Take Amazing Underwater Pool Photos

One of the best photo albums I’ve ever flipped through is my cousin’s summer photo collections, filled with underwater photos of kids, friends and family.

Over the years, she has gotten really good at pool pictures. So I asked if she could share tips on underwater photography.

She wishes to remain nameless, but her secrets are now revealed ~ 5 tips for taking amazing pool photos!

camera-iconGet the Right Light

“The most important element is your lighting, so I try to shoot mid-day, or when the sun is directly shining on the pool. If the sun is coming at an angle, be sure to shoot towards the lighted side of the pool.” she said. I asked her if she ever did any night pool pictures, and how do they turn out? “You can actually get some very eerie pictures, if that’s what you’re going for, by shooting at night with the pool light or patio light to give a glow, but…I don’t normally…” OK, I get it, take your pictures in broad daylight, Let’s move on.

camera-iconStay at the Surface

“The lighting is best in the first two feet below the surface, and I love to capture a colorful reflection from the water’s under-surface.” So no deep end photos, I asked? “Sure, you can shoot in the deep end, but the deeper you go, the more the picture tends to wash out; you lose color and contrast.”


camera-iconGet Close-Up

Far away pool pictures? No, no. “Get Close-Up to your subjects, fill the entire frame with them.” This also helps avoid the loss of sharpness by taking pictures through water. “The farther away you are, the blurrier the pictures are”. Action photos, or several subjects in the picture may require more distance, but still try to fill the frame with your subjects. and remember to move yourself actively, underwater, to line up the best shots.

camera-iconReady, Set, Action!

Favorite poses, or action type of pictures? I asked. She laughed and said “I always do some sky diver poses, where I tell them to act like their falling through the air, with arms outstretched. Or sometimes I tell them to act like they are floating weightless in space”.


She also likes underwater somersaults, the Superman (wall push-off), or any dry land pose that can be done underwater. “Bubbles from a jump in the pool, or while sliding into the pool can be dramatic, but you sometimes have to take ten shots to get one good photo”.

camera-iconUnderwater Props

Be careful about bringing anything sharp into the pool, especially for vinyl pools. No glass, metal or oily things (like bicycles). “We’ve done pool pictures with hats, tennis racquets, or a skateboard, but nothing big. Two years ago I took some photos with the kids in Halloween costumes, and I took shots of my husband in his business suit, striking a pose underwater – he put it on his business card.” Lol, artsy pictures of people underwater in clothes is actually an entire business for photographers such as Elena Kalis.

camera-iconSpecial Pool Photography Gear?

I asked if there was any special gear that is needed for great underwater pool photos? “Not really, I use a snorkel sometimes, or you can just hold your breath”. What camera do you use? I asked. “Canon DSLR, with a wide angle lens, in a waterproof case of course” she said. “But you can use an iPhone, in a waterproof case, I hear they take great pictures underwater”. Do you use a flash? I wanted to know. “The flash on most phones or cameras is not bright enough, underwater, to see much difference really…”. Professionals use underwater strobe lights and/or large lamps on the deck shining into the pool.

camera-iconOther Pool Photography Tips?

“When photographing children, and also adults, remind them to open their eyes and smile, and to look directly at the camera. Group shots are great, but you may need to take a dozen shots to get one where everyone has eyes open and big smiles, so keep clicking the shutter! Oh, and tell them no ‘puffer fish’…”(cheeks full of air and pursed lips).


Thanks, Cuz! Tried and true methods to take amazing underwater pool photos. If you have a camera, get a waterproof case, and some willing subjects – and get started on your own photo album of cool pool pictures!

Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger




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