Underwater PhotographyUnderwater Fashion

Pool Underwater Fashion Shootout with Compact Cameras – Wedding Album

Pool Underwater Fashion Shootout with Compact Cameras – Wedding Album

After years of diving and experiencing with underwater photography in reefs and wrecks around the world, my brother and I decided to try something new and a do pool fashion photo shoot.

Here is a teaser (More shots in the end ):

It so happens that a good friend is getting married and he has the perfect pool at home for such a shoot out. Of course we immediately jumped the opportunity and offered the happy couple a free pre-wedding pool photo shoot.

We did this photo shoot with 2 compact cameras and intend to repeat this experience in the summer with a full DSLR rig. It was obvious that a DSLR or decent Mirror less is needed for good wide angle performance underwater but we thought it would be an interesting experience to use compacts.

The conditions of such a photo shoot are very different than the normal diving photography I am used to and as such I learned a lot and would like to take the time to share the experience with our readers.

I will start by outlining the differences and issues of such a shootout:

  • As opposed to diving, everything here happens fast, all the takes are 15-20 seconds long (normal people are not trained for free diving) and jumps or other poses happen even faster.
  • There is a lot of light (when shot in daytime with direct sunlight) so most shots should be taken with ambient light.
  • The models are cold, restless, wearing wet clothes. Fish and coral do not complain 🙂
  • You need to be creative and not only compose the shot but also compose the models.

During the shoot out which was about 4 hours, we tried various options like shooting shallow and deep , close to the surface or down at the bottom, Canon S100 or Nikon P7100 , strobes or no strobes and more.. We got to some very firm conclusions in the end, some of which require us to shoot with different gear next time.

Let me list a few things we prepared and thinking back what we missed or didn’t use:

  1. Cameras, Housings, Strobes, extra batteries..
  2. Action Camera ( Gopro style ) which turned out to be amazing and produced really nice videos of the shoot out and the soon to be married couple.
  3. Clothing for the couple: White dress & Suit
  4. Pieces of semi-transparent fabric (We had only a small white net fabric) I wish so much we had many more in many different colors. They look great in the water and are very photogenic.
  5. Props: We brought a colorful umbrella which didn’t really work out as was too difficult to maneuver underwater.
  6. Suntan lotion, rash guards, towels ( you can never have enough towels here, especially when its cold outside )..

We were missing the most: more fabric, light reflectors to use the powerful sun to our advantage and weights to make it easier to position ourselves and the models.

We started the shootout by using 2 strobes (YS-01 and S-2000), while this produced nice results, it was very limiting due to the fact that the 2-3 seconds recycle time made us miss all the good shots. Also due to the amount of light (we had direct sunlight) we had to close aperture as much as possible, f/8.0 in compacts, and shoot on 1/2000 which luckily we could do as with compacts as there is no problem with flash sync speed.

After noticing that in an hour we didn’t take more than 50 shots we decided to ditch the strobes and shoot continuous. The S100 gave us 10fps whereas the P7100 gave about 3fps. Now we started to get some good poses and by shooting closer to the surface and with the sun at our backs the lighting was quite decent.

The end results were average and required a lot of post processing, this made us understand that without a decent wide angle lens and good light reflectors, this is probably not going to be professional enough.

Let me list our conclusions which you can also consider as tips for underwater fashion shoot out in a pool:

  1. Shooting with a strobe significantly slows down the shots and as time is often limited, should be combined with no strobe shots.. i.e. taking multiple no strobe shots , preferably in continuous mode and once the correct pose and light angles are established , prepare for a couple of strobe shots.
  2. Use light reflectors to utilize the sun and light the models faces, this looks way more natural than a strobe and allows continuous and quick shots.
  3. Prepare weights for both the photographers and the models , for the models , they have to be small and invisible , under the dress or on a belt in a way that they are not shown in the image. This would make the posing in the water much easier without the need to exhale or fight the natural positive buoyancy of the body.
  4. Use semi-transparent fabrics to make the images more interesting, colorful ones can be very creative and impressive.
  5. When submerging , shake the camera and wipe all bubbles from the front port, due to the quick submerging sometimes the camera focuses on tiny bubbles that are stuck on the port. Even better is never to take the camera out of the water.
  6. Shoot RAW for optimal post processing.
  7. Long hair covers the face in the water and therefore shots should be taken with model moving forward.
  8. If the sun is strong, the pictures cannot be made dark with a compact camera and not necessarily with a DSLR as well.
  9. The pool in the morning was very clear and in the afternoon very unclear , perhaps due to our presence in the water for a few hours.. As such, morning shots were far better.
  10. When shooting continuous, one needs to maintain the same distance between the camera and the models as the auto focus will not function between shots.
  11. Watch out for focusing on the bubbles the models exhale , better to wait a few seconds till the water clears up before the shots.
  12. Shoot shallow and close to the surface for optimal lighting and nice reflections from the water surface.

Our next shoot will surely generate better results , especially when we take a DSLR which includes a decent wide angle lens for the shoot out.

Nevertheless, thanks to our light room experience and over 800 shot to choose from, the outcome was quite impressive. Also worth mentioning is that compact cameras have evolved so much to generate spectacular results one never dreamed of taking with a pocket camera.

Feel free to email us for further tips and information, we would love to help.

Tal Mor & Ran Mor

Some Sample Pictures – More can be found on our Gallery at Underwater Fashion Photos

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  1. Leo Clifford June 8, 2015

    Hi there,

    Your photos are really cool.

    I am a Sydney-based underwater photographer and I just tried underwater photography with a model in the pool. You may have a look at my photographs for this first time experience: http://lennycliffbanger.com/p637654683

  2. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor June 12, 2015

    Hi Leo!
    Thanks, glad you liked it. Did you see the “How to photograph people underwater” blog post? Might be useful:


    Nice job on your first shoot! Hold on to that model, she knows what she’s doing and those are hard to find 🙂

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