Take the plunge

Ever wanted to try an un­der­wa­ter por­trait shoot but not sure how to go about it? James Pater­son guides you through un­charted wa­ters

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Shoot­ing an un­der­wa­ter por­trait takes some plan­ning, and some spe­cial­ist kit, but you’ll end up with a set of pho­tos to be proud of

With ded­i­cated cam­era hous­ings, water­proof lights and all man­ner of ac­ces­sories, un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy can be ex­pen­sive. The kit could eas­ily cost thou­sands. But that type of gear is built to with­stand the open seas. In a swim­ming pool, you don’t need to jump in at the fi­nan­cial deep end and you can achieve great re­sults at a frac­tion of the cost.

It’s not the eas­i­est shoot­ing en­vi­ron­ment, but be­ing un­der­wa­ter has an ef­fect on hair and clothes that’s im­pos­si­ble to find any­where else. As such, the swim­ming pool at your lo­cal sports cen­tre, school or even a hol­i­day villa is the ideal place to stage a por­trait shoot with a dif­fer­ence. You could cap­ture the kids hav­ing fun, or go all-out for an un­der­wa­ter fash­ion shoot like this.

As for the gear, all you need is a water­proof D-SLR bag like the ewa-marine case we used here. These are soft, so you con­trol the cam­era through the ma­te­rial. They’re far cheaper than ded­i­cated hard un­der­wa­ter hous­ings, and fit for pur­pose on a shoot like this. Slightly more in­volved is the light­ing. While it’s pos­si­ble to use am­bi­ent light alone (es­pe­cially in out­door pools), light falls off very quickly and turns blue as it passes through wa­ter, so for greater clar­ity, a cou­ple of flash­guns, also placed in water­proof bags, will do the job. Here’s how…

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