Last Weekend I went on my first Underwater Photography Retreat.  I have attended many Workshops, Conferences, Seminars, Classes, Shoot Outs, Meet-ups, and even One on One Mentoring Sessions for Photography over the past twenty plus years – but never one specifically for Underwater Photography.  To say I was in my happy place is a bit of an understatement…

I typically wait until I finish editing a session before sharing the photos here.  But with three full days of shooting in three unique locations with about a dozen models…. Well.  It may take a while to get through all of that editing!  And I absolutely could not wait to start sharing about my experience with Underwater Kids on their first (of many I expect!!) Underwater Photography Retreat with you all.

I explored, pushed my limits, challenged my creativity ~ and had a blast in Florida.  We shot in a {COLD} dark pool where I worked with a ballerina to create a silhouette using the installed pool light.

At Ginnie Springs, these amazing natural open water springs, we worked in beautiful light to capture gorgeous colors with a pregnant mama and her darling baby girl.  Yet I still pushed myself to work in the deeper shadows to create images that are {WAY} out of my norm, almost classical painting like.

We worked with an amazing couple and capture them in the most romantic setting.  Even though three of their four kids were swimming and jumping with other photographers, we were able to pull them aside to a place where it seemed that they were the only two souls in a tropical paradise…

To be continued…

I will need to write another post again soon to share all about the amazing group of women I was able to connect with over our four days in Micopony, Florida.  But for this weekend’s post, I wanted to share just a few!

7 on 7

And of course, you probably noticed it is the 7th of April, so that means this post is part of our 7 on 7 blog loop.  I hope you will take a moment and head on over to my friend Kris’s post!  I am loving being a part of this new little community ~ I would love to hear what you think of it too!

And then the next trip!

I can’t wait to get more of these images edited and share a few more this week.  I leave for my next trip in just one week as the retreat photographer for Women’s Room Vermont’s spring yoga retreat with Mhia Yoga!

Hello Busy Season!!

RENEE STENGEL Photography | Charlotte Underwater and Portrait Photographer |

Charlotte Underwater Senior Ballerina at Night in Silhouette

This beautiful Ballerina was just lovely to work with. Her form was incredible and while we played with lighting her directly, this silhouette is by far my favorite from the series.

Charlotte Underwater Couple in Tropical Pool

Would you ever guess this sizzling couple had three (of their four!) children playing in the pool just a couple feet away!?! (watched over by our lifeguard of course – and working with two other photographers!). I love that even after leaving the baby with Grandma and driving for hours to be with us, they were able to go into their own little world for these photos. Aren’t they a gorgeous couple?!?

Charlotte Underwater Maternity with toddler in open water springs

I don’t know that I have ever seen a Mama swim with such grace and elegance. She was stunning under the water. And her precious baby girl! That water was COLD y’all! We were cold – and we were were wearing diveskins or wetsuits! But baby girl was SO brave!!!

Charlotte Underwater Senior wearing Yellow Dress in open water Springs

So outside my norm. So outside my comfort zone to share. But exactly the kind of push my creative spirit was longing for…

Charlotte Underwater Glam Senior Freediving in Black Swimsuit and pearls

This is how I want to dive into life. Pearls and sunglasses, beautiful form, and who knows how deep that hole is – but let’s go for it!

And then there was Sunday…

My sweet friend Christi and I were the last ones to leave the area, so we took advantage of the extra afternoon and headed back to Ginnie Springs for one last swim in the cool fresh water.  And while working with clients in the springs was an absolutely amazing experience ~ there is nothing quite like having the freedom to just…BE.

The springs were beyond magical to me, and to be there swimming among the bubbles, diving down into the caves and over the precipice where the springs pour into the river and everything goes pitch black in an instant…

Oh my friends.  It. Was. Magical.

Ginnie Springs Freediver Underwater View





  1. Kris says:

    Holy Moses! These are just stunning. Absolutely brilliant. I could stare for days.

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Oh Wow Kris! You are too kind! It was truly an amazing underwater workshop. I learned so very much about taking my underwater photography to the next level and am definitely ready for the season to get under way here in Charlotte NC!

  2. Oooh that ballerina shot with the moody blues.

    • Renee Stengel says:

      YES Tara! Wasn’t that amazing! I loved working with backlight to do nighttime underwater photography! I can’t wait to try a ballerina silhouette in my own Charlotte NC Swimming Pool!

  3. These are so gorgeous! You are incredibly talented and I love seeing your underwater work. Can’t wait to see more!

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Thank you Kristina! I really appreciate how much you support me as an underwater photographer!

  4. Jen says:

    Your work always moves me but the ballerina (I was one for 7 years as a kid) melted my heart! I bet your creative tank was filled up. What a great retreat!! You should do one!!

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Oh thank you Jen! I loved working with our little ballerina – I hope to work with some Charlotte dancers and find a Charlotte Ballerina to photograph underwater soon!

  5. Just stunning. WOW.
    I love seeing your underwater photography. Such talent!

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Thank you Janice! I am so happy to be a part of our blog circle community. Thank you for your kind words about my underwater photography!

  6. Oh WOW I love this so much, your images are gorgeous and I am beyond thrilled that you joined our first Underwater Kids Retreat and even more thrilled to get to know you and have our extra few hours at the springs!!! Priceless memories made and wow is that me isn’t he last one?? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!!!!! Me in my happy place β€οΈπŸ’¦πŸ“·

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Yes my friend! That is YOU! In OUR happy place together!! Absolutely priceless weekend together my friend!

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Thank you my friend! I am so happy I chose to travel for this underwater workshop. The experience I had as an underwater photographer on the Underwater Kids Retreat was absolutely amazing!! Thank you again for taking me freediving at Ginnie Springs – what an experience!

  7. Cristy Cross says:

    I can’t stop using the word magical. They really are. I just love them so much. Thank you for sharing these πŸ™‚

  8. Lyosha says:

    looks so beautiful, so impressive, so surreal. charmed! it feel like mermaids

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Thank you Lyosha! I can’t wait to photograph some more underwater mermaids this summer here in Charlotte NC!

  9. NAti says:

    Oh my gosh! What a fantastic adventure, the photos are simply out of this world!

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Thank you so very much Nati! Underwater Photography is such an amazing adventure!

  10. These photographs are unreal and almost magical! I would love to get an underwater shoot! It looks so beautiful πŸ™‚

    • Renee Stengel says:

      Oh thank you Khushboo! Are you in Charlotte, NC? I would love to do an underwater photography session for you!

  11. Zerin Hassan says:

    Underwater photographer is just so beautiful. I can’t swim so I would never be able to do something like this. I just love your pics.

    • Renee Stengel says:

      You know what is amazing? You don’t actually have to know how to swim to have be in underwater photography? Of course we do things differently according to a someone’s comfort level in the water. But so often we shoot in the shallow end and really all my clients need to be able to do is go UNDER the water. Of course – safety is always my first priority and it is important to be upfront about your swim skill level with your photographer.