George Kamper Photographer Produces Beauty and the Reef Water Ballet

October 1, 2014

By Barbara Goldman

© George Kamper

 <em>Beauty and the Reef</em> with Miami City Ballet.

Miami-based advertising photographer George Kamper has always believed in producing personal work throughout his career. Kamper’s quest for beautiful imagery allows him to work successfully in a wide range of disciplines with a myriad of clients.  Kamper takes on every project with deep curiosity and a willingness to test and explore. As a result, he has delighted clients with his solutions and has enjoyed a multidisciplinary career. 

 In addition to being an award-winning photographer, Kamper is a scuba diver, lifeguard, a lover of water and swimming pools.   He also enjoys a challenge, especially when has to be creative in a difficult environment where he is managing logistics, talent and crew on tight budgets and schedules. With his love of the water and the search for  new challenges, Kamper decided he wanted to do a story that could combine both with stunning imagery.

“Shooting stills underwater sounds easy. Grab your Go Pro, jump in the ocean or pool, and there ya go!  Well, that may be  true for some, I wanted to shoot a story with higher quality, more thought out, with an awe factor that would leave people asking how were these done,” says  Kamper.  But Kamper wanted to do something that was different and not overdone.  He loves fashion but underwater fashion has been done.  He wanted his images to have an organic quality and not feel or look clichéd. The idea of using shipwrecks intrigued him. Combining them with dancers and athletes underwater presented a vision of stunning imagery. Once he came up with this general direction, he started research and extensive pre-production as he does for any advertising assignment.

“First I had to learn to shoot underwater, with and without tanks and diving gear, in a pool and in the ocean. I needed to practice in the environment with camera housings that were new to me and of course, I needed a muse that would be willing to put up with me,” says Kamper.  Challenges for this shoot were many and unique.  He had to gain access to underwater wrecks and procure the gear needed to shoot them. Some of the wrecks were in water over 100 feet deep. To prolong his dive time safely,he needed to get Nitrox certified as well.

Working with dancers in the pool.

He needed creative fashion styling that would give him access to interesting wardrobe ideas and props. Props and wardrobe would be subjected to saltwater or chlorine, which could potentially ruin them. He also needed makeup and hair styling that would work and last underwater. He also had to have the right talent. Models would have to be good with holding their breath, opening their eyes and acting underwater.

As luck would have it, Kamper had been asked by an editorial client Venice magazine, published by Whitehaus Media Group, if he would be interested in photographing members of the Miami City Ballet for an underwater editorial.   Publisher Carlos Suarez and Editor Nila Do Simon of Venice  loved Kamper’s idea for dancers underwater around the ship wrecks. Production for Beauty and the Reef was on.

Shipwrecks in water over 100 feet deep.

For Kamper, the dancers had the right form and disciplined control of their bodies that all ballet dancers have, but could they work and have the breath control needed in the water. Kamper’s thorough pre-production and resourcefulness helped him solve many of these problems along the way. First, he shot the wrecks before doing any work with the dancers, always keeping in mind how he wanted to position them in postproduction.  He then shot the dancers in a pool in Miami and edited them into the wreck imagery, thereby producing the safest way of getting the talent in the water in the exact positions he wanted.  Getting dancers into water over 100-feet deep and all the support services  that would have been needed  was far too dangerous and could easily make for costly mistakes. The Miami sun  even helped out as his main light source throughout the day, and he  placed reflectors strategically to maintain an organic, consistent look that would match the wrecks in the ocean.

Miami City Ballet  dancers positioned by shipwrecks.

 Kamper’s shoot turned out to be a great personal and critical success for him and the client Venice Magazine and was published as an editorial. Kamper gives much credit to his excellent retoucher Christine Craig, who has worked with him for over five years. She was an enthusiastic partner who shared the same creative vision and energy for the project. Kamper also thanks his support staff and crew, the editorial support that was able to get Beauty and the Reef published and the excellent dancers from Miami City Ballet.

© All photos George Kamper/  George Kamper crew for Beauty and the Reef.

You can see Kamper’s Video of  Beauty and the Reef  here. And see more of  Kamper’s graceful water ballet imagery here.

Find George Kamper on social media:

instagram & twitter: @geokamper