How Underwater Maternity is Different from Topside

Wondering about how to get into underwater maternity photography? Here's a quick overview from Ambassador Karen Bagley about how it's different from surface maternity shooting.

The Gear

Get the right gear. Your gear is 80% of what makes for a successful underwater photography session. A wide angle rectilinear lens is a must.

Karen currently shoots with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera and Canon 11-24mm f/4L USM lens.


You are dealing with an entirely different environment, with that comes safety issues. Safety should always come first. There is no image worth a mother or her unborn child’s safety. It is important that my clients have a full understanding of what is expected of them before even booking an underwater session. They must be good swimmers!

Setting Up a Shot

Holding breath for an extended period of time is a NO GO when you’re expecting. So, we are literally sinking to the bottom and floating back towards the surface. Spending maybe 10-15 seconds under at a time. Because you cannot talk to each other underwater, it is a good bit of trial and error. I spend a lot of time perfecting a pose or directing the client in how to hold their body the next time they go under. With that comes a huge time difference between outdoor sessions and underwater sessions.

Karen Bagley Underwater Maternity Ikelite

Safety should always come first. There is no image worth a mother or her unborn child’s safety.


Outdoor you may be shooting for an hour and half, whereas underwater can be triple that time! WOWZERS! You also have to be very mindful of the soon to be mama’s energy. You don’t realize it because when you're swimming it’s fun, but if you are not careful her energy is ZAPPED before you know it. Taking breaks and keeping their blood sugar level is vital! Take care of your mamas!


Additional Reading

Getting Into the Underwater Photography Business with Karen Bagley

Online Mentorship with Karen Bagley

Event | Diving Into Underwater Workshop | June 14-15, 2019

Karen Bagley Ambassador Profile

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