A gorgeous new series by Sydney-based photographer Brad Walls captures synchronized swimming in all its glory. These are not your typical sport action shots. Walls captured the series, called Water Geomaids, from above, using a drone. And just like synchronized swimming itself, the photographs were carefully choreographed. Walls planned the shots in advance to showcase certain geometric forms like circles, triangles, squares, and rhombuses.
Synchronized swimming probably conjures up images of Esther Williams and glamorous Old Hollywood sets from 70 years ago. But portrayals in contemporary pop culture are comparatively few. “I was surprised at the lack of imagery capturing the shapes and patterns that synchronized swimmers create,” he says. So he decided to emphasize them. Walls planned out the shapes he wanted to capture by sketching them in advance, and then worked with former competitive synchronized swimmer Katrina Ann on choreography. A Sydney-based synchronized swimming team then brought the choreography—and the shapes—to life. Ann and Walls picked static positions from routines that emphasized form, repetition, and geometric pattern and repeated the shot about 10 to 15 times to capture the image Walls wanted.
Walls captures the swimmers and their parasols, all dressed in coordinating white, as they use their legs, arms, torsos, and pointed toes to create precise shapes. Swimmers that are upside down with their heads in the water use their above-water legs to form what looks like a cube in 3D space. In another photo, called “Staircase” and pictured below, the swimmers float on their backs in a staggered position. The aerial shot captures the line of seven swimmers, touching toe to knee. The arms are crisply extended underneath another swimmer’s leg, creating a recurring sequence that resembles a jacquard weave.
Walls has a penchant for aerial shots that make order out of things we typically don’t notice. He cites a quote from the book The Systems View of Life by Fritjof Capra, that reads, “From the systems point of view, the understanding of life begins with the understanding of patterns.”
You can view the images on his website. Limited edition prints are also available for purchase by contacting Walls through his website.