you are going to sleep
12:45- actually go to sleep