Ah sir, live in the bossom of the waters! There alone is independence. There I recognize no masters. There I am free. – Jules Verne, 2000 Leagues Under the Sea
This is part of my dream come true. If you ask me to choose between mountain or sea, I’ll choose the sea in a heartbeat. I never thought of the frightful possibilities of a tsunami happening – I just wanted a house on the beach. As a mermaid on land scuba diver, I’ve always dreamed of having an underwater shoot. Regardless of the fact that I don’t have a model’s body, I think anyone would look great underwater. Besides, the focus won’t be on your body proportions but on how the subject gracefully floats and the magic of this other realm.
Once, my goal was to be an underwater fashion photographer. I even got in touch with the famed Michael Gleissner. I almost committed myself to becoming another of his mermaids in Cebu if not for my ongoing classes in college. As time went by, I realized how expensive it would be to pursue underwater photography (at that time, the D90 case alone was 80,000.00 pesos – something I couldn’t afford). So I settled for the cheap Dicapac for our trip to Palawan. I figured I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take photos of the beautiful marine ecosystem of Palawan’s seas.
I met Sefi online – through Facebook to be exact. He and my friend from high school, Janna did a collab shoot with Janna as the HMUA. It was stunning. I couldn’t be more proud that I knew Janna way back. You know how gurus would say “surround yourself with successful people so you’ll grow to be the same or even better”? I did just that. Shame, it borders on being plastic and user friendly. But it takes effort and sincerity to show that this new acquaintance could ultimately lead to a lasting friendship.
For almost half a year, I stalked followed and liked (it is inevitable when it deserves so much ‘likes’) his photos and collaborations with others including my designer friend Erich. Amazing how greatly skilled and talented people come together to produce art. I can only hope to be part of that circle. The idea of underwater shoot came up and we planned to have it when I go back to my hometown where they are.
Given the rush of Christmas season, the shoot didn’t almost push through. It was kind of awkward coming together for a concept shoot with someone I barely knew and haven’t even met in person.
On that fateful day we first met, I think we hit it off. I think. I’m grateful Erich was there, else it would be total silence. I am talkative and rowdy with friends, but I am shy around new faces.
The initial plan was to have the shoot at the beach. But due to unforeseen circumstances (a huge ship decided to stay nearby and make huge waves on the shore, the skies were turning dark), we decided to go for Plan B – which was totally unplanned. We had no permits at all. Luckily, the owner/manager was a friend of my dad’s and a client of Sefi. All it took was a phone call and we’re in the pool.
Perhaps, it was a good omen as we had clearer photos and a more controllable environment to shoot. The hard part was the chlorinated water weighing me down quickly, and blurring my eyes. It is easier to adjust in the salt water than in the pool. Also, sunburn is faster here than in the sea.
After about 3 hours in the pool, we ended the shoot and I am forever grateful for the wonderful photos. Oh, this is me btw. Next project: buy a mermaid tail.
*If you plan to shoot underwater with a Dicapac, remember to pad the camera with an absorbent hand towel – preferably ones that turn a darker color when wet.