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Underwater Modelling

“What do you have to do?” It is the first question asked by most people when it comes to underwater modeling. As an underwater model, my answer is always the same: “I have to blend myself with the underwater environment to further enhance its beauty.”
Underwater Modelling
Published in X-Ray Issue: 61 - Jul 2014
Authored by: Lyn Boyun Chung | Photography: Sang Hak Choi, Ki Joon Kim, Jeong Kweon Park, Oh Yong Sung, Ju Won, Chung Hong Yang | Translation:
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Fifteen years ago in my country, underwater modeling was done primarily by fashion models or female divers in swimsuits. Often they were treated less than professionally, usually not paid, and in some cases, expected to provide sexual favors—and the resulting images were not as good as they could have been.
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Attitudes needed to change. I wanted to improve conditions and see what women divers in scuba gear could do to improve underwater images. So I established a school for underwater modeling in Korea to give women divers new skills and professional opportunities in the diving industry.

In the beginning, there were complaints about paying underwater models. However, since then, there has been a gradual change in the understanding and appreciation of how models who are scuba divers can optimize an underwater image. They have become recognized as professionals and equals in the field and have even been given an award category at national underwater photography competitions for the past three years.

The technique
Underwater modeling can be divided into two major areas. The first is scuba diving and the other is skin diving. When scuba diving, the model’s primary objective is to make the subject of the photo appear beautiful and real from the camera’s point of view. When skin diving, the model’s primary objective is to blend in and project the aesthetics of her form into the water. The model becomes one with the underwater environment while enhancing it with the beauty of her form. Silhouette modeling is the most basic scuba diving modeling.

Understand the camera and the lens
When planning the silhouette scene, it is essential that you and the photographer work as one. To properly assist, the model has to understand how the photographer will take a photo and has to be able to visualize the framing that the photographer is planning.

The model has to know what camera is being used, the focal length of the lens, and what aperture will be selected. Cameras can be divided into two major types: those with full or cropped sensors. Depending on the sensor, it will affect the position the model will take in the framing.

If you don’t understand the camera and think that just posing will work, you’re not correct. With a cropped sensor, the model will be too close, filling the frame. With a full sensor, the model will be too small in the frame. Of course the photographer can signal to you how to position yourself. However, you’re wasting valuable time and not performing as a professional underwater model. The objective of a professional underwater model is to be in the best position for the photographer to take one shot in the shortest time possible.

The position of the model also depends on the lens. Most are within the 10 to 16mm focal range. Depending on the angle of view and the characteristics of the lens, it is recommended that a photograph of the model be taken before the dive. This preliminary image helps to identify and analyze the particularities of the selected lens and options. In addition, another photograph should be taken after the underwater housing has been set in place. The image will identify any distortions or angle inflexions the framing will have in the final setup. (...)

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