What began as a joke on how to safely conduct a photo shoot during COVID-19 restrictions soon turned into a creative adventure that Steve Haining will never forget. The Canadian photographer worked with model Ciara Antoski and a host of experts to produce an epic photoshoot that went up to 32 feet underwater. It not only resulted in gorgeous photos but also earned Haining a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the deepest underwater photo shoot with a model.
After Haining was told that shooting in pools, a controlled environment he was used to working in, wasn't possible during the pandemic, he joked about taking things outdoors. Working with an expert safety diver, Haining and his favorite underwater model ventured to Canada's shipwreck capital, Tobermory, Ontario. Antoski had worked to perfect posing while working at such depths and also submerged herself in ice baths to prepare herself for the freezing temperatures. While they'd both practiced for the moment, nothing could prepare them for the day of the shoot.
The shoot brought about specific challenges that Haining had to adapt to. This included communicating with Antoski in terms of what was needed from her when she took her place in the shipwreck.
“I would have to dive the wreck with my safety diver to find the locations, set the lighting, and know the angles and shots before we brought Ciara in,” Haining tells My Modern Met. “We would then have to surface and explain to her things like the first location you will be sitting on the bow, we will be shooting from your left side, and you need to look a certain way or pose first sitting and then laying, your air will be above you, signal when you need it, etc.”
At one point, Antoski spent a full 30 minutes submerged in the cold waters. This allowed Haining to fulfill his creative vision and go beyond what he believed was possible. In the end, all the preparation and effort was worth it. The crew visited three different locations during the shoot. This included the W.L. Wetmore, which ran aground in 1901 and provided a dramatic backdrop. Antoski, wearing a flowing white dress, is ethereal as she poses among the shipwreck.
And though it wasn't his goal when he first planned the project, Haining's work earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. (It should be noted that we've covered other photographers who dove even deeper into the ocean for spectacular photoshoots, but Haining actually entered into the Guinness World Records competition and set a record.) For something that didn't start seriously, the entire process has been incredibly fulfilling for Haining, who is also well-known for his work photographing celebrities.
“The joke turned into an idea, and the idea turned into a reality. For me personally, at a time when artists weren’t able to create, this gave me a chance to be an artist again and challenge myself and have fun with friends in the process,” he shares. “The record itself is like a nice keepsake and reminder of the time we all pushed ourselves for something fun, but the most satisfying part was that we set a crazy goal with no expectations, and it became one of the best memories of my life.”