Underwater Photography

Most of our photography is taken from a terrestrial standpoint, however, there is another beautiful world to explore – underwater. So many different species of flora and fauna exist solely underwater. About 71 percent of the Earth is water! That is a lot of territory that we are neglecting to capture in photography! Thankfully, so adventurous souls have taken the plunge and have produced some amazing photographs. Before an amateur decides to venture under the sea for some unique shots, there are many things that must be considered. A photographer must have the proper equipment, diving skills, and knowledge of how an underwater environment will change shots.

In an article on The Wire Cutter, Underwater photography expert Sterling Zumbrunn gives some pointers on how to capture some stunning pictures underwater. Zumbrunn said, “Water is nearly 800 times as dense as air, and it sucks out color from full spectrum light, so in order for your images to have clarity, contrast, and bright colors, you’ll need to be right on top of your subjects.” He goes on to say that wide-angle lenses are almost a must. Normal focal length lenses cause the photographer to shoot through too much water, causing the images to be murky and dim. Another option is a macro lens, so you can get very close to your subject. Whatever your choice, you must make sure you have a proper camera housing to protect the equipment.

Zumbrunn also advises photographers to shoot upwards and not toward the ocean floor. He says if you aim down, you are most likely going to end up losing your subject in the background, however, aiming towards the surface helps isolate the subject. He also says photographers should get very comfortable with the camera’s manual mode, as getting properly exposed images underwater requires a lot of fine tuning.

Brian Skerry also creates some amazing underwater photography. Dive Photo Blog posted an article about Skerry’s work. He truly takes some breathtaking photos:


A harp seal pup, about 15 days old, swims in the icy waters of Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. Photo by Brian Skerry


Eye to eye with the third largest animal to ever live on planet Earth. The roughened skin over this Southern Right Whale’s eye, (Eubalaena australis) is covered with tiny crustaceans called cyamids or whale lice. Underwater off the Auckland Islands, New Zealand (sub Antarctic islands). Photo by Brian Skerry

Aside from the local wildlife, photographers have been using underwater shoots to add new “depth” to portraits and fashion photography. The low-gravity look and feel to this pictures really create some unique shots. Aaron Wong is a wonderful example of a photographer embracing this medium. Another Dive Photo Blog article showcased some of Wong’s underwater fashion work. Here are some of the photos:




Fashion Designer Cristha Castellanos posted a video showcasing an underwater fashion show. The video captures the truly unique and ethereal effect that shooting underwater can give.


I think this is an important topic to discuss because it brings to light a unique photography experience that many people may overlook. It definitely requires a bit more work than a typical shoot, but the investment can definitely be worth it.

-A. Joseph


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