We first discovered this work after it was submitted to the Portrait Awards 2015. Although it was not chosen as a finalist by the jury, the editors of LensCulture were impressed and decided to publish this feature article about it. Enjoy!


A figure struggles to escape an underwater net. A child emerges, hair stringy, bedraggled from the salty seas. A girl locks eyes with the viewer, her face split by the surface of the water.

Uncertain Tides explores the meaning of belonging and sense of place. Being in the military system, my family often lives in a world of uncertainty—untethered, without an anchor. The sea acts as an allegory of our lives. Shifting and moving with the tides, we have no choice but to tread, swim, and stay afloat through the changes.

The surface of the water shifts, sometimes appearing mercurial or reflective, but always mysterious, figures disappearing into its depths. While I am photographing my children and friends, I am also photographing myself, moving in and out of focus, allowing the liquid world to illustrate my journey.

—Deb Rouse Schwedhelm