The world beneath the surface of the water offers a brand new environment for creative photographers and models who want to capture portraits in a whole new way. As you've probably already guessed, however, photographing people underwater in a pool or in the ocean can certainly be challenging. The tips below, though, will provide you with some insight into how you can begin experimenting with this new artistic form of photography.
Stay Close to the Surface to Maintain Skin Tone
If you stick with shooting anywhere from 1 to 5 feet below the surface of the water, you won't have a hard time maintaining the model's skin tone. If you end up going any deeper, though, you'll notice that you begin to lose the reds and overall warmth in the skin.
Everything Takes Longer Underwater
Even if you're a seasoned portrait or fashion photographer and you can normally get a shoot done fairly quickly, bear in mind that everything occurs more slowly when you're shooting underwater. Everything from establishing your settings and lighting, to focusing your camera and directing your model, is more complicated in this environment, so give yourself extra time.
Let Your Model Practice
Underwater facial expressions can be unattractive, so have your model test out her poses several times until she's really comfortable and at ease. This will ensure that her facial expression is relaxed and just as graceful as the rest of her body.
Bring Along Props
Flowing cloth and any other props, from musical instruments to flowers and ribbons, all look amazing underwater, especially when combined with a graceful and beautiful model. Just beware that even transparent and lightweight cloth will hinder the model's ability to move about as freely as she would without it, so it may take some practice and a bit of time to nail the shot.
Use Lead Weights to Quickly Get to the Bottom
If you're planning on shooting your underwater portrait session at the bottom of a pool, you can use lead weights to help your model get to the bottom without exerting too much energy getting down there on her own.
Wear the Right Gear
Snorkeling goggles will ensure you're able to keep water out of your nose as well as your eyes. A wetsuit that a diver would use is great at keeping your body comfortable during long periods underwater, no matter what the temperature is, while fins will make you more mobile underwater too. And, of course, an oxygen tank will be necessary if you don't want to have to return to the surface constantly for more air.
Run through your routine before you get in the water and also be sure you have at least one other person there whose primary objective will be to monitor everyone's safety. Should your model grow fatigued or become entangled in props, you'll definitely want to know that someone's there to help her.
Have you ever photographed a model underwater? If so, how did you go about doing so? Feel free to leave a comment below. And be sure to sign up to become a member of the PT community to gain access to even more tips on how to improve your creative photography skills.