Bruce Mozert: Underwater Florida kitsch from the 1950’s

When considering underwater glamor photography, it is interesting to note that Bruce Mozert was taking pictures of models in Silver Springs, Florida in 1938 and he created some of the most memorable kitsch photography in the era of Florida’s tourism marketing boom of the 1950’s. Mozert started his photography career in New York City, and by the age of 20 was already seen as an accomplished photographer and cameraman. He initially visited Silver Springs as en route to a shoot in Miami, having heard that his favorite actor, Johnny Weissmuller, was filming Tarzan there; he ended up staying for the rest of his life. He built an underwater housing for his still camera soon after arriving, the only one in the world at the time, and spent the next 45 years showing the world how amazingly clear the waters of Silver Springs were. He specialized in trying to recreate the domestic home life in America of the era in an underwater environment, and in portraying the natural splendors that people could see in the springs.

In order to achieve a required effect, Mozert became an excellent improviser: To create bubbles in a champagne flute, he would stick some dry ice or Alka-Seltzer in the glass; to simulate smoke rising from a grill, he used canned condensed milk!

His pictures were the subject of an article in the Smithsonian magazine in May 2008.