Photographer Steven Haining was granted the record for the deepest underwater photo shoot with a model back in July and now, just a few short months later, he has set a new milestone by going five times deeper than before.
Haining and model Ciara Antoski dove into the waters near Tobermory, Ontario, Canada near the wreck of the W.L. Wetmore two years ago, although the record was only certified this past summer.
While the original intent of the shoot wasn’t to get a world record, they were nonetheless certified by the Guinness World Records for the deepest official shoot at 21 feet, although Haining says they did go to as far down as 32 feet. Unfortunately, given the records they had for the shoot, the record-keeping organization would only certify it for the higher portion of the Wetmore wreck.
21 feet did not sound particularly deep to many PetaPixel readers, and Haining appears to have agreed. Back then, he said he wasn’t satisfied and since it was only happenstance they got the record the first time, he intended to perform a shoot in the future that was specifically designed around setting a record.
“This shoot to me and I think the whole team is really special,” Haining tells PetaPixel. “We did the original record breaking shoot as a fun project not even considering that there was a record in the moment, so for us to go back to the same location two years later with a real personal challenge not only by going significantly deeper but also twice as cold (7 degrees Celsius or 44 degrees Fahrenheit) kind of gave us a way to go on another adventure and see what we really could do. It also perfectly adds to the series I’ve been working on not only as a photo set but with meaning and intention.”
Haining and his team have succeeded in that goal and with a representative from the Guinness World Records present, Haining set a new record of 98 feet deep (30 meters), which is more than five times the depth of the previous record.
This time, the record has been achieved by Haining, Mareesha Klups, and Mario Medarevic (all Canadian). The depth was achieved on September 19, 2023 again in Tobermory, Ontario, Canada due to the abundance of shipwrecks and the relatively clear water.
“I love Tobermory,” Haining says. “The cold, fresh water keeps things below the surface very intact its one of the nicest places to explore, and at the end of the day I’m a portrait photographer so to be able to combine my love of diving shipwrecks with my passion and art, all while hanging out with great friends — it honestly doesn’t get better than that.”
“The photo shoot took place at the bow of the Niagara II Shipwreck, which sits at a depth of 30 meters (98 feet). The entire attempt underwater including cleanup, equipment removal, and safety stop lasted just over 30 minutes, while photo shoot itself was 16 minutes long,” the Guinness World Records says.
This time, things went a bit differently compared to the first record-setting dive.
“The first dive we had Ciara Antoski, a model I’ve worked with for years, who loves pushing the limits creatively with me and Master diver trainer Mareesha Klups (who is also the Penn and Teller finale escape act) as the dive safety to safely bring an idea to life,” Haining explains.
“This time, because greater depth and freezing temps under an extended period of time presented new challenges, we had a much larger team and moved some parts around. While for most of the shoot locations that week, Ciara was the model and Mareesha was the safety, during the deep dive because of Mareesha’s experience in cold, on that particular wreck and being able to have a long breath hold in colder temperatures, we had Ciara coach her on some modelling poses and we used Mareesha as the model.”
This switch is why some of the more artistic photos feature Ciara, but the record-setting images feature Mareesha.
“[It’s] not that we don’t think Ciara would have done it but the name of the game from day one has always been safety. Lucky for us, Maria Medarevic and the Dive World team are always a fan of our fun little challenges and adventures so they came on board to make sure everything was safe,” Haining adds.
“This time around, we had a longer gown and because of the depth we also brought down lighting so we did do a practice day at about 45 feet to test run the actual shoot before we went into the cold. This practice day also was great for Ciara to work in depth with Mareesha for modeling because at depth, you can’t speak to each other and with a model not wearing a mask she also doesn’t have visibility so you need to practice the look before heading down to the location.”
In total, while only three names are recognized as having set the record, several others were directly involved and pivotal to the success of the shoot.
“So for the dive series both Ciara and Mareesha modeled but for the deepest shot below the Thermocline in the cold temperatures, it was Mareesha as the model, Ciara as boat support and coaching the model, Mario Medarevic as the direct safety diver and then in addition Miranda Blackwell and Michal Konopinski who helped set up lights and [provide] additional support at depth to make sure everything worked and was safe.”
All of the photos featuring Ciara were captured during the practice day, while the record-setting photos were captured a day later. The two photos below are the ones that are certified as having set the record at the 30 meter depth:
The new Guinness World Record can be seen on the organization’s website.
Image credits: Steven Haining