There’s nothing quite like the first dip of summer in an outdoor swimming pool with the undulating waves lapping against your shins as you sit anchored to the tiled side. Capturing this shared experience is French photographer Karine Laval with her series The Pool, taken at swimming pools throughout Europe. The initial draw for Karine was the idea that swimming pools and beach resorts are a combination of the natural and the artificial: “They represent a dominant theme of modern life in our culture and mix the natural element of water with the culture and social element of a manmade environment,” she explains.
The abstract angles and peculiar perspectives throughout the series push it beyond the usual pool photography I’ve seen before. The camera is low to the ground, echoing a reclining sunbather’s perspective; and people have become part of the swimming pool’s architecture as feet dangle off of diving boards and legs mirror the intersecting metal rails that surround the water. The joy and freedom felt when swimming is something the photographer has an affinity for, “I find water appeasing, meditative and exhilarating,” Karine says. “It speaks to the senses and it’s a vehicle for transformation and self-reflection.”
With saturated tones and bleached-out blues, Karine is looking back to her childhood throughout the series and the images remind her of the “Super-8 home movies my family made in the 1970s.” The nostalgia and familiarity conjured when gazing upon these photographs is why they’re so successful as we’re instantly transported to cerulean waters where time is measured in lengths and splashes.
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