In this series, Vanitas, Alexander James re-visits the works of the 17th century Dutch Masters, using period props, food, and real insects including butterflies that James breeds himself. Each composition is carefully staged under water and is captured in-camera, without the use of post-production, either traditional or digital. Working with subtle distortions of light and movement from the water's own wave energy to create a unique painterly effect - the subjects appear as if to be floating in an ethereal, dream-like space. Like all Vanitas images, the work explores the inevitability of death in all things living.
"I wanted to explore these themes through the introduction of water; acting as both nurturer and destroyer, for it has the power to cleanse and re-invent, or to drown and disappear. Believing that drawing on water's transient and destructive nature exposes the fragility of life, and the temporary nature of our existence".