As a father of three, retired military photographer Aaron Ansarov has made it a goal to “force himself to see things freshly” with the curious perspective of a child. He therefore turns to creatures in his own Florida backyard to photograph, namely the Portuguese Men-of-War that wash up on the nearby beach.
The Portugese Man-of-War is an animal that looks similar to a jellyfish but is made up of four zooids that share one stomach. They gradually turn more vibrant shades of color when they wash up on shore, due to the extended exposure to sunlight. Ansarov experiments with shapes and symmetry in his photographs by setting the live creatures on a light table and arranging their tentacles with tweezers – and always returning them back to sea. The Smithsonian showcases some of the stunning abstract images he creates.