REDEFINE | Underwater Photography featuring Captured Simplicity {photography by Amy Leigh}

 

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“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “

Share with us a bit about your style of photography.
From the start of my photography business back in 2010, I wanted my photographs to be true to color and have a ‘happy’ feel. I’d say my style is sort of orchestrated candid. I want my images to feel truly uncontrived and not too ‘posed’ even though I give much direction to my clients during a shoot. I’ve always pretty much stuck to clean processing, blacks black and whites white with contingent upon different lighting scenarios, of course. I wanted my underwater photos to have the same classic color look.

We see much more in your portfolio, but why are you passionate about underwater photography?

If we are being honest, the reason I fell in love with underwater photography a few years ago was because hardly anyone else was doing it within the child & family photography community. I wanted to pursue something that had not been really done yet. I also loved the idea that there were no rules or limits to underwater photography. Pretty much I had the freedom to do whatever my hearts desire. What I really enjoy about underwater kids photography is the challenge. Kids pretty much do whatever they please once underwater. I love the ‘chase’ as I will call it. Because basically what I do is chase my subjects around the pool, thinking on the fly most often to later create a gallery that will make my clients and their family smile when they look at them. Taking the photo is just half the work. Even though the editing process can at times frustrates me to no end, the satisfaction I get once I’ve gotten the final look I want is so incredibly amazing that I can hardly describe it. I also really like the true element of surprise that underwater photography offers. Being able to go with the flow and make the best of every session even if I don’t end up getting hardly any of the ‘exact’ shots I had in mind, but in the end getting something I never even could have imagined. That is so very cool.

When did you first learn this technique or when did you first realize you wanted to pursue learning to shoot under water?
We built a swimming pool at our house almost four years ago now. Shortly after the pool was complete, I bought a housing after a couple of weeks of ‘googling’ my options. The idea from the start was to offer underwater sessions under my business. I wanted to offer something different and unique that no one else was offering. It was a no brainer for me mostly because it was uncharted territory. Everything I know now I learned completely on my own from trial and error. I’ve no training from anyone. I’m from the school of practice, practice and more practice. I shot three sessions for free as practice. Then felt confident enough in my image galleries to began offering my clients these sessions for profit. I’m still making mistakes during every shoot, but the important part is I’m learning though these mistakes and making fewer and fewer each time. There are no shortcuts to being good at this. I could tell you every single technique and tip, but underwater photography is much more complex than land photography. The only way you will be able to be your best is to have much persistence, patience and ability to figure a lot out on your own just as I have.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve and learn underwater photography?

-Invest in a good swimming mask. Not just goggles…a mask with nose cover. Trust me. They will be your best friend. If you are not like 1000 percent comfortable in the pool, you will be limiting yourself greatly. You need to be able hold your breath pretty well and also be able to move around easily while holding your camera.

-You need to have the patience of a saint when it comes to kids in the pool. The worst possible thing you can to is push too hard or get frustrated with your subject, especially if it’s a child.

-You must remember safety is top priority and I’ve found while you can push kids a little on land, underwater, it’s just not wise. You must be able to just go with pretty much whatever they offer you underwater. Yes, you can guide and direct, but once the kids are underwater, it’s pretty much ‘anything goes.’ And you don’t have the luxury of being able to communicate with them once they are under or have a parent help keep them ‘focused. Patience, patience, patience will serve you well.
-Be prepared for many ‘bad’ images. Every session I have has more than I’d like to see. But you have to keep in mind everything you have working against you. Such as you are shooting a moving subject and you are moving, if just a bit, there is no way you and your subject can be perfectly still in a large body of water. Then, you have a housing over your camera lens. Even with a super clean glass to start, your housing glass will not be as clean as it would be on land. Third, you are shooting through water… not air. I will not even bore you with the list of challenges that poses even in the most clean of water. Forth, you are not able to control the exact angle of your subject and you as much as you can on land. Even when a subject does a certain pose underwater, it a little different every time. I could list many more obstacles, but I think you are getting my point. You will get more non-keepers than you would like and that is OK! I can’t express enough how much trial, error with lots and lots of practice is really the best way to learn underwater photography. Certainly, each of us has different goals. Maybe you want to just get a couple of shots of your kids (aka personal images). Maybe you are wanting to offer underwater photography to as part of your business. It will be hard to get really good if you are only in the pool like 20 minutes once or twice a month. I’m just being honest here. Sure, there are exceptions. Maybe you just ‘get it’ first try. Awesome! Most will need much more commitment to achieving your best with underwater photography. I would aim for at least an hour shooting in the pool at least once or twice a week. If you want to offer entire galleries for paying clients, then I’d say you’ll need to be practicing a lot more.

-There is post processing of images which is an entirely other beast. I will just say that unless you are pretty darn comfortable and above average in editing land images, you will likely need to also commit more time getting your underwater editing grove on. 😉 I’d say this part can be even more frustrating than actually shooting. I still struggle with at least a couple of images from each shoot. But one thing is so cool. Trust me, with each underwater photo edit, you learn about 10 times more than with regular photos. This too just comes with practice! Patience and perseverance will serve you the best in underwater photography.

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About the photographer:

I’m a family photographer in Houston Texas since 2010.

My story in a nutshell. Ha!

Back in 2009, I bought my first dslr camera before a trip to New York City. I realized after that trip I needed to figure this ‘camera thing’ out. After we got back from that trip I signed myself and my husband up for a little ‘get to know your camera’ one day class offered though a community learning center. After that class, I was hooked. Since I had my career already, I decided I would offer photography just as a side job. I reached out to a handful of my friend to ‘practice’ on. My husband and I did not have a child yet and I needed to practice with my newfound skills. Fast forward to 2011 and my little side business when I decided to take the leap of faith by leaving my first career behind and making my photography a full time business shooting families. My portrait business was doing well, but I’d been itching to do something a little different and something no one else I knew was doing. How convenient that in March 2013, we then decided to put a swimming pool in at our house. I bought myself an underwater housing shortly thereafter and have never looked back. Literally, just diving in not having a clue what I was doing at first, but through lots and lots of trial and error, slowing creating images that I can feel as proud of as my regular portrait work.

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