Shooting Underwater Weddings Part 1

Shooting Underwater Weddings Part 1

Ah, underwater weddings... Underwater weddings? Underwater weddings! No matter how many times we say it, the principle doesn’t become any less wild. As ‘out there’ as the concept may be, an underwater wedding isn’t exactly unheard of in warmer climates and actually happens to be a pretty trendy way to tie the knot.

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We’ll be completely honest; an underwater wedding is one of those awkward topics. Who knows if you’ll be asked to shoot one? Our guess is that you’re just as likely to come across an underwater wedding request first hand as you are to not come across one at all. But isn’t it good to be prepared for the gig if you can be?

No one wants to be that photographer who has to turn down a photo shoot just because they don’t really know what they’re doing. Excuse the pun, but it’s pretty much every photographer’s nightmare to feel out of their depth when it comes to a job. So, don’t! If you haven’t gathered it already, today’s article is going to be a photographer’s guide on how to shoot and underwater wedding! We’ll be giving out some of our best advice as well as our TOP TIPS! So, make sure that you stay tuned for the whole post...

Tip #1: Open Your Mind - Everything is different under water. Lighting, for example, follows different principles and patterns. Did you know that the lighting needs to be about six times stronger underwater than on land just to capture a decent quality image? However, this does depend a lot on the depth of the water and the distance between the camera and the subject that you’re shooting. We don’t know if you know this already, but dealing with radio signals can be a huge pain underwater! The lights which you use need to be a constant ambient light or strobes that are connected directly to your camera. That’s not all though. For a half decent shot, your client will have to adapt to being captured in a near zero-gravity environment.  

It’s important to think about wedding props and attire too, they’ll act differently underwater so, be sure to think about this before you start capturing your images. For example, a gorgeous, flowing dress on land could be a tangled, transparent disaster underwater, and a prop that you thought would be a fantastic idea might be dangerous after it gets wet! Don’t worry if you feel a bit like a novice though. It’s bound to happen, as shooting underwater weddings is a possible outcome as a freelance photographer, but they’re not as common an option as asking for wedding photographs to be taken in black and white. So, don’t kick yourself too hard if you feel a little clueless. Besides, it’s quite exciting to learn something new isn’t it?

If you go into this type of gig thinking that you can apply the rules which you’ve previously learnt about photography to it, you’ll quickly find yourself feeling frustrated and discouraged. So, keep an open mind and be prepared to see things in a whole new light...

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Tip #2: Underwater Housing - What is underwater housing? Well, essentially underwater housing is like a type of layer (that can come in many forms), which will protect your camera/ video equipment once it’s underwater.  Now it’s easy to just pick up any old form of housing for your equipment. But, a lot of photographers have found that at least one time or another, their underwater camera bags have leaked and damaged their devices. Cheap hard housing is also pretty large and awkward. It can be a bit of a mess, so it’s probably best to avoid that too. Underwater housing unfortunately isn’t the place to be trying to cut back on the pennies.

When you’re putting thousands into gear and then putting that gear into an environment that could easily destroy it with just the tiniest of leaks, you need to know that it’s going to be taken care of right?! If you’re just looking to have some fun, consider renting some gear or buy a GoPro. Take some pictures and see how you feel! If you decide that shooting underwater images isn’t for you, at least you can return the gear or use a GoPro for literally anything else, and if you do decide that this is something that you’d like to pursue, sit down and have an honest look at the kind of underwater work that you want to produce and the gear you’ll need to produce it.

Tip #3: Water Varies - Not to sound silly, but did you know that not all water is the same? Take a swimming pool filled with water for example, that kind of water is heavily chlorinated. Cameras are very sharp pieces of equipment, so they’ll pick up these chemicals and sadly a foggy haze will loom all over your images. So where is the best place to shoot underwater weddings? Well, in many photographers' experiences, there’s really nothing better than taking photographs in a clear lake filled with freshwater. There won’t be any nasty chemicals in there!

If you can’t get to a freshwater lake, then a saltwater pool would be your next best bet! As appealing as the setting may seem, you should avoid shooting in a chlorinated hotel pool at all costs. There are also other factors that come into play as well. Oceans have currents and potentially dangerous animals, like jellyfish. Freshwater lakes are often insanely clear, but more often than not, they’re also freezing cold! You should do your research thoroughly before committing your clients to any location.

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Tip #4: Wide Angle Lenses - Wide angle shots are your BFF (Hello? Best friends forever!). To cut down on the amount of water between your subject and your camera, you’ll want to shoot as close to your subject as possible. We recommend shooting at a focal length of around 25mm. Shooting from any longer than this may cause you a few problems (camera wise). For example, you may have a hard time keeping your subject in the frame, or getting your camera to focus for a clear crisp image. Try not to go any wider than 25mm to avoid image distortion.


Tip #5: Learn To Sink - In case you didn’t realise it, there is a talent to your being underwater you know? The key to staying underwater is not to hold your breath, but rather to let all your air out. The less air in your lungs, the less buoyant you are, and the easier it is to manoeuvre down there. It seems quite terrifying at first, but soon you’ll learn to work with the residual air in your lungs, and the more you do it the longer you can stay down for.  

For some people though, the thought of letting all their air out before diving down is just too much to take, and in this case, you can use weights or even dive equipment. We highly recommend practising this technique before assigning yourself to any paying gigs (for obvious reasons). It’s primarily about your safety and secondly about being qualified to do the role that you’ve been hired to do.

Well, that’s it from us for part 1, but be sure to stay with us, because part 2 will be on the horizons very soon! In the meantime, give us a follow over on Instagram We’ll see you over there soon!

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