I recently did an underwater photoshoot with Flashpool productions in Austin Texas and it was A BLAST! It felt like Christmas morning all day. I was able to borrow 2 tails from Sirenalia, and had some fun tops to wear from different sponsors.
I have been following Sarah at Flashpool productions for about a year so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance. More like “jumping up and down screaming like a little girl” jump at the chance. Her work is amazing and I was honored to be apart of it!
Sarah started underwater photography 8 years ago in Austin and has traveled all around the world with her skills. Her company not only specializes in Mermaid photography but also:
- Aquatic Sports
- Senior photos
- Engagement Photos
- Maternity Photos
- Boudoir Photos
- Bridal Photos
- Anniversary Photos
- Dog Photos
- Underwater Tea Parties
Many of her shoots take place in her 6 foot deep, crystal clear backyard pool. She also shoots on location at swim schools and in competition pools and will even come to your pool party with photo booth props!
Before I arrived, I had LOTS of questions. Scroll to the bottom to see all of Sarahs answers!
So come to find out, modeling in the water is A WHOLE LOT HARDER than I thought it was going to be. There are so many things to think about compared to photo shoots above water.
Thankfully, Sarah was a great coach! She had you focus on things like; where to put your arms, how to float up to the surface, or how to position your hair to get some great shots. She was very patient and willing to try new things.
This is an underwater collaborative shoot that I attended. A body painter, model and Sarah worked together on it and the theme was “Mother Earth”. Sarah has some serious breath control and was able to get great shots right when the model went underwater. It is tricky because you only have 10-15 seconds to get into place and take some good shots.
Fun fact:You do not need to be a good swimmer to take underwater photos! Just need to be open minded and comfortable in the water.
Underwater PHotography Equipment
This is not your average underwater camera! Top of the line and specialized for clear photos beneath the surface.
Not sure what to wear?
Oh, they have you covered. Dresses take on a whole new look when weightless in the water. She also have fun fabrics in pretty much every color as well as flowers. The possibilities are endless!
Are you even ready for this?
This shot is taken with a green Sirenalia tail and personal top. I love the reflection of the surface. These tail fit really well and last forever! Silicone doesn’t sink or float in the water. They weigh around 25-30 pounds but in the water are neutrally buoyant.
Shout out to my Salty Mermaid Friends! They have super cute swimwear as well as fun mermaid hats!
Shooting with fabric was a whole other ball game. It was magical in the water and takes on a whole new shape. This swimsuit is from KBella Swimwear and feels really nice in the water. You can’t see it in this photo but the bottoms are cut in a more “international” style which is getting super popular in the states.
Give Sarah a call at (512) 797-5340 if you are interested in an underwater photography shoot! Mention “Everything Mermaid” and automatically receive a $25 discount for your photo shoot.
She is really good at coaching you into amazing pictures that you can only get underwater. Go have some fun underwater.
Questions I had before the shoot
What Should I bring?
It is to my great advantage that my mother is a seamstress! In fact, she and I have ran a high-volume Etsy shop for four years selling baby outfits, maternity gowns and bridal robes – all designed for photo shoots. My large collection of gowns and dresses has been pulled from our online collections and has expanded over time by thrift-store finds, stuff from my own closet and from people donating their own pieces to the collection after their underwater shoot. I’ve received everything from cowboy boots to prom dresses to jewelry! Someone even gave me their old Iphone after we used it in a shoot.
When preparing for a shoot, I make sure I understand my clients’ wardrobe needs and plan out the looks. I encourage people to think outside the box and go through their closets – to consider things you might not think to wear underwater, like jeans and a cute tank, heels, jackets or that ugly skirt you never thought you would wear again. Fabric takes on a whole new life when you put it underwater. That’s why I love thrift store finds – you can take something you would never think of wearing on a normal occasion and when you wear it underwater it becomes a beautiful thing.
If my client and I have a particular look in mind, I will even go as far as to design something with my mother and have her make it for me. She LOVES creating custom pieces for underwater shoots. The last one we did was for a maternity shoot – it’s basically a one-size-fits-all long, flowy, empire waist skirt design.
Along with the wardrobe, I also have large pieces of fabrics in every color, lots of fake flowers and a small jewelry collection (that I’d like to expand).
I have all different sizes of dresses that you can pick out when you arrive. I do not have any fabric or silicone mermaid tails to choose from.
Bring anything you want to be in the photos!
What should I do with my hair?
If you’re doing an updo, it needs to be nice and tight, secured by extra bobby pins. I do not recommend hair pieces or accessories as your hair can easily get caught up in them and it will become a tangled mess.
