Oahu-based Wayne Levin has spent a career photographing the eerie and mysterious underwater world. Working in black and white, he removes the surface illusions about the ocean and the assumptions about underwater photography. Here with his series “Freedivers”, Levin captures the ‘Big Blue’ romance of this mysterious, pure adrenalin sport where humans dive to depths of up to 350 feet on a single breath of air and the lonely surreal world its heroic competitors nakedly plunge into. The ethereal quality of the photographs belies the fact that freediving is an extreme, and potentially life threatening sport.
Levin earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. His monograph, Through a Liquid Mirror (Editions Limited, 1998), received the Hawaii Book Publishers Association's award for Book of the Year. He received a National Endowment for the Arts, Photographer’s Fellowship (1984); a Photographer's Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council (1989); and a Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Individual Artists Fellowship (2006). His photographs are widely exhibited and are in major public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Bishop Museum, Honolulu; and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
‘When taking these photographs I feel the danger, but it is juxtaposed with a sense of calm and serenity as the divers gracefully descend into the depths. At a certain depth they reach a point of negative buoyancy, and no longer need to propel themselves as they literally fall through the aquatic space. Of course, this means that upon ascension they are fighting that tendency to fall. Descending or ascending, Freedivers are at home in the deep.’