Body Language

selected works by Mallory Morrison

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current photography work.
Mallory Morrison: My current work is shot underwater, not a surprise, and is focusing on telling simple short stories with body language. As a former ballet dancer, I have always pulled from that experience to help pose my subjects underwater and out, but I want to take it even further and utilize dancers and synchronized swimmers to tell a story in one image, like a choreographed dance would do in motion within a few minutes. It’s a nice challenge, and I’m excited to continue with this idea.

AM: What is your biggest inspiration?
MM: Seeing dancers perform. When I see a dance performance, with the lighting, the costumes, the choreography, I find my self blinking a lot, like I’m taking pictures with my mind. I was a ballet dancer for 24 years, and then when I was getting into for photography, I started out shooting dance performances. So it was the origin of my two passions coming together.

AM: How did you get started shooting underwater?
MM: I went to Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, and I was shooting dancers in a studio setting. I was getting really bored and uninspired with that environment, so I was looking for a way to change up my process. I realized that gravity was my main problem with the studio. It was too hard to get the dancers in perfect spot in the air for long enough. So, I decided to find a place without the boundaries of gravity and shot in the pool on campus. After that first shoot, I was in love.

AM: What challenges do you face compared to traditional photography?
MM: Communication was the biggest hurdle to get over when shooting underwater. I have since figured out my method, but starting out, it was very frustrating to see the shot happening in front me, it’s just perfect, except this one little thing that could be fixed so easily–if I could talk to my model! I have taught myself not to sweat it, and the moment will come when it comes. You’ve got be very zen under there, otherwise, everything will become too overwhelming.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
MM: Interesting question! Los Angeles weather definitely plays a big part in my shooting habits. For location, it is really easy to find pool options here. I can work in most backyard pools, and there is no shortage of those here!  Also, it is a very active and water friendly city, so it is really easy to find models who are very confident swimmers.

AM: What themes do you typically pursue in your work?
MM: I mainly work with themes of a journey and finding yourself. I like to present those ideas in short stories where I am only showing the middle part of the story and it is up to the viewer to fill in the beginning and ending for themselves.

AM: What music is currently inspiring you?
MM: I am really liking house music these days. I like when DJ’s blend old songs in with new sounds. The blending of different sounds really gets my mind moving. My favorite DJ right now is Dimitri from Paris.

AM: What can we expect to see from you next?
MM: I am going to be shooting a new series, diving deeper into my body language theme. I see so much potential for really unique and captivating story telling.  I am going to do something a little different, and work with multiple people in the water, and not just models, but real people who have real connections to each other.  I mainly play the un-real world of story telling, so it will be a great step to venture into the “real” world!

Mallory Morrison is an LA-based photographer. You can find more of her work at mallorymorrison.com.

Posted on May 25, 2017 .