Behind the Scenes of This Incredible Inflatable Pool Backyard Portrait Shoot

You'll often hear photographers claim that a lot can be achieved with very little, and for the most part it's true. However, that tidbit doesn't offer a great deal of actionable information. In this behind-the-scenes video, you will see just how far creativity can take you.

Irene Rudnyk is a superb portrait photographer and she has some superb equipment in her arsenal, but what makes this shoot special is it isn't the camera or the strobe light that makes it possible, it's her creativity. These types of shoots are not uncommon; portraits of people lying in pools that are made to look like ponds of oceans for an aquatic fantasy aesthetic. However, you could be fooled into thinking they require vast bodies of water, lots of lights, and a ton of setting up to achieve. That is not the case.

Rudnyk uses an inflatable children's paddling pool for this, masked in two ways: the first is water coloring and the second is a close crop. The water coloring sets the whole mood and can hide the ugliness of a cheap pool's linings, which would break the spell being created in the final image. The close crop does much the same thing, ensuring the viewer doesn't detect that the image wasn't in fact taken in some mystical, watery wonderland. A final tip that is admittedly more difficult is styling. If you can rope in a great stylist for this sort of shoot and get them to tie in hair, make-up, and accessories to fit the color of the water, you are setting up the basis of a fantastic image.

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5 Comments

J.d. Davis's picture

Nicely done - remember that fresh water is more brown toned and salt water is blue or green. Use native water plants rather than twigs & flowers and to add a final touch of realism, about #100 of sand on the bottom to create the real beach look.

Dave McDermott's picture

I like the fact that she wasn't discouraged by her previous attempt. Always learn from your mistakes.

Brian Landis's picture

Nicely done. To warm the water go old school and heat up water in the house and pour it in. Microwave a couple of large bowls of water or boil a couple of kettles of water and pour them in. Should bring the temperature up a bit.

Jim Cutler's picture

Without watching the video or reading the piece, just the thumbnail photo told me: IRENE. She makes great stuff.

John Fitzpatrick's picture

Hi Irene. I'm a big fan of your work, here is an item you might be able to use to warm the water.

https://www.amazon.com/Immersion-Gesail-Submersible-Thermostat-Protectio...

It's a bucket heater, we used these in construction through the winter to warm water. With a couple of these you should be able to warm the water, please note you must remove them from the pool if anyone is in the water and use on a GFCI protected outlet. Most external outlets are wired this way. One of these heaters will max out one circuit so if you use more than one put it on a separate circuit. If you are using extension cord then the thicker the cord the better. Great images and thanks for educating me . Good Luck, Grumpyhighlander.

oh I just thought of another thing, one of those portable propane showers for camping, you could just recirculate the water through it until it's all warm. "joolca.com" but expensive.