5 Easy Underwater Photography Tips

by | Technical, Light


When you think of summer, the chances are you will think of water. Summer means water and whether you are swimming in it or floating on top of it, capturing underwater photography is a great way to capture your summer fun and memories.

If your planning on playing in the water this summer or capturing shots of someone who is, I’ve put together some tips for how you can capture your underwater photography!

5 Underwater photography tips

Underwater Photography Tips

Have the Proper Equipment

If you want to start dabbling in underwater photography, you will either need an underwater camera or an underwater camera housing element. Chances are you aren’t going to run out and buy an underwater camera. They can be extremely costly, but remember, you don’t have to break the bank to get fun underwater shots this summer.

You can get inexpensive underwater point-and-shoot cameras if you want to avoid the expense, or get an underwater pouch, or case and start with your cellphone. If you are a bit more serious about underwater photography you can pick up a waterproof case meant for shallow depths, for your DSLR or mirrorless camera. With any camera or phone case you want to make sure that you follow all instructions precisely so that your camera does not get damaged.

Ditch Manual Mode

This will be one of the only times I ever tell you to use a shooting mode other than manual mode, but when shooting underwater, Aperture Priority mode will be your friend. You will find it really difficult to stay under the water and set everything up, so having the settings ready to go will help a lot.

That’s why I would suggest that you set your aperture, compose and go underwater. Also, remember that shots that are taken half in the water and half out are really interesting as well.

Don’t Forget About the Light

I always say, shoot for the light and not the location and shooting underwater is no different. Remember your lighting. The light in your underwater photography is just as important as your land shots.

The light under the water is different from above, and you will need to consider this when exposing, as you can easily overexpose your shots.

Staying near the surface-don’t go below 15 feet or so-will help you get the best light and remember to set white balance to daylight. Also remember that shooting at Golden Hour is just as magical under the water as it is above the water.

Have a Subject

Just like when you are taking pictures on land, you always want to make sure that you have a defined subject. Whether it’s an individual in portrait photography or a mountain in landscape photography, you want to make sure you have a defined subject in your underwater shots as well. Use a friend to practice, find a cool piece of coral, or rock formations just under the surface.

Follow your subject, capture them heading to the surface, coming towards you or swimming from the side. Remember to be patient, overshoot and as when taking any photograph, use the rules of composition.

Have Fun

This is key and really important to not ruin your time in the water or perhaps ruin your vacation.

Remember to have fun and let the story unfold naturally. The kids are in the pool to have fun and enjoy summer, don’t make them work as your models. Instead, capture them enjoying their friends, the summer, and the water.

Sit back and observe and then capture the moments.

Underwater photography can be both expensive and intimidating but you can do it easily and affordably. Don’t forget…You will need goggles, an ability to hold your breath, and some patience but you can do it!

Respect the environment, take care of your equipment and practice, practice, practice.

Lifestyle Photographer & Mentor

Hi, I’m Dena, a natural light lifestyle photographer with 20+ years of experience capturing other people’s memories and teaching photographers how to understand and easily use their cameras.

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