Models Swim with Whale Sharks for an Underwater Fashion Shoot [Video]

NEW YORK | Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 1:08am EDT

Models posed in their swimwear next to the world’s biggest fish in the Philippines to draw attention to poaching of whale sharks.

Underwater models managed to combine the worlds of fashion and the ocean in the new shoot of a lifetime by diving with 30-foot-long whale sharks.

Hannah Fraser, 36, and Roberta Mancino, 32, dived up to 25-feet-deep in the tropical waters of the Phillippines for a unusual photo-session posing in the wild with the 18-tonne world’s largest fish.

The idea of fearless models perfectly mimicking the graceful poses of whale sharks as they swam in the ocean belongs to US photographers Shawn Heinrichs, 41, and Kristian Schmidt, 35, who spent four-months planning the photoshoot which took five days.

The photographers explained how they had come up with the decision to join forces with models Roberta and Hannah to create images that would capture the hearts all over the world.

However, there was one more aim to create the photoshoot: they also believed to raise awareness of the plight of the gentle giants that live in the world’s oceans.

“The models were incredibly eager to join this shoot,” said Heinrichs. “As well as being conventional models in the fashion industry, Hannah is a professional underwater model and Roberta a world-class base jumper.

He went on, adding: “With that kind of background, they had the confidence necessary to make this succeed.”

“During the shoot we managed to skirt thunderstorms, rough seas and occasional high winds without any incidents – we were very fortunate that the shoot went off without a hitch.”

The photographer continued: “Whale sharks are gentle animals and present zero threat to people and the fishermen we worked with welcomed us to their village. They helped us interact safely and respectfully with the whale sharks.”

As The Daily Mail informs, whale sharks are a classified as ‘a harmless and vulnerable marine species that survive by consuming tiny sea creatures called plankton’.

Unfortunately, the biggest fish are still the victims of poaching, with their fins being sold in the markets of China for up to US$20,000 (£12,300).

Heinrichs kept on explaining how the amazing photos have been, by using the knowledge of locals in the Philippine village of Oslob, where fishermen have developed a special bond with the whale sharks they share the ocean with.

“Each day the whale sharks come in to the shallow waters of the village and the fishermen feed them small handfuls of tiny shrimp,” he said.

“For a few hours a day, the whale sharks sit peacefully beneath the canoes waiting for a tasty treat. I had a real sense of how work with human subjects and these magnificent animals.”

“Combined with Kristian’s expertise working with fashion models, we had all the tools necessary to get the job done.”

“Managing composition, position of sunlight, and working with the models to connect with the whale sharks enabled us to really make these images shout.”

He added: “The experience, confidence and natural beauty that Hannah and Roberta brought to the project was a decisive factor in making the shoot such a huge success.”

Shawn explained the impact their underwater fashion shoot with whale sharks has already had with viewers.

“People are blown away by the images,” he said. “’Most find it hard to believe they are actually real – many people assume the models are photo-shopped into the picture.”

“Though cleaned up and enhanced with colour and lighting effects as in any fashion shoot, nothing has been added to the images, including the models.”

“People are immediately taken by the connection between these models and the sharks, the juxtaposition between these beautiful vulnerable women and these creatures of the deep.”

“The beautiful form, light and composition create a surreal world that really captures people’s imaginations,” added the photographer.

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