Monday, April 16, 2018

The Underwater Woman

Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with The Underwater Woman, Christine Ren, an underwater performer and filmmaker crafting media that conveys ocean conservation as a human issue. Named one of five women in media changing the world by Matador Network, Christine holds her Master’s degree in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami. Her narrative underwater imagery campaigns have been featured to-date by Nat Geo, KQED, FStoppers, Petapixel, Phoblographer, and more. A former professional dancer, she's now turned her attention to crafting underwater movement and photography destination retreats to fund marine conservation projects. Please join me in welcoming Christine to the blog!

Cynthia: Christine, tell us a little more about yourself.

(C) Jose  G. Cano and Christine Ren
Christine: I have always loved the ability of a single image to capture a powerful story and I've been a creative my whole life. I was a professional dancer, who then pursued science and ultimately dove into film-making and media communications, as well as marketing. I've made it my mission to spread ocean conservation through online media that people can truly see themselves in.

In terms of artistic execution, I have always held the idea of bringing together all of my gifts into one cohesive offering to the world. My backgrounds in dance, media and ocean conservation have always been a dream to pursue less separately. Through much testing, failing and testing again, I have finally started to create the initial stages of a powerful body of underwater images that convey ocean conservation themes. I think without hope, we are truly lost. So I do my best to listen and observe the world as it currently is, while holding a clear vision of and deep commitment to the world I wish for us to create. It’s not easy.

Cynthia: I hear you and a friend are leading workshops in the coming year?

Christine: Yes! I've teamed up with Gabriel Forestieri, a fellow underwater performer and freediving instructor, to craft underwater training workshops with purpose. Combing technical freediving skills, dance, yoga, meditation and underwater photography, we offer opportunities for explore water on its own terms as well as fund local conservation efforts through proceeds from the training sessions. Whether you're an ocean lover, a freediver, or always dreamed of being a mermaid, our workshops are for you. Join for either Koh Tao, Sept 17-21, or Los Angeles, June 15-17.

Here's a sneak peek at what participants will be learning:

Exploratory underwater workshop | Koh Tao, Thailand | Sept 17-21 from Christine Ren on Vimeo.

The slots are first come, first serve and filling up fast. Anyone who wants to join should email me ( with their information and workshop they want to attend to put in their 50%, non-refundable deposit.

Cynthia: You say that "healing the environment also means healing people". Tell us more!

Christine: I started my career as a scientist and found along the way that healing the environment also meant healing people. Conservation in any sense is truly an issue of human psychology. To save the planet, we each must examine the way we live, consume and exist on this beautiful blue marble and whether that existence is in balance or out of balance. We must take the time to individually and collectively examine the economic and social systems we've created that contribute to this delicate balance and imagine new ways to craft a more sustainable ecosystem that includes humankind and all living beings. The more time each of us takes to connect to ourselves, slow down, find meaning and purpose and build new relationships with the natural world, and ourselves as a part of not separate from, the more success I see the environmental movement achieving.

(C) Brett Stanley Photography and Christine Ren
This is one of the many reasons I've teamed up with other amazing underwater performers and photographers to craft destination retreats: an opportunity to connect with the ocean, and our inner selves, more fully, all while funding local, grassroots marine conservation efforts. Training sessions for this year are all viewable on my web site.

Cynthia: Where can we see examples of your underwater photography series?

Christine: The full behind-the-scenes stories and underwater images appear on my web site, as well as all of my social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Cynthia: What do your underwater performances entail?

Christine: The underwater performances are both mentally and physically challenging. Working underwater to execute a very specific conceptual image is a huge challenge, but also so rewarding when achieved. Typically we'll stage the sets in a pool between 8-12 feet deep, and I'll spend 5-7 hours doing 1-3 concepts a day; meaning changing makeup, outfits, props and looks entirely and repeatedly diving up and down on breathhold, adjusting body, face and clothing all while trying not to drown. Everything, including myself, will be in constant motion, so the performances require stamina for sure.

Cynthia: What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Christine: It's funny because my work is also my play, so I now have little to no distinction between the two. I will say that when I'm not spending time underwater, I'm typically hiking with my dog Jade, riding horses, traipsing around the globe with my camera, writing poetry and screenplays, and spending time geeking out over tea, comics and video games.

Cynthia: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

Christine: I have 4 new underwater imagery campaigns coming out this year covering ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and more. Please follow me on Facebook @TheUnderwaterWoman and Instagram @TheUnderwaterWoman to catch the series as they drop.

Cynthia: Thank you for joining us today, Christine. Best of luck on your upcoming workshops!

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at)

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