Caroline Tompkins is a NY-based photographer documenting competitive swim culture in land-locked Ohio, her home state. Although she’s probably best known for her photo project Hey Baby, a documentation of men who catcalled her on the street, Tompkins also shoots intimate portraits and quietly strange, sometimes very funny records of American landscapes.
“I’m interested in taking a closer look at the culture behind competitive swimming, as well exploring the utilitarian use of the body when performing a sport,” Tompkins told us. “I swam competitively from age four to eighteen at a swim team in Cincinnati, Ohio called the Beckett Ridge Barracudas. These photos were all taken at that same swim club in the last year.”
There’s a level of irony in this series. Tompkins says, “I like the idea of someone’s greatest connection to water being a pool, especially in a place like Ohio, with no ocean or abundance of natural bodies of water surrounding it.”
And the man with the killer sunburn? “He was a dad that had been in the sun all day for a swim meet. You always see women enduring pain for their kids, felt kind of beautiful to see that in the context of a man.
All of these photos were shot on film because, as Tompkins explains, “I’ve never been a film versus digital debater, but it’s important for me to shoot film for this photo series because the images are born from water. That connection feels very necessary to me.”