How To Take the Perfect Underwater Picture

Life//Being There


With the advent of digital cameras we have seen a rise in wanna-be photographers. Whilst some take the time to learn a new skill many of us are happy to take an inordinate number of pictures knowing that one will be half decent and the rest can simply be deleted.

Not only that but now we can take pictures virtually anywhere, including underwater, which is an entirely different skill altogether. Thankfully we have some expert advice from water photographer Sarah Lee, who we recently featured in our 'Meet the Photographer' series, and has plenty of experience in the sea with a camera.


Sarah Lee's Top Underwater Photography Tips

1. Ask your models to channel their inner ballerina or yogi and trust them. Open body posture is key. This photograph was taken of adventure model and soul surfer, Alison Teal, somewhere in the warm waters of Fiji.

2. I find it ideal to photograph people underwater in the late morning between 8-11am because you’re going to need a lot of natural light being underwater. Though, on occasion it’s fun to experiment with different times of day.

3. Skin tones look the best within 1-5 feet of the surface. Beyond that, and you start to lose the warmth and reds in their skin tone.


4. Lately I’ve been using an Outex, which is a silicone water cover. It’s rad because you can use different lenses in it and it has a tripod neck strap. It’s worked really well underwater in lots of different situations.

5. You don’t always need a fancy camera or underwater setup to take a good photo. It's entirely possible to take good pictures with a GoPro. Read more about shooting with a GoPro on Sarah's blog.

6. Working with props and clothes can be challenging underwater but worth the effort! In this shoot, I created a jellyfish from an umbrella, ribbons, and beaded curtains. Just be careful you don’t lose anything in the process!


7. Within the realm of underwater photography, there’s not much in your control. It’s all about being in the moment and finding the composition within the 'chaos'. Most of my favourite photographs were taken when I just let things be and used my camera as a way to interpret what is happening at the present moment, rather than trying to orchestrate and control any of it.

8. Protect your gear - I alternate between surf housing and water covers depending on the conditions I shoot in.

All images copyright to Sarah Lee

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