Chris Crumley | Mermaids and More

-images by Chris Crumley, edited by Hergen Spalink

Out of Chris Crumley's 5,000+ logged open-water dives he only has seven without a camera. Chalk the seven (exactly seven) up to lost luggage or a broken camera part.  Chris has worked with most of the dive magazines, some of the scuba manufacturers and used many of the popular underwater housings after phasing out of Nikonos III, V and RS systems. Several years ago he migrated to Nauticam housings and hasn’t looked back.

Today, he shoots both Canon 5DMKIII and 5S cameras and will soon switch to the 5DMKIV in a modified Nauticam housing. For commercial work his workhorse is a Hasselblad H5D-50cWiFi, in a custom Nauticam housing.  Crumley got his start shooting dive editorial and has been around the world shooting mostly people in the underwater environment, many in the company of resident marine life. One of the techniques he’s mastered over the years is the over-under. These days his over-unders are almost strictly an f 16 shot with a wide angle lens behind an 8 inch or larger dome. In the past he relied on split neutral density filters to balance the above and underwater light but they limited movement from horizontal to vertical compositions. With modern cameras he gets the shots by paying close attention to depth-of-field and critical focusing.  A few years back (think about the time of Splash with Tom Hanks) Crumley and underwater model Sherry Smith, after shooting thousands of diver and island images, thought they’d like a new challenge and came up with the idea of creating mermaid images. They commissioned a university fashion professor to sketch some ideas of costumes, picked a favorite and had the tail and top made using a thin neoprene base.

Today, 10,000 of his 390,000 images in his Lightroom database are Mermaid shots.

In addition to mermaids, Chris's commercial photography/videography extends to shooting scuba manufacturer’s products, editorial, dance, book covers, underwater movie scenes for independent producers, music video scenes and a significant amount of aerial stills and motion, often flying over water.  

Wanting to share his enthusiasm and experience, he also does some teaching; notably Digital Workflow for Photographers using Adobe Lightroom and Mermaid Portfolio Workshops in the Exuma Cays, Isla Mujeres, Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula Cenotes.

Chris has helped lead the way on development of a standard practice for displaying watermarks and credits when posting photos to social media. Wanting to recognizing all those who contribute to the making of an image led him to adapt a format used worldwide by advertising creative directors subscribing to the Communications Arts magazine. That format is being widely adopted by photographers around the world posting on Facebook, and to some extent, Instagram. In that same vein, he frequently includes a “Tech” credit citing/tagging the equipment and techniques used to make an image.

Nauticam plays an important role in the underwater video he produces as well, using a video monitor housing attached to his underwater system so he and an art director can see what the camera is capturing.

Email Chris Crumley at chris@chriscrumley.com or check out his Facebook and Instagram