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UNDERWATER PORTRAITS – CENOTE ENCANTADO, MEXICO

Julieta-Underwater-Photography-Portraits-1

I’m just back from an amazing trip to Mexico. As always on my travels, I took my camera with me to photograph the sights, people and to help remember the experience. Hopefully I will do another blog with some of my street photography I did whilst we travelled around the Yucatan Peninsula… For now, here is a little blog about a shoot I did on the last day before we headed home.

Julieta is from Argentina and I met her in Tulum, a beautiful little town on the Maya Riviera. She was working at Azulik where we were staying – an incredible little collection of wooden eco villas overlooking the Caribbean sea. I had been looking around for someone I might have the courage to ask to model for me for some underwater portraits. Julieta introduced herself as the resident physiotherapist and I thought she would be perfect to photograph.

I always imagined that I would do a shoot in the sea in Mexico but whilst we travelled around the peninsula, we discovered so many beautifully clear, fresh water cenotes. A cenote is a natural sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. I did a spot of scuba diving whilst in the area and I was blown away by how the light hits the water and creates magical beams of light. I spent a fair amount of time with my camera in these cenotes, playing around and getting better at predicting exposures at various depths. When trying to decide on a cenote to do the shoot in, I had been looking for one that was quiet (a lot of the ones in the guidebooks are always full of other tourists) and with plenty of light (most are hidden quite far underground and whilst these are spectacular – they don’t allow in enough of that magic light I’m always on the hunt for!) I came across Cenote Encantado which means the enchanting cenote. It seemed a very apt name. I loved how the roots of the mangrove trees grew down into the water, drawing life from the mysterious deep pools. And on the day of the shoot there was no one else there. I felt very lucky.

Julieta was incredibly natural and comfortable in the water. I could have spent all day taking photos of her as she allowed herself to sink down then swim up for air. The first dress she is wearing is her own – she told me it was her favourite. I love how the yellow pops against the eerie darkness of the water beneath. And the second skirt I had bought from a vintage fair in Brighton – I took it along on holiday with me in the hope to find someone to wear it (it’s way too small for me!) It didn’t float quite like how I had hoped but I like the look nonetheless.

One of the things I love most about diving and being in the water is the fact that I feel like I’m experiencing a whole other world –  a world where strange and beautiful creatures swim around me. A weightless world where I feel like I can fly. A quiet world away from any distractions. I love that my newly revived passion for underwater photography allows me to play and be creative in my dream world. I will stop here before I burst into songs from the little mermaid ;) Here are a few of my favourites from the shoot…

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