Featured Photographers

Featured Underwater Photographer – Plamena Mileva

One of the best ways to learn photography is to see other photographers’ work. We try to find some of the best underwater photographers in the world, and showcase their work, along with the gear they use, to help other aspiring photographers improve, learn new skills and get inspired.

This time we will feature the talented Plamena Mileva!

About Plamena

As a girl I was very romantic, dreamy and sensitive. I loved to write poetry and share their secrets sitting on the beach, watching the waves of the Black Sea.

As if fate had premeditated my future, I met my first love on the beach, I shot my first most important pictures, my son was born who I named  Nikola , after Saint Nicholas who is the patron saint of sailors.

My debut as an underwater photographer was just 5 years ago. I wanted in some way to frame and save my feelings towards my new born baby. He was only 3 months when he had his first underwater photo session in a swimming pool. These first shots gave me courage to pursue my dream of becoming an underwater photographer.

© Plamena Mileva | This is the first photograph I took in a swimming pool. My son, that he was only three months in the hands of a model, interpreting the theme of maternal love. Canon 7D with EF-S 24mm f2.8
© Plamena Mileva | This is the first photograph I took in a swimming pool. My son, that he was only three months in the hands of a model, interpreting the theme of maternal love. Canon 7D with EF-S 24mm f2.8

© Plamena Mileva | White dreams. One of the first pictures I took. This girl was my first professional model, she trained synchronized swimming and together we did many underwater photography sessions in the pool and in the Mediterranean Sea. The last one was only 20 days before the birth of her first child.
© Plamena Mileva | White dreams.
One of the first pictures I took. This girl was my first professional model, she trained synchronized swimming and together we did many underwater photography sessions in the pool and in the Mediterranean Sea. The last one was only 20 days before the birth of her first child.

Plamena’s Prizes and Rewards

2008, award winning for debut at the Varna International Photographic Saloon

May 2009 in the contest “All for the Sea” awarded with the special prize of Photosyntesis, Varna, Bulgaria

2009, during The Photovacation, Primorsko, Bulgaria, third prize in the Master slide contest

June 2011, Competition organized by Diving BG, award for the most artistic underwater photograph.

2013, International photographic salon Montenegro, Section monochrome photography, honourable mention for the picture “Underwater kingdom”.

2013, International Photographic Salon, Varna, Bulgaria, honourable mention for the underwater image “Ecstasy”

December 2013, First place in the prestigious competition Ocean Art Contest, Fashion & Divers category

May 2014, Second place in the Scubacam festival, category Photography of Model

2014 September 7-13, Eilat Red Sea World Underwater Photography Competition

-Third place in the category Fish and Fashion

-Award of the Mayor of Eilat + cover next catalog.

2015 gold medal winner in the anual awards of underwaterphotography.com, section fashion

2015 third place in the contest UW Maraton, Zagreb, Croatia – section Ambient with or without model, DSLR camera, photography “Impression in red”

– runner up,  Creativity/ Fashion category, DSLR camera

2015, 2nd Underwater photography Contest  Without Borders, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • First place DSLR White angle, photography “A love encounter”
  • Second place DSLR Macro, photography “Green way”

2015, PSA Silver in 8th INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SALON VARNA, photography “Stingray Attack”

© Plamena Mileva |  Red Sea goddess woman This has been the first composition that I realized in Eilat Red sea underwater photography competition last year 2014. Almost all the photographs turned out lovely and I also then participated in other competitions with these pictures with great success. I was very lucky choosing the best model, Ellie Biel, who was impeccable. Furthermore, not many people can say they have had a photograph session in a shipwreck and wearing jewellery worth more than 100 000 $.
© Plamena Mileva | Red Sea goddess woman
This has been the first composition that I realized in Eilat Red sea underwater photography competition last year 2014. Almost all the photographs turned out lovely and I also then participated in other competitions with these pictures with great success. I was very lucky choosing the best model, Ellie Biel, who was impeccable. Furthermore, not many people can say they have had a photograph session in a shipwreck and wearing jewellery worth more than 100 000 $.

