Photographer Dan Katz explores nude body art in underwater portrait work
Photographic artist Dan Katz made a career in advertising and creative direction for years in Southern California before journeying more seriously into photography. Dan grew up in a home filled with his mother’s fine art paintings, so creativity was always near the surface. His wife is an artist as well. Retiring from the ad agency business in 2020, Dan threw himself fully into his photographic passion, especially figurative work he calls “Human Art” both in-studio as well as underwater. Dan’s images have been featured in live and online art exhibits such as https://www.artlimited.net/, books such as nudeARTzine and Seeing In Sixes, and other publications including LensWork, Lens Magazine, and American Cemetery.
Underwater photo by Dan Katz - Anastasia 4437
Even though Dan doesn’t have a favorite subject to photograph, he finds inspiration in nature, architecture, and the amazing shapes, colors, and forms of the human body. Dan’s work in a reflection of that inspiration, and you can see more of it on his website https://www.dankatzphotography.com/
Underwater photo by Dan Katz - Glimpse of Eternity
Behind the scenes underwater nude body art photoshoot with Dan Katz
Dan’s photo gear has evolved over time, from chemical film, to DSLR, and a host of different lenses for different photographic purposes. His underwater work currently uses a Canon DSLR 5D mk4 and a couple of lenses like 24-70mm f/2.8 and 16-35mm f/2.8. Dan loves the Outex underwater housing system because of its near universal camera fit (it fits multiple cameras, now and into the future), and his ability to control all aspects of his camera’s settings in familiar ways – he doesn’t have to re-learn where buttons are while using it. The optical glass ports deliver stunning imaging results he can use professionally. And the affordability is a bonus.
Underwater photo by Dan Katz - Edie 9402
Underwater photo by Dan Katz - Linnea - 7689
Overcoming the challenges of underwater photography
As Dan has perfected his underwater craft, he’s come to realize there’s something magical about the three-dimensionality of it – being able to photograph from above, below, and all angles – as well as all of the reflections, ripple effects, and textures created by the water around the model. It is both freeing and difficult at the same time, in that it forces you to think in new, different ways to execute your creative vision. It is equally challenging to re-create scenarios that are quite commonplace in a studio environment, such as lighting, backdrops, textures, and colors. “Underwater photography is a whole new ball game”, he says.
Finding the right models for underwater posing
But the challenges don’t end there. The models have to feel as comfortable in this underwater environment as they do on the surface. Which is more rare than it may seem. It’s compelling to “make faces”, hold your breath, release bubbles, squint, and tense-up underwater, as most models have never been photographed beneath the surface. So not only does the subject have to match the physical intensions of the photoshoot, they also have to match the physical requirements associated with its execution.
Underwater photography portfolio
Dan has created an impressive underwater photo portfolio and works with a number of professional and amateur models in creating “photographic paintings” that celebrate the human form underwater and highlight its beauty. In his words: “The underwater photo gallery represents a discovery of the human form in water, taking advantage of light and distortion, and bodies floating in space. Figures, shadows and reflections are abstractions where the viewer can see more than what is in the photograph.” (The collection contains nudity.)
About the artist
For nearly 40 years, Dan Katz was an advertising copywriter and creative director. Long before that, he had begun a journey into photography, starting at the age of 10 with his grandfather’s gift of a Kodak Brownie camera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak_Brownie) and a darkroom kit. His journey into serious fine art photography began years later exploring the world of figurative (nude) art.
“Water-nude photography is some of my most recent work, having been forced to work outside my studio during the pandemic. That has been a godsend, since it has allowed me to explore the grace of motion in the three-dimensional space of water. Fabrics and hair take on their own unexpected, animated life, the poses are lyrical, sensual and surprising, and the abstractions of light through the water cannot be replicated in a studio setting. That said, I truly don’t have any one favorite subject to photograph. I’m inspired by nature, but also by architecture, by the amazing shapes and colors of humanity and by the eternity of death. I love photographing ‘found art’ abstractions in whitewashed store windows, shapes of rusted metals, or the long-ago remains of posters on telephone poles. Photography is all about constant discovery as I see the world through my lens.”
“My inspirations are the Great Photographers: Ansel Adams, Edward Westin, Wynn Bullock, André Kertész, Minor White, Aaron Siskind, and more recent masters such as Richard Avedon, Albert Watson and Helmut Newton.”
“Advertising is my career, aviation is my hobby, travel is my joy, but photography is my passion.”
All of Dan’s photographs are available for purchase as archival signature prints or can be licensed. Learn more or contact his on his website; https://www.dankatzphotography.com/