Dale Hobson gets the odd sideways look when he's poring through the dress section of local op shops.

He's used to it ... he is there on a mission to find treasures for models to showcase the quality clothing that can be found in local charity shops, for a photography project designed to raise charity shop's profiles and to fundraise.

"When I first started looking at female clothes it was bit of an awkward experience ... but I'm not bothered about that now. I know what I'm looking for — I have paid $1 for some of these beautiful dresses that were once $300."

The dresses are for the Charity Photo Exhibition Project which will culminate in an exhibition with proceeds to charity next year.


Dale, from Ohauiti, is a Padi open water diving instructor and photographer/videographer for more than 20 years — he has combined his two loves to create striking photographs for the project.

Dale has been working with underwater models for the past year before coming up with the idea to raise money for the charity shops he had been sourcing clothing from, such as Waipuna Hospice, Salvation Army and Red Cross.

"So I was getting the clothes from the charity op shops, as buying new would have been unaffordable, and that got me thinking this probably had a value in the way of exposure for the shops and hopefully we could raise some money for charity."

Dale is putting the call out for more underwater models to fire ahead with the project.

He is also looking for established brands and labels to be involved.

Dale Hobson captures images underwater. Photos / Dale Hobson, Ethereal 3D Ltd
Dale Hobson captures images underwater. Photos / Dale Hobson, Ethereal 3D Ltd

For this project photographs will be taken in local settings such as offshore islands, Mayor Island with black obsidian coves, Plate Island, White Island and geothermal fresh water lakes. Promoting our local area is an offshoot of the project, he says.

Working in a pool with lighting is quite different to the great outdoors, he says.

"It can be quite hit and miss underwater. There's a lot of randomness underwater, you never know what you are getting until you go to review them ... they might of out the lighting frame by a few inches and that movement can create potential issues or it can create that magic."

He's looking forward to utilising natural light and the beauty of the ocean.

It's quite a unique experience for the model, Dale says.

Photographs look fluid and ethereal, completely different from any modelling they may have done before.

"At least one of the models has said it has been one of the best experiences of their life," he says.

Dale's background is in post production as a 3D working artist. His freelance company is Ethereal 3D Ltd. He is looking for underwater models from age 18 who would like to be part of the project.

When the photos are completed Dale will present them at a gallery event where print sale profits will be split between the charities. Dresses and other donated items will be auctioned at the event for the charities.

Dale would like to thank his sponsors as "without them, there would be no project".

He has the involvement of printers, clothing manufacturers, framers, models and makeup artists who have all volunteered their time, clothing, services and venue.

• Dale Hobson can be contacted on 0272831459 or check out his website