Beginner’s guide to underwater photography: Part 2

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have” – Maya Angelou.

Image source: Zena Holloway
Image source: Zena Holloway

I hope you’ve enjoyed part one of my underwater photography series and I hope I’ve given you the tips you need to get started and ideas on setting the best scene. In the second part I’m going to encourage you to get creative. Underwater photography is a great way to have some fun, think outside the box and use your imagination. Using some of the tips below you may very well end up bagging something cool for your next family Christmas card or an image for the bathroom wall!

You will need:
• Clean, warm water
• a waterproof camera
• mask or goggles
• some kids 🙂
• an adult helper

Choice of lens

It’s a good idea to use a wide angle. This allows you to cut through the water column as it’s better to be closer to your subject. If there are any particles floating around a wide angle will keep them to a minimum and your image will be crisper.

Image source: Zena Holloway 
Image source: Zena Holloway

Camera settings

I work on the assumption that I’ll lose around 2 stops by the time the light has travelled through the water surface so it’s a good idea to up your ISO a little. Make use of the auto exposure and if possible set the focus to manual at around 1-1.5m.  This will stop the lens from hunting around for the focus if things get bubbly in the water. It also means you can shoot blind if you prefer – just point and shoot without getting your head wet.


It sounds obvious but when everything is moving all the time there will always be loads of different visual possibilities. There’s a very complex theory about underwater photography:  the more you shoot the luckier you get, so just keep snapping and be ready to do a big edit afterwards.

Image source: Zena Holloway
Image source: Zena Holloway 

Inspire the kids

Kids love to dress up underwater, It’s that whole thing of wearing clothes in the pool that gets them excited and giggly.  Pale or brightly coloured costumes and props will look great in the pictures and a pair of wings to play on the weightless idea goes down a treat. It’s important to remember to just make sure that they’re always supervised as some costumes might be tricky to swim in, this is where another adult on hand is necessary.

Image source: Zena Holloway
Image source: Zena Holloway

So there you have it, I’d love to know if you try a few of these!

Image source: Zena Holloway
Image source: Zena Holloway


Zena Holloway

Zena Holloway is an underwater photographer based in London and mother to 3 young children. Her acclaimed images of babies underwater have featured across a range of media including National Geographic, Paris Match and the BBC Human Body series. Besides photographing babies she shoots fine art, editorial, celebrities, sport, fashion and lifestyle imagery. Her work deviates from the stereotypical directness associated with underwater photography, as she strives to push the boundaries of her imagination and the limits of creativity.

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