A Beginners Guide to Underwater Photography

Photography underwater unlike any other photography brings whole new life to the photographs mainly through movement, the more abstract the better! After reading this simple guide to getting the best snaps were sure you’ll be in the sea or the pool in no time!

Words & photos by Emily Furness

Preparing for a shoot

If you want to do your shoot in a pool rather than the sea then there are few little things you need to be aware of. Basically you can’t just jump in a pool and just start snapping away without permission. If a child gets captured in your shot or strangers in swim wear and you haven’t asked the manager or signed any forms you could get in a lot of trouble. So best to ring the pool before you go down and ask to speak to the manager, you will usually have to sign some forms when you get there, and possibly show them your pictures once there taken. It may all seem like a mission but it will be worth trust me!

The Equipment

Depending on the effects you want to produce and what sort of photography you are interested in as well as your budget will determine if you use a underwater film camera or a underwater digital camera. A Kodak underwater disposable camera costs around £10.00 from any local retailer. For a reasonably priced digital underwater camera Kodak easy share sports 12MP is best costing around £59.00. With a film camera you have to consider the costs of having to get the film developed which will add around 10pound the cost there will also be a limit to how many photos you can take on the film reel usually around 30 unlike digital which depending on your memory card size can be up to 100. Another option is buying underwater housing for your DSLR camera or film camera if you have one and want the photos to be of the upmost professional quality but you’re be looking £100 up to £1000.

Props make the shots more exciting

When considering this aspect think about the movement of the water and what could really capture it. If you’re into fashion photography consider looking at vogues underwater fashion shoot on Google images for inspiration or even better use your imagination!. Using simple props such as fake flowers or scarf’s in water really capture the movement and can make a photo come alive. I used a few props in some of my underwater photography using the Kodak easy share sports camera.

Interesting angles and abstract ideas can be the key to effective underwater photography

Think about how you could capture certain body parts but if your photography a model be sure to check they okay with it as what they are wearing might rather be revealing in a pool. Personally I found that back shots of someone’s arms and hair flowing in the water are amazing, and are unique to this type of photography as it portrays them as floating without any editing the movement of the water creates the effect for you.

School boy errors, hints and tips

Some common mistakes that are made is that fact all though your model should be floating you should however as the photographer still needing to get a clear shots should limit the amount you move. so holding on to the pool side or grabbing some seaweed while trying to look through your goggles taking the photograph with one hand can lead to some shaky shots which is to be expected, However tying down tripod to the bottom of a pool really helps get some crisp shots . But try not to use flash to much thinking the light reflecting may give a clearer image, as although it can create some nice effects it can make the photograph looked over exposed and bleached, expically in water as the colours are usually already quite light unless you are looking to go deep sea diving and not stay near the surface in this case you need to research into the depth the type of underwater camera can take.

Before editing…

Subtle editing to underwater pictures can work wonders

Photoshop has some great underwater effects adding the subtle underwater effect to a layer, emphasises any Aqua tones almost making the photograph look tropical! However, if you’re less familiar with Photoshop another great effect adding a whole new emotion to the photograph is cross processing! Pisca Google photo editor is quick, easy, free and simple to use! With this effect ready to add simply just import your photo and edit away. Cross processing colours not also adds aqua green colours to the water like Photoshop would but also some pinky multi colours creating a magical feel to a rather magical genre of photography.

…and after

Mounting your images & how to display them

Simple white mounting is great if your photograph has a lot of detail in it so it doesn’t distract from the image. However if the photography is minimalistic then getting imaginative with some frames and the way you mount them can give you the edge you need to make it into such a competitive industry! Think of themes and how you could link the frame to the ideas behind your image and as to where they were taken such as driftwood and shell frames found on the beach they were taken linked with underwater sea images. Or stretched swim suit material over frames for pool photographs!

Mixed media shots show flexibility and flair

Even if you have a particular favourite genre of photography such as fashion, with a digital camera or with a film camera don’t fall in the trap of staying in your comfort zone and creating the same generic images every time. Mixing up using digital cameras, film cameras half in half out shots fully in the water and fully out the water shots shows a wide range of talent. If you love fashion try the sports side of things some underwater surf shots could end up being your new thing, or photography of sea creatures you could be the next photographer for the national geographic. Think outside the box!

Just keep shooting happy snapping!

The more pictures you have to work with the better, If it’s sunny and you can get to the sea get shooting if its freezing cold get to the pool. If your tried experiment with some abstract ideas under a shower or in bath water. Never give up and never be afraid to try new things, if you fancy trying something new try using a film camera instead for a while!

There is a gap in the market for underwater photography!

It is such a unique and specialist type of photography. When people see photographs of underwater rather than just the typical beach on land shots of the water it completely changes theirs view on beach shots. But as with any arts subjects it’s all about making a name for yourself and taking opportunities. If there’s a small art gallery near you find out how much the wall space would cost per week. Make a logo for yourself on Photoshop, or just a simple artist signature. And most importantly get blogging your work, I have a blog made on Google blogger and its great for promoting all my art my work, my logo was also designed by a local artist on theme of the ‘beach’ and can easily be recognised.

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