Underwater fashion shoot on a shoe-string…

All the online research I’ve done for underwater fashion shoots are big productions.  Feeling deflated and in over my head before I even started, I wondered if I could accomplish anything that I could be proud of.  I don’t own scuba gear (other than a diver’s weight belt that I purchased for $32.00).  I don’t have expert divers with tanks to fill the models’s lungs with oxygen while they wait, no underwater lights, no hair/makeup artist standing by, no designer willing to donate gowns, no expensive underwater camera or housing.  None of the things that these commercial or art photographers have at their disposal .  My models have come to me TFP from family members, Craig’s list or Model Mayham, with little or no underwater experience, but with a willingness to collaborate.   Donating their time for a lunch with the hopes of adding something a little different to their portfolios.

I’ve managed: using my husband’s Canon G-12 with a Polaroid underwater housing that cost me $99.  The housing for my Canon MarkII 5D was beyond my scope $1500-1800.  Several gowns, and outfits purchased at Good Will for anywhere between $8.49 and $19.99.  A black muslin backdrop from Rose Brand for $36.  Fall foliage garland $24 (on sale at Michael’s) . We entwined & secured the leaves to a rope to use as a swing and a neon hula hoop from Toys”R”Us for $12.  I had silk scarves, chiffon and gauze material from previous shoots.  My husband at times acted as my one and only assistant lying on the diving board, holding the rope and once in a while manned my GoPro Hero3+.  With access to a friends’ pools, I was all set to dive in.

I may never reach the level of underwater photography that other underwater photographers have exceeded (I am not at their skill level, nor do I have the budget for their big productions)  but I will continue to improve as I go and have fun along the way.  The summer is coming to an end and I will put what I have learned into effect next year.  It was suggested that I try to find some underwater models through agencies to do a trade off for studio head shots or just to build their portfolios.  But I am not an approved model agency photographer so I think that might be a deal breaker.



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I had another photoshoot yesterday with a “Model Mayhem” model.  I am working on editing her images and here are a few that I like so far.


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The salmon and aqua gown was problematic. While we both love the colors and the flowiness, the gown’s fullness made it billow underwater and did not cling to her lovely figure.  The morning’s chill and clouds overhead cut our time down to less than an hour and half.  Goosebumps and chattering teeth certainly are not ideal.  She was willing to continue, but no need to risk a late summer cold.  A big thanks goes out to her grandmother who graciously offered up her pool, yard and basement.

I have one more tentative shoot with another MM model who was too busy with Fashion Week to fit into the warmer days.   Maybe it will happen.  If not – that’s just the way it goes.

It’s been so much fun, I haven’t spent this much time in a pool in 25 years.  Thank you Arline for letting me disrupt your life time and again for my creative endeavors.  And also Pat, Rose and Sara for putting up with me.  Your friendship and support have spurred me on.    And to my husband, Jene Youtt for being my assistant, second shooter and for helping me in post editing.  (Hopefully something will sink in and I will retain the lesson in layers and masking).

Now it’s time to edit and put a book together.  I want to solicit a local hotel with an indoor pool to see if I can shoot there for free.  (If you don’t ask, it can’t happen, so I will take my chances and see if I can be persuasive enough.  Hey, ya never know).

Until next time…  as Dori would say – “just keep swimming”



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Filed under photography, underwater fashion

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