The photographer and scuba diver Erena Shimoda was inspired to her series create Underwater Healer— About Face through her work with the website I Had Cancer. Learning the stories of cancer survivors, she recalled her own experience with water as empowering and therapeutic, and staged underwater portrait sessions with the survivors she met.
Lori Stone, Endocervical Adenocarcinoma Survivor
The term “About Face” refers to a “total change in attitude or viewpoint,” and in her sessions, the artist sees transformations in her subjects’ sense of self. Individuals coping with the feelings of “[loss] after a mastectomy and chemotherapy,” those who fear water, and others suffering from “physical limitations due to cerebral palsy” are able to physically express themselves in a challenging and rewarding way. As Shimoda puts it, “In the water, people rediscover their beauty, strength and capability.”
Lindsay Hernderson, Breast Cancer Survivor
Take a look at each of the beautiful images below. One subject told the artist that they made her feel “magically beautiful.” Through Shimoda’s lens, her subjects appear weightless, no longer held by physical barriers, floating through a colorful and otherworldly dimension.