Modeling Tips for Underwater Photo Shoots

Portrait of a female model underwater in a swimming pool with a black background in San Diego, California.
K.C. Alfred/Getty Images

Have you noticed the latest underwater photo shoot craze? Everyone from fashion lines to brides and grooms are trying it, and the results are pretty great! The shots range from looking spooky to whimsical depending on the lighting, clothing, and poses used. Underwater photo shoots are becoming increasingly popular for designers who make long, flowing dresses because the water works wonders on emphasizing the fabric details.

If you’re a fashion model, you should be prepared to be asked to do one of these shoots (who doesn't want to be a mermaid for a day!?), and here are some tips to help make sure you nail it!

Safety Is Your Priority

Doing anything underwater comes with certain risks, and underwater modeling is no exception. If you're asked to do an underwater shoot, make sure you ask if there will be a person at the shoot whose sole responsibility will be your safety. This person will be there to pull you up when you need to be (remember: you're likely wearing weights) and to make sure you're getting enough oxygen. A lot of models will try to push themselves when they really need to take a break, and a good "safety person" will keep their eye out for signs you're getting light-headed or in distress.

Practice Breathing Techniques

Being underwater for any amount of time can be a stressful experience if you're not prepared for it.

Many of us have a natural reflex to scrunch our face up underwater while we hold our breath. As you can imagine, this does not make for very good photos. Before you go underwater, take very deep, slow breaths to make sure you're getting as much oxygen to your brain and other organs as possible. These deep breaths will also help calm your nervous system that will make you look more peaceful, natural, and relaxed underwater.

Be Well-Rested and Well-Fed

Being in water all day will leave you feeling utterly exhausted if you aren't physically prepared for it. Before an underwater photo shoot, models must make sure they've had a solid night's rest and have had a healthy meal that will help keep their energy up. If you're very tired, this will translate to your photos. Underwater photo shoots tend to take much longer than land shoots, so you will also need to be prepared for a longer work day. You will be going up and down and in and out of the water all day, so if you have an empty stomach, you could quickly become light-headed and unable to finish the job!

Bring Eye Drops

Do you remember having red, dry eyes as a kid after spending all day in the pool? This can happen to models doing underwater shoots very quickly, especially considering you will often have to keep your eyes open when you're below the surface. Bring eye drops with you to use between takes to help keep your eyes moisturized and you won't have to fight dry, itchy eyes for days after! 

Move Slowly

Quick movements have a place in some types of modeling, but underwater modeling looks best with slow, fluid movements. If you’re making quick movements underwater, not only will you be tiring yourself out quickly, you risk looking unnatural or even as though you’re struggling to breathe.

Your body will move and float naturally, but keeping your limbs, fingers, and toes elongated will help prevent you from making jerky movements. Underwater models often try dancer poses because these look especially elegant underwater. Just as people have a tendency to scrunch their faces underwater, they often do the same with their fingers and toes. By keeping your focus on elongating your limbs and moving slowly, your photos will not only look better, but will help you stay calm and focused underwater as well.