Styled Underwater Model Photography

Each season I leave time in my calendar for one or two truly creative projects. I work with and my tribe of co-creators here in Charlotte to build amazing Styled Underwater Model Sessions. These are always out of my comfort zone. And generally a little, “out of the box”.

These are projects that I have total control over and get to design from start to finish. I often plan them for months, pulling elements together, creating a dream board, shopping for props, working on collaborations.

And y’all. They give me life!

Contemporary Black and White Underwater Portrait with bold makeup and bubbles
The feeling of calm and serenity in this image moves my spirit. It captures so much of what Underwater Photography means to me…
The idea of the Annual Creative Session all started when RCB Fashion offered this Purple Dress for use in a Styled Underwater Model Photography Session…

Underwater Skeleton Mermaid

The Underwater Skeleton Mermaid Session was an incredible project. It pushed me to my limits in some crazy ways.

Swimming Mermaid in Finfolk Halloween Skeleton Mermaid Tail

We sunk a large backdrop for the first time. But, of course, in typical Renee Style we couldn’t stop there! We also sunk a chandelier, underwater fairy lights, and a SKELETON!

Dead Men Tell No Tails Halloween Skeleton Mermaid Photoshoot

Oh how we had some fun!!

Part two…

As we wrapped up the session, I realized, my mind was still spinning.

The light was amazing, Lisa’s makeup was incredible. Neither of us was ready to quit.

And so part two of our Styled Underwater Model Session was born.

I ran in the house and grabbed a dress and some fabric. Lisa pulled off the Mermaid Tail. As my amazing team started cleaning up the giant mess we had made on the pool deck, Lisa and I were able to start playing in the pool. Just the two of us.

Boudoir Underwater Model

You see, Lisa is an amazing Boudoir Photographer. This was a special opportunity for each of us. I loved being able to work with her as an underwater model, and she loved the opportunity to be on the other side of the camera for a change!

Skeleton Mermaid with Flower Crown
Boudoir Fashion Underwater Portrait Swimming with Teal Fabric
I love how asking a client to close their eyes can add so much emotion to an image.
Boudoir Fashion Underwater Portrait Swimming with Teal Fabric

Fabric and Color ~ An Underwater Model’s Best Friend

Fabric and color are exhilarating in the water. They provide so much of my inspiration when I am creating underwater portraits.

The flow of the fabric is difficult to control. I really don’t know what I will end up with. And that is truly what I love!

Many people create amazing composites with fabric underwater. And that can be equally captivating. But I think the challenge of working with the fabric IN the water as much as possible provides a great deal of the fun for me!

High Fashion Underwater Portrait with bold color makeup
Boudoir Fashion Underwater Portrait Sinking in the Depths with Green Dress | Eyes Wide Shut Feature by Twyla Jones Emotional Storytelling
Every few weeks the incredible Photographer and Storyteller Tywla Jones chooses a new prompt in her facebook group, Emotional Storytelling, and encourages members to share images with each other that match that theme.
A few weeks ago the theme was Eyes Wide Shut.
I am greatly honored to have this image included in her round up of Featured Images for the #EyesWideShut Feature on her website this month.
Boudoir Fashion Underwater Portrait with bold color makeup
High Fashion Underwater Portrait with Green Dress
High Fashion Underwater Portrait with Green Dress

And of course. Lisa is incredibly beautifully. And as a photographer herself, was very aware of the importance of movement in front of the camera. I love how she was able to loose herself in the water and embrace the flow of the water and fabric as we created these incredible images.

Boudoir Fashion Underwater Portrait with bold color makeup
Contemporary Underwater Ballerina Portrait Side by Side Color and Black and White with Bokeh Bubbles
Underwater Photography is such a delicate balance. I try to give just enough direction to make my clients feel comfortable and confident in the water. While at the same time, let them flow with the movement of the water, the fabric, their breathing, and their own emotions in the moment. And together, we work to create images that are truly inspired…

Any Ideas?

Our season hasn’t even begun, but of course I already have a long list of ideas for this year’s Annual Creative Session! But some of my best plans have come from pulling different ideas together. Working with my team and with underwater models to gather inspiration and plans.

I would love to hear some of your thoughts!

What type of Styled Underwater Model Session would you like to see in my pool this year?

I always tell my clients, what we create is only limited by our own imaginations!

So. Let’s jump in and CREATE!

Renee Stengel Photography | Charlotte Underwater Photographer


  1. So beautiful and so creative! And the model and her lines are stunning!