Home Photography Ideas: Pool Portraits

Watch Video: Home Photography Ideas – Poolside Portraits

The best child portraits usually happen when kids are doing something they love, rather than just being told to pose. Most kids love being in the water, so the pool is a great place to get your camera out!

Underwater scenes can be wonderfully vibrant, with rich blue tones, shimmering bubbles and eye-catching reflections on the surface, and then there are the dynamic poses – all made possible by water.

The pool, however, can obviously be a perilous place for cameras – so we need one of the best underwater housings for cameras. (opens in a new tab) you can afford. Many might think that underwater photography with a camera involves using expensive hard cases, but you can get great results with cheaper options like a soft dry bag made by Ewa-Marine. The camera is sealed in the bag and controlled through the material.

• Have more photo shoot ideas (opens in a new tab)

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

There are plenty of other options for underwater photography, including the best waterproof cameras (opens in a new tab) to the best underwater drones (opens in a new tab)and even the best GoPros (opens in a new tab) and action cameras (opens in a new tab).

However, with a pure DSLR or mirrorless camera, we can get better image quality, faster focusing, and increased low-light performance. You can also configure your camera to capture the action with the correct exposure settings, focus options, and focal length.

So, with a few inexpensive items and some simple techniques, we’ll show you how to capture vivid portraits of your children underwater…

Best Online Photography Courses (opens in a new tab)

Portraits at the swimming pool

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

01 Outdoor pools

Outdoor pools are ideal, as on a sunny day the light bounces off the walls and floor for portrait lighting. It helps if the pool isn’t too deep, as it allows light to bounce off the floor and means we don’t have to step on water while shooting.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

02 Underwater camera bag

We used an Ewa-Marine soft dry camera bag – the lens sits in a cylindrical section at the front and the buttons and dials can be operated through the material of the bag, although it can be awkward. So it’s really best to sort out the settings before sealing the camera.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

03 Test the water

It’s a good idea to check that the case is sturdy every time you use it. Before putting the camera on, try some tissue paper, then seal and submerge the bag. Give it a squeeze under water and check for bubbles. If the fabric comes out dry, you’re good to go.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

04 Use silica gel

Underwater casings can fog up, so try laying them in a bag of silica gel. This will hopefully draw moisture from the air and prevent the front lens element from fogging up when the bag is in water. A foggy front element will ruin the fine details of your shots!

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

05 Start shooting

When you’re ready to dunk the camera, give yourself and your subject a 3-2-1 countdown, dive in, and start shooting. Due to the magnifying effect of water, you may need to move a little further away from your subject than you think.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

06 Watch expressions

Closed eyes and uncomfortable expressions can ruin any portrait, so have the subject try to look happy or make a funny face underwater. A few simple items like sunglasses or hats can add character to the portrait, as well as a pop of color.

Configure your camera

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

01 Try focus with the back button

Half-pressing the shutter button to activate autofocus can be quite tricky through the bag. So instead – if your camera allows it – try setting the back button focus. When enabled, focus is activated with the AF button on the back of the camera body.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

02 Set a wide focal length

As you can see in the difference between body and head here, water has a magnifying effect. As such, it’s best to use a wide-angle lens or the wide end of a standard zoom. Framing can be tricky underwater, so a wide field of view also gives you the ability to crop later.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

03 Use a narrow opening

Focusing can be less precise when shooting underwater, especially if your subject is moving towards you. So it’s best to use a narrow aperture as this will give you greater depth of field, which means more of your subject and scene are in focus.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

04 Prevent motion blur

You’ll need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, especially if you plan to capture jumps and splashes. We used manual exposure mode with a shutter speed of 1/500s in conjunction with an f/11 aperture and auto ISO (so the ISO adapts to the conditions).

3 tips for swimming

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

01 Accessories and toys

Whether shooting underwater or any type of child portrait, props, toys or special items for the subject will help make the shot more personal and add extra interest to the portrait. We brought a few underwater animal toys, like these octopuses.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

02 Try a jump

Asking children to jump from the side can lead to bubble bursts. It can be difficult to focus on exactly where they will enter the water, so try to focus on a spot that is roughly the same distance, then dive underwater and wait for the jump.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

03 Look for the reflections

At right angles, the underside of the water surface can create beautiful abstract reflections of your subject. It’s best to go low to capture highlights and use a wide focal length to include more of the surrounding pool.

Correct underwater colors

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

Fix blue color casts with simple skills in Camera Raw or Lightroom

When shooting underwater, white balance and colors can be difficult to perfect in-camera. By shooting Raw, however, we have the option of adjusting the white balance later, with exactly the same results as if we had done it before taking the shot.

To fix the blue cast that often plagues underwater photos, use the white balance eyedropper tool in Camera Raw (or Lightroom) and click on a spot that should be neutral, like white clothing. Next, adjust the Temperature and Tint sliders until the colors are correct.

If the sky appears through the water, color correction may distort those above the water. If so, try painting with the Adjustment Brush tool loaded with a negative temperature and tint.

Read more:

The best waterproof camera: underwater cameras for fun and action (opens in a new tab)
The Best Underwater Drones and ROVs (opens in a new tab)
The best underwater fishing camera (opens in a new tab): see what your fish friends are doing!

Comments are closed.