Everyday, photographers flock to the glistening seaside or to the edges of the city limits for the perfect capture of the sun descending on the horizon. In pursuit of the perfect shot of the waves crashing on the golden sand, or light licking man’s impressive steel towers, photos of the sunset capture an indescribable moment of time; of that day, yet of eternity.
Every day the massive, hot, faraway, mysterious sun dips below the horizon . For a few hours, it’s gone from our sight. The big billowing ball of energy that gives us nearly everything we depend on; energy, food, electricity, and so on; takes a rest.
It’s the role of the photographer to frame this moment. There is a communal missed breath we take as humans when the sun vanishes; thinking perhaps, where did it go? Who can see it now? As questions of philosophy and science filter through our curious minds, the photographer can capture the raw beauty emitted by the eternal beast of the sun.
The artist Penelope Umbrico, has developed several works on the subject. She believes the lure of sunset photography is not quite an complex as one may think.
Umbrico’s work questions the sun’s power to enhance collectivity. For her project, she curated sunset photos from Flickr. Then, she cropped them to remove the surrounding context, whether it be the beach or a smiling portrait, leaving only the suns themselves. The resulting work is a vibrant collage that stands as a testament to our desire to preserve these “liminal moments as a social experience” as stated by Jonny Weeks in the Guardian.
Umbrico says “The sun is this incredibly powerful object, and there’s only one of them in our world,” she says. “The sun can kill us or give us health. It’s the symbol of enlightenment, it makes us happy – it’s phenomenal.”
Included are some of Brendan Filice’s images of the sunset, to add to the collective spirit of sharing our joy in the sun.
See the rest of Brendan’s images on Flickr.