Erin Mulvehill’s Eerie Underwater Portraits Are Stunning

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Underwater photography can be quite a risky and complicated one with all those extra pieces of protection for gear, model/s and the photographer. But, Erin Mulvehill creates incredible underwater effects using studio lights and other materials in her own studio.

Erin is a photographer from New York, who was born in October 1988 near Lake Ontario. She began taking photographs and writing from an early age as a way to remember and preserve moments.

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Erin says, “I have always been fixated on the beauty of the ephemeral. When I was seventeen years old, I discovered Buddhism whilst living alone in London. From that point forward, all of my thoughts on life, transience and beauty really started to come together on a new level. Suddenly, I began to see things with immense clarity and was infatuated with photography for it’s unique ability to recognise and celebrate impermanence.

The idea for my “Underwater” series came from an amalgam of thoughts and concepts that I believe in. As I mentioned previously, I have long been captivated by the fleeting nature of all things.

For a long time prior to making this series, I thought of ways to visually capture the Buddhist concept of rebirth. I spent a lot of time thinking about rebirth and what it meant in a visual sense, but ultimately, the final concept for the series came from a particularly vivid dream I had one night in 2009. When I woke up the next morning, I knew that I had to get to the studio immediately and attempt to create the images that I had seen in my dream.”

Erin has her BS degree in Photography with Honors from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University in 2009, where she also had minors in Physics and Art history.

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill





Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

When Erin talks about her work, she says,

“My work aims to explore the human connections and subtle nuances that whisper into the ear of our everyday. Much of my work is rooted in the ideas of mind, body, seamlessness and time. This is largely because my deepest beliefs lie in the principles of Buddhism, the integration of art and life and the preservation of beautiful moments.”

Erin is nomadic by nature and is inspired each day by the nothingness that resides in all things. When asked if she uses any techniques or any specific gear, if she has any limitations while doing her work that she may need to overcome and how she deals with that, she said, 

“I use a variety of different cameras and formats when shooting. I personally find the camera being used secondary to the idea and concept of an image.

This series was shot exclusively in studio with a Mamiya RZ67 equipped with a digital leaf back.

In terms of technique, I have built a set within the studio and used lighting and various materials to create the whole ‘Underwater' effect in-camera. There was no water involved in the shoot, I created the effect with only light and other solid materials that I built as the set. ” 

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography - Image by Erin Mulvehill

Underwater photography – Image by Erin Mulvehill

Erin currently lives on the Lower East side in Manhattan. Her prints from “Underwater” can be purchased by emailing her.

More of Erin’s works can be found on her Website .

About the author

Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

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