Getty | Underwater Medical



It’s not every day we’re commissioned on a medical shoot, and it’s certainly not every day it’s an underwater medical shoot. But then again, nothing really surprises us when it comes to shooting with Getty Images.



For those of you that are raising your right eyebrow, Getty is a stock photo agency which means they provide businesses and consumers with an archive of 80 million still images and more than 50,000 hours of stock film. Getty target various markets which is why their briefs, although rare, are sometimes totally wacky and out there - and we love each and every one of them.


Shooting for Getty allows us to really push the boundaries, test kit and put our own creative spin on each shoot. Naturally, Matt was in his element during the underwater medical shoot as he got to act merman for 10 hours straight - safe to say we nicknamed him Orrimaarko for the day.


The brief was direct, our Art Director Rachel Brinton Matthews hand picks photographers and filmmakers on ability and styles, trusting their interpretation will supersede their requirements. Centred around different types of pain relief, both mental and physical, there was a large scope for our creatives to explore. Only now and then did I have to rain it in, specifically when the morph suit made an appearance which ended abruptly when we realised the model was unable to breath as he reached the surface - the morph suit no longer has a head.


Pool depth and ambient lighting was particularly important with the concepts Matt and the team had in mind. Getting each of these elements nailed was crucial to the success of the shots, consequently this meant pre-production was as always a military exercise, ensuring model and property release forms were complete and production companies were briefed. Luckily the lifeguards on standby were in their element as they sat comfortably in their inflatable rings tucking into take-away pizza in anticipation for the shoot ahead.


Luckily Matt likes to spend more time in the water than out of it, and has mastered the act of breath holds and controlled heart rate which is pretty important when having to dive continuously. His ideas soon became apparent and the interesting shots came through the use of the movement as darkness fell. Whilst underwater photography can be in incredibly rewarding it certainly comes with its own challenges. The properties of light underwater being the hardest to master, The kit you shoot with and the general approaches to composition are all aspects you’ve got to master before taking on such briefs.


For the awe-inspiring shots, you absolutely have to work with the light moving around the subject all the time, understanding where to be as they enter the water and re surface. Stay close to a subject for maximum clarity and move away from them to give a sense of darkness to the frame. Close up portraits minimise the amount of particulate between you and your subject (suspended in even clear water), causing a sort of visual fog called backscatter.

Getty-pool_Matt Porteous

Matt, Lucy and Ben spent their time submerged underwater, whilst Olly remained above the surface capturing intense portraits in shallower water using flash and absent light. Consequently, a range of kit was used throughout the shoot. Matt stuck with his Canon 5D mark4 with a 35mm lens as its superior tracking in low light means its more adaptable in situations like these, using a Nauticam underwater housing accompanied the canon, and Ollie stuck with the love of his life - his Fuji GFX, capturing some serious ethereal shots.


Overall the shoot was a success and the art director at Getty was really pleased with the final selection of stills and footage. The only mistake out of the entire shoot was ordering 15 XXL Dominos pizzas for a bunch of super fit models. Note to self… an abundance of cheese isn’t everyone's favourite thing in life (I know).



Filmed and Edited by Lucy.