BLOG #144  3/18/16


If you put water-based makeup on a beautiful model and she goes.

During all the years I have honed my skills at photographing dancers and models underwater, the learning curve has been steep and exciting (especially in the earliest period, when I was finding out what didn’t work as well as what did). I have probably been helped along by my education and background as a pre-med physics major and as a physician, both of which are the result of my underlying interest in science. It turns out that this has been a great asset as well as an assuring partner in my creative endeavors.

Beauty work, which depends as much on artful makeup as on the natural good looks of models, was a special challenge – with enchanting results when I figured out how to get it right.

What looks like a mistake in this image is something I intended, and I felt the resulting image was wonderful. But for a straightforward beauty photograph for a magazine editorial feature or an advertising campaign, makeup has to be perfect and stay that way.

So the question is, in the following images how did we solve the problem of running makeup?



In this photograph for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, the makeup had to hold even under the heavy movement of water in a waterfall.





Sometimes the make-up is very complicated; even then we’ve learned how to keep it perfect.





In an extreme example, the model wore only body paint, and later posed with Patrycja Korzeniak, make-up artist supreme. The two-pieced “bathing suit” stayed on without even a smear.



The secret is so simple, it may even be disappointing: Early on, we learned to use oil-based makeup, which doesn’t dissolve, doesn’t move, and breaks down ever so slowly. Soluble, water-based make-up runs with the first dip;  and soon disappears.



We also use oil-based make-up in underwater fashion shoots.


Despite this seemingly simple solution it is still vital to have a make-up artist positioned at poolside to inspect then touch-up the model’s makeup every so often when she comes up for air.





I am teaching a 4-day workshop the Palm Springs Photo Festival this Spring (end of April). The workshop is called: “THE INSPIRED EYE: Experimentation, Exploration & Discovery: A Search for the Unexpected.”


To view more of my work, visit my website.