Shot over eight years, the film photographs in the artist and zine queen’s new book, ‘The Swimming Pool,’ are an ode to beautiful bodies and Southern California summers.
The previous owner of artists Deanna and Ed Templeton’s house in Huntington Beach, California was an elderly lady. As a result, their swimming pool is just the right size for someone a little over five feet tall to accomplish small laps in. “It’s shallow, not that long, and shaped like a peanut,” says Deanna.
In her new book, The Swimming Pool (due for release through Um Yeah Arts in June), Deanna captures eight summers worth of visiting skinny dippers — friends, and later, friends of friends — suspended in the pool’s turquoise water. (Summers only, because she still hasn’t figured out how to turn on the pool’s heating system.) Like bugs in amber, the swimmers’ bodies are caught in languid momentary poses indefinitely. But far from being static, they seem to drift freely through an endless summer.
The series began eight years ago, when Ed decided to take a skinny dip one day (“he just prefers to swim nude”), and Deanna grabbed her camera from the house. “I got about 10 shots,” she says. “One, torso down, looked like a pencil drawing. It didn’t look real. A few had really interesting distortions. Not to compare my work to Francis Bacon’s but…” She liked how the sun flared off the swimmer’s body, and the unexpected ways in which the light refracted through the water. “So I started to ask friends if they’d mind coming over to take a little dip. And I knew I didn’t want bathing suits.”
Deanna has spent years photographing near-strangers on California’s boardwalks and beyond — from tattooed teens to punk fans. “For how brief the interaction is, shooting like that, I do try to make some kind of connection,” she says. But this experience was different. “I feel like I made a lot of new friends through this. The whole project just made me feel close to everyone. These people trusted me and they gave me their time. I felt like it was a collaboration. I wanted them to express themselves.”
Text by Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography by Deanna Templeton