Aqua hurdles

Photo by Bruce Mozert
Photo by Bruce Mozert

Sometimes there really are great moments in advertising.

Central Florida has many clear springs, but in the 19th century, Silver Springs also had location, location, location: connected to the outside world by the Silver, Ocklawaha and St. Johns rivers. After the Civil War, steamship-borne tourists including the likes of President Ulysses S. Grant and Harriet Beecher Stowe would flock to the springs to marvel at the sight of aquatic life seemingly suspended in space. Through the first few decades of the 20th century, whether they came by rail or by car, tourists continued to go to Silver Springs. But by the 1930s, the place needed a new image—or images—to keep them coming. For almost half a century, Bruce Mozert supplied those images.

… He likes to say that he “took to photography like a duck takes to water.” But “like a fish” might be closer to the mark. At Silver Springs, Mozert pioneered underwater photography, building waterproof housings that allowed him to go deep with a camera in hand. For some 45 years (except for service with the Army Air Forces during World War II), he created scenes of people—comely young women, for the most part—talking on the phone, playing golf, reading the newspaper…underwater, all the better to show off the wondrous clarity of Silver Springs’ waters. The Life Aquatic with Bruce Mozert, Smithsonian Magazine

He’s still in business down in Florida, too.

See a gallery of these images at the Smithsonian Magazine

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