What lies beneath – Stunning photo series shows the unseen beauty of synchronized swimming below the surface
These stunning images highlight the incredible beauty that can lie beneath the surface when it comes to synchronized swimming.
The works, which feature an array of interwound limbs and bodies, are shot against crisp black backgrounds, bringing to life their flexible subjects.
Shot by photographer Liz Corman, the stunning images see the swimmers illuminated, with the ripples of the water adding to the feeling of fluidity in their movements, despite being captured in time in a single image.
Liz, 32, began shooting swimmers in this specific style in 2015, when she was invited to photograph the USA Mixed Duet team as they were preparing for their debut at the FINA Worlds in Kazan, Russia.
The success of these images opened a series of doors from Liz – who is based in San Francisco, California – and since then she has continue to shoot underwater in her unique style.
She said: “Depending on the pose, a single dive can last as short as 10 seconds and yield four to five shots, and a more ‘comfortable’ pose can last 45 seconds or longer and produce 20 to 30 images.
“There are so many variables with the light patterns, body, hair, face, costume, and at times, surface reflection, that it takes quite a bit of perseverance to ensure we got what we were looking for.
“An average shoot is several hours, extending to eight hours at times.
“The process of setting up and breaking down is enough effort that more often than not, I try to get the most out of every shoot.”
Despite the apparent complexity of what goes into her work, Liz said that the technique she uses is “deceptively simple.”
With underwater housing around her camera, the photographer wears a weighted belt in order to remain stable beneath the surface. (A background in synchronized swimming, which she retired from around a decade ago, also helps with breathing control, Liz said.)
In order to have her subjects stand out, the photographer also has a series of different backdrops, which she lowers down into the pool and weighs down with bricks and scuba weights.
Each time Liz and the swimmers return to the surface, the photographer offers them fresh directions.
To date, Liz – who is originally from Maplewood, Minnesota – has photographed more than two dozen swimmers against such black backdrops; in her career she has photographed hundreds of action shots of synchronized swimmers.
Going forward, the photographer has planned a 2018 series of private portrait shoots with synchronized swimming clubs across the U.S., adding to her unnamed body of fine art works.
Liz said: “I have been involved in some aspect of synchronized swimming for most of my life, yet I have never lost the feeling of its transcendent magic.
“I believe that feeling really comes through in my work.
“My models see that my passion comes from an authentic experience, creating an environment of trust and mutual respect for one another’s talents, abilities and ideas.
“Our shared vernacular allows for a much more nuanced direction on set as well as a communion of ideas.”