Slip Beneath the Surface to Explore Lucas Murnaghan’s Underwater Photography
By Zachary Zane
In The Company Of Men
OUT: What inspires your photography?
Lucas Murnaghan: I’m inspired by the emotions that I can express through and illicit from my images. I’ve always felt that I was able to express myself well with words but realize that this can be limited to my conscious thoughts. Through photography, I am able to tap into deeper memories and emotions and express them through the images I create. I love how an unresolved emotion or memory can evolve into a mental impression of what I want an image to look like. The challenge then is to create that photograph to meet my mind’s eye. Over the years I hope that I have evolved from simply taking a photograph to creating one. The challenge and desire to constantly push that forward is a large part of my inspiration.
When/why/what inspired you to do underwater photography? I’ve always had an affinity for water. My mother is from the Caribbean and we spent tons of time in and around the water as kids. It was always my ‘happy place’ and I loved to imagine and explore when underwater. I grew up swimming competitively, lifeguarding and playing water polo – so my comfort in the water has always been a strength. I got into surf photography about five years ago and loved the physical challenge that shooting from out in the line-up with the surfers. A couple years back I took one of my first underwater shots and a whole new world appeared. I had found a way back to a world I used to love to explore and create in as a child and reconnected with the happiness and playfulness associated with that place. It was in this underwater realm that I learned to push my work beyond simply capturing the action in front of me but to truly create images from something deeper inside of me. All the rules change when you go underwater – I feel free and am able to push the creative envelope in that environment.
How does your queer identity intersect with your artwork? That’s a really interesting question and one that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I went through my childhood and adolescence always knowing I was a bit different from everyone else. I wasn’t until I came out in university that I began to come to grips with my own sexuality and identity. While I had come out to my family and friends and was out in school at work – I always kept my queer identity and professional persona quite separate. As confident and outgoing as I looked from the outside – I had this self-imposed need to conform. It has only been through the last couple years that I have been better able to express myself through my images where words had failed me in the past. While I don’t see my work as exclusively gay or queer – it has been a liberating experience to be able to express ideas, aesthetics and emotions through my images. I am able to tap into personal experiences of my own which I hope can resonate with others and evoke an emotional response in them. There is no greater validation for me than when I learn how a piece connects with an individual on a deeper personal level.