What Makes an Amazing Underwater Portrait / by Kelly Kirlin


Underwater portraiture can be awe-inspiring. There’s no denying that it can be challenging to create an elegant portrait in an environment where people are typically unaccustomed to breathing, blinking and generally lingering for long periods of time. Many clients wonder how I’m able to create underwater portraits that look authentic, mysterious and glamorous: How do you keep your eyes open? How do you hold your breath and still look normal?

In the photo above, I asked my client exhale all the air out of her lungs while swimming to the bottom of the shallow end of the pool, and then pose. Our lungs act as floatation devices, so the more air you hold in them, the harder it is to get to the bottom of the pool. Also, if you exhale while you’re posing rather than before you pose, you end up with tons of bubbles which distort your face. When you gently exhale all your air before posing, your body has a chance to relax in the liquid environment! 

There are many more tricks and tips I use to help my clients look comfortable and beautiful underwater. Read more in my FAQ here.