Photographer Deanna Templeton is mostly known for her street style shots at L.A. skating competitions: black-and-white images of bruised skaters and the girls in bikini tops and barely there shorts who surround them. For the photographs in her latest book, a series eight years in the making, Templeton stepped away from the boardwalk crowds to a decidedly more intimate and private space: her swimming pool.
The photographer and her husband, Ed Templeton, a professional skateboarder and artist, are longtime collaborators, often shooting the same subjects together. The images in The Swimming Pool (UM YEAH ARTS) also began with a collaboration of sorts. "I just shoot everything that I find interesting," Deanna says. "One day Ed went out to take a swim in our pool. There wasn't any forward thought, like, Maybe I should start working on a series of this. It was sunny out. I just thought I'd shoot a few photos. When I got the frames back, they looked almost like pencil drawings."
Over the next several years, Deanna asked friends if they would come over and let her shoot them nude in her pool. Because the back porch awning cast a peculiar shadow over the pool most of the day, she was only able to shoot about four hours a day (and only in summer, as the Deanna doesn't know how to operate the pool heater). The resulting photographs are a gorgeous study of the human form in motion, each body moving through the water differently, light rippling over muscles at work.
Dive into Deanna Templeton's dreamy images of sunny summer skinny-dipping.
What made you want to keep using the swimming pool as the setting for a new series after the initial shoot with your husband?
Usually I'm out on the street. I'm just shooting either portraits of people or just documenting as I go. This was just a whole new shooting formula in a little bit more of a controlled environment. When I was looking at those few frames that I got back, there was an image where there were some light bursts on [Ed] from the sun. I didn't know where it was going to go, but I just knew I wanted to explore it more.
Did you give your models any instruction?
I really tried to hold back from giving any direction. I wanted them to express themselves underwater how they would like to come across. They would get in the pool, and I would just ask them to take a couple of laps across the pool and underwater. Some of the people who come more from the surf world are really comfortable in the water; they just had that natural fluidity about them swimming. Other people were very highly energetic. I have a friend who wasn't a strong swimmer. Her body is a little more angled, has a little bit more sharpness to it, but I loved the lines that I was getting from her.
How did you know who was right for the project?
There were some people who just seem like water babies. They could've spent the whole day in the pool. I've never known how to work our pool heater, but these were people who just weren't fazed by that. They were one with the pool, and loved being surrounded by the water. I also I tried really hard to find people who had little to no tattoos.
What cameras did you shoot with?
Any 35-millimeter shots were done with a Leica M6. The color shots that are medium format were done with a Lumia 72. I also shot some Polaroid film from a plastic Polaroid Minute Maker camera that I bought for $10 on eBay—it's amazing. I had color in my medium format, black-and-white in my Leica, and then I had both in a Polaroid camera.
Deanna Templeton's The Swimming Pool, with text by Ed Templeton, is out now from UM YEAH ARTS, $50. A special edition set features a limited-edition print hand-numbered by the photographer herself.