Joris van Alphen Photography

Into the Wild

Review: American Waters by Alex Kirkbride

Posted October 18, 2010. Filed under: Photography, Underwater. Leave a comment.

American Waters by Alex Kirkbride

Whenever I visit an antiquarian photo bookstore I feel like a kid in a candy store. I can spend hours (no kidding!) flipping through the pages of the books, hoping to be surprised by some inspiring work of a photographer as yet unknown to me. This weekend I found another such little treasure: American Waters by Alex Kirkbride.

Alex and his partner made a three-year journey across the US, living together in a trailer, to capture underwater scenes from every state. The result is a collection of 150 underwater photos brought together in this book.

I had actually seen several of his images before, but the name hadn’t stuck with me and so I was very happy to discover more.

The thing about underwater photography is that even the prettiest scene becomes mundane quickly if you’ve seen it captured the same way over and over again. Think of the nth diver’s-silhouette-on-a-reef photo, for example. In American Waters, Alex turns this around: he shows the mundane in a such a way that it becomes beautiful and captivating.

This is my kind of photography. From oceans and lakes to bogs and flooded streets, it’s all in this book, and it’s all beautiful. Each photo is accompanied by a short anecdote, or an interesting observation about the animals in it, and the photos are interspersed with accounts of the various challenges such a journey brings. I have only one little gripe with the book, and that is that the typeface is a bit uneasy on the eyes.

Other than that, this is an inspiring photo book that I’m sure will have a place on my bookshelf for many years to come.

If you are into underwater photography, this book is for you.

American Waters by Alex Kirkbride is available from The Book Depository for €19.76.

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