Atmospheric photography of pastel coloured swimming pools by Mária Švarbová

In her beautifully pastel coloured and muted series Where Time Stands Still, award-winning Slovakian photographer Mária Švarbová studies an atmosphere that we're all too familiar with – our local swimming baths.

All photography courtesy and copyright of Mária Švarbová.

All photography courtesy and copyright of Mária Švarbová.

How anyone can capture the unique smells, sounds, echoes and associated feelings of standing awkwardly on the pool's edge, all in a series of images is admirable.

Her subjects almost look unreal, as they observe their surroundings in the chlorine-smell filled space. She explains: "The atmosphere that I depict through a palette of pastel and overexposed tones projects the spectator into a sanitised world in which the characters have chosen to give up any kind of extravagance that might unmask them. Like inert and robotic figurines, they rigidly evolve from one photograph to the next without parading their feelings. Time seems to have stopped and the swimmers have no other idea than to see themselves reflected in the perfectly still water of the swimming pool."

She added: "Reworking the concept of the photonovel that originated through a combination of cinema and comic strips, my photographs are a succession of short scenes in which the frontality and absence of contrasts remove any narrative dimension in favour of the fullness of the photographic surface.

"The use of retouching software allows me to master this careful and stringent aesthetic with extreme precision, attenuating differences as though all individuals were the same, losing all of their individuality and identity."

Born in 1988 in Slovakia, Švarbová's latest photographs focus on delivering a message and triggering feelings with a focus on minimalism and purity. Her work is very distinctive and has already won various prestigious awards. Discover more at


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