My Story

Chris Kowalski, diver and underwater photographer, on the Bilikiki in the Solomon Islands My underwater adventures started in early January 1996 over the ridge of Santa Rosa Wall in Cozumel. I was swimming over the sandy bottom of the ocean bed, on my first certification dive for PADI Open Water Diver, until I came to the edge. I looked down and in front of my eyes I saw a magical abyss of breathtaking colors and shapes submerged in quiet silence of blue waters. I looked down and I did not see the bottom any more. I was hanging in open water transfixed by my power over gravity, humbled by the intangible glory of the space and stunned by the wonders of nature. I dropped to Santa Rosa from the campus of Harvard University where I was doing a doctorate in Social Anthropology. A student of symbols fascinated by diversity of human cultures, who few years ago made a pilgrimage across the Yucatan peninsula to climb the Maya pyramids and listen to the voice of Quetzalcoatl, I found myself now face in face with the glory of Nature in the waters surrounding the abandoned cities of the Mayas. In front of me Queen Angelfish looked at my eyes surprised to see a big hypnotized creature staring ahead in disbelief.
My dive on Santa Rosa Wall was a spiritual experience: rite de passage from culture to nature. I reversed the direction of the Levi-Straussian dichotomy and instead of plunging further into the labyrinth of semiotics, I bought myself fins and camera and aspired to swim like an eagle ray. Instead of revisiting Siva temples in South India or pyramids in Gizeh, I started to go to oceanic rocks in the middle of nowhere, jump in the water and wait patiently in front of a hole in the sand hoping that mantis shrimp ventures outside to say hello to my camera.
I have never quite abandoned my quest to understand and capture human desires and dreams cast in symbols and rituals, but since the dive on Santa Rosa Wall I have spent a lot of times looking fish in the eyes, as Brian Skerry advices in Successful Underwater Photography, so that she better understands my peaceful intentions and I get better pictures.
My web site is a testimony of my adventures. The Photo Gallery presents pictures captured during my diving trips around the world. Background Gallery is a collection of unusual landscapes, patterns and creatures that can be useful in editorials and creative compositions. Art Gallery consist of digital images, representing an exploration of fantasy and reality, a playground where dreams come true.