Underwater Memories, the Enchantment Under the Sea

Underwater Memories

Have you ever imagined how it would be your life…under the sea? To hold your breath, go beyond your limits, resist, purify yourself, be born again. Sicilian Secrets met Mapi Rizzo, the creator of the photographic project Underwater Memories. What is it about? Read more!

To portray human body underwater is a challenge. It’s an unusual environment for every human being, even if it’s very similar to the place we come from, mother’s womb. Underwater Memories is a project that has been started in 2013 by Mapi Rizzo, a photographer and video maker from Palermo, together with her husband, Francesco Quartararo.

Underwater Memories

Q: Mapi, how did you develop your interest in photography? And how did you have the idea to take underwater photos?

A: When I was a child, photography was the hobby of my father, so I started getting interested. I discovered underwater photography some years later, in 2010 during a workshop about cinema in Messina, where the Sicilian artist Giuseppe La Spada presented his artwork. I really loved also the work of Elena Kalis, an artist who lives at the Bahamas.

Underwater Memories

Q: What is it possible to communicate through underwater shots?

A: For sure it’s possible to communicate a sense of extraneousness and enchantment, it’s a fantastic world, almost unreal. In 2014, together with Francesco Quartararo, a social media marketer who loves the sea, I created Underwater Memories. It’s a project dedicated to underwater portraits: we capture people while they hold their breath in an environment where we cannot live, even if it’s very similar to the place we come from.

Q: Which are the biggest difficulties for this kind of shooting?

A: Technically speaking, it isn’t easy, both for me and for who poses. Water is often muddy and natural light must be very intense to illuminate people. Moreover, it isn’t easy to find ‘models’ who are photogenic underwater or that are able to spontaneously move in a strict relationship with the sea. We need to try and shoot many times to have just one good picture.


Underwater Memories

Q: What’s the main target of Underwater Memories? How do you help these people to pose?

A: I photographed many kinds of people: kids, artists, couples, ordinary people. I say to them to freely swim while giving them some indications. They generally wear a dress or colored cloth.

Q: How did your being Sicilian influenced this project?

A: Before becoming interested in underwater photography I didn’t have a strict relationship with the sea, I used to go rarely. I hated suntanning and didn’t was at my ease in the water. Then, to cultivate this passion and motivated also by Francesco (that now is my husband), I started becoming more confident about the water because I needed a set for my photographic tests. Is there any better place than Sicily? Here you have a lot of choice!


Underwater Memories

Q: Which are the spots where you mainly shoot? And which are your favorite sets in Sicily?

A: The best water is in Favignana at Cala Rossa, where the sea is crystalline and very clean. I love the so-called Baia di Sette Frati in Cefalù, where I went many times, and Macari, near San Vito Lo Capo.

Q: What’s the shot or the project that you love most? Where did you shoot in that occasion?

A: For sure, the shooting I did in 2015 with Alessandra Salerno, an incredible artist and singer from Palermo. I met her in a radio where Francesco used to work, asked her if she wanted to pose for me: we immediately had a good feeling, and it was the beginning of an artistic collaboration.

Underwater Memories

Q: Till now, what’s a result that makes you very proud? And what about current and future projects…and professional dreams with Underwater Memories?

A: I had the opportunity to exhibit one of my works in Florence for the Premio Celeste, moreover I have been chosen to take part in Padova Fotografia Festival. They both make me very proud of myself. Currently we are showing some pictures at the photographic exhibition at Cambio Rotta in Altavilla Milicia (PA) where it has been opened a multimedia museum dedicated to the sea. I’d like to refine my skills in this field, and who knows…to work in fashion industry and shoot for the most important brands.

…and are you ready to hold your breath?


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