In partnership with Nike

Still Waters Run Deep with Tayler Prince-Fraser

BY Elisha Tawe

Photo from Tayler Prince-Fraser's collection 'Deep Is The Water'


Photographer Tayler Prince-Fraser and Nike Swims ‘Deep Is The Water' is a collection of beautifully shot photographs of aquatic joy that paint bodies of water as sites of communion and healing. The images feature Black and mixed-race men of varying ages interacting with water in one way or another. However, to Tayler Deep Is The Water is more than a Black swimming campaign. In conversation with Trippin, he emphasises “to label it that would defeat the purpose of the project, which is to normalise a more diverse representation of swimmers.”

Photograph of a man emerging from the water from Tayler Prince-Fraser's collection 'Deep Is The Water'

Tayler, the co-founder of the creative agency Shift and a multi-hyphenate artist whose clients include Nike, Dr Martens to name a few, learnt to swim early on in his life but shares with us that he still has a fear of water he “can't see the bottom of”. However, he continues to swim because “it's good low-impact exercise on joints. I think that there is real peace to be found in just floating. Sometimes I’ll just swim to the bottom of a pool and just like sit there for a minute. It’s just quiet. And it's peaceful.” he says.

A photograph from Tayler Prince-Fraser's collection 'Deep Is The Water'

Inspired by a news story about three Black people losing their lives due to their inability to swim, Tayler began his artistic interrogation of swim culture in the United Kingdom. In 2021 he wrote and directed a short film titled Fear Of The Water. Across its minute-and-a-half run time, the film explores the social and cultural barriers Black people in the U.K. face in relation to swimming. The mesmerising short follows a young Black boy who faces his fear of water by undertaking swimming classes. Following its release, it caught the eyes of the team over at Nike Swim which resulted in their aptly titled collaboration Deep Is The Water.

A photograph from Tayler Prince-Fraser's collection 'Deep Is The Water'

The collection of images on exhibition at Black and White gallery from the 6th to the 8th of October 2022 takes Tayler's exploration of swimming a step further, tunnelling deeper. Research released by sports England states: 95 percent of Black adults and 80 percent of Black children in the UK do not know how to swim despite there being a palpable desire to learn. The photographs eschew these usual talking points of accessibility around swimming for Black folk opting instead to highlight existing Black swimmers and focus on the joys of swimming in hopes to spark interest and open the doors for more Black people to partake in the activity. Through this project, Tayler hopes to ask what we as Black people can do to increase accessibility and what ways we as a community can begin to rethink and reattribute value to this vital skill.