I have been wanting to write this for a while. A glimpse into my life. I do get asked a lot how I shoot and what I use.
Before I started doing underwater I thought you needed a lot of gear, therefore a lot of money. Through web searches I discovered Brooke Shaden (http://www.promotingpassion.com/blog/).
She is a fantastic artist and is very open about the fact that she does not use anything expensive to do so. For her underwater shoots she uses a bag (dicapac) or even lately an underwater point and shoot.
No need for big wallets to do art.
Putting my precious camera in a bag and into the water was a bit nerve wrecking to do because accidents do happen (so far so good crossing my fingers). The nerves are always there, specially now that I own the best camera I have ever had (Nikon D810)....and still putting it in a bag (breathing.... once so far and I had another shoot today).
Hopefully someday in the future I will get my hands on an Ikelite case. (wink wink Ikelite)
I shoot a lot while taking care of my two kids who are 5 and 3 now, so they were 2 and 4 when I started shooting underwater.
What it means is during shoots I am also taking care of them (they both just started school this summer so that I am now able to shoot by myself). The result is that my 5 year old is an amazing swimmer and my 3 year old is starting to be really comfortable in water.
Sometimes my models who are my friends have to bring their kids too (see picture below with what was going on literally behind my back while I was shooting). Talking about distracting. :)
It is not a big production but it is a big mess. I often have to get out to get a snack, or put a towel around them, or stop a fight (sigh). I usually talk to model and to my kids every time I surface which is pretty often since I do not have scuba gear. I just hold my breath and use a weight belt.
I find my costumes either at thrift stores or lately I just have been buying materials (at Joann's or when I do the drive downtown LA). I often just pin it together on my models. I always loved fashion, probably because I grew up around it. Not only because I lived in Paris France but also because my father was a fashion photographer and a lot of our friends worked in the fashion industry. Unfortunately I cannot sew at all. I do hope someday to be able to work with a designer.
My dear friend Cecilia has let me use her pool and make a mess of her beautiful garden. She also helped with my kids soooo sooo much last summer that I do think she taught my son how to swim. Her daughter Shelby was one of my first model and is in a lot of my work. My friend and model Julie has let me shoot her at her pool as well and access it when I need it. All my models are friends and friends of friends that are becoming my friends. I think they do it because they want to share the passion and hopefully like the results.
It is incredible all the help you can get when you just ask. I am oh so thankful for all the help I got.
When I shoot on land I have usually a little doodle (i cannot draw at ALL so I might share once but will have to work up to that) of exactly what I want to shoot and one costume and a location. I do keep my mind always open for last minute ideas or inspirations. I actually love these. But the shoots might last 20 minutes tops.
When underwater I think in terms of color. Because I have no artificial light source (except one of my latest shoots with my friend Scott, at night, with lights outside the pool), I always keep an open mind. I also think of underwater models as ballerinas, everyone moves differently. With a new model I do not direct. I make them swim around. Then I start asking for poses so that I slowly see if they can accomplish them and what we can do together. My longest shoot I think was 4 hours. But it is really hard for models to swim around with sometimes heavy dresses. So I am very mindful of this.
Honestly no matter how hard a shoot can be, it is my passion that drives me. I live for this. There is nothing I love more than coming home and seeing the shots. Sitting and working on them on photoshop is like meditation to me.
My gear is a scuba mask, weight belt and fins. Camera until last photo session was Canon 60D, now it is Nikon D810. And Dicapac is my underwater bag.