Photographer Gery Beeckmans

Being a photo model during the world championship underwater photography 2015

Usually all the attention around the world championship underwater photography goes to all the photographers. However being a photographer is often not a solo job. In many categories they need to take photos which include other scuba divers or better known as underwater models. Being a photo model during the world championship underwater photography 2015 is not to be taken lightly and isn't for everyone. That's why I took the time to interview one of the more famous underwater models in the Netherlands, +Marloes Otten. She tells us about her experiences of being an underwater model and what it really entails.

What does being a scuba diving photo model entail?
As an underwater model you’re meant to be 'added value' to the photo the photographer is trying to
take. This can be in various forms like a silhouette in the background or up close. Sometimes it’s about the artful clothing in other times it's about the marine life. In photo competitions one the categories is often ‘Wide angle with model’. Then a scuba diver needs to be in the photo with certain required conditions:

  • the eyes of the scuba diver / model need to be clearly visible
  • the model needs to be in the photo as a whole
  • the model needs to be looking at something

This is where it starts to get difficult. Because these conditions where the model is looking at something while a photographer tries to create the best lighting to capture the eyes isn’t as simple as it sounds.

As an underwater model you need to have a lot of patience, you need to feel comfortable below water and most important is that you can communicate well with the photographer.

How did you become a photo model?
Uhm I believe someone just asked me to help out… If I wanted to help him as he needed a model for a photo competition. He was looking for someone with perfect buoyancy and knowledge of the local Dutch waters of ‘Zeeland’. Somewhat later a friend asked if I wanted to work with him on a professional photoshoot and suddenly I signed my first official modelling contract at the age of 36.

When it is known you have what it takes to be an underwater model the word spreads fast and other underwater photographers will contact you automatically.

Photographer Rutger Geerling
Photographer Rutger Geerling

How did you become a photo model?
Uhm I believe someone just asked me to help out… If I wanted to help him as he needed a model for a photo competition. He was looking for someone with perfect buoyancy and knowledge of the local Dutch waters of ‘Zeeland’. Somewhat later a friend asked if I wanted to work with him on a professional photoshoot and suddenly I signed my first official modelling contract at the age of 36.

When it is known you have what it takes to be an underwater model the word spreads fast and other underwater photographers will contact you automatically.

Do you have a regular photographer of can someone just hire you?
I usually always work with the same (few) photographers. We know each other well by now and know what we can expect from one another which improves our communications below water. Also because it’s not an official career and it’s needs to be fun and enjoyable.

This means I’m not officially ‘for hire’, people usually just ask if I want to help out. I like being an underwater photo model, so I don’t ask any money for the job, it’s more like a hobby. The current payment is set on 2 sandwiches and a glass of wine after the dive :)

Is scuba diving as a photo model very different from normal scuba diving?
It absolutely different to normal scuba diving and definitely a challenge, even when you’re good at scuba diving. Most important is the communication with the photographer. It helps if you know beforehand which kind of photos the photographer wants to take and what he expects of you. Afterwards you need to be in the right place and depth in the right posture and being dead still in the water for as long as possible. Scuba diving in the ‘Oosterschelde’ with currents means continuously swimming back to the right location without creating a dust cloud off course.

Also you can’t breathe whenever you want, otherwise there would be to much air bubbles in the photo. So you need to guess when the photographer is taking the photo and inhale or exhale afterwards. In the meanwhile you keep looking friendly with your face towards the camera looking at a certain object and trying not to show how much cramp you’re getting from this weird posture you're in.

If I want to be a photo model, what do I need to practice?
Buoyancy! A perfect control of your buoyancy is a must for an underwater model. You need to be able to stay perfectly still at exactly the right depth and location. Also patience is very important. It takes some time before the photographer takes the ‘perfect’ photo

What do you like about being a scuba model?
I love the challenge of perfect buoyancy and the technique needed to accomplish this. I also love the teamwork in creating the ‘perfect’ photo together with the photographer.

How do you look at the world championships?
It seems to me that it’s going to be very difficult and tough for photographers, used to warmer waters and better visibility, to take their demanding photo’s. So I’m very curious to the end results. I expect that the Dutch and Belgium photographers will have high scores as they are familiar with these conditions.

However the fact that the other photographers have no experience scuba diving here could also create photo’s you would normally not expect. You never know what’s going to happen. In the end I’m just very curious and looking forward to the photo’s.


Posted in General, Scuba diving news.

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