What draws you into an image and makes you linger? What sets art apart from the snapshot?

For me (and I'd guess most people), it's the connection a photo conveys, the emotions we feel, and the story it tells us. It appeals to our senses and draws us in. How do you go about creating images like that?

I believe the sheer fact of photographing in the water comes with a certain intimacy and vulnerability, which works to our advantage. Here are some ideas I use to instill more emotion and connection into my water sessions:

1 - Making my subjects feel comfortable. This applies especially in the water, as people may feel more "exposed" because, well, they are! When they feel comfortable and trust me, they open up, relax, and let me see more of their "self".

2 - Physical connection. It's a very human thing to connect by touch, so I consistently look for that physical contact. It doesn't always have to be loving hugs, sometimes it's playful or subtle. I prefer to let it happen naturally, as that is more my style, but it could certainly be more encouraged or directed.


3 - Eye contact. There's so much truth in the eyes, expressing the emotions a person is feeling, especially with children.

4 - Emotional connection. We not only connect physically but also emotionally, by sharing a laugh, a smile, or exchanging a knowing look. I love capturing this connection between family members.

5 - Light. I love using light to enhance and underline an emotion, whether it's bright back light or the soft glow of the setting sun.

6 - Details. Not all emotion is expressed by the eyes and face, other features reveal emotions too. Underwater photography offers such great opportunities for faceless photos! It's also fun to catch little details like hands, feet, or water droplets running down a bare back.

7 - Color vs. black & white. With some images, I "see" it either in color or in black & white when I shoot. With others, I think about the story I'd like the image to tell and choose accordingly. Personally, I love both. Black and white really enhances the more emotive images so I often choose it for connection images, while color goes with the mood of happy, fun images.

What are your favorite emotions to capture in the water?

- Barb