Behind the Shot: Best Digital Artists Awards 2018

Ambassador Rebecca Handler recently received two prestigious distinctions as one of Archive Magazine's 200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide and One Eyeland Photography's Best of the Best Photographers Worldwide. We caught up with her to find out what went into creating these images.

Tell us about your inspiration process.

I find inspiration in fantasy and folklore, movies, vintage media and advertising.

I have always had a love for the water. As an adult, I fell in love with photography, art and conceptual media. It was only a matter of time before I melded these together.

 Rectilinear lenses are typically preferred for shooting models. What lens(es) are you shooting right now?

I usually shoot with a 17-40mm or 24-70mm. In general, I want to get as close to the model as I can so there are less artifacts between myself and my subject and achieve the most natural color rendering. I tend shoot around 35-50mm.

Digital art is often a composite of more than one images. How much time in post-process editing is typically required?

An underwater image generally takes 2-8 hours to retouch depending on the amount of compositing needed.

Rebecca Handler Ikelite Ambassador

This was created from a single image.

This has a haunting beauty. What’s the story that you’re conveying here?

I wanted to convey an eerie sense of solitude. The fall into the abyss represents giving yourself to the unknown. I thought of these images as a study of shape, light and motion, and felt that through lifeless bodies, we could depersonalize the subjects and focus on the beauty of surrender.

Was this shot in a pool or open water?

A pool with a backdrop and lighting.

Light rays can be tricky. How did you capture this beautiful contrast?

I had a Fresnel light with a gel above the subject on the edge of the pool. An assistant was moving it for me, following the subject to create these beautiful rays.

Rebecca Handler Ikelite Ambassador

This is comprised of two images: the stingrays were shot at the aquarium and composited into the shot.

Where was this taken?

This was taken in an algae filled pool. That is how we achieved the murky green coloration. The stingrays were shot at the Coney Island Aquarium.

Was your model experienced at working underwater?

This was the first time I shot with her underwater, so no. I shot with her above water in the past and we developed a trust working together. Although, she was comfortable underwater.

How difficult was it to get the model’s hair and dress to behave during the shoot?

Not too bad, I liked the organic nature of letting things move naturally underwater.

Mermaid by Rebecca Handler Ikelite Ambassador

This is also comprised of two images. The mermaid was shot as an over-under (half-in, half-out of the water) with the male in a pool. The environment was shot separately and later composited. 

Is the tail real?

Yes, it was created and loaned to us for the shoot by the mertailor.

What’s next? What else are you working on?

I just finished a conceptual yoga shoot based on outdoor yoga fads. I will soon be returning underwater. I am still brainstorming concepts.



Additional Reading

Rebecca Handler Ambassador Profile

Behind the Shot: Until the Ice Melts in the White Sea

Behind the Shot: DEEP Indonesia Best of Show Over-Under

Freediving a 60 Ton Statue in the Bahamas with Jenna Martin

Related Articles

COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2
COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2
The second part in our series about how our Ambassador team is keeping active - personally and photographically - in a time of government mandated shelter in place orders.
COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1
COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1
Read how our Ambassadors are keeping themselves sane without their usual schedules of flying around the world and diving in exotic new locations.
My Top 5 Favorite Wrecks of Truk Lagoon
My Top 5 Favorite Wrecks of Truk Lagoon
Author of the Airplane Graveyard, Truk Odyssey Captain, and Ambassador Brandi Mueller shares her favorites among some of the world's greatest wreck dives.