The Reluctant Model




One of the many problems underwater photographers encounter is a little-known phenomenon called the reluctant model. Now when I’m mention the word model this could be referring to anyone such as your dive buddy, dive guide or even a complete stranger. Many times while diving I have approached someone swimming alongside a marine animal, gone to take a shot only to have the diver pose with a confused look on their face or disappear behind a large rock or coral head.


It’s all about showing scale. © C Level Media


So lets look into a few reasons why underwater photographers like to include people in their photos.
One of the main reason that I feel is it brings scale to an image. When photographing underwater compared to that of above land it’s harder for the human mind to reference and judge the size, height and weight of  a given subject.  Also another factor is when shooting with a wide lens it can distort the perspective even more by making the main subject look smaller than it really is. Take for instance a medium size marine animal such as a Loggerhead turtle. Without having something to reference its size against such as a diver the turtle may appear smaller than its original size. The same can go for reefs, wrecks, other divers, fan corals, caves ect.


Diver shows the true size of a Fan Coral. © C Level Media


Next up is all about the perfect image. There is nothing more inviting then seeing a picture of someone swimming around with an assortment of marine life and colourful coral in crystal clear water just as you would see in a travel brochure or holiday advertisement. The fact is that we all like to imagine ourselves doing just that.

Finally with social media taking control of our lives, people like to see themselves in photos. How else would your friends know you have just dived with Great White Sharks or swam with a pack of albino Dolphins. At the time you might not have enjoyed posing for the shot, however after the dive people seem to have a greater appreciation for the image in which they appear in.


This could be you. © C Level Media


So what would be the some of the main problems working with a reluctant model?

Here are a just a few that I have come across.

  • The model is a new diver and wants to concentrate on making it back to the surface alive
  • There is no model so you end up doing selfies for the whole dive
  • There are too many models and you end up with people photobombing your shots
  • The model doesn’t understand your hand signals. Come to think of it either do you
  • The Model wants to be in every shot and will hunt you down the whole dive
  • And the number one problem is……. the model will not get close enough to the subject (especially sharks, stingrays, Irukandjii jellyfish)


Sometimes you may have to many models. © C Level Media


Next we find out ………..What are some of the things a person can do to perhaps become a better underwater model?


4 thoughts on “The Reluctant Model”

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