The Making Of “Eternal Trinity”


Kristi Elias
Texas School Instructor

About seven years ago, I bought a house with a pool (or vice versa) and started doing underwater fine art portraits. Shortly thereafter, Beyoncé did an underwater maternity photo session with another photographer and the images went viral. Instantly, I was receiving 10 or more inquires a week for underwater maternity.

“Eternal Trinity” was photographed underwater in a Sew Trendy maternity gown. Even though my client wasn’t pregnant, I liked how the maternity gowns flow in the water. To make it easier to create a composite in Photoshop, I placed a hand-painted canvas backdrop in the pool behind her. One of the benefits of photographing clients underwater is the unique body movements as well as the flow of fabric. Also, the absence of gravity allows you to be more creative, free, and fluid with poses.

With underwater portraiture I find being closer to the client helps with clarity and focus. I’m also able to pull the dress towards me to create a more dramatic effect. The idea was to combine three images from this session to tell a unique story.

The artwork in the composite comes part from a ceiling I photographed in Florence, Italy, and part I drew. I finished the color grading in Nik Software Color Effects Pro 4. The finished piece was a 30×40 wall art, mounted on masonite, with a palette knife texture, and presented in a Larson Juhl frame. The underwater photographs were taken with a Canon camera in an Ikelight housing using a 16-35mm lens. Camera settings were f9 at 1/200, ISO 1600.

Kristi Elias was born and raised in Southern California and has been an artist all her life. In 1998, she obtained her degree in Illustration and Advertising Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. She will be an instructor at the 2023 Texas School of Professional Photography, April 23-28, in Addison, Texas.