H20 by Howard Schatz

Water. It's the building block of life, it makes up a very large part of our bodies, and we need it to survive. But how does it work in art? Photographer Howard Schatz uses water as his medium in his book H20.

In H20 water is omnipresent, be it an invisible force suspending the subject in space or a very clear presence that reflects an image or has air bubbles drifting upwards. The models are primarily female, in varying amounts of clothing, doing everything from simple poses to a pair of models spelling out the alphabet with their bodies and several models creating an underwater version of The Last Supper. (A few photos are from commercial or specific requests: a few ads, a special on Cirque de Soleil, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.)

H20 is an original and impressive photography collection. While surprisingly few photos actually have titles (most are called "Underwater Study" and their number), there is a great variety and originality to the different photographs. Schatz resists the urge to simply revel in the use of water, instead making a variety of feelings and creations where water complements the subject instead of overwhelming it.

The discussion of the photogrpahy techniques here are focused mainly on the difficulty of finding and using models who can spend so much time underwater. There are actually long discussions of some series ("Atlantis," "War") that are followed by only one or two photos from that series. I enjoyed the photographic index at the end more, which has details on several individual photos.

If you enjoy unusual and beautiful photography (or you have hydrophilia), you'll enjoy H20. This coffee-table collection of Schatz' most recent underwater excursion is a lovely work.
Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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