A lot of my underwater portrait work involves my subjects laying horizontally in the water. I do this for a few reasons. First consider that one of the biggest challenges of underwater portraiture is the fact that you need to shoot just about everything with a wide angle lens. If you’re not a photographer you may not know that wide angles tend to distort reality a bit and when it comes to people this is not always flattering. In a horizontal image this squishes things and in a vertical image this stretches them out. Since very few people want to be shorter and wider I opt to have a lot of people lay flat in the water which essentially puts the vertical stretching effect on them in what is technically a horizontal composition. I still try to stay as far back as I can to minimze distortion or place it in areas of the frame likely to be cropped out in post. Also the lighting is better at the surface and it’s easier for most to float there than it is to pose vertically just under the water. And then there is the artistic element of increased reflections. I’ll do another post about getting the best reflections but for now know that the horizontal placement helps add more colorful reflections to your underwater portraits.
This image is one of my very favorite members of the Class of 2012 and part of last year’s Blue Crew. Dorothy was such a delight to work with and one of those rare people who can jump in pool and look animated and expressive and stunning in just about every shot. (There are always a few funny outtakes.) I was actually a bit surprised to see how well the color gold worked underwater and loved the texture of the fabric.