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Mylène and Alexandre are a couple, with who I road trip several times a year with for a few days. Creating a photo underwater was my motivation for this road trip, and it required a lot of driving, walking, short sleeps and a lot of energy.

We spent 3h45 in the water at 16 degrees and I had no idea what the result would be as underwater photography is not a field I mastered, but, you have to be confident when you take on a project like this. What I wanted was to have some sun during the shooting, but unfortunately, the sun was hidden most of the time. After 4 hours of testing and trying some shots without sun, we were just about to hit the road again, but the sun finally came out. We quickly jumped in and finally got the shot I wanted.

NEVER give up is what I remembered.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

The goal of the photo was to have the couple face to face and holding hands (the point that should not have been neglected is that Mylène had NEVER swum underwater, she trained a few days before. I take my hat off to her). I simply asked them to take a big breath and allow themselves to go as deep as they can and float slowly back to the top while trying to keep themselves facing each other and holding their hands up.

What did you say?

go down as low as possible by holding your hand and let yourselves float up gently.

How did you compose your image?

For this shot I had in mind, the light had to be behind the couple and so I needed to be at a place where the water was as transparent & clear as possible to see the bottom of the lake. In order to get the frame I wanted, I had to try and keep myself at the same depth/level as the couple so that meant going down together and rising together. I framed my couple in the middle to show the emptiness of space around them and also chose to shoot this in portrait since it generally looks better on social media (larger). It’s rare that I post landscape-oriented images on social media but I do have a landscape version of this on my site & gallery.

How and what did you focus on?

Focusing underwater is absolutely challenging. The lack of contrast and the constant movement of the couple made it really hard. To maximize my chances, I took a burst of photos because the faces can change between each shot.


How did you use the light in your image?

I really wanted to capture the light rays coming in from the surface of the water and so we had to pay careful attention to where we took these photographs. Also, being underwater poses a whole new challenge of working with the light as it fades away very fast. To help with this, we tried to keep relatively close to the surface so we could have as much light as possible.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

I used my own presets (Sweet n Wild) and after applying them, I noticed that the colors were quite strange. I expected this because it’s underwater. I then adjusted the exposure and contrast sliders until I got the mood I wanted and changed the white balance to get closer to the colors. I then tweaked the Hue/Saturation/Luminance sliders to get warmer skin tones while keeping the blue of the lake. Finally, I added some detail and contrast, as well as some gradient filters to bring everything together in the image as well as enhanced the sun rays with the brush tool.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

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What challenges did you face?

The tourist boats that came to visit the caves where we were created a waste of time and a ton of wave movements that moved the seabed that resulted in dust/backscatter that made the water a little more cloudy.

How did you solve them?

I had to calculate the time between each boat and find another place while waiting for the dust to settle. It’s not the easiest but it’s all what we could do at the time.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Never give up when you’re out to create a photo that you have always wanted & imagined, that’s how creating a photo takes becomes meaningful. You can only be proud to have had the chance to create this photo that took so much effort. It’s worth it in the end and it’s something to look back on, share stories about and grow as a photographer.

Jay Zack Eli

Shooting since


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I’ve been taking pictures since I was 16 for fun, but nothing professional. Since 2018 I decided to go full time with my photography (I was in the French special force before).

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