STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY
"The ocean keeps this part of us and gives it back when we visit its shores."
The children gathered at Arorangi jetty in the late afternoon and stayed for as long as the sun let them, a curfew known to most childhoods. They rode bicycles with no shoes on to the end of the jetty where they jumped off and into the ocean with out missing a step.
I have been to the Cook Islands a few times now and treasured every trip. The Island itself is incredibly photogenic with its pristine beaches and lush green jungle. I have always enjoyed photographing people, and I find myself falling into old habits on the island. There is something special about capturing a moment that has been lived by other people.
Children of the metropolis I’d left behind are in touch with the world in a much different way. Through the screen time allotted, they learn and explore the useful and useless while keeping their soles clean and skin as bright as the blue light reflected on glassy eyes and contours of faces under covers by night.
But the children of this place know what generations before them speak of: happy memories far behind them. Dust-covered ankles show scars picked up during long days spent dreading that sundown curfew. Unwashed hands tell hours of stories with dozens of characters whose names were never revealed because there was laughing and jumping and swimming instead.
To me these kids represented pure happiness. In their faces, you could see the carefree innocence of childhood that many of us unconsciously leave behind. The ocean keeps this part of us and gives it back when we visit its shores. The best cure for any burden is to just swim out, and be the kid who just learned how.
Mitchell Fong is a photographer from Sydney whose work is layered by ocean , lifestyle , travel and day-to-day subjects. To see more of Mitchell's work, visit www.mitchellfong.com