Most people wear their hair down. I think flowing hair is beautiful and although it occasionally will get in the way of your face, it adds a really fun element to the photos as it takes on a life of its own.
When you wear your hair down, you don’t need to do anything to it. If you have curly hair, don’t bother straightening it. You can literally show up to your photo shoot with bed head! (How awesome is that?)
Don’t even bother with hair products, in fact, it’s on my list of don’t do’s – it will come right out and in some cases will temporarily cloud up the water.
What about hair extensions or wigs?
I’ve had people use clip on hair extensions before and they stayed in fine. If you’re going to use a wig, you will need it to be super secured. Also know that it probably will most likely ruin the wig if it’s a synthetic one. I am open to wigs but have never suggested them in the past as I think the first couple of times I’ve witnessed people using them, it was not a good turnout. However I have seen some gorgeous underwater photos with people using long, colorful wigs and they look amazing!
If you’re doing your own makeup, I recommend waterproof makeup.
Most importantly, you will want your your eyeliner and mascara to be waterproof, everything else – your foundation, blush, eyeshadow doesn’t need to be waterproof. I don’t recommend using a setting powder but I do recommend a setting spray. You can go a little heavier than normal on your makeup as color tends to get a tad washed out in the images when you have the filter of water between you and the camera.
There is one major factor in keeping your makeup looking good in the water and that is making sure you don’t wipe or touch your face when you come out of the water. It is a natural reaction for everyone to wipe their face every time so you have to make a very conscious effort to avoid it.
Do your makeup at home but bring it to the shoot for touch ups!
I also work with several talented makeup artists who have the whole underwater makeup thing down. I’ve seen their makeup last perfectly for over 3 hours in the water. I always recommend booking a makeup artist when you book with me. It’s so nice to have that pampering before your shoot and the assurance that your makeup is going to look flawless.
Do people wear glitter or does it just fall off?
I work with mermaids sooo…. I KNOW GLITTER! Haha! I also know there’s no escaping it sometimes. I’ve recently considered a glitter-ban in my pool after a heavily glittered body left so much glitter behind that it looked like I hosted a rave and it was showing up in the shoots that followed. There’s ways to apply glitter so that it doesn’t fall off, using special glues, however I’m just not a huge fan because sometimes the light will catch the glitter just right and reflect in ways that are not flattering, especially if used on the face.
Do I dare wear fake eyelashes in the water?
I don’t have the best answer for this one because I’ve had successes and fails. I think if you’re going to try using them you need to apply more glue than usual and make sure they are very secure. Same as with makeup – their success is partly dependent on making sure that you don’t touch your face when you come out of the water.
Will the water be warm? What if it is cold outside?
If you’re cold, it’s going to show and it just makes for an unpleasant experience! This is why I only shoot if it’s above 60 degrees outside and the pool must be heated appropriately for the weather. Between 60-75 degrees outdoor temperature I’ll have the pool heated to 90 degrees and between 75-90 degrees it will be to at least 85. Even if it’s a hot day and the water is cold, your body will get chilled quickly so I always make sure it’s a comfortable temp.
On that note, I ask people to take breaks and go take a warm shower in the house to warm up their body temps if they do start to get cold. I do not wear a wetsuit when I work with clients so that I can be fully aware of the conditions.
What are some tips/tricks to modeling underwater?
- Let your air out before or as you submerge to help yourself sink
- Think like a ballerina – pointed toes and soft hands
- Be aware of where the camera is
- Practice with goggles first
Relaxing is key. You really want to find a calm frame of mind and, as cheesy as this might sound, feel what it’s like to “be one with the water.”
Modeling underwater is quite difficult for most people but anyone can do it! It just takes a little bit of practice and your will get more and more comfortable as you go. Most people that come to me have never had their photo taken underwater before and it’s almost always the same scenario – whether or not they are confident or not to begin with, they always feel a bit uncomfortable the first few times they submerge.
It can be a bit disorienting to go underwater for the first time. There’s so much to think about at first that it can be a little overwhelming! You’re thinking of opening your eyes, smiling, what do I do with my arms and legs? How do I not blow bubbles? Why is my hair in front of my face? It’s a lot at first but I promise everyone that IT GETS EASIER! Naturally you will become more and more comfortable and I will help you every step of the way with instant feedback and suggestions.
I’ll show you photos as we go so that you can learn what makes a good photo.
Since I have never done this before, I reached out to my friend Alesha to see if she had any mermaid tips for me! This is what she said:
Being comfortable under the water is the most important I would say. Having a good breath hold with a relaxed face will help your photographer catch the best picture. No one wants puffed up cheeks or a strained look on your face so practice until you feel comfortable under the water.