Category Archives: underwater fashion

in the swim of things….

Sunday’s scheduled shoot was threatened by the weather.  The 5 day out forecast originally called for 89 degrees and sun.  As the day grew closer it changed to partially sunny, then by Saturday clouds and possible thunder storms.  Cloudy is still ok.   I woke up to a mist in NJ.  Texts between us… are we still shooting.  I made up a plan B.  Since I had a MUA and 2 lovely models, lets shoot at the apt if need be.  10:00 meet-up time came and the sun broke through.  YAY – Crossed the Hudson to NJ

During shoot set up and make-up application, the sun was brightly shining and our hopes were high.  By the time Stacey and I entered the water, the clouds rolled in, then out, in and out.





Stacey made me laugh underwater.


Just as Lillian entered the water, the skies darkened, the wind picked up and the rain started to fall.  As we gathered our stuff and headed into the sunroom, we were pelted by a deluge.  Perfect time for a lunch break and check the weather radar.  The storm finally let up and the sun and blue sky came back.  Kim touched up their make-up and we shot for about 20 more minutes.IMG_1751-2IMG_1763


Make up by Kim Gainer
Muses:  Stacey
All images are property of Mary Durante-Youtt and protected by copyright laws.
Use/reproduction with written consent only.

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H2O = life

I live for summer, days that I can immerse myself in underwater photography.  Its like entering into another realm, where a calmness surrounds and envelops you in its sanctuary.
I shot Haleigh again, she is fantastic to work with and yes, it is work, even though she makes it look effortless.  Haleigh is a performing artist/model who is aware of her body movement and poses.  Her scuba and free diving experience is a big plus because she is so comfortable underwater.  I rarely have to give direction, except to remind her in the beginning of the shoot to relax her mouth.  Her enthusiasm is matched with her innate desire to create. 
As a scuba diver, she has an underwater housing for her Sony a6000 and she let me shoot with her camera all day.  The a6000 I believe is a step up from the Sony NEX7 which I was interested in getting a few years ago.  Something to consider.
We played around for a few hours with a lunch break and a basking in the sun break after the third wardrobe change.  I had a lot of wonderful images so we called it a day.  I still have raw images to go through but I couldn’t wait to post a few of my favorites.  
To change things up a little, I decided to go in for the close-ups.








More to come, the summer has just begun.


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…just add water

Life gets in the way, but finally my underwater photography book is printed.  I decided to make the first one a 36 page soft cover 10 x 8″ book to keep the costs reasonable.  $35.99 is better then the hard cover price of $65.

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Anyway, I’m ecstatic about the way it came out.  You can preview it online on – just click on the link … just add water   click preview, then on the right page to leaf through the pages.

Now back to creating new images.


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What makes a model great?

Is it her/his beauty, grace or willingness to give a 100+ percent to the project.  I’m sure many of you have watched “America’s Next Top Model”  Tyra and her team go to great lengths to not only bring out their beauty and poise but to push the envelope.  Many scenarios put them in precarious positions high above, dangling from wires to get that “money” shot.  It’s their determination and fierceness that sets them apart as they complete for a title and successful career.

Basically, its the reason I work with models who have never done underwater shoots before.  It’s a collaboration.  Our goal is the same – to create beautiful, memorable images together – a stepping stone to careers, but more importantly – to be creative.

Raiza doesn’t swim, but she knows what it takes to give me some really cool underwater visions.   It was her vivacious enthusiasm that caught my attention when she answered my casting call on Model Mayhem

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All images are the copyright property of the artist Mary Durante-Youtt

She previewed my underwater series and did some homework on her own via the internet to get a better understanding of poses.  (think ballet)  My only directions or instructions to Raiza was to relax her face, remember to keep her arm from blocking her face, take a breathe, exhale and let her body sink beneath the surface.  Later she confessed that she was surprised she was able to keep her eyes open without looking forced.

She makes it look easy.

Can’t wait to get back in the water again.



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Just sprinkle fairy dust…

and watch the magic take place.

I had shot  Vettriano a week ago and again this Sunday.  Although she gave it her all, the first shoot showed a lot of tension in her mouth.  It’s not easy to relax your face underwater, think about the pose and hold it as your body naturally floats out of position.  But she is an actor so she totally understood and wanted to give it another go.  The other issue is that without my glasses, my models are just a blur underwater.  It wasn’t until I review the images on my computer that I could see the problem.  Plus this time, I used goggles – wow, I could actually see her clearly.  (what a novel idea).

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I instructed her to put her hands on her face, exhale, go under and feel what she does with her mouth.  The difference was amazing.  My biggest problem with this shoot was selecting my pics from the dozens of great images that we created.

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A third costume change into the wonderful flowing skirt, designer Janel created for me and  we were done for the day.IMG_8501 copy copyIMG_8518 copy copyIMG_8522 copy copyIMG_8532 copy copyIMG_8563 copy copy

I wish the summer wasn’t ending so soon.  Just when I seem to really get going, it’s time to stop.  I have 2 more shoots scheduled next week and a possible one this week.


Maybe I’ll spend some time in photoshop and alter the color of the gowns when autumn rolls around.  This was a quick fix.  I will go back and stay within the lines.  I just wanted to see whether it would work or not.  I’m not very adept at post editing.  But learning something new is always a good thing.

Mary Durante Youtt

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A mermaid in the making…

Yesterday, I had another underwater photoshoot, this time with a petite dancer/model that I met through Model Mayhem.  Although Charlotte had underwater listed as one of her genres, she had never done one before.  That is true of a lot of the models, they list things that interest them and so I took a chance with this lovely little redhead.

What the heck, the shoot was a collaboration, I supply the pool (thanks Arline), lunch, sunscreen, towels, robes and gowns, time and effort.  They supply their time and effort too and Charlotte quickly discovered that underwater modeling is more challenging then she expected.

She wan’t comfortable in the deep end of the pool so I moved the blue backdrop to the 4′ end.  Getting a breathing technique and timing down pat was the first issue she came upon.  She had worn her contacts and didn’t bring the cleaner or case with her so she wore them underwater.  There’s a lot to focus on as a model.  But we got a few really good shots and managed to have some fun while working.  Although the chlorine bothered her eyes a bit, she didn’t complain or let that stop her from doing her best.

Here are a few of my favorites:IMG_7151

Even though her hair fell upon her face, I really like the feel of the image above.

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A wardrobe change with time to warm up in between.

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I’m still going through more images, but wanted to get these images posted and out to her because my weekend is full of more fun things.

Another shoot tonight – my first attempt at underwater night photography.  Can wait to see how things turn out.


Mary Durante Youtt

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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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