Underwater Photography. Like, IN the water? I get this question a lot. And I can usually tell by someone’s face if they fall in one of three categories. One, they’ve never thought of it, but are intrigued. Two, they think it sounds absurd, or at least, not something they can imagine. Or, three, they look like they just met the person who can make all their dreams come true!
It all began…
I was introduced to Underwater Photography over sixteen years ago on a trip to the Grand Caymans. An artist adventurer friend and I headed down to the crystal clear waters for a snorkeling/diving trip. That was the trip I learned to free dive – because, well, why were the divers going to get to have all the fun while I was stuck on the surface! My friend Liz and I discovered the most amazing Underwater Ocean Photographer, Cathy Church. Liz purchased one of Cathy’s gorgeous prints, but I made up my mind right then that one day I would hang one of my *own* Underwater Fine Art Prints on my walls.
Over the years I have used various disposable, point and shoot, and go pro cameras to shoot underwater while on vacation and on summer visits to the pool and waterparks with my boys. But I have had a desire to shift to professional underwater portraiture for nearly a decade.
So, how does it work?
My favorite part about underwater photography? It works however you want it to! From super casual documentary style family sessions where everyone is just in their bathing suit, to styled sessions with outfit changes and props galore! And I love it all!
Kids who love the water tend to *really* love the water. I know my own three boys do! So when you get them in such a happy place and tell them to jump in and have fun, well, they do! And I get to capture that fun. To capture those free spirited, care-free, summer loving expressions that make children’s underwater photos so dang FUN!
And when it comes to styled sessions? Oh, the creativity! Maternity, Senior, High Fashion, Sports, Branding, Commercial Products ~ the sky is the limit on what we can come up. Do we put people in the water fully dressed? You better believe it! With sports equipment? Yep! In formal wear or bridal gowns ~ oh yes please!!!
Is it hard?
The photography part? Well, yes. But I love it. The *being photographed* part? No! In fact, most of my clients are surprised by how much easier an underwater session is than a family sessions they have had in the past. I love working with children in a park, a studio, on the beach or in the water. And I always strive to make my sessions a ton of fun! But I think especially for families with young children, its the *getting ready* for the photography session that can often cause the most stress and anxiety. Trying to gather the coordinating outfits, wrangle the children into the nicer than usual clothes, get everyone out the door on time and all while trying to get ready yourselves as parents!
The advantage of an underwater session is that parents just get to show up! Mom might want to put on some waterproof mascara or pick out new swimsuits in fun colors. But that is about it! Hair doesn’t need to be combed or curled. No one even needs shoes!! And once you arrive, I take over. And instead of sit here and look this way – its count to three and cannonball off that rock! So. You can see why kids rarely want to leave even when our session is over.
What about your camera?
Last summer I used an Ewa Marine housing for my Nikon D700. This winter I upgraded to an Ikelite with a Nikon D750. The Ewa was like a really awesome ziplock bag that sealed around my camera. Very safe for pool use, but not as reliable in open water.
I am a huge fan of free diving and open water swimming, so the Ikelite made sense for me. It is big and heavy, but it gives me more control over my settings when I am in the water – and offers significantly more protection for my camera in open water. My friend Christi took some amazing photos of me using it during my adventures in Ginnie Springs a few weeks ago! It is a hard shell housing with handles on each side and the camera fits inside. The buttons on the back allow me to access the controls for the camera while I am underwater, giving me more flexibility in how and what I shoot. I also use an Axis Go for my iPhone to take some fun behind the scenes video.
I hope that whichever of the three categories you fall in, that this answers some of your questions about what Underwater Portrait Photography is and how it works. And that if you couldn’t imagine it before, I have your wheels turning. That if the idea intrigues you, you now know a bit more about it and can start to imagine where Underwater Photography would fit into your plans. And if you fall in the third group. Well, we need to chat!!