Tips for Underwater Photography

Underwater Photography Techniques for Beginners

Underwater Photography Techniques for Beginners

Underwater Photography Techniques for Beginners

Beginner Underwater Photoshoot

This photo shoot was one of my favorite photo shoots of all time. I had the honor of shooting beautiful hand-made jewelry and flower head-pieces by Cosmik Souls. The most exciting part of it was that it was underwater and I am clearly a beginner.

Reuben Reynoso who specializes in underwater photography,  had contacted me on Instagram and asked if I would be interested. I looked over his portfolio and was amazed by his beautiful work so of course, I was ecstatic to work with him.

On the day of the shoot, I was pretty nervous since it was my first time shooting underwater. Everyone on the team was very comforting and supportive. Instructions were clear, but still scary.

Underwater Photography Techniques for Beginners

Research & Plan

It is best if you look over poses before going under water. Since the environment is completely different, it is harder to concentrate on your look. I researched many graceful underwater shoots to analyze the model’s body and especially their expression. Since it is uncomfortable to be holding your breath, it is important to keep a calm face for the camera.


I was actually not able to rehearse very much since the flower head piece was hand-made and not suitable for underwater. If possible, rehearsing would be ideal in order to get used to the temperature, environment, and photographer.


Communication was simple for this shoot, since it was shot in a pool. We used hand signals before going down since breathing is crucial before going under. Make sure to understand your photographer’s signals and clarify anything before shooting. Never be afraid to ask questions or even repeat a question.

On Sinking & Floating

The most important things before going under:

  1. Take 3 deep breaths
  2. Exhale all the air out
  3. Then dive!

The 3 deep breaths allow oxygen into my blood stream and exhaling allows me to sink under water. If you want to float slightly, on the last breath out, exhale about half of your air before going down.

Staying Still/Moving for Shots Will Be Tricky

I had to remember to keep my toes pointed, arch my back, let my white choker/scarf flow and on top of that, I am not able to breathe (lol). Also, underwater photography environment tricky, so analyze where the lighting hits so you can point your face towards the lighting to have a good shot.

I did a few shots with the flower headpiece then after, we shot without it. It was definitely a lot easier without the flower piece. The flower piece kept floating up, so it was difficult to have it in place. Underwater, I felt kind of graceful. When I was down under, I pretended I was an underwater fairy or a mermaid. Maybe one day I can switch places with Ariel, from “The Little Mermaid” (lol).

Have Extra Hands

If possible, the photoshoot is much easier with extra hands. Other than the photographer and myself, there was a photographer assistant, makeup artist, and my manager. The makeup artist was very helpful in adjusting the flower headpiece and touching up make up. An assistant is definitely crucial if your underwater shoot is deeper than a regular pool (for the model’s safety).

Shoot Fast or Get Cold

If you are not shooting in the tropical, the human body can become cold when submerged underwater for a long period of time. Although the photoshoot took place in sunny California and in the middle of July, I became cold after 30 minutes. The shoot becomes unpleasant once you become cold so be quick!

Personal Experience

I have been doing photo shoots since I was 18 years old. I did not like calling myself a “model” before because I was always afraid my peers would judge me; I was afraid people would view me as conceited or “full of it”. So, for years, I hid the fact that I modeled. I also lied to my friends every once in a while because whenever I had something exciting coming into place for myself, people would want to spend time with me because of what I did and not for who I was. Even my best friend at the time judged what I did. She made side remarks like back-handed compliments. I realized now, people who truly care about you would not do that. I should be proud about what I do, because it is a part of me.

Underwater Photography Team

Underwater Photographer: Reuben Reynoso

Underwater Photography Techniques for Beginners

Check out more underwater photos on Instagram @ReynosoPhotography

Underwater Makeup Artist: Danielle Katherine

Check out more underwater photos on Instagram @DanielleKatherineMakeup

Underwater Photographer (Assistant): Ahjile Miller

Check out more ballerina photos on Instagram @AhjileMillerPhotography

Headpiece and Jewelry Provided By @CosmikSouls

Skater Dress by Black Milk Underwater Photoshoot

Skater Dress by Black Milk

Skater Dress by Black Milk

(Reynoso Photography: Skater Dress by Black Milk)

“Gleaming scales on a fish…”

Underwater photoshoots are just my new thing. Photoshoots are always enjoyable, but it is extremely gratifying to find something new, interesting, and fun. I can assure you, every single underwater photoshoot is challenging. I recently did another shoot with Reuben Reynoso (IG: @ReynosoPhotography) for Black Milk Clothing.

The dress I wore is called the Mermaid Skater Dress and it was so beautifully shiny. The design was definitely inspired by the gleaming scales on a fish. Underwater, the “scales” of the dress would glisten through the ripples of sunlight which gave a beautiful glow. The dress was a perfect fit and surprisingly, extremely comfortable.

You can find the dress here:

Skater Dress by Black Milk

(Reynoso Photography: Skater Dress by Black Milk)

“Danger of lacking too much oxygen…”

I’m not too sure why, but I felt extremely tired and exhausted after this shoot. I was thinking that I probably pushed myself farther than my first underwater shoot because I was excited and knew what to do. My manager was saying I was staying underwater longer than the first time I shot with Reuben. I always had a bad habit of pushing myself with everything I do. Maybe this time around, it was a bad idea since there is a danger of lacking too much oxygen. I just need to remember to be more careful! From pushing too much, I ended up swallowing some water and thus, ingested some chlorine. I felt very sick and nauseated after the shoot and had to call off work at my other job. Also, on the way home, my vision was cloudy (probably from having my eyes open under chlorine water for over 3 hours). But no worries, the next day my vision was completely fine!

Skater Dress by Black Milk

Ion Swimmer’s Shampoo is a MUST!

“Protect bleached hair from turning green!”

“100% Vegan Protectant”

One more thing I must say. If you are blonde or have color treated hair (especially bleached), it is crucial to use a protectant for your hair. If I jumped in a pool of chlorine water, my blonde hair would turn green (yes, it has happened before!). Before I do underwater photoshoots, I wash my hair in Ion Swimmer’s Shampoo and Conditioner (you can find it at Sally’s Beauty Supply or I love this line because it protects my bleached hair from sun and chlorine damage, turning green, and as a plus, it is 100% vegan! So after washing my hair and using Ion Swimmer’s Shampoo and Conditioner, I clip it up without drying it, get my make-up done, and jump in the pool with Reuben to create awesome photos. 😀