It’s officially summer, and we’re all dreaming of the pool life. But for Maine photographer Heather Perry, the pool life goes all year round. Heather started swimming competitively at age eight and hasn’t stopped since. Now, the Long Reach Swim Team in her home town of Bath is a big part of her life. It’s her husband’s former team, her son’s current team, and a team that she recently had some great photo shoots with. This year, the Long Reach Swim Team qualified for the YMCA Nationals, and Heather spent some time with the Queen of the Butterfly.
Caitlin was a true standout at the event, gaining a national title in the 100 butterfly and qualifying for the US Olympic Trials. Heather wanted to do a fun shoot for her that played her up as the Queen of the Butterfly. She headed to the craft store and got some butterflies and flowers for the young Olympic hopeful.
She’s only 16 and is all enthusiasm and has the best attitude about it. She’s just working hard and enjoying this moment.
Heather wanted to have no rules during the shoot, to just experiment with the props and see how Caitlin wanted to move through the water. She took this time to try out another idea she’s been toying with—a “Life Aquatic” theme. It’s the idea that serious swimmers start to spend so much time in the water that other parts of life become secondary. Eating, reading, studying all take second place to the water. Eventually, Heather would like to shoot whole underwater scenes—a dorm room, a dining room table. For this one, she introduced some books and highlighters to see how it played out.
I love swimmers and what they can do in the water, the comfort they have. I relate to it and really love to celebrate it in my work. So to add this element of whimsy was just beautiful and fun.
It’s often difficult for such a powerful athlete to be soft and graceful, but not for Caitlin. I gave her a few instructions about gentle arms and legs, soft facial expressions, and she was like a dancer down there. Just beautiful.
Though she’s a certified SCUBA diver, Heather sits on the bottom of the pool with just a breath of air for these shoots. “I feel unencumbered and extremely natural on a breath of air at the bottom,” says Heather, “and I can stay under a long time.”
Caitlin will be headed to the Olympic Trials this week.
To view more of Heather’s work, visit heatherperryphoto.com!