Don’t let wa­ter ruin the make-up fun

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How did we do a fash­ion shoot un­der wa­ter? Find out

The chal­lenge of do­ing an un­der­wa­ter fash­ion shoot for Fri­day was a whole new realm in styling for me – no shoes, only floaty fab­rics and bright colours were a must. I also knew I had to find the per­fect model to make sure we got a great end re­sult.

We called on Pol­ish pho­tog­ra­pher Rafal Makiela, who has been do­ing un­der­wa­ter shoots for eight years – in­ci­den­tally, he met his wife Krysia, the model in our fash­ion spread, on her very first un­der­wa­ter shoot.

Styling this shoot was a steep learn­ing curve for me. Rafal’s cam­era was locked in­side a wa­ter­proof plas­tic cas­ing through­out the shoot, so it was dif­fi­cult to get an idea of the out­come through­out the day. It took around six hours to com­plete eight looks, but Krysia didn’t com­plain once, de­spite hav­ing red eyes and strug­gling to breathe to­wards the end of the day.

‘It takes prac­tice and a good mind­set,’ she says of man­ag­ing to hold her breath while pos­ing un­der­wa­ter. ‘The most im­por­tant thing is not to panic when you feel that you are out of air, be­cause most prob­a­bly you are good to stay un­der the wa­ter for a lit­tle longer. Do­ing sports and not smok­ing also helps a lot.’

Here, the Dubai-based duo give their in­sights into the dif­fi­cul­ties – and joys – of un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy. Is it as dif­fi­cult as it looks? Krysia: I won’t lie – it re­ally is, but for some peo­ple it’s harder than for oth­ers. I have al­ways loved wa­ter, so do­ing an un­der­wa­ter shoot was my mod­el­ling dream. I was very pos­i­tive on my first shoot. It was not as easy as I ex­pected but it was just a chal­lenge for me. If some­one doesn’t re­ally like to swim or is scared of depths, it might be im­pos­si­ble for them to do a shoot. Rafal: Un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy is a bit com­pli­cated and re­quires a lot of equip­ment. Ev­ery­thing must be pre­pared and planned, and the most im­por­tant thing is the model and crew’s safety dur­ing the shoot. Ex­pe­ri­ence and flex­i­bil­ity is also im­por­tant as it’s a shoot in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. What are the prob­lems you have come across? Krysia: I was sur­prised that it’s eas­ier to stay above the wa­ter sur­face than un­der – you have to ei­ther ex­hale be­fore sub­merg­ing or wear a weight belt if the out­fit al­lows it. The other is­sue is the ir­ri­ta­tion to your eyes, which is most no­tice­able in the sea but is also an is­sue in pools. After few hours, you can get red eyes and some­times blurred vi­sion for a while. How did you learn how to pose un­der­wa­ter? Krysia: When I was a kid I used to pre­tend I was pos­ing. I was mes­merised by the move­ment of hair and fab­rics un­der the wa­ter. On my first shoot I just did what I used to do on my own and it worked! I had to ad­just a few things, as some­times poses do not look as good as we ex­pect, but in gen­eral it’s pretty sim­i­lar to pos­ing above the wa­ter. You also have to learn it and a mod­el­ling back­ground def­i­nitely helps. Is it hard be­ing a cou­ple who work to­gether? Krysia: It’s ac­tu­ally pretty cool, as you know each other so you com­mu­ni­cate eas­ier and can be com­pletely hon­est. We do sep­a­rate projects as well so we don’t work to­gether every day, which helps us not to get tired. How do you go about do­ing an un­der­wa­ter shoot? Rafal: Prepa­ra­tion is the key. I al­ways try to pre­pare ev­ery­thing be­fore the shoot, dis­cussing with the team all the de­tails and ex­pec­ta­tions re­gard­ing the fi­nal ef­fect, also try to give some guide­lines so our co­op­er­a­tion re­sults in great im­ages. How does it dif­fer from other pho­tog­ra­phy? Rafal: The un­der­wa­ter world is some­thing mys­te­ri­ous and mag­i­cal. Ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent, there is no de­fined end to the bot­tom or top. Grav­ity al­most does not ap­ply, the light prop­a­gates dif­fer­ently and is some­times com­pletely un­pre­dictable. Here, al­most ev­ery­thing you dream is pos­si­ble. Each vi­sion and each idea is fea­si­ble.

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