underwater photography

A quick search for “underwater video tips” delivers a lot of great information. But what about when you’re on the other side of the lens? What do you do when another diver points a camera at you? Go for the classic “I’m okay” or something more original? Here are a few suggestions:

First, don’t do anything sudden. Take a discreet look around for marine life. The photographer may be shooting you with a turtle or school of fish for size comparison.

underwater photo with diver and turtle

Alternately, you might be in the way. If you aren’t sure of the photographer’s intentions, move slowly and keep an eye on the cameraperson. Watch for them to signal you to stop.

If it’s clear you’re the subject of the shot, here are some easy go-to moves:

Strike a Pose

The I’m Okay –  This classic diver move has a few variations: A subtle “okay” with fingers slightly curled, or full-on I’m-in-a-PADI-video style with middle, ring and pinky fingers emphatically extended.

scuba divers ok hand signal underwater

The Shaka – Use this all-purpose gesture to demonstrate you are equal parts mellow and stoked. Learn more about the history of the shaka.

underwater shaka

The Hand Heart – Do you <3 scuba? Share the love, but keep in a mind the regular hand heart (made with thumbs and index fingers) can look weird if the angle isn’t right.  Consider this variation:

heart signal diver underwater

Blow a Kiss – A fun and flirty move that’s perfect for photos or video.

Go for The Smooch if you’re near your significant other. 

underwater kiss on camera

Show Off Your Skills – Blow some bubble rings, backwards fin, or show off your underwater tightrope walking skills (but watch out for barnacles).

underwater bubbles

walking a tightrobe underwater

Have Some Fun with the Photographer – See if you can convince the photographer there’s an enormous shark right behind them!

Get a Group Shot – Bring nearby divers together for a group pic. Be sure to get close, very close. The wide-angle lenses used by underwater photographers distort distance. It may feel as though you’re right on top of each other, but the shot will look great.

Group photo of divers underwater in La Paz Mexico

Or Just Smile – Smile with your eyes, or take your reg out (just for a sec) and share a big ‘ol “OMG I’m underwater” grin. Don’t forget to blow bubbles before and after delivering that smile.

Look Your Best

A low-volume mask with a clear skirt will look the best in photos. Additionally, the fewer brightly-colored objects you have dangling from your BC, the better. Neon safety sausages and tank bangers attract the eye and draw attention away from the true subject of the shot.

day glo accessories photo underwater

Here are a few additional tips to prevent cringe-worthy photos:

  • Keep your fins together – wide legs look strange.
  • Gather up any dangling accessories, don’t let them drag on the reef.
  • Avoid bubbles in the pic. Time your exhale to occur when you’re moving or making adjustments.
  • Keep your mask clear of fog.

If you’re working with a serious photographer, s/he may not want you to look right into the camera. How will you know? Generally speaking, the larger the camera rig, the more serious the photographer.

For more professional-looking photos, look towards an object rather than into the camera. It could be a coral head, creature, or part of a wreck. Ideally, you should “cheat” where you’re looking to be between the object and the camera. Turning your head to look directly at the object can hide your eyes. 

If you see a photographer below you shooting up at the surface, the photographer is probably trying to capture your silhouette. Make long, slow kicks using your entire leg and take time to glide.

Like having your photo taken? Learn more about being an underwater model, and what it’s like to be part of a PADI video shoot. Read the interviews.

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