© Plamena Mileva | Red Sea goddess woman
© Plamena Mileva | Red Sea goddess woman

Plamena’s Gear

Cameras – Olympus PL-3, Canon 7 D, Canon 5D Mark III

Lenses – Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/ 3.5-4.5, Canon EF 16- 35mm f/2,8 L, Tokina 10-17mm f/ 3.5- 4.5,Canon 8-15mm f/4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8L

Ikelite Housings, Ikelite dome and flat ports

Ikelite strobes 2 x DS51 and 2x DS161

© Plamena Mileva | The Rescue of The Condemned This is the third image of the triptych of a story. During the mid-century (Medieval), any person sentenced to death, was thrown into the water alive, with their hands and legs tied up to a sack full of stones to drawn them. The story tells that a Mermaid that was swimming nearby saw this man that was sentenced to death fell in love with him and saved his life. The scenes were very difficult to perform. Generally I do the makeup and styling of the models. The costume of the Mermaid I made too. At this time I was not yet a scuba diver and to synchronize with the two models I had to wait for them well placed in the bottom. This was my first dive my air and security was guaranteed by another diver who was next to me at 9 meters of depth in the Mediterranean Sea. I remember very well how the model accused me of trying to drawn him because his hands and feet were tied together
© Plamena Mileva | The Rescue of The Condemned
This is the third image of the triptych of a story.
During the mid-century (Medieval), any person sentenced to death, was thrown into the water alive, with their hands and legs tied up to a sack full of stones to drawn them. The story tells that a Mermaid that was swimming nearby saw this man that was sentenced to death fell in love with him and saved his life. The scenes were very difficult to perform. Generally I do the makeup and styling of the models. The costume of the Mermaid I made too. At this time I was not yet a scuba diver and to synchronize with the two models I had to wait for them well placed in the bottom. This was my first dive my air and security was guaranteed by another diver who was next to me at 9 meters of depth in the Mediterranean Sea. I remember very well how the model accused me of trying to drawn him because his hands and feet were tied together

