Submerged Symphony: Shooting "Atlantis" with Polish Pop Star Justyna Steczkowska

Submerged Symphony: Shooting "Atlantis" with Polish Pop Star Justyna Steczkowska

By Rafal Makiela
Images and Video © Rafal Makiela

I present to you my largest underwater production. The photo session was done for the Polish pop music star, Justyna Steczkowska, on the occasion of her 25th anniversary in the entertainment industry. Additionally, one of the photos was used as the cover for her latest album.


Camera Gear

For this session, I used an Ikelite DL 200 Underwater Housing with a Canon EOS R camera and a 17-40mm f/4.0L lens. To trigger external generators and Broncolor lights, I used my 'DIY' trigger.

polish pop start justyna being surrounded by media

Justyna Steczkowska is interviewed by the press on the set of the underwater photoshoot "Atlantis" by Rafal Makiela.  

The Making of "Atlantis"

The preparation for the session was exceptionally complex as I wanted to place all the elements of the set underwater without the need for later Photoshop editing. The conceptual preparation alone took six months, followed by another three months to finalize the location, set design, underwater model training, and dress preparation.

piano being sunk into a pool for photoshoot by rafal makiela using an ikelite underwater housing

This was the world's first underwater session in which a real piano was used. Image © Rafal Makiela

The set design was prepared and executed by ArtSize Design, led by Gabi Prządka & Beata Betty Bychowska. The team created a fantastic set for the 'Atlantis' project, including a floor and background printed with a sand and stone pattern, mirrored cylinders filled with underwater plants, and a piano covered in 'crawling' snails. Every element was perfect. The dresses for the session were designed and prepared by the internationally renowned fashion designer Sylwia Romaniuk.

Justyna Steczkowska in Atlantis photoshoot by rafal makiela using an ikelite underwater housing

There was no detail left out for this monumental underwater photoshoot honoring Justyna Steczkowska's 25th anniversary in the entertainment business. Image © Rafal Makiela

Logistically, the session was challenging. We had access to a pool but only during nighttime hours. We set up a platform with lighting for the entire session by the pool, with set design elements also attached to the platform. It took us two hours to sink the piano. The underwater team consisted of 5 divers, 2 of whom were with our model, ensuring air supply and safety. One was my backup, and two were responsible for photo and video materials backstage. The entire session lasted about 7 hours. Below, you can see the results from the session.

"Atlantis" Photo Gallery

Justyna Steczkowska underwater photoshoot with rafal makiela using ikelite housing

Image © Rafal Makiela

Justyna Steczkowska with a violin and piano underwater for rafal makiela photo shoot using an ikelite underwater housing

Justyna playing a submerged symphony for the "Atlantis" photoshoot. Image © Rafal Makiela

justyna playing the piano underwater for rafal makiela underwater photoshoot

A real piano was plunged underwater for the photoshoot. It took a whole team of people to pull off this exciting event. Image © Rafal Makiela

25th anniversary photoshoot for Justyna photographed by Rafal Makiela using an Ikelite underwater housing

What better way to celebrate the huge accomplishment of 25 years in the music industry than a once-in-a-lifetime underwater photoshoot? Image © Rafal Makiela


Photographer: Rafal Makiela // @rafalmakielaphotographer 
Model: Justyna Steczkowska Singer
Mua: Jola Boska
Hair: Marcin Sebastian Urbanski
Production: Royal Concert
Dresses: Sylwia Romaniuk Fashion Designer
Design: ArtSize Design - by Gabi Przadka & Beata Betty Bychowska
Divers: Ryszard Jelonek, Marek Nurek, Krzysztof Kowalski
Underwater Video: Michał Szczepaniak
Pool: Zabki


rafal makiela ikelite ambassador headshot

Ikelite Ambassador Rafal Makiela is a professional photographer that specializes in underwater fashion photography, commercial advertising, and weddings. His work evokes a sense of dreamlike wonder and has appeared in many magazines and periodicals as both advertisements and editorials. He has also taken part in bigger projects including outdoor campaigns, business portraits, and traditional advertising. Learn more...



Additional Reading

Behind the Scenes of an Underwater Editorial Photo Shoot

I Tried an Underwater Pool Photoshoot for the First Time [VIDEO]

Jenna Martin's TEDx on Becoming an Underwater Portrait Photographer [VIDEO]

5 Tips for a Successful Freediving Photoshoot

Studio Lighting Secret for Underwater Photographers [VIDEO]

Canon Mirrorless Lineup Explained for Underwater [VIDEO]


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