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Playing in the Pool

From the Underwater Lens
Playing in the Pool

Paul Hubbard first began his underwater pool portraits three years ago, shortly after inspiration hit while videoing a ballet performance. The dancer’s almost effortless performance—her body swaying and contouring in harmony—inspired the career photographer and cinematographer to capture similar motions in a dissimilar setting. “I wanted to take dance underwater and free the body from gravity; to get the poses and shapes that you can’t on land,” he said. He would find his otherworldly setting at the bottom of a pool.


Frozen Friendship
Models Charlie and Traci took the plunge into lightly chlorinated pool water and posed playfully for the camera. Since the two are close pals, their chemistry came naturally. For Paul, the shot depended mostly on timing; “getting them both looking just right at the camera—eyes open at the same time.” Finding that moment, he said, “basically boiled down to trial and error.” The models remained gently submerged by light lead weights tied to their bikini backs. Neither the photographer nor the models used SCUBA equipment for this shoot, allowing for more communication between them above water but affording less time to shoot and some difficulties under water.
Aperture: f5.6 Shutter: 1/100 sec

Balanced to Perfection
Paul had trouble remembering whether or not Maria had been captured at the moment she jumped in, or whether the former competitive swimmer had suspended herself concisely at the water’s break. I couldn’t tell either. “She was poised to perfection and easy to work with because of her athletic background,” Paul said. The pose helped to add almost perfect symmetry with a linear balance between Maria’s arms and legs. Her black bikini bottom and matching headband helped to further balance the photo, which Paul inverted in post production to add further interest to the piece.
Aperture: f8 Shutter: 1/250 sec


All Tied Up
In this dramatic photo, Katie agreed to be tied by rope to a weight placed out of shot. Paul brought out the SCUBA gear for this one to ensure her safety. This added difficulty for the two to communicate, so the pose had to be choreographed before they submerged. “I wanted to look like she’d been tied to the bottom, but not dead, of course,” he chuckled. “I wanted to capture that mermaid quality.” Katie was framed slightly off-centre, using the rule of thirds, and a slight vignette added in postproduction haloed a slightly dark ring around the model.
Aperture: f7.1 Shutter: 1/125 sec

Phantom of the Water
When Paul told his models to bring their own props, Kat went wild. She came ready to plunge in with a long piece of turquoise material and a Phantom of the Opera-like mask. “And when she was underwater, she took on this whole different personality,” he said. “She’s got loads of hair that really worked to compliment the flowing dress.” For this shot—and most shots—Paul shot at very close range to allow for a pronounced depth of field, and with a slow shutter at times to make the models appear “ghost like” with their somewhat blurred movements.
Aperture: f4 Shutter: 1/40


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