© Plamena Mileva | In this composition I had the hope to surprise and enchant the jury of the submarine championship in Eilat, with something bright, extraordinary which played the form of a jellyfish. The team that participated in this project worked hard during the previous 5-6 months. The design was changed and improved with each test. The lenses of led lighting, integrated into the clothing or loose over the tentacles, have been connected in 2 accumulators behind the model. Three flashlights had to be light yellow and two blue, one of them directed against the surface to give a reflection. I had a red light focusing front direction. This can sound easy, but Believe me, the realization of this photo started with tests in a  bowl, then in  the pools, in  salt water of the Mediterranean sea, and finally  in the Red Sea where new surprises were awaiting. The session was to begin at sunset, but the hard preparation took more than the expected and we started in total darkness. This delay could have been fatal if it had not have been for the bright light of the full moon. The depth had to be about 5-6 meters, the head of the model in nothing more than 0.50 m, because of the importance of reflection on the surface. The tentacles reached up to 4.5 m, 5 m with led lighting and the modes feet were tied with leads toward the bottom. We thought of everything, but the sea can always surprise you. We didn’t count with the sea level or the strong undercurrents, which pulled the model towards the bottom and therefore was losing the effect of the movement of a Jellyfish and the impact of the reflection in the surface. The model fought to stay more on top and rest from the red illumination which was focusing directly towards her and was dazzling her. You can imagine what the girl was feeling like in this situation in this moment, without a mask, with her eyes dazzled, tied to the bottom with a lead, depending only on the air of the safety diver. In addition, the bottle of the safety diver slipped out of the belt, the model which was a professional scuba, and the safety diver both managed to place the bottle again and we continued to finish the session. I had to take the photographs in the next few minutes, otherwise there was a big possibility of the red light to turn off and all the work of 5 months would have been in vain. I gave the signal to return to the surface. I remember very well, that I asked everyone for a last try and concentration for a final photo. Finally I had a look at the pictures and the latest photos came out brilliant. After the end of the session, while swimming toward the shore we realized that the current had moved us far away from the coast. This photograph won the prize of the mayor in the competition and was published on the cover in the luxurious magazine of 2015.
© Plamena Mileva | In this composition I had the hope to surprise and enchant the jury of the submarine championship in Eilat, with something bright, extraordinary which played the form of a jellyfish. The team that participated in this project worked hard during the previous 5-6 months. The design was changed and improved with each test. The lenses of led lighting, integrated into the clothing or loose over the tentacles, have been connected in 2 accumulators behind the model. Three flashlights had to be light yellow and two blue, one of them directed against the surface to give a reflection. I had a red light focusing front direction.
This can sound easy, but Believe me, the realization of this photo started with tests in a bowl, then in the pools, in salt water of the Mediterranean sea, and finally in the Red Sea where new surprises were awaiting.
The session was to begin at sunset, but the hard preparation took more than the expected and we started in total darkness. This delay could have been fatal if it had not have been for the bright light of the full moon. The depth had to be about 5-6 meters, the head of the model in nothing more than 0.50 m, because of the importance of reflection on the surface. The tentacles reached up to 4.5 m, 5 m with led lighting and the modes feet were tied with leads toward the bottom.
We thought of everything, but the sea can always surprise you. We didn’t count with the sea level or the strong undercurrents, which pulled the model towards the bottom and therefore was losing the effect of the movement of a Jellyfish and the impact of the reflection in the surface. The model fought to stay more on top and rest from the red illumination which was focusing directly towards her and was dazzling her. You can imagine what the girl was feeling like in this situation in this moment, without a mask, with her eyes dazzled, tied to the bottom with a lead, depending only on the air of the safety diver. In addition, the bottle of the safety diver slipped out of the belt, the model which was a professional scuba, and the safety diver both managed to place the bottle again and we continued to finish the session. I had to take the photographs in the next few minutes, otherwise there was a big possibility of the red light to turn off and all the work of 5 months would have been in vain. I gave the signal to return to the surface. I remember very well, that I asked everyone for a last try and concentration for a final photo. Finally I had a look at the pictures and the latest photos came out brilliant. After the end of the session, while swimming toward the shore we realized that the current had moved us far away from the coast. This photograph won the prize of the mayor in the competition and was published on the cover in the luxurious magazine of 2015.

 

© Plamena Mileva | Fangtooth Moray or Tiger Moray This Tiger Moray or Fangtooth Moray is distinctive for its bright colours and elongated jaw, which is filled with a large number of long “glasslike” teeth. It can reach up to 120 cm in length
© Plamena Mileva | Fangtooth Moray or Tiger Moray
This Tiger Moray or Fangtooth Moray is distinctive for its bright colours and elongated jaw, which is filled with a large number of long “glasslike” teeth. It can reach up to 120 cm in length

© Plamena Mileva | Condesito wreck The ship “Condesito” had the length of about 42 meters. It sank one Christmas Eve when colliding against the costal rocks near Punta Rasca, in the year 1975. This iron sunken ship is in a very dilapidated state but its peaces remain in bottom of the ocean becoming a sanctuary for sea life.
© Plamena Mileva | Condesito wreck
The ship “Condesito” had the length of about 42 meters. It sank one Christmas Eve when colliding against the costal rocks near Punta Rasca, in the year 1975. This iron sunken ship is in a very dilapidated state but its peaces remain in bottom of the ocean becoming a sanctuary for sea life.

© Plamena Mileva | Condesito wreck
© Plamena Mileva | Condesito wreck

© Plamena Mileva | Condesito wreck
© Plamena Mileva | Condesito wreck

© Plamena Mileva | These photos have been taken in Satil wreck within the same competition (Network SEA UW Competition 2014) and subsequently edited in sepia. The sea was not very clean and to escape from the backscatter, I preferred an angle shooting a little more above.
© Plamena Mileva | These photos have been taken in Satil wreck within the same competition (Network SEA UW Competition 2014) and subsequently edited in sepia. The sea was not very clean and to escape from the backscatter, I preferred an angle shooting a little more above.

