EDUCATOR'S GUIDE: SEA CHANGE, The Seascape in Contemporary Photography


John McWilliams
Born 1941, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, resides in Atlanta, Georgia

A former professional boat builder, McWilliams built the 24´ foot ocean-worthy sailboat from which he made many of the sea images he records from hundreds of miles off shore. McWilliams speaks of the suspension between the elements of air and water when on board his boat,  his attraction to the operatic adventure of the ocean's moment by moment drama, and our insignificance to it.

Gray Backs, 1991
©1998 John McWilliams

Tom Millea
Born 1944, Bridgeport, Connecticut, resides in Carmel, California

Millea, who has always lived on the water, has spent a quarter century within view of the Pacific Ocean. He often stops what he is doing to photograph the sea, claiming a moment when he and his subject are in tune. Millea discusses the feelings evoked by such a primal, archetypal subject, the mother ocean. He considers the challenges of its many paradoxes and its strong link to the unconscious.

Point Lobos, Sunset, 1992
©1998 Tom Millea

Michael O'Brien
Born 1962, San Francisco, California, resides in Jersey City, New Jersey

O'Brien describes himself as "a surfer kid from California who tries to make rockin' photographs of the ocean." In 1990, he began to photograph breaking waves almost exclusively. Whether on his board, swimming, or standing in the surf, O'Brien uses a Nikonos underwater camera to photograph seas from Maui to Sandy Hook. He accepts the romance of the ocean, but responds most to the visceral component of its beauty. Serene one minute, an out-of-control maelstrom the next: there is always something new for him to see.

Untitled, 1995
©1998 Michael O'Brien

Doug and Mike Starn
Born 1961, Somers Point, New Jersey, reside in New York, New York

Identical twin brothers, the Starns explore the technical and expressive possibilities of the medium by tearing, combining and reassembling their photographs with Scotch tape. Drawn by the spiritual symbolism and vast scale of their subject, they identify the sea as a constant and constantly changing on an immense and weighty scale.

Ocean in Fog, 1996
©1998 Doug and Mike Starn

Iain Stewart
Born 1967, Sheffield, England, resides in Edinburgh, Scotland

A relative newcomer to photography of the sea, he favors watery vistas for their potential minimalism and subtlety. Intentionally shooting in poor lighting conditions, his diffused light creates hard-to-read details in a soft, atmospheric environment.

Rhythm iii, 1997
©1998 Iain Stewart

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Born 1948, Tokyo, Japan, resides in New York, New York

Sugimoto made his first successful seascape in 1979 and has since assembled a striking photographic inventory of the world's seas. Precisely bisecting the image with the horizon line, his approach has established a contemporary standard for seascape photography. Sugimoto sees the seascape as an ancient vision linked to the pre-historical condition of the earth. He values its strength as an abstract subject.

Kattegat, Kullaberg, 1996
©1998 Hiroshi Sugimoto

James Welling
Born 1951, Hartford, Connecticut, resides in Los Angeles, California

Welling works both in abstractions and in straightforward documentary photography. He is interested in the fluid, color-filled quality of the sea and sky combination, and the dynamic meeting of land and sea. His images of frothy waves breaking on the shore attest to this concern.

Seascape A, 1991
©1998 James Welling

Randy West
Born 1960, Indianapolis, Indiana, resides in New York, New York

Confronting the Pacific coast after growing up in Indiana, West was overwhelmed by the ocean's presence. A swimmer, West accentuates water's isolating, opaque aspects in smoky graphite-covered photo linen works that express the sea's seductive tranquility and quiet.

Untitled Seascape #4, 1992
©1998 Randy West

Hiroshi Yamazaki
Born 1946, Nagano, Japan, resides in Tokyo, Japan

Having lived all of his life on the island of Japan, Yamazaki began to photograph the sea seriously in the early seventies, for awhile making it his sole subject. Seascapes account for half of his photography, particularly images that explore the relationship between the sea and the sun. Yamakazi considers the sea a subject ripe for artistic expression.

The Sun Is Longing for the Sea 3, 1978
©1998 Hiroshi Yamazaki

HOME    This page last updated July 26, 1999.

Center for Creative Photography · The University of Arizona · Tucson, Arizona 85721-0103 · Phone: 520-621-7968