Culture and Sea

In Digital, Fine Art Photography, Street
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Today I’d like to share with you several photographs from my latest body of work, Culture and Sea, along with a few stories that accompany the work.

As some of you may know, I am primarily a fine art photographer. That’s a fancy term that simply means, I develop various photographic bodies of work for gallery exhibitions, juried competitions, and publications. I love my career and the opportunities it provides me to travel, create work that excites me, and eventually see that work hung on walls.

I’ve been busy for nearly a year preparing for a solo exhibition of Culture and Sea at the gallery that represents my work, Winston Wächter Fine Art Seattle. The show opens May 2nd and runs until June 20th, and will showcase eighteen large-format custom printed photographs captured in Italy, Hawaii, and Florida.

Culture and Sea brings together two series I have been working on simultaneously for several years. Ebb and Flow focuses on the ocean’s powerful soothing and healing capabilities. I take the viewer into the water with me, at times hovering my camera just above the water line, at others allowing my camera to dip below the surface, capturing both worlds at once. These compositions are intentionally clean and uncomplicated. I want the viewer to have an intimate relationship with the water as if they are swimming in it themselves.

Ebb and Flow began rather by accident in 2015, while on a trip to Maui.  My children were tired of me trying to take their portrait as they played with their friends.  Rather than push them to cooperate, I swam away from the shore and began to capture the water as it moved up and down with the tide.

I knew right away that I loved the images and began working on them in the digital printing lab as soon as I returned to Seattle.  I’ve continued to capture Ebb and Flow images in new locations ever since that first experience.  The photograph below was captured off the Amalfi Coast of Italy last summer.  The beaches along the Amalfi Coast are very rocky, and that detail can be seen in the marbling effect at the foreground of the photograph.  I enjoy finding the subtle differences in each body of water I photograph.

The other body of work that is featured in my Culture and Sea exhibition is The Aquatic Street.  In this series, I turn the camera toward the beach to capture beach culture from the unique vantage point of the ocean. I swim in and around crowded beach scenes, capturing unguarded moments with my subjects using traditional street photography techniques.

Some of my favorite images are the ones that allow me to almost embrace my subjects.  In the photograph above, The Selfie, I was trying to move closer to the man wearing the speedo when the couple on the left held up their phone to take a selfie. I like to presume they were newlyweds enjoying their honeymoon, although, in truth, I don’t know anything more about them than what we see here. This image stood out to me because of the many stories contained within the frame.

This next photograph, Red Lips, was captured at the same beach in Positano.  There were three young Asian women swimming together.  Their alabaster skin, woven hats, and perfect red lips caught my fancy.  In this particular photograph, there is a soft focus on the subjects, but clarity on the reflection in the water.  This was not intentional, but I came to love it in post-processing.

Whenever possible, I try to photograph a particular location on multiple days.  The two photographs above were captured at Positano’s central beach over the course of a week.  And below, I photographed the beach at Marina Grande, on the Isle of Capri, on two consecutive days.

The beach at Marina Grande on Capri is a small cove protected by a jetty.  The large rock in the water is a popular perch and jump-off point for children.  The image above was captured at the height of the sun, but the scene below was shot mid-morning the next day as the thin veil of clouds were dispersing and just before I boarded the ferry back to the mainland.

In the past, I have shared here that I love to look back through my archives or through a body of work to find the clues to it’s meaning.  I don’t shoot with a concept in mind in the beginning.  I let the concept reveal itself to me over time.  It took years of shooting, reflection, and private writing for me to come to the realization that Culture and Sea is heavily influenced by my childhood summers spent at crowded public beaches with my mother and siblings. Those experiences left an imprint on me that revealed itself over the course of shooting and compiling images for my exhibition.

I hope you have enjoyed this little sneak peek behind a few of the images in Culture and Sea.  I am excited to finally share the framed photographs with the world next week.

xoxo Deb


  1. Congratulations, Deb! These are incredible. I especially LOVE the first one in the post. So many beautiful layers! Good luck with the show. Wish I could see it 🙂

  2. These are fantastic!
    And I do so love the way you have captured summer from the sea’s point of view.

  3. oh, deb!!! i so wish i could see all of these in person!! i love they way your work evolves – the way you process the images literally and figuratively – allowing yourself to be guided by your intuition. these are magnificent. xoxo

    • I wish you could be here with me too, Beth. Thank you for all of your love and support over the years. xoxo Deb

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