© Plamena Mileva | The incredible Satil Wreck has been an inspiration to many photographers. The intense red coral that covers the boat and the amount of small fish life that surrounds it, makes this shipwreck a beautiful sea life environment. I placed my dancer as if she was one of those dolls in a musical box, which as soon as you open attract you with its music and beauty. Can you remember these small ballet dancers which swivelled in a music box?  An old childhood memory that I relate to the beauty of this sunken wreck, surrounded with sea life. All the pictures I took in Eilat Red Sea Competition are carried out with: Canon 5D Mark III, Ikelite housing, 2 X 161 DS Ikelite strobes, Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5 -4.5 with trimmed hood
© Plamena Mileva | The incredible Satil Wreck has been an inspiration to many photographers. The intense red coral that covers the boat and the amount of small fish life that surrounds it, makes this shipwreck a beautiful sea life environment. I placed my dancer as if she was one of those dolls in a musical box, which as soon as you open attract you with its music and beauty. Can you remember these small ballet dancers which swivelled in a music box? An old childhood memory that I relate to the beauty of this sunken wreck, surrounded with sea life.
All the pictures I took in Eilat Red Sea Competition are carried out with:
Canon 5D Mark III, Ikelite housing, 2 X 161 DS Ikelite strobes, Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5 -4.5 with trimmed hood

© Plamena Mileva | Jasmine in the underwater garden This one was taken in the Black Sea, again in my favourite place Korabite (vessels) This year, the sea was not calm once. The water in the beautiful cove seemed to be a swamp. The preparation of the world championship in Eilat has begun and I have to test some parts of the styling that I had prepared. I was very happy with the results, it seemed like my underwater camera could see through all the dirt.
© Plamena Mileva | Jasmine in the underwater garden
This one was taken in the Black Sea, again in my favourite place Korabite (vessels)
This year, the sea was not calm once. The water in the beautiful cove seemed to be a swamp. The preparation of the world championship in Eilat has begun and I have to test some parts of the styling that I had prepared. I was very happy with the results, it seemed like my underwater camera could see through all the dirt.

© Plamena Mileva | Locked souls Fired in Kalogria, a lovely place in Chalkidiki, Sithonia, grees. It was my first photo session with my new camera Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the lens Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L The preparation was long  and when we arrived at the place, the sky went dark, covered with clouds. The water was steady, as if it were to start a storm. The wig of the model was constantly falling, despite having set with many hairpins. Finally, the session ended with success just when rain began.
© Plamena Mileva | Locked souls
Fired in Kalogria, a lovely place in Chalkidiki, Sithonia, grees.
It was my first photo session with my new camera Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the lens Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L The preparation was long and when we arrived at the place, the sky went dark, covered with clouds. The water was steady, as if it were to start a storm. The wig of the model was constantly falling, despite having set with many hairpins. Finally, the session ended with success just when rain began.

© Plamena Mileva | These photos have been taken in Satil wreck within the same competition (Network SEA UW Competition 2014) and subsequently edited in sepia. The sea was not very clean and to escape from the backscatter, I preferred an angle shooting a little more above.
© Plamena Mileva | These photos have been taken in Satil wreck within the same competition (Network SEA UW Competition 2014) and subsequently edited in sepia. The sea was not very clean and to escape from the backscatter, I preferred an angle shooting a little more above.

© Plamena Mileva | The second session was also accomplished without difficulties. I focused in looking for diversity within the landscape, accentuating beauty, playing with the sun rays, or looking for the effect of movement with the additional air from the diving bottle. We were a team of 4 people, we had to work carefully not to touch and break the corals and also careful enough to not to lift the sand of the bottom also.
© Plamena Mileva | The second session was also accomplished without difficulties. I focused in looking for diversity within the landscape, accentuating beauty, playing with the sun rays, or looking for the effect of movement with the additional air from the diving bottle. We were a team of 4 people, we had to work carefully not to touch and break the corals and also careful enough to not to lift the sand of the bottom also.

