Warning: This post contains nudity.
In the water, everything is magical: Light bends and refracts, bodies distort, and the rules of gravity disappear. That strange, aquatic reality is the center of Christy Lee Rogers’ photographic universe
Rogers, a native of Hawaii, first discovered her visual style (which is often compared to that of the Baroque painter Caravaggio) photographing a friend in her pool several years ago. She had been working on feature films at the time and said she was looking for a change.
“I wanted to do something very messy. I was bored shooting reality,” she said.
When she looked back on her images from that day, she knew she had come across something significant. Over the next few years, she experimented and refined her technique. Shooting mostly in Hawaii, she tried using different types of pools, flashes, and props underwater. She didn’t release her photos until she felt she had gotten it right. After her first solo show, she decided to devote herself entirely to photography.
“I worked 16 hours a day. I loved it,” she said. “It's become this obsession of my life.”
Rogers said she starts working just after the sun goes down and usually shoots for four or five hours. Sometimes, when she doesn’t have access to a heated pool, she shoots until her models (usually friends, family members and artistic acquaintances) get too cold. She tends to stand at the side of the pool, shooting down into the depths.
Rogers said she doesn’t have any formal training in photography. She doesn’t use a light meter or alter her images in Photoshop. All of the technical aspects of her photos are determined by eye. But that, Rogers said, is what makes them work.
“I am completely breaking the rules of photography. If you were to see an image in the computer it would say low lighting and it would say things are off,” she said. “A lot of printmakers question me. I say, ‘Don’t worry about it. That’s the way it is.’
Rogers’ attitude toward photography aligns well with the themes in her work.
“I think at the basic core is that search for freedom and that common bond between all of us. We all know we want something more, we know it's there, and we all feel the pressures of society, of life, so you're seeing that back-and-forth in the images.”