Photographer Cath Simard’s Children’s Book Drop Is a Blue Hour Adventure

In this space, as we’re wrapping our heads around each day’s new crop of memes, it’s important to remember that the technology of web3 enables unique–and often sublime–forms of artistic expression.

Cath Simard, a composite landscape photographer who is beloved in our space and has sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, is releasing a phygital children’s book that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of blockchain technology.

The book, called “Blue Hour Adventures: Australia,” details Cath’s trip to Tasmania to take a photograph that she had dreamed of: the aurora australis above a mountain lake deep in the Tasmanian wilderness. She trekked for days, alone, to get into position, and then had to wait for the right weather conditions to take the photographs she needed in order to create one of the dramatic composite images she’s well known for.

While the mint price and mechanics have not been disclosed yet, when you mint, you’ll get a whole package: an NFT of the book’s cover and another of the hauntingly beautiful photograph that Simard set out to take—called “Past Resonance.”

You’ll also get a physical book, which comes with a reproduction of a lucky coin, an heirloom from Simard’s grandmother that is at the heart of the story, and a high-quality physical print of “Past Resonance.” The individual elements are not available on primary, and there will be 777 packages available to mint on Mar. 25, with a one-month claim period for the physicals.

As part of the drop, the book features text by Simard, fictionalizing the often-challenging eight-day trip she took to Australia to capture the shot of a lifetime, and lush images by illustrator Cody Muir. In the book’s story, two characters—Iris and her aunt Blue—embark on the trip that, in the real world, Cath undertook alone.

The result is a high-quality, coherent, and stunning drop that, while it includes some wry call-backs to Web3 culture, encourages young people to follow their dreams, rise to the challenges of life, and leave room for chance and magic in all that we do.

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We caught up with Simard this week for an interview to learn more.

nft now: What an unbelievable journey, to get one incredible composite shot. So many of us have our adventures sitting on our butts in our houses these days, but you went out there to get this amazing image for us! In a world where we can discover so much virtually, what’s the significance of hauling out to a remote place to take a photograph?

Cath Simard: To me, nothing can replace the sense of freedom I experience while being in the mountains and creating. In this world where we are glued to our phones, we oftentimes tend to forget about the deep beauty of reality.

“On every step of the trek, Iris & Blue take the time to pause for a moment, enjoy the view, notice the animals and details of nature, and be grateful for this incredible journey.”

cath simard

For me, landscape photography gives me purpose and helps me to keep going. This purpose saved my life and helped me get out of a very dark place. Nature has a way of healing humans unlike anything else.

Going on these trips and pushing yourself is also incredible for building confidence and triggering self-growth. After each trip, I feel like I’ve grown a little bit more. I hope my work and this book inspire people to get outdoors more and try it for themselves.

As a photographer, you know just how important visuals are in telling a story. How did you go about finding the right illustrator for the book?

At the beginning of the process, it was important for me to find an artist that I would connect with, align my art direction and that would be open to work on these illustrations in a collaborative way.

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My partner for this project, Dan Stern from NFT Yearbook, found Cody Muir, an incredible illustrator with a geometric, high-contrast aesthetic, and it was an instant connection. The illustration phase took us eight months, an extremely lengthy process that required multiple feedback and precise art direction on each illustration.

We tried incorporating as many elements from my real trip to Tasmania: the landscapes, the color palettes, the clothing accessories of each character, the tent and backpack, and the coin. For example, the outfits of each character were planned; I created a mood board with the use of AI to help visualize them for my illustrator.

I also drafted the front and back cover, which was a fun exercise since I do not have a talent for illustration. I have a background in art direction, and this experience really allowed me to get in touch with this different creative side of myself.

What’s the book’s message to the kids who will be reading it? 

There are a few main messages in this book. The first one would be open to adventures and new experiences. In the story, you can feel Iris’s anxiety of going on this trip with her aunt Blue, but through encouragement and self-talk, she pushes herself along the way, perseveres, and builds her confidence.

The second one is to pursue creative endeavors. On this journey, Iris & Blue have the mission to capture specific images. Art and creativity have been a huge part of my own journey, and I’d love to encourage kids to explore their creativity as well. As a kid and teenager, I wished I was encouraged more to pursue art and explore this side of myself.

Another important message in the book is perseverance. During their trip, the characters encounter many challenges, unlocking their perseverance and tenacity, which I believe are qualities important in developing at an early age. I’d also love children to get inspired to spend more time outside and to explore in nature.

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The final message, and most important one, in my opinion, is to enjoy each piece of the journey. On every step of the trek, despite the obstacles and difficulty of their mission, Iris & Blue take the time to pause for a moment, enjoy the view, notice the animals and details of nature, and be grateful for this incredible journey. It is something I wished I had done more on that trip but also in my day to day life. This message is also my own personal reminder which I tried applying in my life.

I’m hoping this can also serve as an introduction [to web3] for the children. The parents would frame “Past Resonance” for their children’s bedrooms and keep the NFT as the children’s first NFT. That would be incredibly cool!

What’s the meaning of the coin included in the book?

I’ve been making many decisions in my life by flipping coins. When I’m hesitant with a decision, I always flip a coin. So far, it’s always led me to amazing experiences and places. In 2022, my grandmother passed away. She left a few items for the family, and one of them was a coin.

“With this composite, I wanted to create something bold and colorful that was a representation of my entire experience in Tasmania, mixed with the fantasy—an artwork at the limit of reality and imagination.”

Cath Simard

My mom saw it and gave it to me. Should I go to Tasmania? flipped the coin. I used this coin multiple times on the trek, especially in moments or uncertainty, and I truly believed it helped me move forward with the best decisions. The coin is a center element of the story and unlocks their adventure, just like it unlocks different paths and adventures in real life.

“Past Resonance” is gorgeous, and the aurora australis is incredible. Why did you want to take this particular composite shot? What weather conditions did you need to wait for, in order to take it? What elements were needed for the composite?

The first time I heard about this remote lake in Tasmania, I did some research and found this incredible viewpoint. To me, the composition was striking, with the unique green vegetation, and breathtaking lake in the background. I knew that on rare occasions, you could catch the aurora in Tasmania. The chances of this happening were slim, but I decided to give it my best shot.

After many days of rain, I was able to capture the foreground composed of the vegetation and mountains at sunset and blue hour with great conditions. Most of the clouds and mist part of the composite were captured during the rainy day. The aurora, however, didn’t show up during the trek and was photographed a week later after many sleepless nights of driving across the state. With this composite, I wanted to create something bold and colorful that was a representation of my entire experience in Tasmania, mixed with the fantasy—an artwork at the limit of reality and imagination, similar to the story of the book.

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