We're excited to have Kelley join us as guest moderator this weekend! Read on to get to know her and see some of her beautiful underwater photos!

When did you start on your photography journey?  

I started my photography journey almost 7 years ago when my oldest daughter was born. I got my first "big girl camera" and I began taking photos of my daughter when she was a baby. I fell in love with photography and loved the idea of capturing my daughter in normal day to day activities. Fast forward almost 7 years, 3 babies and probably a million photos later. Not a day goes by that I don't pick up the camera.  Since I can't freeze time, I love to document my children in their day to day activities. A way for me to always remember them at their current age.  

How many years have you been in business?  

I have been in business for a little over one year. I have been photographing my children for years, however took a leap of faith and started my own photography/graphic design business a year ago. It has been so much fun getting to meet and photograph so many wonderful families!

What gear do you use for your underwater photography?

Don't laugh... I use a GoPro Hero 3. I got it 3 years ago for the sole purpose of taking photos of my kiddos underwater. I had done some research and just wasn't so sure about "housing" or what the heck it even was at the time. The thought of bringing my big camera underwater totally scared me. The thought of using a case for my cell phone also totally scared me!  Sooooo.... after doing some research, I decided the GoPro was going to be my best option. I had watched countless videos on YouTube of people deep sea diving and photographing all kinds of extravagant fish in the deep blue sea.  The quality and colors were amazing. I thought if they could capture those images with the GoPro then I could certainly use it to photograph "my fish" in the deep blue sea. A.k.a... my kiddos in a not so deep swimming pool.

I was so excited to give it a try. At the time, I had a 2 year old and a 4 year old. My oldest was comfortable in the water and could swim on her own but my two year old needed assistance. I was still able to capture photos of her underwater. It just took more attempts.  If they can swim, obviously it gives you more time to shoot away and cross your fingers for a few good shots. Since there was not a screen on the back, I had no clue if I was actually getting the shots I had envisioned. I literally took photos until my battery almost died or until my kiddos were tired of swimming. I couldn't wait to get home each time to download and see all of the photos ( if any ) I had captured.

Three years later, I am still using that same GoPro.  I was wanting to upgrade to a newer model with a screen on the back.  After researching, I discovered that I didn't need to.  They now make a back pack option that will attach to older models.  It is the LCD screen that I had been wanting!  I purchased and was able to give it a try a few weeks ago on vacation!  I love it!  It is still challenging to really see clear underwater on the screen, but it does give me a better idea if I am actually aiming in the right direction! If you do not have one yet, hurry and go get one! I promise, you will love!

What inspired you to try underwater photography?  

As a former collegiate swimmer, I've spent a lot of time underwater.  A lot of time swimming laps.  A lot of time staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool. A lot of time thinking and daydreaming. There is something about the water that puts me at ease.  Almost like my comfort zone.  As a graphic designer/photographer the creative side of me loves the ability to capture light, color, shapes and patterns in the water.

Ok that was the artsy fartsy answer....  the real inspiration came from my kiddos. The second they get in the water they begin to shout "hey mom, watch this". This phrase is repeated over and over again. I always reply back and tell them how cool or awesome it was!!?!  Often times getting a response "you didn't see it"  or "you missed it".  What?!  I was totally watching the whole time... above water.  Apparently, that's why I was missing all of the good stuff.  I couldn't see it. Underwater photography inspired me to take a "deeper" look at whatever super duper awesome tricks my kiddos were actually performing underwater. I love to be able to capture these silly moments in the water in hopes that one day they will become cherished memories.

Where do you continue to draw your inspiration?

I feel like my inspiration often times comes from my kiddos. Without them, I'm not sure I would have been inspired to pick up a camera and take photographs as much as I have. They inspire me to see things in a different light. See things through their eyes. I love capturing the joy of my kiddos in the water.

Your images have such a beautiful use of light in them. What is your favourite time of the day to photograph?  

My favorite time of day to shoot is right smack in the middle of the day. Bright sun. Blue skies. I love to shoot middle of the day because the light is amazing. I love the reflections and colors of the water. This usually works out nice because we spend our summers at the pool. Perfect time to play and swim with the kiddos and also capture candid moments of them in the pool.

Any advice you’d like to share for someone just getting into underwater photography?

My advice would be to play around and have fun. You don't need the most expensive gear/housing to capture great images. I have an old school GoPro and in my opinion, it works awesome for someone wanting to give underwater photography a try. I don't have any fancy gear or gadgets to go along with it. I just hold it in my hand to shoot. I know that sounds silly, but there are some other sticks or wands that you can swim with that attach to the camera. I have yet to try any of those out.  You can capture a variety of styles with just the camera.  A favorite of mine are the over/under. I love the idea of capturing their tricks underwater that often times remain unseen from above. I have discovered that you do not need a dome for this style. I have never tried using one, but I do know that you can accomplish this same look without one.  After trial and error, I have found that some of my favorite over/under images were taken in a well lit pool without a lot of movement. All of my images have been captured in a public pool with lots of other swimmers in the water at the same time. I try to find a spot in the pool that is less crowded. A spot where the water is calm and still. I usually stay back a bit and photograph them from a distance. This allows the water to settle and also allows your subject to feel at ease and comfortable floating or swimming. Over/unders can be done up close as long as the water is calm. I love to try new things, different angles, different depths of water etc.  The best part of underwater photography is that you get to be a kid again and have fun in the pool.

I have only used my GoPro on my children and have yet to use on actual clients.  For me, since the GoPro is all that I know, I would probably go ahead and use that camera for underwater sessions.  That tiny little camera produces some fantastic images that are clear and crisp.  If you are wanting to branch out into this style of photography, I would highly recommend getting a a pair of goggles and a GoPro.  They are small, portable and super easy to use!!!  The quality SOOC is amazing.  I do edit/crop images in Photoshop.  Mostly adjust the white balance and add a tad bit of red or magenta to the images. This is all personal preference. Since I am shooting for fun and the subjects are my own children, I don't pay too much attention to my editing style.  It is fun to try different things. The possibilities are endless!mv

Thank you so much for sharing about your photography journey with us Kelley!

All photos copyright Kelley Earhart.

The opinions and advice expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Underwater Kids

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