- We loved having you photograph some of our baby students at LKSA. What was the process of getting the kids underwater and taking the photos?
All babies were in the process of swim lessons when the photos were taken. As part of their lessons, babies were submerged briefly and photos were taken. Most of the babies only went underwater once or twice, and for just a second or two, so my opportunity to take pictures was extremely limited.
- How many babies did you photograph in total for this book and how long did it take?
I worked with 18 swim schools in 10 states and photographed over 750 babies. The production of this book took 9 months.
- Your previous book, Underwater Dogs, was hugely popular, what made you decide to shoot babies next?
My first underwater project, Underwater Dogs, began as an unexpected series as I documented the lifestyle and personality of dogs and their connection with people and the water. I discovered that water safety for pets was a topic that many pet owners were not very familiar with, which led to the Underwater Puppies book. Underwater Puppies is a celebration of puppies and the images are joyful, but the message is a serious one: We have a responsibility to keep our pets safe around the water, especially swimming pools. Dogs are born with the instinct to swim, but they need to the opportunity to practice, build confidence, finesse their buoyancy and most importantly, learn how to exit a swimming pool safety. Through the course of exploring that topic, I became aware of the statistics regarding human children and water-related accidents and I was absolutely shocked. After observing infant swimming lessons and learning of the benefits, I felt that I could create images to promote this important cause of keeping our human children safe around water.
- This may sound like a silly question, but did you notice any major similarities and/or differences between photographing dogs and babies?
Great question! Yes, indeed! They both know how to hold their breath, and almost all dogs and babies open their eyes underwater. I just didn’t see a lot of 6 month old babies diving in after tennis balls.
- Any funny stories to share that happened while shooting these infants?
One of my favorite shots in the book is of identical twins holding hands underwater. When I’m asked how I achieved that photo, I respond with, “Oh, I just asked them to hold hands underwater”. haha. It just happened – one of those one in a million things that worked out. It’s such a special moment, and highlights both validity and intrigue about the unique bond between twins.
- How did you first learn about the drowning statistics in America and did this play a part in choosing to shoot the babies?
Through promoting water safety for pets, I began to hear about the statistics for human children. Promoting water safety for children was the one and only reason I made this book.
- Did you find as you visited the schools, that most parents are interested in starting swim lesson when their children are very young?
I photographed babies from 4.5 months to 17 months to create this book. Some parents enrolled their babies sooner, some later. I feel that the parents who started their babies later had wished they had started them a little sooner. No matter the age of the baby, the lessons are statistically extremely beneficial and save countless lives, but I think parents in general recognize the babies are a little more cooperative at a younger age when introducing them to the water.
- Do you feel your underwater babies book will inspire parents to get their children in swim lessons?
I really hope so! It seems that some parents still have a phobia about their babies being in the water, and especially under the water. By creating joyful images of dozens of underwater babies, I hope to inspire a conversation among parents, which perhaps will lead to increased swim lesson enrollment for infants.
Win an autographed ‘Underwater Babies’ Book and a FREE Month of Swimming Lessons*!
Enter to win an autographed ‘Underwater Babies’ book by author Seth Casteel and a FREE Month of swimming lessons*! There’s no better time to get your child water safe!