Welcome to our series on Inspiring Women – interviews with women who have followed their dreams. Our first interview is with Liz Harlin, a multi award-winning underwater photographer based on the Sunshine Coast. Liz’s stunning images have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Australian, and National Geographic, and they have been used on diplomatic gifts and postage stamps.
How did you get into photography and when did you make the decision to become an underwater photographer?
I began using my dad's SLR camera when I was 11, developing my film and making prints in the school darkroom. I've enjoyed photography ever since. After university and a short career in London's corporate world, I took a year off to travel and dive... but I never went back to the UK. I worked for a few years in the dive industry around the world, photographing marine wildlife. I then partnered with an underwater cameraman, and we set up an underwater imaging company (Undersea Productions) in 2006.
Tell us about Liz Harlin Photographic – what led you from wildlife photography to underwater portraits?
The wildlife photography keeps me busy while travelling and diving overseas, while the underwater portraits is my real passion work while at home. I enjoy the collaborative nature of commissioned portraiture, and it's rewarding to see the finished artwork displayed in my client's homes.
What does an underwater shoot with Liz Harlin Photographic involve?
It starts with a client meeting to explore what kind of art they are drawn to, which colours work with their decor, and where the art will be displayed in their home.
From there I design a photoshoot that will give us a selection of suitable images to choose from. The underwater photoshoot itself is almost always a new experience for my clients, something fun and engaging that they've never done before, and something they'll always remember. It begins with custom wardrobe selections in a private dressing room, then underwater makeup by a professional makeup artist, then the fully guided stress-free in-water session with coaching on breathing techniques and posing.
My team includes an experienced water safety assistant always available to help. We are all there to ensure the client looks relaxed, natural and at their very best.
My large purpose-built underwater studio is toasty warm, with water that won't sting your eyes. It is completely private and perfectly oriented to the sun for the most flattering light.
Liz Harlin Photographic is your second business - how do you manage running 2 businesses?
Hmmm... I'm still trying to figure that out!
Your Everyday life
What are you reading at the moment?
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari
What are you watching at the moment?
I don't watch telly or Netflix. From what people tell me, I have a lot of catching up to do one day!
You live on the Sunshine Coast and have a day with no responsibilities to do anything you like. What do you do?
Bushwalking and a picnic with a view.
Which do you prefer?
Camping/staying in a hotel - staying in a hotel
Watching a movie/reading a book - reading a book
Waking up early/staying up late - waking up early
Tea/Coffee - tea
Sweet/savoury - savoury
Breakfast/no breakfast - no breakfast
Online shopping/in store shopping - online shopping for the most part
And finally, we have to ask - what is the best gift you have ever received?
The engagement ring that my dad gave my mum. It's made from the gemstones of a brooch that his family smuggled out of Egypt, when they were all expelled during the Suez Crisis.
Find Liz Harlin Photographic
All photos by Liz Harlin Photographic.