Skimming the Surface | Shenan Prestwich

“Skimming the Surface” is a photo essay on the ways in which people interact with the world of water. It’s a world that is at once both familiar and foreign, soothing and dangerous, as much harnessed and utilized as it is wild and unknowable. Though we primarily move about our lives on dry land, we cannot help but come into contact on a daily basis with this world we will never be fully a part of. We drink from garden hoses. We splash in creeks and lakes. We take bubble baths. We fish. We go to clam bakes. We build aqueducts, piece back together the remnants of our towns after tsunamis. Watch documentaries on the strange alien-like angler fish and luminescent gulper eel. Gather in groups on Saturdays for swimming lessons at the YMCA pool. Wake up gasping from dreams in which our lungs filled with the salty deluges of a flood. And we invariably return to it, day after day, year after year, in our boats, in our bathing suits, with our fishing rods, with a thirst unquenchable.

“Skimming the Surface” examines people on the edge of two worlds, dipping toes through the barrier into the one that calls to them and fascinates them, even as it reminds them of its power, its ability (and prerogative) to rear up and take them at any moment. And yet, even as they do, they remain outsiders, ones who will always only skim its surface, looking from the outside in.


Shenan Prestwich is a research analyst by day, poet and amateur shutter-bug by night…and some days too. She’s a graduate of James Madison University’s archaeology program and Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in Writing program, neither of which have anything to do with her photos, or her day job. In addition to wearing many hats, she enjoys the great outdoors, craft beer, yoga, singing overly-confident karaoke, and co-editing Magic Lantern Review, a journal of poetry and film. She lives with her husband and two cats in Rosslyn, VA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s