Gaze for long enough into the photographs of Sarah Lee and you may find yourself needing a towel to dry off. They’re wet, wet, wet. Born and bred in Hawaii, a competitive swimmer, water polo player, and surfer, she first picked up a camera in her teens and found herself most at home in the water.
“My aim in making photos is to capture and accentuate the beauty in what surrounds me,” she told me. “Photography to me is a mode of visual problem solving and a way to perpetuate the stoke, whether it be above the surface or below.”
Much of Sarah’s subject matter includes women. “Women are more willing subjects. They’re always up for my experiments, or just ready to jump in the water,” she said. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we asked Sarah to pick about half a dozen of her favorite photographs of her favorite girls. They’re presented below, with words from Sarah about her life and her work.
“I spent my childhood in competitive swimming, and started shooting when I was about 14. I picked up the camera to be more useful than just sitting around. It was so fun to capture my teammates at their races, and the lifestyle surrounding that. My underwater photography came quickly after that.”
“I was lucky to be born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii on the Kona side. I grew up on a 26-acre coffee farm, living next to my grandparents. It was pretty rad. We were forced to play outside a lot. We spent weekends at the beach. I was into artsy, hands-on stuff from an early age.”
“I love shooting surfing, I also love shooting people underwater. It’s endlessly dynamic and always different. I personally thrive off of a physical challenge as well as a creative challenge—and water photography is those things combined. That’s where I come most alive and flow with things."
"To me it’s just this constant treasure hunt; there’s so much to discover and uncover underwater. The play of light with the human interaction with the water and how it all combines is just always fascinating.”
“I don’t have any gift of recall or tying references to different artists ‘cause I’m super in-the-moment, but really what stokes me out the most is the people I’m around. I’m super grateful for all the people I’ve worked with and been friends with and had experiences with. Their essences and personalities and ways of being is what inspires me.”
“I see it as a collaboration. My subjects are gifted in one thing and I get to translate that. I’m always in search of beauty and bringing out the best in everything, but more so than my own voice or opinion I’m just trying to translate what they’re doing and bring that to life visually."
“I personally want to keep shooting anything in and under the water. For me to be able to travel and share experiences with other highly passionate and talented people, whether it’s surfing or free diving or even spear fishing. For me I just want to document these people who are so intimately connected with the water.”
Check out more of Sarah’s work at: http://sarahlee.photo