Behind the Scenes Interview With Carlo Cruz on Red Bull’s “Breaking Water”

Name: Carlo Cruz

Location: Long Beach, CA

Years of photography experience: 15

Picture Credit: Ian Paredes

Tell us about the Breaking Water project. How did the idea come about?

I have been a b-boy (breakdancing) photographer for a very long time now, so when Red Bull Photography gave me the opportunity to do a project for them, it was clear that it would definitely be about b-boys. I have seen all sorts of dance photos taken underwater—like jazz or ballet—but I have never seen one of a b-boy. I think it’s often overlooked how fluid breaking moves are, and this was the perfect opportunity to showcase that.

Though it seems to be an aggressive dance in comparison to others, breaking in juxtaposition with water highlights the movements and brings out that visual gracefulness that’s often overlooked.

What challenges did you face during the shoot?

There were a lot of challenges for this project. Shooting underwater is tricky since you are literally taken out of your element. You’re working with water, which you don’t have full control over, and the best you can do is find a way to work along with it. A simple portrait that would normally take you a few minutes will take you sometimes hours to do underwater when you consider all factors. I have the utmost respect for underwater photographers who do this every day.

My top priority for the shoot was making sure it was safe. This was a first-time experience for most of us, including the artists, and we made sure to have a master diver and a lifeguard present to oversee the shoot and help us. Everyone was briefed on safety and all possible scenarios were discussed. We had trusses running across the pool, ladders and tables placed underwater, floaters everywhere, and the pool in the studio was heated.

My next priority was authenticity. We were very aware of each frame we took, and we discussed with everyone how we would approach each concept, so everyone had a cohesive idea. We tried to stick with what we initially envisioned and made minor adjustments as necessary. We were very lucky to have b-boys Kid David, b-girl LadieOne, and VillN to help us with the shoot and make sure we kept the “breaking” feel to it.

What kind of planning went into this? What gear did you use?

For the technical aspects, I did a lot of planning and research leading up to this shoot. Using the right equipment is very important. Lighting was very critical to achieve what we were looking for. I DIYed a couple of pieces of equipment using optical cables and fire strobes. I also experimented on different cables and triggers for us to potentially use.

I scoured a lot of thrift stores trying to look for an authentic boombox. For the graffiti shoot, we experimented with various materials to simulate spray paint such as fire proofing spray, extinguishers, toy smoke grenades, bathroom cleaners, face mists, starch sprays, and canned airs. We tried almost all canned air options, but ended up with spray powders and food coloring paint spray mainly because it’s the safest for the models and the easiest to clean without wasting or harming the water.

Gear list:

  • Custom SLR Glide Strap
  • F-Stop Gear, 5D Mark III
  • Canon 16-35 II
  • Pocket Wizards
  • Einstein Flash Unit
  • Aquatica Water Housings and Cables
  • Underwater strobes
  • Canon and Yongnuo
  • Flashes, Pelican Cases (for the flashes)
  • SanDisk CF cards


Anything else you’d like to add?

Going into this project was really nerve-racking. All I had was a concept and this picture in my head without any clear understanding of how to pull it off. Even after doing all the research and experimentation, you just hope that everything goes according to plan because things can go either way.

But at the end of the day, I think this is what it’s all about: trying to learn something new and pushing yourself. With a shoot like this that has so many things that could go wrong, I’m just thankful everyone went home safe and has a new story to tell.

Breaking Water from Red Bull Photography on Vimeo.

When California-based photographer Carlo Cruz set out in search of an alternative angle for his photography of b-boy dancers, his journey took him out of his comfort zone, and below the waves for a unique underwater view of street culture.

To explore all content, visit:

Subject: Kid David, LadieOne, VillN
Photography Assistant: Dennis Baloy, Ian Paredes, Katsi Del Rosario
Videographers: Daniel Zhu, Lee Chesley – Stance
BTS Photographer: Ian Paredes
Post Production: Carlo Cruz, Erwin Raif

Special thanks to:

Red Bull Photography

Artists: Kid David, LadieOne, VillN

Videographer: Daniel Zhu, Lee Chesley – Stance Set and Fabric Consultant: Karla Roble and team (Alfonso, Genevieve, Charisse, Abraham)

BTS Photographers/Production Assistants: Dennis Baloy, Ian Paredes, Katsi Del Rosario

Post production: Carlo Cruz, Erwin Raif

See the full Breaking Water project here.

*All images are available for commercial license.

