Underwater photography is a fascinating art that both reflects the beauty of the silent world and captivates divers and non divers alike.I am a big fan of underwater photography and have always wanted to try myself as an underwater model. Finally, I had a chance to work with acclaimed underwater photographers Wendy and Guiallaime in Dahab, Egypt.
I discovered their work through their facebook page Seadrop Photography where they share their stunning underwater shots. I was impressed with their style as they captured light so beautifully and created breathtaking underwater landscapes. A freediver in their photos did not look like an intruder but another graceful marine being in harmony with its surrounding.
After meeting Wendy and sharing my ideas with her, I was sure I was in good hands. Wendy is not only an acclaimed photographer but also an instructor who trained many freedivers I personally know. From the beginning of our conversation it was obvious how passionate Wendy was about her work and expressing her creativity. I told her that I was still a beginner freediver but felt quite comfortable underwater. She shared some tips on how I could prepare myself for the shoot – learning to dive with a noseclip and no goggles so that my eyes would get used to the salty water. She also paid loads of attention to details, asking me about the outfits and the equipment I was going to use.
Since Wendy is expecting she would have the role of the art director and her partner Guillaume would be the one taking most shots. We checked the weather and picked a calm day for the shoot. We planned to do two mini sessions- one with a swimsuit and one with a dress I borrowed from a Dubai based designer SophyG who is also a friend.On the day of the shoot I was both very excited and a bit nervous. I decided not to have a training that day and save the energy for the shoot. It turned out to be a very wise desicion as the shoot was even more demanding then I could imagine.
A twenty min ride in a pick up chatting about the role of social media for photographers and we were at the Aqua Marina cafe, the freedivers’ second home at the Blue Hole.
We started with the easy part- diving in my pink mini swimsuit by Slipins. Wendy allowed me to borrow her Molchanovs byfins(now I have them on my wishlist) and I stuck to my beauchat fuscia mask to match with the suit. I really enjoyed the shoot as all I had to do was to do a few shallow dives above the coral reef at the Blue Hole.
It was pretty easy and thanks to Wendy’s orchestrating, Guillaume and I synchronised our dives so that he would have enough time to take photos. Once I got cold, we went back to the cafe to get warm with the signature hot ginger lemon tea.
The second part of the shoot was a bit more challenging. I had to hide the weights under the dress and dive without a mask. Diving in the shallow water was quite challenging as I was still postively buoyant and did not have fins to help me propel the water. My feet would also get entangled in the tulle bottom of the dress so I was exhausting myself and the air in my lungs before I could even strike a pose. Not being able to see anything and having salty water in my eyes only added to the stress. I was also getting tired after the first part of the shoot and started to feel cold. I tried to stay calm and not allow frustration and pressure overtake me. Luckily, Wendy came up with a brilliant solution. While our talented photographer was in the position to go down as soon as I would, I was to hold on to the rope with the weights of the buoy and do a breath up. Wendy was holding the rope as well but once I gave her “I am ready” sign, she would release the rope and I would quite rapidly dive down. All i had to was to equalise pretty fast and then once I was at the depth of 6-8 meters, I would swim away and start posing. This setup was genious as I did not have to go head down and conserved loads of energy that allowed to prolong every dive and pose a bit more.
The team then would look at the pictures and give me the feedback. I needed to face the light, try to be more relaxed and make sure the dress looked good. On land this is all quite easy but underwater it was a whole different game hehe. I tried my best to pose properly and even when I started getting really tired, seeing how enthusiastic Wendy and Guillaume were to go on, I gathered myself and continued to follow their instructions. I hope I was a good model 😉
In the end of the shoot, Wendy decided to take a few pictures at the surface of the water. All i had to do was to lay down flat, exhale and sink down. The difficult part was getting the water enter my nose and sinus, causing a very uncomfortable feeling. I choked on water a couple times and it was just really unpleasant. I had to sink at least 6-7 times with a few “this is the last shot” promises from Wendy hehe. I had really intense gross sensations in my nose and sinus and a part of me just wanted it all to end. Ironically, these most challenging shots look the most serene and peaceful. I wanted these photos to portray my relation with the Ocean and how I feel at home there. I think our team succeeded ❤️