Imagine yourself for a moment, standing on one of those balance boards, you know the ones you use during a workout class like shown here. Of course you also have your camera in hand. Then add a pair of even the best googles over your face and let's throw in some mid level wind blowing around you. Now, how about you squat and move around a bit to frame your subject. Oh yes, you must also hold your breath. Yes, that's right, do not breath. I forgot to mention the subject you are photographing a subject who is moving and who has likely proceeded to do a complete 180 to what you have asked them to do, not really intentionally, but because the environment they are in is complex to fully execute what you have pictured in your head.
Now take a 'perfect' photo. he-he.
Well, my friends, this is just a little glimpse into photographing kids underwater. Even if you are both standing and touching the bottom of the water....it is nearly impossible to be still. You are moving, your subject is moving and it's likely the water is moving at least somewhat. Shooting under such conditions creates a whole new world of challenges. Not that you can't overcome these obstacles, but you will be at almost a constant battle with them. Knowing how to best navigate through these comes only by much practice and perseverance.
From what I've learned the last couple of years shooting children underwater is that there is quite a bit more 'luck' than there is on dry land. Not being able to really coach your subject while underwater and the inconstancy of how the water reacts during an underwater photo shoot basically just means that you will need to be much more flexible and have to potentially compromise a bit more when it comes to getting what we will call 'keeper' shots. We will talk about this much more in the future here on our blog. Today, however, I want to really drive home two points.
1. To get your 'vision' shots, you will more often than not have to 'try' it many times over.
2. Know when to move on.
When shooting kids underwater, if you are seeking to achieve a certain 'pose' or a more specific 'shot', you will most likely need to do the same shot several times if not many, many times over in order to actually get a couple or sometimes just the one shot. For me, on average, I'd say I'm snapping (at times) as many as 20-30 shots during one underwater 'segment'. That is going under once and equivalent to one, yes, I said one try. And yes, you heard me correctly, we sometimes try as many as 8-10 times....which is equal to me going under 8-10 times to get a couple of final images of a certain look I'm wanting to achieve. This is not the average, more of the 'worst case scenarios' if you want to call it such. The average is more like 3-5. You will feel at times like you are chasing a rabbit, but hang in there! Just be prepared for lots of 'duds' to get one 'keeper'.
There have been times I've had to have my subjects do something literally like 10 times to get the photograph I wanted. Even then, there are plenty of times, you may just have to accept the fact a particular shot is not going to happen. Much also relies on how well our subject can or can not execute something. Too many times to count, I've wanted my subject to do something and after a few tries I could tell we needed to just move on to something different because of the limitations of my client. It is best to move on than to become frustrated or have your client become exhausted. It is not worth it.
I've lost track also of how many times I witnessed my client do the exact thing I asked...then to my grave disappointment, either my shutter didn't catch it or maybe the focus shifted for one shot to a wave or splash. Boy, those never get any easier to swallow especially when then for reasons I can never quite explain, my subject is not able to accomplish again...even if we try 10 more times. You must be able to let go and move on. Rest assured there will be other amazing shots you will get. Many of which will be completely unexpected. Just be as ready as you possibly can during a session. There have been so many photographs I have shot that I captured when my subject was just playing around or we were technically 'taking a break'.
Until next time,