Photographer Adam Fedderly gets up close and personal
After eight years in New York, Adam Fedderly was starting to feel the primal tug of the Southern California tide. “I was always missing the water, always trying to find a pool or a beach,” says the photographer, a third-generation Californian who spent much of his childhood surfing San Onofre and First Point, among others. So in 2012, with his young family in tow, the lensman and long-distance swimmer ditched his Manhattan studio, trading the cramped chaos of NYC for the open horizon and waves of his native SoCal—a move motivated as much by geography as his growing fascination with the architecture of H2O. “I have an attraction to the energy of water, to the ions,” he says. “It has this ability to nurture you, to take you from feeling overwhelmed to calm.” And with an idea to capture that transformative power on camera, Fedderly’s “Water Lovers” project was born.
Shortly after settling back in Long Beach, the 42-year-old found himself between ad campaigns, and back in the sand with camera in hand, documenting swimmers, surfers and any other beachgoer who would let him take their picture. “The idea was to capture someone right when they get out of the water, to understand what makes them feel good and why,” says Fedderly, who has shot more than 100 beach portraits as part of his ongoing “Water Lovers” series, all in black and white. “It’s about the textures and wanting it to be stripped down to the bare essentials.” Take the droplet falling off surfing legend Kelly Slater’s chin, snapped after an unanticipated encounter with the 11-time world champion in Tahiti, or the raw yet serene portrait of 72-year-old surfing great and Costa Mesa native John Peck, who Fedderly bumped into four years ago on a beach in San Clemente. And tying it all together? Powerful waves, shown vertically, as graphic stand-alone elements. “When they break,” says Fedderly, “there’s a haziness where you can’t tell where the water and sky meet, and you can imagine anything.” adamfedderly.com
Photography by ADAM FEDDERLY.
Written by GILLIAN KOENIG.