Brad Walls stumbled across a passion for aerial photography whilst experimenting with one of the first consumer drones. He’s now an award-winner, recently recognised by the 2021 Commarts Photography Competition and Sony World Photography Awards, amongst others. In a new series, Walls turns his lens to the world of synchronised swimming. Set against rippling pools of light-dappled water, the athletes make geometric shapes – incorporating props such as inflatable balls and parasols. The body of work arrives just in time for this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Walls has prior experience photographing diving, gymnastics, tennis and ballet from above. He plans to release a photobook in the near future. In making this series, Walls was surprised to find a lack of imagery capturing the patterns of synchronised swimming. This discovery led to a collaboration with choreographer Katrina Ann’s Sydney-based team. Ann, a former Commonwealth Games and World Championship competitor, was enthusiastic about the idea: “Artistic swimmers spend hours every day working to achieve perfection. With Walls’ eye for detail, perspective and creativity, we were able to showcase our hard work that is often lost to the naked eye.”
Figures make circles, lines and symmetrical formations; white costumes stand out against bright blue waters. “Our aim was to cherry-pick static positions from routines that build repetition of form and geometric sequences,” Walls explains. These shapes were then translated into drawings on paper, with Ann later bringing them to life through movement. Many shots were carefully orchestrated, whilst others occurred more spontaneously. “80% is planned, 20% is impromptu,” the artist notes. “No matter the amount of planning that goes into it, there will always be an unplanned frame that looks awesome and couldn’t possibly have been planned. That is the embodiment of art.”
All images courtesy Brad Walls.