The Secret Life of Swimmers: Compelling Photographs by Judy Starkman


All photographs taken by Judy Starkman. Used with permission.

One of life’s lessons, which we sometimes forget, is that while individuals who come from different backgrounds and follow different paths in life they can still find a common ground. It’s an important lesson, one that could unite us in a common endeavor or purpose and make the world a much better place.

That’s the message that Los Angeles-based photographer and filmmaker Judy Starkman’s beautifully-named series, The Secret Life of Swimmers, sends forth.

In this wonderful series, vibrant yet somehow calmingly still, Judy enlists the help of individuals who, at first glance, may not have a lot in common between them – an artist, a chef, a pilot, a doctor, a gym trainer, even a full-time mom. Upon closer look at the photographs, however, we realize that they have found a shared passion that molded a strong connection among them.

“‘The Secret Life of Swimmers’ is a series of both realistic and inspiring photographs which will show how people of all ages, backgrounds, physical abilities and diverse careers find common ground in a single public space—the Culver City Plunge Pool.   Here, they come to shed the trappings and trials of their daily lives for an hour or two of relaxation, socialization, exercise and communication.”

In addition, Judy applies the same aesthetics as well as the same superhero pose on her diverse subjects, brilliantly and effectually putting them on the same level, so that no matter their station in life, as swimmers, they are the same.

“They come from every corner of Los Angeles County to literally shed their varied daily workaday uniforms for nothing but the basics—a swimsuit and pair of goggles and perhaps a pair of fins.  In this sense, the pool becomes a great equalizer.  Everyone old or young, rich or poor, athletic or not, is simply A Swimmer.”

The Secret Life of Swimmers also has another purpose other than simply promoting commonality, however. It also promotes the importance of the Culver City Plunge Pool, the public recreational area where Judy and her subjects found their common ground.

“The “Secret Life of Swimmers” aims to promote the diversity and importance of the unique public space that is The Culver City Plunge Pool.   It is designed as an inspiring presentation, since the pool occupies an important position in the varied and often daunting landscape of greater Los Angeles County.  In a metropolitan area of freeways, strip malls and infinite geographical miles of concrete, many of us are searching for a human connection.  In these tough economic times, public spaces take on a new importance as integral to the lives and social experience of a diverse array of Los Angeles residents.  The importance of this project is heightened because these public spaces are now threatened by cutbacks and closures.”

Inspiring and compelling in its stillness, the Secret Life of Swimmers is a beautiful and positive reflection of real life.

See some of the photos from the series after the jump.


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