Playing with a Portuguese Man o’ War.



An ex-military photographer, Aaron Ansarov retired from the Navy in 2007, transforming his skills to create commercial work for magazines and focus on his own practice. Fascinated with marine life since his days growing up in Central Florida, his series “Zooids,” focuses on detailed images of Portuguese Man o’ War. Ansarov photographs the creatures on a homemade light table while alive, then immediately releases them back into the wild where they were found.

Once shot and the Man o’ War are returned, each image receives minimal manipulation, as Ansarov makes only slight adjustments to the photograph’s exposure, contrast, and vibrancy to highlight the vivid details of each venomous siphonophore. The completed works are otherworldly, appearing like alien illustrations rather than portraits, with deep blues, purples, and pinks unfurling in every direction.

As if that wasn’t impressive enought, Ansarov does some amazing work with humans, too, which you can see after the jump, because naked people. NSFW.


Via Colossal Art. There’s a whole lot to see and wonder over at Ansarov Studios. The Behind the Scenes page for the Man o’ War is here.


  1. johnson catman says

    Yes, naked people. But totally not erotisized. The short video on the site you linked was interesting. I was not sure from the picture above whether that was real people or mannequins. I would rate the nudity here similarly to Greek or Roman sculptures of nudes: a celebration of the human body.

  2. says

    Yes, it’s a celebration of the body human, but still, I wouldn’t want anyone to get into hot water at work because I chose to be indiscreet. I would say that a number of the Human Spectrum series are erotic, deeply so. Nothing wrong with that. Ansarov is pretty clear in his statement:

    Our culture is diverse. Yet our society insists on breaking us apart. Of course one cannot immediately tell a person’s religion, sexual preference or political affiliation by sight, but what is always apparent is the color of our skin and this tends to be just enough to make someone be judged. This project is derived by coating variations of people with multiple colors of paint. When everyone is covered in vibrant colors, we can then all be the same. The water represents commercial society’s need to wash this color away in order to catalog us again. The final image is a representation of how we can feel at our best before the paint is washed away.

    I’m more focused on his willingness to play with Portuguese Man o’ Wars. Yikes. That brave, well, I don’t think I’m quite there.

  3. rq says

    A work of art in its own right, is the man-o’-war. It’s shape and colours lend themselves well to photography, and I’m impressed with the close-ups.

    The naked people were nice, too.

  4. Siobhan says

    Putzing around with a Portuguese Man-O-War strikes me to be about as hazardous as working in a virology lab. Don’t slip up.

  5. says

    BY the way -- not that I am criticizing the photographer who shot that at all … It’s pretty easy to do that kind of stuff. You go to e-plastics and order a 4’x4′ sheet of white lucite, and an LED light softbox, then set the lucite on a pair of sawhorses with the softbox underneath, pointing up. Then you put your camera on a boom clamp (or just lean over the man ‘o war!) and fire straight down. Modern digital cameras are so good, you really don’t need to worry about exposure at all. Pretty much anything semi-translucent can look amazing in that set-up.

    Now I want to go shoot some prosciutto art.

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