Marjorie Salvaterra - Portfolio: Umbrellas at Venice Beach


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Marjorie Salvaterra's black-and-white photography creates a playful, surreal world that explores the multiple roles that women play in their lives. Sometimes poignant, often absurd, her series "HER" expresses the highs and lows of what it means to be female.

"I never imagined I would grow up to be someone's wife, someone's mother, a person with real responsibilities," says the 46-year-old Californian. "Suddenly I had all these roles, loved having all these roles, but I was trying to figure out how to be all things to all people and not disappoint anyone."

Influenced by Italian cinema, Salvaterra is fond of exaggerated gestures in her work. For this image, taken in March last year, the photographer gathered some friends and went down to Venice Beach, near where she lives.

"We all met at 6am," she recalls. "A wave came crashing up on my legs and I realised how insanely freezing the water was. I must have had them throw those umbrellas in the air more than 50 times before I finally felt like I had the shot – and friends ran out of the water with blue skin, purple lips, and fiercely shivering."

Salvaterra – who, despite the remarkable height of those umbrellas, says the image took no touching up – has called the picture "When the Universe Has a Bigger Plan For Your Life" as a nod to the unexpected path her life has taken. "Umbrellas can protect you, hide you, carry you away," she says. "The same applies to water, yet it's even more powerful. It can carry you or drown you. Sometimes it's a choice, other times it's not. And at that moment you decide how you want to move forward."

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