Rebekah Steen is an American travel photographer, blogger and travel addict based in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Her intimate and exotic travel portraits of beach life from the coast of Hawaii all the way to Puerto Rico have garnered her a well-deserved reputation in recent years. By taking her Leica X-U with her everywhere she goes – including underwater, Rebekah gives us a taste of paradise in photographic form. Rebekah told us about some of her favourite beach moments.
I like to be able to take photos in a way that when I look back, I can remember the perspective and feeling of being in that particular place. As a whole, my philosophy revolves around trying to create an ‘insert self here’ effect, or photos that can make you feel like you have been transported into somewhere exotic and warm.
This series contains some of my favourite underwater shots. I love to take photos of palm trees under the water. Some days it’s so clear and calm that it’s difficult to tell that the pictures have been taken from underwater, so I have to blow some bubbles to mess up the surface a little. When I look at these photos, I can imagine lying there, getting water up my nose, but loving the peace and quiet of paradise.
A few photos in this selection document quiet morning swims out on the West Side of Oahu, Hawaii, when I was the only person in the ocean. One of those times a rainbow appeared and just happened to be centred over an anchored boat. I love to be able to capture the simplicity and peace of the water on those morning swims.
The Leica X-U has been a game changer for me. Its number one feature is its waterproof and rugged casing. Being able to use a Leica camera with all of its features in the water, or in humid conditions was mind blowing for me. I’m also a huge fan of how deep you can go in the water with it (15m/49ft) where previous cameras I’ve used had a maximum depth of five feet. Those didn’t last long.
Being able to experiment with the Leica in all weather conditions has allowed me to produce some really unique images that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise. The clarity and perfect contrast of the pictures enable me to capture the feeling of being in the water or at the beach with such accurate precision.
The ease of use in terms of the dials, setting and ability to switch into underwater mode at the push of a button is so important for those spontaneous shots. For example, the photo here with the rainbow over the boat in the ocean was completely spontaneous. 10 seconds after the photo was taken, the rainbow disappeared.
I’m also using the camera’s video feature to take amazing videos of my son, Levi, which I will cherish forever. The video quality on this camera is beyond exceptional. Which reminds me, I need to shoot more videos with it…