An Underwater Fashion Shoot Featuring a Whale Shark


The photograph above may look like some kind of imaginary scene conjured up by a Photoshop wizard, but it’s an actual photograph showing a real model swimming with a real whale shark.

Photographers Shawn Heinrichs and Kristian Schmidt carried out the “revolutionary fashion shoot” recently off the coast of the Philippines, creating a set of fashion photos that are unlike any we’ve seen before.

The photographs, which have gone viral online, are meant to bring the plight of the whale shark — currently considered at risk of going extinct in the wild — to the public’s attention.

Heinrichs, an underwater photographer, and Schmidt, a fashion photographer, first teamed up in November 2012 in order to combine their skill sets for this photo shoot idea.

After assembling a team of models (including a world class sky diver and a professional underwater model), divers, and a stylist, they traveled to a small village called Oslob in a remote corner of the Philippines. Heinrichs writes,

Just a two years ago in these very waters, divers discovered a live juvenile whale shark that had all its fins cut off. Though legally protected in the Philippines, poaching of whale sharks had continued because the shark fin traders enticed poor local fishermen to earn money from exploiting these vulnerable animals. Less than a decade prior, the local populations of whale sharks had been all but wiped out to satisfy demand for shark fins in China. Now finally, local communities have found a way to earn a living from whale shark tourism, and rather than targeting and killing them, they now are passionate about protecting them.

Shooting the photographs was challenging technically, and took the team one week to complete.








Here’s a behind-the-scenes photograph showing the team in action:


Whale Shark Fashion Shoot – World First! [Blue Sphere Media via SLR Lounge]

Image credits: Photographs by Shawn Heinrichs and Kristian Schmidt and used with permission

  • Dan

    Well I suppose anything that draws attention to the massive threat of extinction that sharks around the world face is a good thing. Time to end shark finning!!!

  • pavl

    such ugly filters! I think these shots would look best with less post-pro

  • kmonkey

    you know what’s ugly pavl?….your ugly attitude. These shots are beautiful and people like you who have to bring down other peoples work are clearly just jelouse and filled with rage so they aka you have to think and pick out something that is wrong in order for you to feel ok again and to feel superior. Grow up. These pictures are amazing and I think more people need to think like this.

  • DamianM

    No, PAVL is right. the filters take away from the image.
    Personally dont care for them but they got carried away in post and forgot to let the image speak for itself.

  • Joshua Morin

    I agree, the filters are bad. They really take away from the beautiful pics.

  • chef carla

    this is phenomenal…excellent work of art…

  • hdc77494

    There’s some merit to the filter comments. The video I posted has an entirely different, and better look.

  • Dave

    Completely agree but also note that Mr Heinrichs finished product is far better than the other two photographers represented. That tobacco grad shot and one above it is ghastly.

  • Kusjka Du Plessis

    I agree with the bad use of filters! I also feel like every shot is basicly the same, what is truly the concept here? #justsaying

  • Todd Beltz

    I agree with the others. As a photographer myself, I cringe at the use of such ugly filters that mar the beauty of the photograph. It’s post processing taken a bit to far. The ones without filters are simple and amazing as they have been shot.

  • Orm

    Wasted opportunity. Big floaty dresses are good for trash the dress but IMO interfere with the imagery of the shark. Saturation and filters look amateurish.

  • Jennifer Lucia

    Really interesting concept and some of these had potential to be really amazing minus the awful overdone editing.

  • Jennifer Lucia

    Sorry I agree with Pavi. I don’t think it’s jealousy and rage, I think it’s pure observation

  • Alan Ralph

    Looking at some of the comments here, I have to wonder why some of you clicked on this article. Never mind the post-production choices and the fashions the ladies were wearing – did you notice the FRICKIN’ WHALE SHARK?! The penultimate one in particularly, where you can see the water surface bend into its giant mouth, is the stand-out for me.

  • Alan Ralph

    Thanks for that link! Makes me want to go visit and see them up close. :)

  • wendy

    No matter what, still cool pics

  • wendy

    Actually kmonkey they are just as entitled to their opinion as you are. I agree with you that the pictures are cool no matter what but as an amateur photog I appreciate their comments about the filters and editing. No need to go on a rant

  • Alex

    Stunning! It must have been taken a lot of patience …. from the shark ;-). Beautiful pictures.

  • Janet

    It’s about the bloody WHALE SHARKS people!

  • Rufus

    Would love to see you try something similar. Please admire the pictures and be quiet.