Shooting Underwater Weddings Part 2

Shooting Underwater Weddings Part 2

Earlier in the week here at Weddit, we began talking about what it’s like shooting underwater weddings and the things that you may have to consider along the way. Well guess what? We’ve already shared five of our TOP TIPS so, if you want to catch up on those before reading this post, you can do so here (Shooting Underwater Weddings Part 1). But, if you’re ready to read your way through part 2, feel free to delve into this article. We’re beginning with top tip No.6...

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Tip #6: Be Patient - Underwater modelling is incredibly difficult. Your clients will have a little trouble at first getting to grips as they attempt to pose under water. Even professional underwater models would have a little trouble when first entering a new water environment. So, you’ve got to be patient, because everyone will be struggling with the same thing. Also, it’s important to remember that when the subject is underwater, they will barely be able to see the camera! It’ll just be a blurry black blob to them most probably.  Plus, since you can’t talk underwater, they don’t even know if what they’re doing is what you’re looking for. So, a lack of patience won’t get you very far in this line of imagery.

As the photographer, it’s your job to allow for time in the schedule to figure out how you’re going to make things work when you’re under the water. Most models get the hang of letting the air out of their lungs and sinking. Remember the technique which we talked about in part 1? Well, it’d be a good idea for you to pass on this knowledge to your clients. Once they get the hang of this, turn your focus to their facial expressions. Most people naturally make a variety of unattractive facial poses underwater, with squinty eyes and nostrils, chipmunk cheeks or “fish lips” which looks like the underwater version of a “duck face”. After they learn how to keep their face looking natural and relaxed, move onto body poses. Reiterate soft hands, pointed toes and a long neck.

It might be a good idea to give your clients a list of poses to practise on land before going underwater. Then as you go through the shoot, you can slowly walk them through the process, suggesting small movement changes a little at a time. Also, just a quick last point on this topic, it’s important to understand the conditions that your clients are in. So, even though the waters will more than likely be cold enough for a wet suit, maybe you shouldn’t wear one. Here’s our logic... If you wear a wet suit, you’d have no idea how you clients/ model is feeling. By being in the exact same conditions as your subjects, you’ll be able to judge what is appropriate to ask of them given the current conditions.

Tip #7: Act Quickly - Even if the water isn’t even that cold, a long day of shooting will quickly wear on everyone. You’ll be exhausted from trying to manoeuvre that camera around underwater and your clients will have water going up their noses and into their ears! You’ll both be swallowing plenty of water and will both feel sick at some point. You’ll laugh at our next point based on what we’ve just said but it is actually a good idea to keep fresh bottles of water nearby and maybe even a box of crackers to help combat water sickness. Yeah really!

From a photography point of view, shooting quickly is ideal because things change underwater. Primarily makeup and skin texture are first, but finger tips become prune looking, makeup will run/ fade and your client's skin will take on an unattractive dimpled, dead texture. Which you definitely don’t want to capture on screen when shooting underwater weddings! Floating corpses don’t exactly say newlyweds now do they?

This is where planning ahead comes in...  If everyone knows exactly what you’re after before getting into the water, then things should run smoothly and you shouldn’t have any problems on that end. If you have a few underwater weddings to shoot and they’re coming up, you should meet with your clients again just to talk about it. You could even go as far as doing a rehearsal shoot with them if they’re willing. Some people pick up underwater movements in a heartbeat, while others struggle so, it’s better to get these elephants out of the room as quickly as possible to ensure that everyone is comfortable underwater on shooting day.

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Tip #8: Assistance - Having assistance will be like having a best friend right there with you! Honestly, it’ll be super useful to you as the photographer. For example, if you have lighting or other equipment that’s on land which is just out of reach, it’s much easier to have an assistant adjust it for you while you do a test shot, rather than have to get out of the pool and move it yourself until you finally get the look you’re going for. Plus, underwater shooting can be a little dangerous at times, especially when the subject is not wearing something, that they would normally wear underwater. Large dresses (such as wedding gowns) can become tangled, props can become heavy or the subject could become disoriented while trying to hit certain poses. Extra hands on deck will help to make your job easier while keeping everyone safe on the day of the underwater shoot.

Tip #9: Post-Processing - Underwater shooting is a bit of a finicky subject, but we will warn you now, you should expect to have to do some post processing on your images after the shoot. Water is a medium, and anytime you shoot through a medium, you’re going to run into some issues. All of those brilliant underwater photos you see on the internet have not just popped out of the camera looking that way. Shooting through water takes away image clarity and sharpness, adds a lot of background stuff to clean up (bubbles, back scatter, light reflections), not to mention that pesky blue cast that takes some dealing with.

You could use filters to try and combat the blue cast, but personally we feel that they cause even more of a headache. Don’t worry if your images don’t look like something straight out of a magazine on camera. Chances are, you won’t need to go ahead and invest thousands into underwater lighting equipment, you’re just in need of a proper processing technique, that’s all!

Tip #10: Time - If it hadn’t occurred to you already, this type of wedding shoot will take a considerable amount of time. Underwater photography is by no means a piece of cake, but it is very effective if it’s produced efficiently. The downside is that it is physically exhausting, time-consuming and potentially expensive. But, don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning. There are a lot of components that need to come together to make a successful photograph, and it takes a lot of practice to get to that point. Take it one day at a time, and you’ll be there before you know it!

We hope that you have both enjoyed this article and have found some of our tips useful. Give us a follow over on Facebook and join our community over there, we’ll see you soon!

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