Underwater Photographer Cindy Seip
Who she is: Award-winning Miami photographer Cindy Seip has been taking photos since she was in college at the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute back in the early 80s.
What she does: A longtime designer for The Miami Herald, and a photographer for its Sunday magazine, “Tropic,” she shot photos of some of Miami’s hottest celebs and newsmakers.
Why she does it: “I have this thing for giant pools where you can just float. It’s like being on a different planet while you are still here on Earth. And just as the Goggle Series brings people out of their shell, they are even more free when they swim in water. Plus, when they are in a pool, it adds tension to the photo, which I really like.”
By Hope Katz Gibbs
In her 30-year career as a photographer, Cindy Seip has gotten rave reviews from from some pretty prestigious critics.
Miami Herald syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry said of Cindy’s photos, “They produce a certain feeling in me — a feeling that is at first difficult to define, but that grows stronger with each passing minute, until finally there is no mistaking it: eyestrain.” On a slightly more serious note,
Sun-Sentinel art critic Roger Hurlburt said, “Few artists can tout such a range; her exposures remain as provocative as they are original.”
And Rhonda Viveney of Zelo Magazine said, “Sometimes, a good eye for composition and lighting just isn’t enough. There still remains that spark of talent that sets some artists apart. In the case of Cindy Seip, this spark is manifested by a pair of swimming goggles, cleverly used to mark her photo series as a departure from the norm.”
Cindy’s Goggle Series is a project she has been working on for nearly 20 years. “Back in the late 1980s, I bought one pair of swim goggles on impulse at a local drug store. I take them with me wherever I travel: Iceland, Czechoslovakia, France, Holland, Mexico, and Hawaii,” she says. “In each place, I ask strangers to wear them for a photo.”
The goggles bring people out of their shell, explains Cindy, noting that the series has been featured in several museums and galleries, including The John and Mable Ringling Museum, and The Boca Raton Museum of Art. “Many people hate having their photo taken, but they put on the goggles and their personalities shine through. It’s so much fun.”
The “Punks in Amsterdam” goggle photo, pictured above, was taken during a trip to Europe in 1987. “I was standing in the middle of Dam Square in Amsterdam and heard a loud cadence of chains clanging. When I turned to look it was a group of punk rockers, as they were called back then. I stopped what I was doing to pursue this goggle picture. I went up to them and showed them what I was doing and they got real excited. They gathered around and talked amongst themselves to decide who would be the goggle wearer. They chose the guy with the tallest hair and they all pitched in to place the goggles on him not to mess up his hair.”
This image has always been one of her favorites, she admits. “Maybe it’s because I captured the moment. There is a lot going on in the photo. Only the goggle wearer is looking at me; everyone else is doing their own thing on the far left, which I’m not going to mention.”
Cindy recently launched a new venture, Splash Photo, which ties her passion for photography with her fascination with water. “I have this thing for giant pools where you can just float. It’s like being on a different planet while you are still here on Earth. And just as the Goggle Series brings people out of their shell, they are even more free when they swim in water. Plus, when they are in a pool, it adds tension to the photo, which I really like.”
Taking photos underwater has its challenges, Cindy admits. “You have to be very aware of water temperature and the type of chemicals used in the pool. But I love the results I get because taking photos in water always offers surprises.”
Mermaids are also a fascination for this Miami native. When she’s not in the pool taking pictures, she and two friends are hamming it up in their side business, Miami Mermaids. “We have been hired to splash around in pools at some really great parties in the Hamptons, Mar-a-Lago, at the Aqua Hotel during Miami’s annual Art Basel celebration,” Cindy shares, noting her mermaids were recently hired to work at a promotion for a newly released Panasonic underwater camera.
“What seems to attract party planners and hosts of fancy parties to hire the Mermaids is that they get to select the color of the tails we wear, the color combinations for our costumes, the accessories we bring, and that they can even place advance orders for customized couture,” believes Cindy, who attests to the fact that swimming around in a pool for three or four hours as a mermaid is a great way to stay in shape.
“Obviously, it’s a novelty to have mermaids swimming in your pool, of course, but it’s one of those party favors that guests don’t soon forget. We just have fun with it, and everyone has a great time.”
To hire Cindy and her fellow mer-people to entertain at your next bash, check out her Miami Mermaid website, www.miamimermaids.net. To learn more about Cindy’s photography, click here: www.splashfoto.com.