Things I Find on the Internet: The Life Aquatic with Bruce Mozert

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A couple of days ago I Tumblr’d upon some old black and white photos of young people going about their normal, everyday lives in the early 1940s. I guess it would have been cool on its own, in a neat little Pleasantville sort of way, but what made the shots even more interesting was that they were all filmed underwater. I love the way the subjects all look so nonchalant — I have absolute no idea how they’re managing that while holding their breath and being photographed many feet underwater!

Bruce Mozert is an Ohio-born photographer that moseyed his way down to Silver Springs, Florida in the last 1930s on his way to a Miami photo shoot from NYC, and ended up pioneering underwater photography.  His pictures were quickly scooped up by Hollywood, and he ended up being featured in magazines throughout the world.

“Everything has a picture in it, a sellable picture,” Mozert says. “All you got to do is use your imagination.” To create bubbles in a champagne flute, he would stick some dry ice or Alka-Seltzer in the glass; to simulate smoke rising from a grill, he used canned condensed milk. “The fat in the milk would cause it to rise, creating ‘smoke’ for a long time,” he says. With his meticulous production values and surreal vision, Mozert cast Silver Springs in a light perfectly suited to postwar America—part “Leave It to Beaver” and part “The Twilight Zone.” His images anchored a national publicity campaign for the springs from the 1940s through the ’70s; competing against water-skiing shows, dancing porpoises, leaping whales and hungry alligators, Silver Springs remained one of Florida’s premier attractions, the Disney World of its day. Then, in 1971, came Disney World. (Source Smithsonion Magazine)

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