I shoot underwater because it’s where I feel safe and comfortable. My work comes from a place of weakness, not strength. There is a certain loveliness to that, I think, making something beautiful out of a limitation. I’m an introvert, prone to depression and anxiety and easily overwhelmed when around groups of people. After years of trying to fight it, I’ve accepted that this is the way I am wired.

My primary business is high school senior editorial-style portrait photography. I love the transition from childhood to adulting that a 17-year-old is going through, and I think it’s very important to capture that in a way that truly represents who that person is. Because I am so devoted to my seniors’ uniqueness, I focus on capturing them and not creatively interjecting myself. As a working artist it’s important to have an outlet for your own creativity. My underwater work is all about me and my story rather than the person I’m photographing. Being underwater allows me to do that in a way that is most conducive to my personality. Every image I create has a story behind it, often about overcoming the troubles in my own life. My models are graceful, strong, beautiful, competent, fearless, relaxed, and everything that I am not. The one thing we have in common is that we are where we want to be, doing what we want to be doing. I just want to be with one other person, in a dark, slow-moving, quiet place.

The set of a photo shoot can be a horrible place to feel creative – too many people and lights and gear and talking and people moving things around behind you and trying to be encouraging but then they are just talking more and it’s all just too much and I can’t think straight. The very first time I took a photo underwater, with a simple point-and-shoot camera, I knew that was the place for me to be. At the bottom of my pool it’s quiet and there is just one other person, whom I like very much, everything moves in slow motion, the colors are more intense, the light is less intense, and no one can bother me. Underwater fine art photography is both an art and a science — you can’t have one without the other. It took me years to figure out the exact science so that I could simply focus on the art. Now that I have that dialed in, it’s just a dream come true to be able to create there. It’s my own private studio, where I can connect with humanity on my own terms.

More info: cherylwalshfineart.com | Instagram | Facebook

Queen Catrina, Jessica Dru in Fiori Couture and Pendragon Costumes

Borghild, Jessica Dru in Posh Fairytale couture

Gift of the Sea, Jessica Dru in Fiori Couture

Ocean’s Own, Veronica Eshelby

Whitetail, Mather Louth in her own creation

Royal Entrance, Corey in Fiori Couture

Love is love is love is love, Virginia Hankins and Johnny Stix, Finfolk tail

Albatross, Mather Louth in her own creation

Poseidon’s Soldier, Jack Laflin in Fiori Couture

Warrior Aoife, Rachel Day in her own creation and Vera Wang Dress

Saint Pallidus, Bailey Howe in Fiori Couture and Pendragon Costumes

Prophecy, Jessica Dru in Fortunate Nora and Hysteria Machine

Doe, Kiara Belen in Diego Medel Designs

Crimson Tide, Jessica Dru in Firefly Path

Rehearsal, RJ in Fiori Couture crown

Behind the Scenes of Cheryl Walsh Fine Art photo shoot

This is a little bit of what I see when I’m shooting. I have a gopro camera on top of my head. It’s the first time we have tried this so there was some trial and error but it gives you an idea of what it looks like. Of course there is no expressing how very very cold that water was and look how completely graceful and effortless Jessica Dru makes it look. She is even more incredible than she looks!