Beginner’s guide to underwater photography: Part 1

Hello! I’m Zena, an underwater photographer and also mum to 3 kids.  I’ve been passionate about taking pictures underwater for the last 20 years and much of the best work I’ve created has been with photography with the children beneath the surface.  It’s a magical space that creates truly special pictures – I think every album should have an underwater photo!  With that in mind, I’ve teamed up with Lifecake to share my tips that will hopefully encourage you to have a go at capturing your own water babies. Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be on the blog with a series of posts to help you master the basics, first up, are the tips that should help with your preparations….

Build their confidence

Amazing pictures happen when kids are happy and comfortable in their environment, so my first tip is to take them swimming regularly.  It a great activity to do with your child anyway and baby swimming classes have never been more popular.

Use the right equipment

Get your hands on the best waterproof camera set up you can.  There’s no denying that quality kit will improve your imagery but many camera phones are now waterproof so this could be a good option too., as the photo below demonstrates.

Image source: Zena Holloway 
Image source: Zena Holloway

Light and bright

Try to find a pool with plenty of natural light.  Water always gobbles up the light, so a well lit and bright environment will make it easier to achieve a good result.

Scope out the environment

Look for a clean wall or a simple background. Watch out for the ugly filter, pool light, drains, ladders and large, white legs wading behind!

Have fun!

Keep it light, make it a game. Jumping from the side can be full of action and excitement.  If the bubbles get too much try to get the kids to swim forward slightly to leave the bubbles behind them or get them to flop in from a sitting position to land on their tummies.

Image source: Zena Holloway
Image source: Zena Holloway


Babies from a young age cling onto anything so try giving them a prop, a ball, a rubber duck, a favourite cuddly toy or even dad’s hair!

Image source: Zena Holloway
Image source: Zena Holloway

I hope this helps! I’ll be back next week with more detail on the best settings to shoot underwater, in the meantime, do let me know how you get on in the comments section below.

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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