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Guest Blog Post - Swimming Dad!

Today on the Underwater Kids Blog, I am super thrilled to feature “Swimming Dad” aka Vladimir Anušić. An incredible international expert on underwater safety and an advocate of of swimming with your children, the benefits of swimming as a basic survival skill. As the founder of Underwater Kids, all of what Valdimir advocates really resonates with me. I believe we are at a cross roads as more and more photographers make their way underwater,, and much like newborn photography, the safety aspect of what we do, cannot be stressed enough. If you are passionate about photographing families underwater like me, take a few minutes and read this article, then follow “Swimming Dad” to keep up on the tips. Keep yourself, your family and your clients safe at all times and advocate a love of the water and the incredible creatures that live in it.

Jennifer

Tell us a little more about yourself, where you grew up and where you live now - we want to know!  

I was born in SFR Yugoslavia, the country which had a sea and big dreams, the country which would have been a sport super power now, and the country which does not even exist on the world map anymore. I grew up in Serbia, the homeland of many top champions and successful sport stories. As a kid, I would play in the streets of a small town in northern Vojvodina, the town which is still attractive to young swimmers. I’ve been in the world of sport and swimming, as a coach, for more than two decades. Thanks to swimming, I’ve seen the world, and today I work in Dubai and I teach others how to swim.  

I’m currently living and “swimming” with my family inBelgrade, Novi Sad and Dubai. It seems to me that my family sometimes spends more time in the pool than at home. No matter if it’s winter or summer, my kids don’t stop swimming. They have been in and under the water since they were four months old, playing and enjoying it. 

When did you first start getting involved in the world of underwater? 

As if it was yesterday. I was only four and I was on my summer holiday in Croatia, at the Adriatic Sea, when I got my first diving mask and discovered the world of underwater. It was a magical moment filled with uncertainty of the undiscovered depth. I couldn’t even imagine what the water I jumped into could bring to me.. but it was love at first sight. I haven’t stopped enjoying the miracle of the water and the world of underwater ever since. I even spent my honeymoon in the depths of the Red Sea. After that,I indulged in the underwater adventure and the work with babies through the Baby Swim Club. It is a priceless experience I passed onto my kids and it “spreads around” my friends. 

 However, my dearest underwater experience I’ve ever had was when my kids were born. We’ve played in and under the water from the very early days of their lives. The unforgettable experience I had underwater was with my son who, at that time, was not even one year old, in the mountains under the open sky, in winter. Today, when I watch my four-year-old son and my daughter who is two and a half, playing underwater, laughing and having fun, the feeling is incredible. 

 Believe me, swimming and the underwater world are soothing for your body and soul, and that’s why it is my refuge of serenity and peace.

What benefits have you found in swimming and teaching kids how to swim early? 

One the one hand, as I was still working as a general secretary of the Swimming Association of Serbia and was in the world of top swimming on daily basis, I tended to pay more attention to the foundation of swimming, the youngest children, where the swimmers are made. I wanted to understand their challenges and fears, faced both by swimmers and non-swimmers. Believe it or not, even the champions who won the Olympic medals used to have a fear of water. 

On the other hand, it was devastating forme to read in the newspapers or see on TV that someone’s child drowned. Being a swimmer or not! It’s cruel but true that drowning usually comes silently, taking away those who are precious to us so quickly. Children are victims most of the time. The figures can prove also that those are mostly children younger than five or four.  

This is what motivated me even more to start working on education of parents and those who spend time with children, not only next to the pool, but outside the pool as well. And to work on the prevention of youngest children, starting with baby swimming.  

Why? Because children who start with swimming lessons at the earliest age have a better immune system, muscle definition, they sleep better, and have better motor skills. And most importantly, we teach them how to feel safe in water and make them learn about the water environment in order to feel comfortable in it, and of course, to prevent drowning. My children have been in the water since the age of four months. That does not mean they had trainings every day… but they got relaxed enough to enjoy the water. Later on, it’s easier to teach them the swimming techniques and other skills in water. 

What made you start “Swimming Dad”? 

 I’ve been in the water whole my life. So, I can openly say that for me swimming, just like writing and reading, is a basic life skill. Swimming has given me precious experiences, new knowledge and priceless friends. However, once I got the honourable “dad” title, I wanted to give swimming a “touch of warmth and colour”, as I believe we all learn as we live.   

I wanted to share my two-decade coaching experience and knowledge about swimming and growing up from the point of view of a dad and an expert through theSwimming Dad concept www.swimmingdad.com That is why Swimming Dad is not only about my aquatic story, but also a story of my “small” family. 

