Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

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tips for underwater photos + video

Hey, friends! Summer days are upon us and I wanted to make sure to share some tips and tricks for capturing underwater photos and video. While I have not dived extensively into the technical aspects of this realm of photography nor do I plan on becoming a fine art underwater photographer, I have picked up some great tips for getting the job done with my mobile camera. And since we are all finding ourselves in the water for the next few months, I figured maybe you would like in on them too.


So, let’s start with the most obvious…

Number One: Invest in underwater “housing” for your iPhone or camera phone.

I use two different cases to get the job done and I use each for different reasons. Let’s start with the first. I purchased this case on Amazon and it handles the job of being submerged underwater for longer periods of time and it guarantees your phone to be safe up to 130 feet deep (this links to a case made specifically for the iPhone 6/6 Plus. Be sure to find the correct case for your phone model). The second case I snagged was the YOSH waterproof case and this one I will put on my phone and use for above water photos, actually being in the pool while taking photos as well as dipping it underwater for one or two photo opps here and there. It is not meant to be an underwater case but merely able to protect your phone around water.

A few side notes regarding waterproof and underwater cases for your phone:

  • Read the instructions thoroughly on the case you purchase. Every case that I came across instructs you to test it out with a piece of paper or tissue. Simply place the object in the case, close it correctly, submerge it underwater for up to 60 seconds and if it comes out dry, then your case is working properly and can be used. This still won’t take away that initial fear you have dipping it into the water for the first time with your phone in it, but it does help. #Wink!
  • You will NOT be able to use your touch screen features while underwater because of the water pressure and the barrier it creates. There is no case out there that can do this so you have to adjust a few settings on your phone to make sure you can get the job done. First, turn the auto-lock feature on your mobile phone settings to “never.” This will ensure that your screen will not lock on you because you will not have the ability to swipe and turn it back on. Second, turn your phone to “airplane mode.” This will ensure that you do not receive notifications that will appear on your screen and stay there since you won’t have the ability to close them out and go back to shooting. And third, you have to enable your camera app BEFORE placing your phone in the case.
  • Remember to clean the front of your mobile camera BEFORE putting it into your case to ensure that your photos will be as crystal clear as possible.

It’s definitely not as easy as using your mobile phone camera on dry land, but I have been so happy with these cases and the ability to document what is happening under the water as well as what is happening above.


Number Two: Learn to work with your equipment first.

One of the biggest struggles with underwater photos is that you will not be able to see your screen most of the time. I know – sounds crazy right? You know how when you go out into the sun, it is near impossible to see your phone screen? It’s the same situation with your camera phone underwater and in a case. Getting used to that is a bit different and can make shooting harder, but when you know the equipment and what button to push to activate the camera shutter, it will make things easier. And with everything, practice, practice, practice.

Number Three: Get used to natural lighting and available sun.

One thing that will alter the mood of your photos will be the available sun you have to work with. Because of the light and the way it bounces from reflections, you will want to play around with what time of day and how you work with the lighting at that specific time. For instance, shooting in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest will give you well lit photos under the surface at every angle. However, earlier in the day or later in the day, the sun will act as more of a spotlight and you will have a more dramatic look to your images.


Number Four: Shoot a TON.

Because of the fact that visibility of your screen will be low and because motion in the water can be tricky, you want to make sure and over shoot so you walk away and have a handful of really great photo opps instead of shooting just a few and winding up with none.



Number Five: Experiment and play.

It will take some time to get used to and to really love documenting under the water. Be sure to give yourself time to play around and have fun trying out different things. Experiment to really find your style and what you prefer.

And to give you a little more visual inspiration for your own water photos, I thought I would share a quick film from the home movie collection…

Thanks for tuning in everyone and I will catch you next time. Have fun!


10 Responses

  1. Shawna says:

    What app or program did you use to put your video clips into a movie? If it was with imovie, do you have a recommendation for those of us that don’t have access to that program?

    • Kara Layne Kara Layne says:

      Hi Shawna! It was iMovie and it’s my go-to for video editing. Unfortunately I don’t have enough experience with other programs to recommend one. iMovie also comes as an app that you can use right on your mobile phone. Very convenient!

  2. Stef says:

    Great post and great tips. I’m definately going to give this a try !
    Thanks a lot !
    And I loved the video. So much fun !

  3. Michele says:

    Great post Kara! Love the pictures and video and I would love to definitely try taking my phone for some amazing underwater shots. Thank you. :)

  4. Jennie says:

    Hi, Kara. Which camera case did you use for the video? Thanks for the great post!

  5. Justine says:

    I love your photo tips! Love em! I use lifeproof cases to protect my phone all year long on the beach and in the ocean. We’re a surfing family. I don’t have this particular model of lifeproof case, but the Nuud for iPhone 6 can go underwater and you can you use the touchscreen while the case is on. Lifeproof is a big fav in our circles. Great quality and warranty.

  6. Alison says:

    ^ Justine I have a life proof case for my phone and I haven’t tried it in the water yet. I’ve been concerned that the bottom clip is coming open too easily (where you plug it in to charge). Has this been a concern of yours? Any tips?

  7. Joie Gahum says:

    wonderful shots! you might also want to try the waterproof cases in roadeavour. Its reliable as well.