Brandi E. Irwin, Master Diver/Photographer
Brandi Irwin is often referred to as, “The Girl with Gills,” by close friends. At the early age of 4, she took her first high-diving lessons. Actively involved in water sports from a young age, Brandi took it to the next level, earning her SCUBA certification at just 16 years old. Brandi spent several years SCUBA diving before pursuing her passion of becoming an underwater photographer. With many dives and hours of “bottom time” under her weight belt, Ms. Irwin credits these experiences with giving her the knowledge and expertise not only of SCUBA diving, but also of the beauty and serenity of life in the ocean.
In 2003, Brandi moved to New York City to follow a modeling career and has been modeling ever since. Ms. Irwin has worked with several agencies, from Elite Models, to being represented by the biggest parts agency in New York, Parts Models, LLC. Despite her continued success in her modeling endeavors, Brandi longed for more. She felt that as a model, she had very little creative control in the planning, directing, and producing of her photo shoots. This eagerness to pursue her creativity in all aspects of modeling led Ms. Irwin to start producing her own photo shoots. Naturally, after spending so much time in front of the camera, Brandi developed quite an interest in photography from the other side of the lens. Ms. Irwin embarked on her journey into professional photography in 2008.
Brandi’s love of the outdoor world, both above and below the ocean’s majestic waves has been apparent since childhood. She has always loved extreme sports and recreational activities. The possibility of danger does not deter Ms. Irwin from experiencing all aspects of life. This zest for life and the adventures she has pursued all helped develop Brandi as an extreme photographer. Ms. Irwin’s quest to photograph the extreme came to fruition when she single-handedly began chasing and photographing thunderstorms, snapping shots of tornadoes, lightning, and devious clouds. After capturing the images of these natural wonders, Brandi began photographing topside caves and the interesting wild-life within. In 2009, Ms. Irwin’s idea to couple the two things she loved most, water and photography, led her to the Dutch Caribbean. It was here that Brandi studied under accomplished underwater photographer Suzi Swygert. Brandi was a natural. With a camera in her hands and tank on her back, she has been actively taking photos where ever she could find water. Ms. Irwin started shooting interesting marine life, coral reefs, and reflections of many types. After a short time of photographing life in the ocean, Brandi decided to take her passion to one of her most treasured places, the underground rivers flowing beneath Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Created by a meteor 65 million years ago, the Mayans believed them to be “sacred holes” referred to as a Cenote, or wet cave. Cave diving has always been a part of Brandi’s diving adventures, and now she was able to find a way to bring topside her photos of what lies hidden underground. Already an accomplished underwater photographer, Brandi added Rescue Level SCUBA diver with training in deep diving, wreck diving, navigation diving, night diving, UV night diving, and cave diving to her extensive diving resume.
Black. Pitch black. This is a shooting environment Brandi knows all too well. Ms. Irwin is one of the first to shoot and bring to surface fluorescence photography underwater. Not to be confused with phosphorescence, or bio-luminescence, fluorescence is the absorption of one wavelength of light, or color, and the re-emission of another, totally different wavelength of light, or color. A fluorescent object under white light reveals its true color. But under near ultraviolet light, the object absorbs the blue and reemits a fluorescent color, transforming the blue into a brightly glowing, totally different color. Brandi has all the equipment required. She shoots with a Nikon D300s in an Ikelite housing, specific to the camera. Ms. Irwin uses two strobes connected to the housing, as well as two accessory strobes when needed. Brandi knows all too well that often, a photographer will only get one shot, as these creatures are light-sensitive and are easily scared away. Ms. Irwin’s ability to excel in these extreme circumstances has set her apart from other underwater photographers.
In 2010, Ms. Irwin started her own production company called Liquid Film Photography. In this company, Brandi does underwater stills of all types including but not limited to fashion, studio, product, marine life, caves, wrecks, and Brandi’s specialty of fluorescence underwater. She also enjoys creating art underwater, bringing together different elements to create various scenes and scenarios underwater.
“Scuba diving isn’t just a hobby…. it’s a way of life. I will always be on the prowl for interesting things to photograph underwater. The sky is the limit…. and who knows…. I may just trade in my walking shoes for a mermaid tail someday.”