Tressa is a wedding photographer based out of Utah. She has been capturing the love between couples for the past three years. Initially, she planned on studying graphic design, but was not accepted to the program. To her pleasant surprise she was accepted to the photography program that she had applied for as an afterthought – it is like photography chose her and she is so grateful! She recently graduated with a BFA in Photography from Brigham Young University.
After assisting her friend with an underwater fashion shoot, Tressa imagined how amazing a couple would look underwater. She was absolutely right!
1. Incredible how your very first underwater photo shoot turned out beautifully! What did you find to be particularly refreshing in terms of working with your couple in this setting?
I was incredibly shocked at how easy it was for the couple to move under the water. About halfway through the shoot the couple and I discussed how it’s almost impossible to be awkward underwater. More couples should definitely have their pictures taken underwater, because the element of water makes movement a lot more fluid and natural.
2. Clearly you needed some extra equipment to shoot in the pool. What did you use and how tricky was it to work with?
The underwater housing unit brand I used was Aquatech. They make housing units depending
on what model of camera you have. I practiced the day before the shoot, because I had never used an underwater housing unit before. We went to the location at the exact time I’d be shooting the next day to see the light as well. Unfortunately, the housing unit was having some technical issues. I would hit the shutter which is then supposed to trigger the shutter on my camera, but the plate connecting the camera to the housing unit was just a centimeter off. In order for housing units to work, everything has to be lined up perfectly. I went home and tried to come up with some kind of solution. I tried tape, fabric, toothpicks, anything that would hold my camera in the exact position it needed to be in. I finally tried cotton balls which worked perfectly because they are flexible but when compressed they stay in place. It took my husband and I about 2 hours to come up with a solution. Besides that small hiccup, the equipment was really easy to use!
3. Not everyone feels comfortable spending time beneath the surface. Did you practice any breathing techniques beforehand? What else did you do to prepare yourself physically?
The only practice I did was the day before. I know there are breathing techniques for holding your breath underwater, but the couple had to come up for air, so I just came up for air with them. I had my husband hold me under the water since most of the time I would want to be shooting from a lower angle.
4. All in all, what did you find to be the most challenging in doing underwater photography? How were you able to deal with this challenge?
The biggest challenge was the equipment. I’m glad I was able to spot the issue the day before so that the shoot would go really seamless the next day. The couple was amazing, they were up to try anything which made my job super easy. Honestly, the shoot was super chill and I just felt like I was hanging out in a pool for work!
5. Which time of day do you most recommend for doing a photo shoot underwater and why? What other environmental factors did you take into consideration?
I would recommend doing it 3-4 hours before sunset. You want a lot of light to be penetrating the water since water adds another element that blocks light. You can also shoot at sunset, you’ll just get a more moody look. If you’re going to shoot in a pool, make sure you know if there’s chlorine or other chemicals in the pool because those can change the consistency of water, which will then change the look of your images. The pool I shot in had very low chlorine levels, because it was a private pool. Public pools are going to have a lot more chemicals.
6. How different was it giving your couple directions during the shoot? What concerns (if any) did they have?
I did a lot of research before. It definitely can be different, because you’re essentially without gravity. The first couple poses were hard for me and the couple, just trying to figure out how long to stay underwater, what angles looked best, etc. It only took 15 minutes or so for us to both get the hang of it.
7. Are there any specific camera settings one should be aware of for an underwater shoot? How is it best to set the focus?
You’ll most likely need to bump your ISO, because it can be really dark underwater, depending on what day you’re shooting. I set my settings outside the water to be .5-1 stop over exposed and then it was the perfect exposure underwater. With the housing unit I had, setting the focus was the same as outside the water. I always push my shutter half way to focus. I had my shutter on rapid fire so that I wouldn’t miss anything, because everything moves fast underwater.
8. Did you run into unusual difficulties while editing the images? If so, can you please expand a little bit about it?
I thought I was going to, but I didn’t! I just edited the images the way I always do. The color temperature was a little different, but besides that it was the same.
9. Do you have any extra tips for photographers wanting to take the plunge into underwater photography?
Do research before! I watched hours of YouTube videos of people taking pictures underwater. That helped a ton, I felt like I was immersed in the underwater photography world.
Thank you Tressa!