© Plamena Mileva | The second session
© Plamena Mileva | The second session

© Plamena Mileva | The second session
© Plamena Mileva | The second session

© Plamena Mileva | the Bank of snorers or Bastard grunt shoal This place is very attractive for this specie, which depending on the sea currents can be horizontal or vertical. I was waiting for the moment to take the picture, when I saw my colleague right in the opposite side with the lights on. It seemed to me a good idea to include him in the picture because of the symmetry and the specific lens (Fish eye) which allowed me to make the round ended, with the central point.
© Plamena Mileva | the Bank of snorers or Bastard grunt shoal
This place is very attractive for this specie, which depending on the sea currents can be horizontal or vertical. I was waiting for the moment to take the picture, when I saw my colleague right in the opposite side with the lights on. It seemed to me a good idea to include him in the picture because of the symmetry and the specific lens (Fish eye) which allowed me to make the round ended, with the central point.

© Plamena Mileva | Green way We all know what the beautiful Serpula Vermicularis looks like. But in my case, I found it in Chalkidikii, Sithonia, Mediterranean Sea. It was very small, and was hiding inside a whole; I could not go any closer. It was only luck that in that moment a leave went floating by. The camera focused precisely on it. Later when I saw the result I was surprised to see the beauty of colours a simple small plant can have. At the beginning of April I moved with my family to Tenerife, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, belonging to the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, Spain. Tenerife is a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean, therefore the combination of warm and cold water attracts a large variety of aquatic life; marine reserves, volcanic marine landscape etc...  All this is of particular interest to underwater photographer due to the variety of colours and forms.
© Plamena Mileva | Green way
We all know what the beautiful Serpula Vermicularis looks like. But in my case, I found it in Chalkidikii, Sithonia, Mediterranean Sea. It was very small, and was hiding inside a whole; I could not go any closer. It was only luck that in that moment a leave went floating by. The camera focused precisely on it. Later when I saw the result I was surprised to see the beauty of colours a simple small plant can have.
At the beginning of April I moved with my family to Tenerife, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, belonging to the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, Spain. Tenerife is a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean, therefore the combination of warm and cold water attracts a large variety of aquatic life; marine reserves, volcanic marine landscape etc… All this is of particular interest to underwater photographer due to the variety of colours and forms.

© Plamena Mileva | Ecstasy This One is one of my emblematic pictures. With this photograph I won my first underwater prize and then a few more. The image was taken in the most beautiful place for me in Bulgaria- location Korabite, Sinemorec. It was autumn and the water was very cold. It was one of those magical days when the water in the cove is as smooth as a mirror. The visibility was more than 15 meters; it was something very odd to have such good conditions in the Black Sea. Green algae, they looked like cottons flourishing. A great chance and luck because you cannot see this magical landscape every year and there are only 2 or 3 places on the south coast where you can.
© Plamena Mileva | Ecstasy
This One is one of my emblematic pictures. With this photograph I won my first underwater prize and then a few more.
The image was taken in the most beautiful place for me in Bulgaria- location Korabite, Sinemorec. It was autumn and the water was very cold.
It was one of those magical days when the water in the cove is as smooth as a mirror. The visibility was more than 15 meters; it was something very odd to have such good conditions in the Black Sea. Green algae, they looked like cottons flourishing. A great chance and luck because you cannot see this magical landscape every year and there are only 2 or 3 places on the south coast where you can.

© Plamena Mileva | Green turtles come Most of these creatures inhabit the proximities of El Puertito de Armeñime, a town situated in Adeje (southwest of Tenerife) in a depth of 5.6 meters. These creatures are a dream for the photographer; they come so close that you can even touch them. In general I cannot think of another photograph session more successful than this one. I cannot explain how happy I was when I finished and how much positive energy I had accumulated. The dive started an hour and a half before sunset, and I was lucky enough to go in the best weather. I experimented with the bubbles exhaling the air towards the turtles, the reflection from the surface and the last rays of the sun penetrating through the water, creating brighter and intense colours. All the pictures taken up to this time in Tenerife, I have used Canon 5D Mark III, with Ikelite housing and 2 DS Ikelite 161 strobes. For wide angle (White angle) the Canon lens 8-15mm F4 L Fisheye and macro Canon EF 100mm F 2.8 L
© Plamena Mileva | Green turtles come
Most of these creatures inhabit the proximities of El Puertito de Armeñime, a town situated in Adeje (southwest of Tenerife) in a depth of 5.6 meters. These creatures are a dream for the photographer; they come so close that you can even touch them. In general I cannot think of another photograph session more successful than this one. I cannot explain how happy I was when I finished and how much positive energy I had accumulated. The dive started an hour and a half before sunset, and I was lucky enough to go in the best weather. I experimented with the bubbles exhaling the air towards the turtles, the reflection from the surface and the last rays of the sun penetrating through the water, creating brighter and intense colours.
All the pictures taken up to this time in Tenerife, I have used Canon 5D Mark III, with Ikelite housing and 2 DS Ikelite 161 strobes. For wide angle (White angle) the Canon lens 8-15mm F4 L Fisheye and macro Canon EF 100mm F 2.8 L

