Lou Bernstein Can’t Swim

For over 30 years Lou Bernstein spent mornings at the New York Aquarium photographing the lives of the resident sea animals. In his 1992 New York Times Article, The Dance of a Dolphin, Forever Frozen on Film, John Durniak states, “his photographs reveal the lives and social structure of the undersea inhabitants”. He then states, “Every photo is just a fleeting moment that he was lucky to capture on film.”

The director of the aquarium at the time, Louis E. Garibaldi, called Bernstein’s images “short-lived phenomena — unique interaction between whales, between dolphins. One would have to wait for hundreds of hours for them to occur. None of his pictures are staged, air-brushed or manipulated in any way. They are real.”

Bernstein’s appreciation of these animals, who appear to defy gravity, is all the more poiniant given that he could not swim. The submarine dance he depicted was of a world that he could not possibly enter; except photographically from behind glass.


Lou Bernstein, N.Y. Aquarium, 1988, (92.1992)

Lou Bernstein, N.Y. Aquarium, 1971, (98.1992)


Lou Bernstein, N.Y. Aquarium, 1975, (100.1992)

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