About Page

Artist Statement

Having traveled extensively to remote islands throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia, I have photographed many indigenous groups of people, their children and their animals. In Australia at a midpoint in my life, I challenged myself to learn scuba diving. This new experience changed my life immensely, transporting me into more exotic and remote corners of the world along a path of inner fulfillment, giving me a new venue: the exploration of the oceans. The surge and current of the water determines not only my movement as a diver but also directs the rhythm and dance of fish and feeding of soft corals with their long feather-like plumes or small bubble-like rosettes.

A Nikonos camera with its strobe accompanies me underwater and helps me record the breathtaking magic, rendering the image with more clarity and simplicity by framing it apart from the profusion of ongoing sea activity. Many of my images through the years have originated in Batangas as well as the Sulu Sea in the Philippines, along with other notable locations around the world. Most photos in my underwater collection are taken on slide film, scanned and digitized, resulting in archival chromogenic prints.


About the photographer:

Born in New Mexico, Idell (Simms) Conaway maintains a studio in Manhattan which serves as a base for worldwide travel. She received a degree from Ohio University and lived in Oregon and upstate New York prior to the travel period of her life. Her underwater photographs are a synthesis of the scientific documentation of ocean life with a painterly interpretation of color and form.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is currently featuring Conaway's underwater coral photography in a must-see exhibition,"Undersea Oasis: Coral Reef Communities" in its Akeley Gallery through January 13, 2008.

Idell recently delivered a presentation at Hunter College in NYC on the "Sea Gypsies of Southeast Asia" and will speak on this subject in Bryan, TX at the opening of a new exhibit of her underwater photography at Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History on September 1, 2007. This show will run through January 7, 2008; and portions of this exhibit will then be displayed at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in 2008.

Conaway has been active with the Professional Women Photographers in Manhattan, a member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, inducted into membership in the Society of Women Geographers on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., where she recently exhibited underwater photos.


Jan 2008
Albuquerque, NM
NM Museum of Natural History and Science

Sept 2007
Bryan, TX
Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History

New York City, NY
American Museum of Natural History

Gallery Representation


Period Gallery

Reviews and Press

Dec 2002
Passport Magazine
The Art of Travel

Jan 2007
American Museum of Natural History
Photo Exhibition Explores Colorful Marine Invertibrates

Feb 2007
Tiempos del Mundo
En las profundidades del coral

April 2007
Straus Newspapers
Photographer captures 'this magic' of undersea life

May 2007
Edge New York
Fine Arts Events: Undersea Oasis

May 2007
SWG News
SWG Members in the News/Future Events of Members

Dec 2006
International Color Awards
International Color Awards 2006 Nominations

Wintr 2006
Society of Woman Geographers
Women at Depth

May 2007
Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History
Coming Soon: Underwater Oasis

May 2007
Experience Philippines
New Marine Species Discovered in Underwater Depths of the Philippines

May 2007
American Sky Magazine
Travel News: Undersea Oasis: Coral Reef Communities

Idell's Favorites

Professional Women Photographers

The Underwater World of Idell Conaway

Society of Woman Geographers

Professional Women Photographers