Blog #211 6/20/17
Fraction of a second between these two images
Disturb the water and it reacts furiously. From a “water” shoot with The David Parsons Dance Company
The phenomenon of weightlessness and slow motion that takes place when the human body is underwater has captivated me since very early in my photography career when Beverly and I built a house with an indoor pool. The original purpose of the pool was for exercise, but after a few photographic experiments, I was drawn to the allure of how models and dancers “look” and move with elegance sublime and ethereal grace when they were submerged.
In order to find dancers for many of my projects I designed posters and had them hung on the bulletin boards of every dance space in the city—then a casting was done with dancers who responded.
This is a flyer intended for one of my underwater projects.
Dancer Alison Clancy and a painted backdrop by Deborah Freedman
I have had five monographs of underwater imagery published over the last 25 years:
“POOL LIGHT” AND
And even so, there are many images that were made in the course of shooting for those projects that have never been published, plus a large body of new work yet to be seen.
Here are some and how and why they were created.
These images were made at a few different fashion and beauty shoots.
Much of what I do, initially, is what I call “exploratory,” looking for imagery that I either visually imagine or haven’t seen. Often, I devise uncommon approaches by using various and even unconventional techniques or mechanisms to influence the result. The underwater surface is a reflector (as is the above water surface), a physical phenomenon that can be used to create images far beyond the usual. After working with this and various other characteristics of the water’s physical properties and becoming familiar with them, I was able to follow invisible pathways to create what I hoped were magical images.
I am still constantly on a “treasure hunt.”
These are photographs I made using the magic wand that is reflection. My desire was to create biological sculpture using the bodies of dancers and a calm water surface. I directed my assistant who was on the pool’s deck to hold each dancer partly submerged into the water. I asked each dancer to be very still so as not to let the water “know it is being entered” so that the resultant reflection would have very little ripple—and therefore the reflected body part was as clear and well formed as the submerged part it reflects. Subtle ripple was not only accepted but utilized to add to the otherworldly “look.”
Each image was new to me and I learned very quickly what I wanted to do, to see, and to form.
Creating infinite forms by utilizing the the same approach with fabric.
I have also been exploring “movement” underwater. This particular gravity-free world has infinite potential for striking visual imagery.
The following images are the sweet results of many other “explorations.”
Dancers “flying” just before entering the water. I made the photographs from underwater. The water’s surface is like a wild and wonderfully unpredictable paint brush.
And, finally, the sensual study of pairs…..
Each image emerged from exploratoration, experimentation and a search for treasure.
A new world of near-infinite possibilities was revealed and offered to me many years ago, when I entered the pool, underwater. I’m still down there, drenched, in wonder.