At SunsetA happy model, at the right time and the right place. UW model photography does not require deep waters but it requires a good team of at least 2 equals.
The Lady In RedShallow, tropical waters are great locations for underwater model shootings. Keep in mind, happy models are better models.
Pool BeautyIf the atmosphere is warm and friendly, and the model feels good, you will always be awarded with special postures and face expressions.
Like a Fish in the WaterGive amateur models enough space and freedom to express themselves, and be ready with your camera. This young lady posed for the very first time in her life underwater ;-)
Mrs. BondIt's fun to be playful! And it's better not to dictate every single detail. Give your models some space and see what happens - have your camera ready!
Working with Humans as Underwater Models
Wrecks, marine life, underwater landscapes, or even just water… Some of you might ask where the sense lies in making a human the desired subject of underwater images when there are so many other beautiful things to shoot.
The answer is, from a psychological perspective, we humans are land-based animals and definitely not designed to live underwater. Divers may find it normal to be underwater but to the majority of humans, the underwater world still is a twilight zone, a fascinating, mysterious, and maybe even dangerous world in which humans don't actually belong. Having a human as a model in an underwater photograph awakens the attention of beholders, because to them, a human underwater is an unusual thing. Old instincts are begging us to climb back up to the trees, escape the “liquid twilight zone” and search for shelter, but then, on the other hand, we can't take our eyes away. The photograph stimulates the beholder's attentiveness. And if you are a photographer, this should be your aim ;-)
There are many different photography techniques, possible locations, setups, and shooting opportunities that exist when it comes to underwater model photography - I could write a book about it! - but in this blog post I would like to focus on the photographer-model interaction. This is the core of it all. Everything starts from here!
The interaction between a model and a photographer in an underwater photo shoot is not as minimal as some may believe. You can hire a professional model or buy your dive buddy a beer to model for you. In the end, there is no difference, and this kind of photography requires understanding that.
Underwater model photography is teamwork, and successful shots are the result of a fine balance where neither the photographer nor the model is ruling the situation. You may find yourself a great photographer, but if you’re working with human models (and shooting awesome images), 50% of the “honor” goes to the model, at least!
Regarding the photographer/model interaction, there are 3 basics we need to be aware of: cooperation, communication, and eye contact.
Please view your model as an equal partner. The keen and ambitious photographer you are, you probably have a very clear vision of how you want your shot to look like. That's, of course, awesome, but if you would give your model the opportunity to add his/her own ideas and expressions, you would experience a “triple turbo boost” to the resulting images. Only a few underwater photographers have the opportunity to work with one of the very few professional UW models that are available for hire on a daily basis. Those models usually can perform anything the photographer wants, as long as he/she is paid. Also a will to cooperate boosts things.
But truthfully, most UW models are amateurs. Dive buddies, girlfriends/boyfriends, children, and even crewmembers of your dive boat, each of them has his/her very own talent and ways of self-expression. Instead of forcing them into something they simply don't want to do, it is better to let them do what they like, and be ready with your camera. Natural shots would result :-)
As in every aspect of life, communication is one of the main keys for success of underwater model photography as well. Develop your idea and share it with your model during a pre-shoot briefing. Make sure that your model understands exactly what you want. Be open for suggestions (cooperation). Don't be stubborn. Let things flow, and stay open to all directions, ideas, and suggestions.
Plan clear hand signs for communication later underwater, and not only for what you want to tell the model but also for situations where the model needs to tell you something.
Always do your very best to create a friendly, warm, and respectful atmosphere, before, during, and after the photo dive. Yes, this is the photographer's duty. Nobody wants to get bossed around, and a model that feels like he/she is a valuable and respected part of your photography project will perform way better. Simple rule: Happy models are better models. Make your model happy, and you will not regret it.
Share the very best shots with your model. Communicate when you are happy with an image, and share your happiness with your model. Bear in mind that you and your model are a team of equals.
For good reason, it is said that eyes are the windows to your soul. Stay in eye contact with the model during preparation and briefing. Talking to your model and preparing your underwater strobes at the same time communicates that your strobes are more important to you than the model. It shouldn't be that way. When working with models, the model is the main actor not your camera gear. When underwater, eye contact is important for you to achieve great model photos and to keep in communication with your model.
There are no “rules”. There are only guidelines and friendly advices, given to help you shoot photographs that you like. It’s important that you do what you like to do and have a great time.
Happy bubbles, happy (model) shootings, and always be safe!
Tweets by @thesub2o
Distracted by too many things while shooting underwater images? Let's work on a mindset! Part 2 of the series: During the photo dive.
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