Marine life and oceans have always held a profound fascination for photographer Bruna Stude. A seasoned scuba diver and free diver, the Kaua’i resident and Croatian native spent over two decades documenting oceans and wildlife around the globe. In recent years however, the devastating changes wrought by human impact on the environment have inspired the artist to photograph empty oceanscapes, creating works that are a poignant and powerful commentary on the human relationship to the natural world.
Stude’s keen eye for detail is evident in the subtle textures and delicate tonalities of her work. These are further augmented by a perceptive manipulation of exposures, creating photographs that are deeply evocative and entrancing. Her extensive practice of photographing underwater has allowed her to perfect a unique technique that foregrounds the experience of being submerged in the ocean, bringing to life the abstract patterns made by light refracting through water and organic compounds suspended in a swell or gently swaying in the subsurface.
The silent beauty of Stude’s empty oceans stands in striking contrast to normative depictions of seascapes. The absence of life in her monochromatic photographs is a decided aesthetic that functions on both a psychological and didactic level. In the artists’ own words, “My photographs are not a documentation but an artistic choice to illuminate: looking up from only a few inches below the surface I see cities, I see only what man has created. By revealing the truth and the extraordinary, I try to create an awareness and inspire reverence.”