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Pushing Mobile Phone Photography to the Next Level

Written By: Colby Brown

There is no doubt that photography as a whole has changed over the last decade. Not only are more people interested in the art form, but advancements in technology have helped to make powerful cameras smaller and more affordable than ever. While DSLR sales are starting to get eaten up by their lighter and more affordable mirrorless cousins, point-and-shoot cameras have long been cannibalized by the growing smartphone market. In many ways, the power and quality of the camera in a smartphone has become THE key differentiator for many people looking to get a new phone.

Using the LG G4 Android phone in Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona

While the iPhone has historically dominated mobile photography in terms of image quality, 2015 marked a year of change, especially for Android smartphones. We have seen the launch of both the LG G4 and the Samsung Galaxy S6, both of which offer better cameras than the iPhone 6. In addition, the LG G4 not only allows you to shoot in manual mode (similar to a pro camera), but it also can shoot images in the RAW image file format (DNG in this case), making the G4 one of few mobile phones that currently has this feature.

The full manual mode found in the LG G4

So why is RAW format on a mobile phone important? Simply put, it allows you to push the post processing of your images significantly further than if you were shooting images in JPEG, much like most mobile phones out there, including the iPhone. While a mobile phone is typically used for taking simple snapshots of the world around us, there are times when you might want to do more with a given scene or a specific photo. As a professional photographer, I have had a few mobile images grace the covers of books and have even sold & licensed a few images to clients over the last few years.

To see what is possible, let’s take a look at a few before-and-after RAW images taken with the LG G4.

Vista House, Columbia River Gorge (Un-Edited)

Vista House, Columbia River Gorge (Edited)

White Pocket Sunset – Arizona (Un-Edited)

White Pocket Sunset – Arizona (Edited)

The Narrows – Zion National Park (Un-Edited)


Zion National Park (Edited)

As you can see, the benefits of having the ability to capture mobile images in RAW file format are fairly significant. Working with DNG files, I can easily use any of the simple to advanced post processing techniques that I apply to my professional images. From making curves adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, to adjusting contrast and brightness, to using more advanced techniques such as luminosity masking to help get rid of noise, the DNG files found in the G4 and a few other mobile phones offer surprisingly great results.

Now let's take a look at some fully edited images that were all taken with the G4. At first glance, you might not believe that these photos were from a mobile phone.


At the end of the day, I have no plans to ditch my professional photography gear and run around using only my mobile phone to create images for my clients, but that being saidtimes are changing. I have never had a client ask me what camera, lens or even exposure settings were used for a particular image. Clients simply want results, and they don’t care how you get them.

 A snapshot of a gallery of 15 prints taken with the LG G4 that I had blown up on metal prints larger than 30” in size. Needless to say, the results were surprising!

While I often have my camera gear with me when I am on the road, there are times when I simply can’t or don’t want to bring out my bigger cameras. In those situations, I now know that even when I am only using my mobile phone, I am still be able to take some pretty incredible images that have a lifespan and value beyond an upload to Facebook or Instagram.


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Introducing the Custom SLR Dual Camera Strap

You've been asking for it, and it's finally here! We're excited to announce our newest product, the Custom SLR Dual Camera Strap. Designed with the busy, multi-tasking photographer in mind, the Dual Strap combines the ease of use of our Glide One Strap with the comfort of our Split Strap Technology™ to bring you the ultimate dual camera harness system.

The Dual Strap System - $134.95

    • Split Strap Technology™: Distributes weight evenly to reduce pain/fatigue and provides superior ventilation
    • Silicone Print: Reduces slippage
    • Unique Ergonomic Design: Conforms to shoulder for unparalleled comfort
    • Instant access: Cameras sit at your side and glide up the strap, allowing you to take pictures quickly
    • Universal Fit: Compatible with any camera and fits most users

The Dual Camera Strap Kit - $24.95

For our loyal customers who already own a Glide One Strap, the kit contains a sternum strap and back pad to convert two Custom SLR Glide One Straps (not included) into one dual camera harness system.

Already Own a Glide One Strap? Buy 1 Glide One Strap, Get 50% Off the Dual Camera Strap Kit

We've got an exclusive deal for Custom SLR customers. If you already own a Glide One Strap, you only need one more to create the Custom SLR Dual Strap. For a limited time*, get 50% off the Dual Camera Strap Kit when you purchase it with a Glide One Strap. Here's how:

  1. Add 1 Glide One Strap + 1 Dual Camera Strap Kit to your cart
  2. Enter discount code “GODUAL" at checkout. *Discount code expires 7/12/2015 .

See the Dual Camera Strap

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