I'm not sure what compels some people to swim in freezing cold water in the depths of winter, but seeing the before and after photographs of this interesting series by Michael Wharley, you can see the initial shock is worth the joy and exhilaration.
A personal project by the London photographer, Cold Water Swimmers combines his passion for the rapidly growing pastime of outdoor swimming with his editorial photography and location lighting skills.
Focusing on swimmers at the unheated South London's Brockwell Lido, who brave the pool year-round enduring and enjoying temperatures as low as two degrees, Michael spent a morning in late November taking images of any swimmer willing to participate.
"I love cold water swimming, so it was such a delight to spend the morning shooting with Brockwell's characterful community of swimmers," says Michael. "Whether old or young, triathletes or casual dippers, lycra-clad or going in their Speedos – the personalities, pre-swim rituals and post-swim elation of this hardy group make the Lido what it is in winter."
The ‘pre’ shots were more formal, studio-and-ambient-lit portraits taken poolside, which were followed by ‘after’ naturally-lit shots in the water, to show the exhilarating, skin-reddening, shocking delight of a cold water dip, and to contrast the "perfunctory architecture and furniture of the poolside environment, with the transporting pleasures of the pool itself".