Well-crafted portraits capture not only physical attributes, but hint at hidden truths. Underwater photography can provide unique and challenging perspectives.
There is something about being submerged in water that dials directly into the human subconscious. When we view someone through water, especially when they are suspended in it, we feel as if we are seeing something very personal and private. The vulnerability of the human form is readily apparent underwater: movement is more languid and dreamlike, breath is made visible through bubbles, hair is carried away from the face and head while clothing may float away or plaster itself close to the body. Water imparts a sensuality and softness, further enhanced by the blue green light that reaches into its depths.
The challenges of underwater photography are many, even with modern equipment like the Go Pro camera. That blue green light I mentioned can be penetrating, but reds and oranges are lost as we descend, distorting skin tones. Many photos are taken a just few feet below the surface. Shooting close up with a wide angle lens is a must, as shooting through more than a few feet of water creates cloudiness. Costuming can create beautiful effects, but the photographer and model must understand how the fabric will behave underwater and how best to maximize its potential. Models have to be aware of their breathing and how bubbles impact the shot. They also have to be able to hold a pose– and their breath– while slowly floating up to the surface. If they aren’t specifically designed for underwater use, cameras must be waterproofed, which can make them harder to handle. Everything has to be done while the artist and the model are swimming and paying attention to their surroundings, with a minimum of vocal communication.
When it all works… magic!
Over the course of this week (and several posts) I’d like to introduce you to some fantastic artists and encourage you to visit their websites and become more familiar with their work.
Our first post will feature pioneer underwater photographer Bruce Mozert and will focus on photos made in Silver Springs, Florida in the 1950s, when pin-up models went underwater to advertise the premiere tourist destination in Florida. You can read the post here.