Plamena Mileva dreams of underwater photoshoot with sharks


Plamena Mileva has been diving for eight years now, taking shots of the beauty of seas and oceans. The first underwater photograph she took was of her 3-months-old son, to capture each precious moment of motherhood. She studied to be an artist, while her hobby draws her towards water, so one day she decided to combine her two passions in a profession. She started shooting photo-sessions underwater. Her creativity is distinguished at nearly 50 international forums in the sphere, her latest award coming from the Underwater Photography Global Championship in Dusseldorf. Plamena Mileva also made a record for deep-water photography – 33 meters.

“Preparing a photo-session sometimes takes several months and there is a whole team taking part in that”, Plamena explains. “We discuss where and at what time of the day or night to shoot; whether to use aqualung or the CPAP technique (Continuous positive airway pressure). We also study climatic conditions and underwater currents; we test the styling and makeup. Before the fashion shootout we make a briefing for specifying the signs we are to use while diving in case we have to make some change in the process. The day of the session I get up early and I take a very light breakfast. After that I put the make up on the model, proceed with the styling and take off for the shooting destination.”

In 2014 the photographer took 3rd place at the Underwater Photography Global Championship in Eilat, Israel, with her original idea to use underwater lights while taking the pictures. For the purpose she made a costume of a jellyfish with inbuilt LED lights working on batteries installed behind the back of the model. The photo was taken during the night.

“When light passes through water, it changes angle and vibrates on the human figure, giving the feeling of mysticism. Besides, the water medium gives objects a bluish or greenish hue, which has to be put under control in order to regain the natural color specter by using additional lights. And if you follow your object correctly, then the fairy effect is even stronger”, Plamena Mileva says.

However, is it possible to take a good picture without the assistance of the “lords” of the underwater world?

“Underwater you are a guest and you should consider this medium as one that has opened its doors for you”, the photographer says. “If you gain the confidence of each being there, it may overcome fear and come closer. But unless that happens, you have no way of approaching these creatures and include them in the pictures. So first of all they should accept you, allow you in, and that often takes time.”

The next challenge for Plamena Mileva is to make shootouts with sharks, which may be a very risky adventure.

“This is a dream we have with our Spanish model Jessica, for whom the shark is most fascinating creature”, the photographer adds. “Sharks are not all that bloodthirsty as commonly believed. It is true some species are more hostile than others, but they may not attack unless challenged. In fact it is quite dangerous to take shots of many other water animals, too. That is why we should keep ourselves well informed.”

Besides winning international competitions with photos from exotic destinations, Plamena Mileva enters also the sphere of fashion, merging it with underwater photography. She recently completed a fashion shootout for Carducci, giving advertising a new aspect. 

English version: Iva Letnikova

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