Today June 26th THE Human Hall OF Fame Inducts Bruce Mozert, the pioneer to underwater photography.
First, I want to shout out Tabitha Lipkin on Instagram for putting one of Bruce Mozart’s pictures in her Story. If she hadn’t, I may have never discovered this legendary pioneer in underwater photography and how much of a kickass human-being he is.
Before Mozert was creating and shooting menial tasks seen on land underwater with beautiful models, he was trying to find his true passion in life. Mozert was born and given the name Robert Bruce Moser in Newark, Ohio in 1916. As his popularity grew as a photographer he and his sister coined the iconic name change.
He was the youngest of three children. His father moved the family to Scranton, Pennsylvania, for a superintendent job at the towns high school. After graduating, Mozert took a job as a truck driver in New Jersey delivering coal. Realizing his inner-Jack Burton was too hard of a lifestyle because he was “too sensitive to be a truck driver” (his words not mine), he moved to New York City to live with his sister Zoë.
Zoë worked as a model and a pin-up artist and became fairly famous for her accomplishments. Through her connections she introduced Mozert to Victor de Palma, a lead photographer for Life magazine. Palma hired Mozert as a film developer and he later joined Freelance Photographers Guild and worked for Pic.
In 1938 while working for an assignment covering women’s shoes in Miami, Florida, Mozert heard about the filming of Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan films in Silver Springs. Mozert stated that when he first met the Olympic Swimmer he cheerfully lifted him off his feet, leave a lasting first impression. After meeting the cast he moved to Ocala, becoming the official photographer for Silver Springs for the next 45 years.
“I saw the crystal clear water and that’s how I got into my underwater work,” Mozert recalled. He started to develop specially constructed waterproof camera housings which kept his Rolleiflex camera from getting wet. The first models were built using sheets of metal, plexiglass, and a rubber inner tubing in the 1940’s securing his status as a Water God.
As seen in the photos above, Mozert often shot with models and other beach babes as they do different simple tasks seen on land but underwater. Like talking on the phone, hitting a golf ball, mowing the lawn, and more.
He approached his underwater mastery like a film director working on a set. In order to increase effect for a bubbling stove, he put condensed milk into the pan. “The fat in the milk would cause it to rise, creating ‘smoke'”. Mozert used weights and tied down the props to prevent them from floating away.
One of the more notable models he often filmed was Ginger Stanley (below/right), an underwater stunt double for Creature from the Black Lagoon.
“Mostly, it was doing things underwater that would normally be done on land”, according to Stanley speaking about her photoshoots with Mozert. “A circus, a fashion show, a beauty contest, a picnic. We would hold our breath and go down and spread the picnic cloth and all the things that went on it, all we could do on a breath of air”. Mozert relied on an aqua-lung, invented by fellow waterman Jacques Cousteau.
While not shooting pictures of models underwater, he took pictures of visitors going on glass bottom boat tours, developed the film while they were on the tour, and then offered to sell the photos when they got off. So you could say, Mozert is also the pioneer of this common phenomenon seen today.
During WWII, Mozert flew as an ariel photographer increasing his capabilities to dominate the photography industry from sea, air and land. It was well known that Mozert continued to fly outside of the military and would often be seen over Silver Springs park capturing the landscapes with his camera. He continued this even into his nineties, like a badass.
From the 1940’s to the 1970’s his images networked a national publicity campaign competing against water-skiing shows, dancing porpoises, leaping whales and hungry alligators, according to Gary Monroe from The Smithsonian. Silver Springs was the Disney World of their time.
Towards the end of his life he worked for all the big and respected magazines and many of his photos were seen in the Huffington Post, National Geographic, Life, Look, Pic, and Smithsonian Magazine.
On October 14th, 2015, Mozert passed away at the age of 98.
Today June 26th, 2017, THE Human Hall OF Fame Inducts a legendary waterman, a member of “The Greatest Generation”, underwater photographer, artist, war veteran, pilot, and now Hall OF Famer joining the ranks with fellow human icons like:
- Christopher Cassidy – Navy SEAL Astronaut
- Ruth Graves Wakefield – Innovator of Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Captain Slade Cutter – Vice “Tobacco, Swearing, Flute”
- Louis-Sebastien Lenormand – Innovator of the Modern Day Parachute
- Clint Eastwood – Movie Icon
- Gail Halvorsen – The Berlin Candy Bomber
- Innovators of Pizza
*All photos and links for quotes and facts are gathered from: Life Aquatic with Bruce Mozert by Gary Monroe / Pinup pioneers: the first underwater photoshoot – in pictures / Holden Lutz Gallery / Bruce Mozert – Wikipedia