Bodies of Water
In his art photography series, “Bodies of Water,” Erik Aeder showcases a delicate form of athleticism while paying homage to the tempestuous underwater.
Motivated to create beautiful imagery that shares stories from the deep, watersports photographer Erik Aeder is drawn to the ocean and the activities of those enjoying it. A self-taught photographer for Surfer Magazine, Aeder brings a splash of creativity and beauty to the art of photographing athletes from a new angle – underwater.
In his art photography series, “Bodies of Water,” Aeder showcases a delicate form of athleticism while paying homage to the tempestuous underwater. In his art photography series, “Bodies of Water,” Aeder showcases a delicate form of athleticism while paying homage to the tempestuous underwater. He found inspiration for this series during a 1992 Tahitian photoshoot for Chiemsee, a German clothing company. “We were shooting Chiemsee’s team riders while they were wearing the brand’s apparel. In one segment, we photographed a model swimming below the surface with someone windsurfing overhead. We used the same format for another image but with a Tahitian man canoeing overhead,” Aeder continues.
The Chiemsee photoshoot forever sparked his curiosity and desire to expand upon the artistic form of half-and-half photography (half above water, half below water). As a surfer, Aeder realized the requirements for an underwater series were great. Models first had to be athletes with strong swimming skills and excellent form who could not only hold their breath for long periods but handle themselves in an often turbulent aquatic environment.
Expanding on the photography form, Aeder began using various fabrics to capture the swimmer’s natural motion and mimic water’s natural flow. He soon realized that long gowns created a more dreamlike, artistic effect; the swimmer’s motion was more streamlined and fluid while capturing the water’s natural movement and buoyancy. “I started using white or colored fabric and then discovered the images with models wearing gowns were incredibly artistic. The water captured the shape of the fabric, and the gowns embodied the motion of the water. The images were peaceful yet powerful – very serene,” he continues.
The “Bodies of Water” series includes images taken worldwide. “I began using my travel opportunities to augment the series with different settings and props,” he shares. The series spans picturesque destinations, including Florida’s Blue Springs, the Baths in the British Virgin Islands, Lake Tahoe, Tahiti, Fiji, and other tropical locations. “On my home island of Maui, I look for unique spots that have a different underwater look or usable props,” he continues. Aeder uses shark cages, broken cement piers, and the backside of Molokini crater’s 200′ vertical wall in some of his works.
Aeder hopes that his images will inspire other photographers to create unique visions of underwater beauty while bringing attention to the changing ocean environment. “We need to do whatever we can do to help alleviate global warming,” notes Aeder. Global warming has a consequential impact on our ocean, including the color of its appearance due to phytoplankton dying and coral bleaching due to increased ocean water acidity. While Aeder’s underwater imagery is beautiful and awe-inspiring, it also lends as documentation to our coastal infrastructure changes.
Erik Aeder’s art and his book, Surfing Jaws, are available for purchase online. Surfing Jaws is a compilation of Aeder’s photography at the famed Jaws Break. Renowned Pipeline surfer Gerry Lopez contributed the forward and image captions. Please visit erikaeder.com.