Water nymph

The summer’s end is coming too quickly for me…  I have 9 more days before my friend closes her pool for the season.   Frantic, I reached out to one of my favorite models with a last minute plea… Are you available this weekend.  Her reply, yes, I’m free on Saturday was music to my ears.   The air temp hit 80 degrees and the water was @ 78 with the sun shining down upon us.

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All images are copyright and property of Mary Durante-Youtt and subject to copyright laws

I will be keeping a close watch on the 10 day forecast to see if I get to shoot any more models this year.  Maybe it’s time to retire to a sunnier/warmer climate.

Thanks Vettriano for a great photo session and a lovely afternoon.


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September song

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…Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you

They are all precious days. I would listen to the haunting melody as my mother’s fingertips would glide across the ivory and ebony keys.  The lyrics by Maxwell Anderson weren’t lost on me.  One of my favorite recordings of September Song is by Willie Nelson on his StarDust album.  This was the other song my mother played often and the lyrics are even more poignant as I get older.

Click on the song titles above for the uTube links

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Lazy day…

Yesterday while my husband rested at the house (pulling weeds and clipping rose bushes), I decided to take a dip at my friend’s pool. I plunged into the water, grabbed a noodle and floated around just basking in the warmth of the sun.  Ahhhhhhhh.

Chatted with Mike and Laurie about my underwater photography.  Yadda, yadda, yadda… blah, blah… hey why not.  An impromptu was about to take place.

I shoot at Arlene’s pool all the time, she’s kind enough to let me store my gowns and backdrops in her pool house.  I had my camera and underwater housing in the trunk of my car – voilà, the couple shoot I’ve been trying to pull together with various models came into being.

3 pc coral creation by designer: awaioflyfe  Janel Carlton

Laurie admitted it was a lot harder she thought, (that’s what most of the models say). we had a bunch of laughs and neither of them seemed to mind cuddling close to one another.

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Water effects…

Did you ever have one of those days when the weight of the world seems to fall on your shoulders.  You wake in the morning with no energy, your emotions are raw and you just want to disappear – but you know you can’t.

You are consumed by your thoughts and feelings.  You drag your tired body to the kitchen, start a pot of coffee and sulk your way to the shower.  You reach in, turn the water on, stand there staring into a void.   Your mind is clouded in darkness, you want to scream but the sound doesn’t rise from you throat.  As the water washes over you, the tears begin to flow.  You don’t want to cry but you have no control.  The warmth of the shower is comforting.  You surrender yourself and let the water wash over you.

Water cleanses not only your body, but also your soul.  It envelops you in a force field, allowing you to release your buried emotions as the water caresses you.

My thanks to model Charlotte JoHanna for indulging me in my watery scheme.  This is our 3rd collaboration, all ending up wet

Make up artist Arasy

If you are interested in an underwater photoshoot, feel free to contact me through my websites:  Mary Durante Youtt or mdyoutt.com


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Walls can’t talk…

When you purchased your home, did you ever wonder about the people who lived in it before?  I have.  Yesterday I met the 3 adult children who grew up in the very house I love.

A couple of years after I bought my house, a man came to my back door and called out the name of the previous owners.  I told him they didn’t live here anymore.  Henry explained that he used to live here.  (the second owners).  His wife had waited in the car and I invited her in.  She was overwhelmed with emotion as she went from room to room.  We hugged as tears streamed down both our cheeks.  They were in town for a family event and only intended to drive by but Henry couldn’t resist stopping.  The memories of a happy home, filled with love, laughter and life.

A couple of years ago, one of their children also stopped in for a tour.  His family waited in the car, not wanting to intrude.  He quickly roamed the rooms and thanked me.  We exchanged phone numbers.

Last month I received a phone call from Alan, he and his siblings would be in the area for a wedding, would I mind if he, his brother and sister came by.  He remember how gracious I was to open my home to him.  A date was arranged.

The flood of stories poured out of them, each recounting fond memories and sharing their lives with me.  In the 40+ years that they were gone, not much had changed in the house.  When I revamped my kitchen with new cabinets, I kept the original counters and the tiles.  Some of the old metal cabinets are in my laundry area, as is the small wooden cabinet that their father built.  As kids, the boys would stand on the dining room window sill and see Manhattan’s skyline.  They recounted stories of the parties in the basement that their dad refinished.  Were amazed that I still had the clip on towel rack hanging by the sink in the wet bar.  Jay told me the 3 holes in the workbench were from a vice and that he still has it.  Lonnie even noticed that I still have some of the original switch plates.  She told me about sitting at their kitchen table when and how her husband proposed to her.

I learned that the porch originally had 3 small round columns on the corners.  They were happy to see that we took down the filagree wrought iron posts because they never really liked them.  My husband moved the huge mirror that covered the beautiful stain glass window in the dining room.  They traced their hands over the beautiful chestnut woodwork and were amazed that all the windows except the kitchen and bathroom were original.  The house was still pretty much the way they left it.

They talked about their old neighbors, playing stickball in the back yard, how the boys would dash out the side door, hop the fence into a neighbors yard.  They loved that some of the hydrangea bushes still lined the back yard.  Most of the details were still intact.  I learned why one of the bricks in the walkway had to be replaced, Alan fell and actually broke the brick, he still has the scar on his forehead.

We spent two hours recounting their childhood.  They came as strangers and left as family, bound by love that a home can hold.











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Define work…

If you spend a day in a pool with 2 lovely models and a talented MUA Kim Gainer, can you call what you do work?  YES, it’s harder then you think.  Most are not experienced underwater models or free divers, some don’t even swim.

This was my third time working underwater with model Vettriano.  We shared a few laughs with “new to underwater” model Che about her first attempt.  The allure for these models is to add something unique to their portfolios.  So Che wanted to try.  Her 5’11” frame made working in the deeper end a cinch.  In the beginning, she had difficulty, puffing out her cheeks when holding her breathe.  She also forgot that she couldn’t wipe the water from her eyes because of the make-up.  Kim was on hand for touch ups.  She created tropical fish looks for the eyes.  The colors popped because of Che’s beautiful skin tone.

I used a royal-ish blue satin for the backdrop.


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MUA Kim and model Che
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Che started to feel more comfortable towards the end of our session.  She even slipped in a smile.  And is up for another shoot.

Praying for sunny days so I can schedule more models…


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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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