• afternoon
  • Natural Light
  • Water
  • Underwater
  • sea
  • Rule of thirds
  • Rim Light
  • Playful
  • Ocean
  • Natural
  • Back lit
  • Movement
  • Leading lines
  • Island
  • half in half out
  • full body
  • Cloudy
  • calm
  • Bright
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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Karissa and Isaac had dreamt of doing an underwater photo session before they said Aloha (goodbye) to Oahu and moved to a different state. When Karissa, Isaac, and I swam out into the middle of the ocean we began with easy poses and prompts such as swimming under the water towards each other, while reaching their hands out in front of them.

About ten minutes into their underwater session we were surprised by a large pod of dolphins! They swam past us fast and we were unable to get photos of them. But, being familiar with the beach, I knew that eventually, the dolphins would pass by us again. So as we waited, I prompted Karissa and Isaac into this pose. I told Isaac to swim down as far as he can go and as he came back up to the surface, I instructed Karissa to swim down and meet him halfway.

This is the stunning shot I captured as they floated back up to the top together. After this shot, the dolphins swam back by and we managed to capture a few with Karissa, Isaac, and dolphins! It was a magical session.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

Giving direction is very important with underwater photography. The client usually wears clothes which get slightly heavy in water. They aren’t wearing fins to help tread water and they don’t have goggles to help them see.

I asked Isaac to swim down first and let himself float back up to the top. I instructed Karissa to count to three after Isaac swam down and to swim to him as he floated to the surface.

This is the stunning shot I captured as they floated back up to the top together.

If I could change anything it would be Isaac’s arm placement closest to the camera. His hand hides his face a little bit, I would have instructed him to keep his hands down, or to hold onto Karissa as they floated back to the surface embracing.

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What did you say?

Issac, I want you to dive down as deep as you can go and let yourself float back up to the surface instead of swimming. Karissa, after counting to 3, I want you to then swim down and meet him halfway. Keep your toes pointed, legs together and try embrace & float up together.

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Tone of Directions



My goal in this shot was to capture both the land above the water and the subjects below the water. I framed it so that the couple was in the center of the image and allowed leading lines of the water and the sunlight to draw the eye to the couple beneath the surface.

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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I focused on the subjects faces. For underwater I use single-point AF and shoot in high-speed continuous mode in order to capture movement.

I always try to focus on my subjects as soon as they go under the water and then continue to track them as I begin to take pictures, so that the focus doesn’t fall off or focus on the ocean floor.

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Focus Mode

Continuous Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on


Equipment &

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 24mm f/1.4L
1/400 @ f/f/8 ISO125 WB-Auto

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

I used natural sunlight for this image. The sun was behind my subjects and I was shooting directly into the sun. It is difficult to shoot directly into the sun underwater because light refracts off of all of the bubbles floating in the water and can easily cause your camera to miss focus. I chose to shoot directly into the sun because it creates beautiful vertical sun-rays in the water

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I edit with CameraRaw. I used Archipelago Quest 3 when editing this image. I was hoping for a vibrant and romantic look. I added blur to the background and added a sun-ray overlay to the image for a more dramatic affect

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Editing Software


The most challenging part of this session was treading water for a long period of time. Another challenge was getting the poses just right. It is hard for couples to see under the water and a lot of times they have to guess where the other person is in order to embrace, kiss, and swim along side the other person.

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We were sure to take breaks by floating on our backs and practiced each pose before going all out.

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Location Name


Location aDDRESS

Farrington Hwy, Waialua, HI 96791, United States

Loation Type



United States

I will definitely be implementing this pose for future clients. One tip I learned during this session was that if one person is able to swim down farther or hold their breath longer, to have that person swim under the water first and to have them swim deeper to add depth and verity to the images. Another important tip is that if your clients decide to wear clothes and not swimwear make sure the dress/clothing is lightweight and that any skirts or dresses have slits for easy and safe swimming!

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