The first underwater images taken by Korda date back to the summer of 1963. He took them in the Varadero area and not just for professional reasons. Prime Minister Fidel Castro had received an underwater camera as a gift and didn’t know how to use it. Like children with a new toy, Korda and Fidel decided to try putting it to use during their time off in July and August of that year.
From that gift and his love of the sea a new passion was born for the artist : underwater photography. Thus came about the first photos of the Cuban sea captured by Korda.
This new facet gave Korda the title of ‘pioneer of underwater photography in Cuba’ and, with his many years experience as a photographer, Korda brought to it his aesthetic approach based on creativity and a sense of art, as well as the concepts of beauty and framing that enrich his unique images. In 1969, after Korda Studios was nationalized, Alberto went to work for the Oceanology Institute’s Department of Scientific Underwater Photography. There, among other scientific projects, he worked on the Atlas of Cuban Corals, which led him to navigate the entire island’s coast.
The effort made by the artist was huge. In addition to photographing corals in black and white within the stringent technical parameters that existed in those days, he also made color slides because with vivid and varied colors produced by the flash hitting the corals were sure to produce images of high aesthetic value.
On July 4, 2013 to celebrate the prominent photographer’s eighty-fifth birthday, an exhibition opened in Old Havana’s Sala de La Diversidad (Diversity Hall), the result of ongoing work and research undertaken by the Alberto Korda Estate.
The photos exhibited, taken between 1963 and 1978, were obviously not produced with the technology available to underwater photographers today, but they were made with the immense talent, sensitivity and love that only true artists such as Korda demonstrate and which show his versatility and his creative capacity to turn even the sea bed into art.
Havana has seen countless exhibitions of Korda’s work, but it was time for one exclusively on underwater photography so, to paraphrase the title of the show, we can happily say: “At last... the sea!”