The Swimmers

Photography by Emma Hartvig


Swedish born, now Paris-based photographer Emma Hartvig’s photo series, The Swimmers, is a stunning composition of perfect synch and the beauty of the motion in the ocean. The series is a result of a few hot hours under the Los Angeles sun shooting Aqualillies—an LA-based group of professional synchronised swimmers. Initially, it was all a coincidence. 

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Hi Emma, Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your style of photography?
I’m very drawn to cinematic photography and images that tell a story and evoke something in the viewer. I tend to constantly read, watch and research. So my mind is always working. I also really love to use light and colour as the main element to make something very desirable. Although my subject is often feminine, I still think a still life photo can be more seductive, depending on how you shoot it. So I think my style is like that—quite seductive in its colours and light. And feminine, of course.

Please tell us about “The Swimmers”
It was a lucky coincidence. While I was spending a few weeks in Los Angeles, this professional group of synchronised swimmers, the Aqualillies, got in touch and asked if I wanted to collaborate. It was a very simple shoot. It was only me, my assistant and natural light. When they asked what I wanted I thought that the most interesting thing for me in photography is to bring out a certain stillness and cinematic feel. So instead of having them doing their usual thing—performance with a perfect smile and the most impressive movements—they all held still for the camera. I wanted them to just float, dive and swim normally underwater. I think this way I captured the essence of a swimmer—the devotion, the strength, the art of it. I would like to hope so, at least.

Water shows up as a theme in a few of your personal projects. Is water something you are particularly drawn to? 
Yes! Very much. I grew up by the sea, so I think that’s a big part of it. Spending summers just going to the sea for a swim, or taking long walks—it’s all so essential for me to feel good. There’s something very poetic about water and I really like to bring that element into my work.

PhotographyMarkus Støle