© Plamena Mileva | Green Turtles Come
© Plamena Mileva | Green Turtles Come

© Plamena Mileva | Green Turtles Come
© Plamena Mileva | Green Turtles Come

© Plamena Mileva | Green Turtles Come
© Plamena Mileva | Green Turtles Come

© Plamena Mileva | Stingray This is one of the most attractive dives in Tenerife. The point is located opposite the port in Las Galletas (Tenerife), 500 meters from the shore. The stingrays of all different sizes were swimming so close that the diver was feeding them from his own hands. I spent most of the time trying to take pictures of the Stingreys on their own but there were so many divers around that there was always one in the pictures.
© Plamena Mileva | Stingray
This is one of the most attractive dives in Tenerife. The point is located opposite the port in Las Galletas (Tenerife), 500 meters from the shore. The stingrays of all different sizes were swimming so close that the diver was feeding them from his own hands. I spent most of the time trying to take pictures of the Stingreys on their own but there were so many divers around that there was always one in the pictures.

© Plamena Mileva | The Keys Kipper This composition contained the basic idea. But subsequently the photo Ecstasy, made at the outlet of the water had a greater success. The two were made with my old Canon 7D camera and lens Canon 10-22mm.
© Plamena Mileva | The Keys Kipper
This composition contained the basic idea. But subsequently the photo Ecstasy, made at the outlet of the water had a greater success. The two were made with my old Canon 7D camera and lens Canon 10-22mm.

© Plamena Mileva | I began my career as a photographer with an underwater picture of my son 5 years ago. Now he lives his childhood and everything seems to be a game. It is now the best time to start collecting memories. Children are always so beautiful and real in their emotions. Their Eyes are full of light, like small stars, they immerse you in a world of colours. The UDERWATER KIDS project is dedicated to these wonderful years of “free of consciousness”. I will open a little window for you to see some of these moments.
© Plamena Mileva | I began my career as a photographer with an underwater picture of my son 5 years ago. Now he lives his childhood and everything seems to be a game. It is now the best time to start collecting memories.
Children are always so beautiful and real in their emotions. Their Eyes are full of light, like small stars, they immerse you in a world of colours.
The UDERWATER KIDS project is dedicated to these wonderful years of “free of consciousness”. I will open a little window for you to see some of these moments.

© Plamena Mileva |
© Plamena Mileva |

© Plamena Mileva |
© Plamena Mileva |

© Plamena Mileva |
© Plamena Mileva |

© Plamena Mileva |
© Plamena Mileva |

© Plamena Mileva |
© Plamena Mileva |

© Julien Nedev | Plamena with turtles and gear
© Julien Nedev | Plamena with turtles and gear

To view more of Plamena’s wonderful work, visit her WEBSITE.

Ran Mor
Follow me!

Ran Mor

Sales and Marketing at Mozaik Underwater Cameras
Ran is a professional photographer for over 14 years. His passion for scuba diving and photography has pushed him to combine his profession and hobby and become a professional underwater photographer. Teaching is one of his greatest passions and over the years he has shared his experience with many divers and aspiring photographers. Along with his wife Danielle, an experienced Scuba Instructor, they have founded Dive and More, leading dive trips and UW photo workshops all over the world. Ran is also an electrical engineer and an avid internet marketing specialist.
Visit his personal portfolio at www.ranmorphoto.com.
Ran Mor
Follow me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.