I Sea U – Photographer Keith Hamlyn Captures Connection On The Coast

I Sea U - Ray I Sea U - Ray Image © Keith Hamlyn

We are blessed to live in a country where we are never too far away from water or the coastline.


For Sunshine Coast-based photographer, Keith Hamlyn, there is nothing that drives his passion more than the sea, and his newest exhibition is far from salty.

The professional photographer not only gets his latest images just down the road from his house, but his I Sea U exhibition, as a part of Horizon Festival's programming, encapsulates what we see when we go to the beach; real people finding their peace in the water.

“I Sea U is imagery where I am trying to make people contemplate where we go to when we go under the water,” Keith says.

“You go out for that first dive in the ocean and there is a moment where the sound of the outside world disappears and it’s like you are having an instant meditation, even if you’ve never meditated before.

“It’s like turning the sound off and it is just stillness and silence that I would like people to contemplate. So in these portraits, when you look at the subject that I photograph, I am trying to create a portrait that instills that place of silence that we go to, that we can’t explain.”

Growing up in a family that so passionately values art and creativity, it wasn’t long before Keith picked up the camera and captured what he found beautiful. Spending his early adult life living on the world heritage-listed grounds on K'gari/Fraser Island, he took images of the incredible, natural world around him and he hasn’t put the camera down for the past 20 years.

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I Sea U - Lusea - Image © Keith Hamlyn

The I Sea U exhibition is a portrait series, capturing the waves of people's relationships with the ocean.

Keith shares his own experience of being Australian and human, and how the waves allow him to let go and be in complete calmness.

“To me, it’s something that as humans, without seeming dramatic, we are asking that big question – people who are searching for a greater meaning in life, they go to meditation or a retreat,” Keith explains.

“It is about not talking and allowing people to notice that quiet moment.

“We are made up of water and we live on a planet that is more water than land. We are born from a womb filled with water, there is nothing else that relates to us more than water.”

Keith explains that to him, water means transformation and that through allowing people to enjoy his exhibition with their own interpretation, maybe it will create a splash of joy or even mean something personal to them.

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I Sea U - Eliza - Image © Keith Hamlyn

For those Keith takes images of, he says even their reactions to the images are wonderful, truly seeing themselves for the first time with no salt spray covering their view.

In fact, Keith explains his muses are often strangers.

“I could take a beautiful photo of someone smiling in the ocean but you are going to know they are happy as soon as you see it, whereas these portraits of my muses make you question where that person has gone to and where they are.”

With a passion in portraiture and connecting to those in his community, Keith says he continues to fuel his art and looks forward to his next major project, featuring fathers and their sons, showcasing the complex and meaningful relationship between the two males.

Keith's I Sea U exhibition is on at Caloundra Regional Gallery from 15 October-5 December.

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