With the support of my wife and my Little Shark and Little Fish, I created my digital space of endless inspiration about love of water, swimming and children back in 2017.This little corner is designed for those who love swimming, healthy lifestyle, both physical and mental. Both for children and a great fun they can have in and out of the water, and for the parents who are their springboard into the world. 

Though the articles, photos, videos about swimming and growing up I’m trying to use Swimming Dad to educate as many parents as possible, but also future mums and dads, aunts and uncles about swimming, and also motivate them to move and swim together with the children with no fear. All the stories I write are based on my personal experience in the work with the youngest, babies, Olympic and world medal winners, but also pregnant women, elderly and children with special needs.  

What are your hopes and dreams for the “Swimming Dad” community?

Swimming is the beginning of everything. It’s easier to start swimming than start walking. It’s easier to use swimming as prevention than asatreatment. It’s easier to learn how to swim than to have a water-related accident and then start to lean how to swim.  

I believe that using the Swimming Dad concept, a play in the water, concrete examples, educational material about swimming and growing up, I can motivate you to start swimming, feel safe in the water and enjoy it, the way my family does! I find it crucial that even at the micro level, I succeed in raising the awareness of parents, children and their friends about how swimming is such an important life skill. 

I believe that we are all aware enough how water can be useful, and dangerous for our kids at the same time. That is why I would likeparents to realise that swimming is not only a summer thing, but that it is a vital life skill every single child should master. It is never too late to get into the water and learn how to swim. It’s not a shame not knowing how to swim. But, on the other hand, don’t deprive yourselves and your kids of the benefits swimming can bring to you.

I hope that through the Swimming Dad community I can bring swimming closer to others in an educational, interesting and relaxed way, and thus help everyone. Yes, that’s right. To help those who are afraid of water, to those who can’t swim, and those who don’t have that opportunity, those with special needs, and those with corrective physical needs, to the elderly, young, sad, obese, shy and lonely.. EVERYONE. 

I would love to minimize the fears and doubts parents have about swimming at the earliest age. Because, whether we like it or not, we are all role models to our kids even when it comes to healthy life style.   

This is why you should include swimming in your life, before it “excludes” you! 

If you could have one ideal “underwater” holiday of your dreams with your family, where would it be?  

 If I could choose my ideal Under Water holiday for my Swimming Dad family, that would definitely be an exotic place, which can be near the sea, but not necessarily.It could be a magical island with a secret lake in it, where we could explore the abundant underwater world in the magic of the morning light and its flora and fauna. Knowing my family, they can’t stay still for long, so that would definitely be a mix of two or three unforgettable places good for swimming and underwater activities. 

 Once I discover one, I’ll definitely let you know so we could enjoy it together! 

More about Swimming Dad... Who is Swimming Dad?

My name is Vladimir Anušić. I have a degree in physical education, with a Master’s Degree in Sports Management, and I work as a swimming instructor. I have more than 20 years of experience working as a swimming professional with children of different ages ,from babies to teenagers and students. I am also very proud of my work with children with disabilities.

 I am a great enthusiast and always striving for the maximum results. I believe in a continuous and lifelong learning and development. Above all,I believe in good, and not only ”smart” people. I am passionate about basketball and music. I also enjoy playing the saxophone, guitar and singing under the water.

 I am the founder of the Baby Swim club in Belgrade and Novi Sad, currently in the idle phase until I find the right conditions to do what I have planned for babies and children in Serbia.

 Throughout my rich and diverse career, I’ve gained substantial knowledge as the general secretary of the Swimming Association of Serbia, swimming instructor at the Faculty for Sports and Tourism, and Swimming Club Vojvodina. 

 I am currently working for Waves Swim Academy in Dubai

In December 2017, I became the founder of the concept and the author of the Swimming Dad Blog www.swimmingdad.com

 If you would like to get in touch and find out more about my professional experience, my projects and education, you can contact me via my LinkedIn profile or just drop me a line at vladimir.anusic@swimmingdad.com.

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A little before and after

Its been a while and Amy and I have done some live editing on our IG page (make sure you follow us for it!) but I thought I would share a quick edit here too!  

From me, a good edit like on land, starts with great light. Underwater, great light is much harder to come by, but there are a few things you can think through and really take an image in almost any water. This past weekend I shot in hotel water pool, which is by FAR the grossest to shoot in. BUT it had pretty good light. For starters, the pool was light, so the light that came in was reflected, which helps immensely.  Second, the pool was shallow - water which isn't deep is way easier to get better skin tones in, and easier to work with all around. Third, I used pool lights, which I love using to backlight the subject and take it from here...

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See how gross it is??  Cloudy - full of hockey kids all weekend, so you can imagine what was in that water!  BUT what did I see?  I saw a great pose and loved the bubbles, which I directed him to do, knowing the light would catch them.

