Tributes to Vogue photographer found dead at Hampstead Heath swimming ponds

A photo of Sussie Ahlburg released by police today

A photo of Sussie Ahlburg released by police today - Credit: Archant

A celebrated photographer has been found dead in the Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath after going missing.

Flower tributes and a police witness appeal on the fence outside the Ladies' Bathing Pond. Picture:

Flower tributes and a police witness appeal on the fence outside the Ladies' Bathing Pond. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The family of Sussie Ahlburg, whose work has been published in Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and the Ham&High, reported her missing on Sunday evening when the 50-year-old did not return from a swim that day.

The ladies' pond will be closed while police carry out an investigation. Picture: Polly Hancock

The ladies' pond will be closed while police carry out an investigation. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Ms Ahlburg, who worked from her Bloomsbury home, had arrived at the pond on her folding black Brompton bicycle.

Police mounted a search and sent in specialist divers from the Marine Police Unit to scour the water on Monday.

Sadly, her body was discovered at the bottom of the pond at about 2.30pm that day.


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The death is being treated as unexplained and an appeal for information has been issued.

A postmortem was due to take place yesterday (Wednesday) to determine the cause of her death. But a source said that Ms Ahlburg may have had a heart condition.

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The photographer’s family have not spoken publicly about her death but tributes have poured in from friends and colleagues.

Jewellery designer Isabelle Busnel, 48, who met Ms Ahlberg while looking for someone to take photos of her jewellery, said: “Sussie was not only a wonderful photographer but she was a beautiful person too.

“She loved her work and developed a special relationship with the artists she was working with.

“Her pictures were always beautiful, clever and relevant.

“I am devastated by this tragic news.”

The Ladies’ Pond was closed after police began their search on Sunday. It will remain shut while an investigation is carried out.

Officers are appealing for witnesses to come forward who may have seen the photographer on Sunday.

She was wearing a white Speedo swimming hat, blue or transparent prescription swimming goggles and a dark navy or black tankini. She was 5ft 10in tall, of slim build, with greying hair and long legs.

Ms Ahlburg was born in Stockholm and came to London to study at Central School of Art, now Central St Martins.

Her photographs were published in The Guardian, The Times and Time Magazine among others, as well as on the Ham&High’s music page.

She also documented the construction of the Tate Modern art gallery, was commissioned by musicians, artists and record labels, such as Decca, EMI, Chandos and Hyperion, and had recently started making films.

Her first book, Photograph Your Own Art and Craft, was published in 2011.

The death is the first at the Heath’s swimming ponds in at least 10 years.

The City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath and its ponds, confirmed that a minimum of two lifeguards are on duty until 8.45pm daily when the ponds close.

The corporation advises only competent swimmers to use the natural swimming pools as the Ladies’ Pond is up to 4m deep.

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