Underwater iPhone Photography Tips
Capturing photos of your children swimming underwater is hilarious and fun – and different. It’s also difficult. Not only because they will be busy trying to have fun without a camera in their face, but because it’s difficult to see exactly what you are capturing on your screen. It’s worth it though and sometimes the surprises are better than the plans!
Firstly, I’d like to say that I am not a professional underwater photographer and I know that. In fact, I’m actually not even that great at it. However, I did learn a little bit about what works and what doesn’t so I thought I’d pass that along to friends and clients that might want to have some fun and try it out with their own children. Maybe the photos will be just a little bit better than they were if I didn’t share what I learned.
1. Purchase a waterproof case for your iPhone. I used a LifeProof case for these photos but you can decide for yourself what you think would work for you. There is a good article here that has some reviews. The cases range from $10 for a Frieq (which is a bag type) to $130 for an Optrix which is more of a sport type and allows for wide angle. With the Lifeproof case my phone kept changing from the camera mode to video, square and pano. Switching it back when the cover and my finger were both wet was almost impossible! I know that Lifeproof makes a case that doesn’t have a cover over the screen but I didn’t trust that option. I’m thinking I should have. Choosing a different camera app could possibly have been helpful so keep that in mind and try some different ones.
2. Find a pool with good light. Windows, overhead lighting and lights under the water will all work. If you have a choice, an outdoor pool with underwater lights would be wonderful. In the photos above, the light was poor unless we were right beside the one light inside in the pool. The first photo was taken with my daughter facing the pool light. The centre photo was taken with the light behind my sons which didn’t work out very well but it’s fun to see the differences. I was hoping to have their hands directly in from of the light but again, it’s more difficult than I had thought it would be.
3. A mask or goggles for yourself is a necessity and a snorkel and weight belt would be beneficial. Please use a weight belt only if the water isn’t over your head so you don’t get stuck on the bottom of the pool!! Sometimes staying under the water can be difficult while holding your breath, trying to see your phone screen, your kids, and avoiding getting water up your nose. Fair warning.
4. A little bit of baby shampoo inside the goggles and masks will help them to be free of fog. Especially helpful for the photographer but also nice for the kids. Plus, you can see their eyes in the photos.
5. Remember to photograph from different angles and don’t forget about video. We have some cute videos with the phone laying on the bottom of the pool and people swimming over top of it.
7. Give the phone to the kids! Some of the shots they get are really fun. I love relinquishing any camera and seeing their photos afterwards. It feels like christmas when I look at them. Everything about those pictures will be different than the ones that you always take yourself. Different is always good. Actually, I seem to recall watching the phone being tossed back and forth in video mode. I better check that out. ha ha. Thankfully, it survived and didn’t hit the deck of the pool.
8. Bubbles will often obstruct your view of faces. You may have to ask them to hold their breath and not blow bubbles for a clear shot. I loved the bubbles though!
9. Your phone will have an easier time focusing if there is a light behind you with your child looking towards the light. Also, the further away you are from your child that harder it will be to get them in focus.
10. Encourage interaction! Some of those shots are my favourites. They might not be perfect photos but when kids are in water they tend to get along and everything comes more naturally. It makes for some heartfelt images that are wonderful memories to have.
Bonus tip: Bribe your kids with ice-cream (or something) afterwards. I didn’t. In hindsight, I should have done something like that. They may have given me more than one chance at each photo.