In LR I used a preset that I created for this, but essentially, you will want to increase the blacks, pull the shadows and in this case the whites and highlights too.  I used the luminance sliders and played with the blue and aqua hues and colour corrected. All with one click.  

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Its not bad, but to finish it off, I pull my underwater images into Photoshop too. I find thats the way I like to get the deeper and better blues, smooth out the skin and take off more of the cyans you still see in the LR edit. I could have spent longer on the image, but all this took was maybe 5 minutes, which is all I had ;) 

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Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions, or better yet join us on IG!!  Keep practising!  Oh and I took out all of those THINGS in the pool....who knows what they were....

Cheers,

Jennifer

xoxoxox

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A Few More Tips - Underwater Self Portraits - Barb Toyama

We wanted to share a few of our favourite underwater self portraits tricks with you too!  So we thought we would devote the next couple of posts to include some of our own images and tips on shooting underwater self portraits!  

First up Barb Toyama

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So what if you’d like to take a self portrait in the water and don’t have a human tripod available? Or maybe you’re in the ocean so there’s nowhere to secure your camera to and use a self timer?

I loved swimming in the ocean while pregnant and knew I wanted to capture this to remember that feeling. So, with my 24mm wide angle lens, I turned my camera/housing around to face me in true selfie-style! I held it out with both hands as far as I could, and used the reflection on the dome port to gauge my composition. Taking lots of shots helps to make sure you capture what you’re going for! I love having this memory hanging on my wall, and winning an award for it was a little cherry on top.

For an ocean selfie with my waterbaby, I took advantage of the housing’s buoyancy and let the camera float at the surface while operating the shutter button with one hand. This is of course limiting in the kind of shots you can get, but it’s about capturing the moment more so than perfection. Because the best photo is the one you actually took, right?

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xoxox

Underwater Kids

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A Few Tips - Underwater Self Portraits

As we start up another new year, many of you may have planned personal projects. We LOVE personal projects here at Underwater Kids and believe if you really want to see growth and development in your photography, there is NOTHING like them to get you started!  

But what about getting you in front of the camera as part of those personal projects?  I know, I know, there is a reason why you are behind the camera. Believe me, I am with you....but lets just say you give it a try. And then let's say you want to try it underwater? How do you even begin? 

We have asked a few of the most incredibly talented photographers we know to share their favourite underwater selfies and give us a few tips on how they accomplished them!  

First up, the fabulous LeAnna Azzolini with her incredible pictures and a few tips on getting started taking those underwater self portraits. 

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Just gorgeous right?  We asked LeAnna for a few tips on shooting underwater self portraits and she had this to say.

It’s always been a dream of mine to learn underwater photography. When my daughter was born, I immediately had visions of swimming out in the ocean capturing her surfing alongside her Daddy. She’s still young though, and we’re starting small for now. This summer, she was three and we finally reached a point where it was safe for us to swim next to one another in the swimming pool. At the beginning of 2017, I began a journey with a self-portrait group and underwater photography was my main goal to incorporate into my project. I’d had shots planned in my head for years and thankfully my husband was able to hold the camera and help me to jump in the frame with her. Our underwater shots ended up being some of my favorites throughout the 52 week process. I’m still learning how to handle light and to maintain a consistent and cohesive look with my editing. That’s my biggest challenge. Colors are very different to work with and the way the light shines differently during the day still throws me off. It’s quite a learning curve for me so far. I’m completely hooked though and plan on sticking with this in the years to come. My next big dream is to get in the ocean and see where it takes me.
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We next asked the incredible Chelsea Cronkrite to share some of her favourite tips for taking self portraits underwater.  This is what Chelsea shared with us.

Tips :
Practicing sinking and breathing techniques will help you keep your cool when shooting underwater.

For taking self portraits, fully submerging your Go Pro Hero 5 sticking it all the way at the bottom of the pool facing can help make for a cool dome effect. Also shooting with it on a stair case or a ladder can help create other cool perspectives. If you have a split level dome, those help make for some pretty epic selfies as well. Using a bendy tripod can also up your self portrait game.

Things I Find Difficult :

Flotation, i'm very buoyant ha - and patience seem to be my main issues with shooting underwater    

What Inspires Me:

Watching my daughters bond together through swimming, create new images that inspire others to create new inspiring images, watching the waves from underneath the surface

 

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Keep trying even when you fail a thousand times over, you’re always going to learn something new with the process.
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Follow Chelsea's work here:

 

 

Thanks to both of these incredible artists for sharing their thoughts and their work!  Stay tuned for one more blog post about tips and tricks for self portraiture underwater next week!!

XOXOX

UK

 

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