You used to be a model. How did did you make the transition from in front of the camera to behind?
I worked as an international model before beginning my career as a professional photographer. But I first touched a camera at the age of 13 or 14. I was inspired at this early age by analogue photography. I began to photograph my older sisters two young daughters while they played in our garden. Maybe to share these moments with them in the future. They were my first models.
Why did you begin shooting underwater photography?
Underwater photographs have been always very fascinating to me and I love to be in the water. So doing it felt like a must.
In addition, the natural element of water is the perfect environment to create surreal art work.
What is your process like when preparing for a shoot?
A shoot in a pool usually needs an underwater studio built – backdrop, illumination – and it requires special technical equipment. The creative side, however, takes the most time before starting a shoot. Security also plays an important role. There is always a person out of the water present.
It’s a hard work for a model to pose underwater. The model must feel comfortable and be capable of staying very relaxed. In terms of choosing models, I like classical beauties.
What advice do you have for those looking to shoot underwater footage?
I would advise a beginner to seek information about the technology they plan to use, because equipment can be very costly. It would be useful to rent equipment at first. When choosing a lens remember to consider that water absorbs a lot of light. I prefer to use 14mm – no fisheye – and 35mm. I use a canon 5D mark II substroke in an Ikelite housing with a substroke DS 160. A distance of about 2 meters from the object is good with the flash mentioned above. The depth is also crucial. The deeper you go the more light is absorbed. Setting the camera to AF, f8, 1/160 and ISO 160 is a sure thing.
If you mount a background in the water, this should be free of reflection. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of post processing work.
When starting out use safe bodies of water, like pools or shallow lakes.
Can you tell us about plans for future work?
I am currently planning a nude project and I am going to photograph in the sea during the summer months. This is completely different than photographing in a pool.
Gabriele Viertel is based in the Netherlands.