The Adventures Of An Underwater Wedding Photographer

Lisa Haynes, the underwater photographer extraordinaire in question, would probably be quick to point out that she is neither just a wedding photographer (she does every sort of underwater shoot imaginable) nor just a underwater photographer (few are better on land than Haynes either).

But we’re all about the wedding biz here, and underwater photography is what put Haynes on the map. How she got there is remarkable.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard of a story of emphatically lemonade-out-of-lemons as Haynes’s. For much or most of her life, not only could she not even swim, but she as downright afraid of the water. I don’t mean a pesky fear, but a full-blown phobia.

Determined to defeat her phobia, she signed up for swimming lessons.

The first class started with an embarrassing display of public tears. The instructor, however, was divinely inspired to get Haynes over her phobia, so much so that she handed off her class to another instructor so she could work with Haynes individually, pro bono.

Through that partnership, Haynes got over her fear of the water. But she wasn’t done. It was now time to actually learn how to swim – those first lessons focused on conquering the phobia. So she did indeed learn to swim, after a second run of swimming lessons.

And she STILL wasn’t done! Having shown this phobia what’s what, she decided to kick more sand in its face and become a professional in the water – specifically, an underwater photographer. She saw a niche that needed filled, and she filled it.

It’s all a part of what Haynes calls a purpose-driven life, and I’ve profiled few people who are so adept at going out and getting what they want. I’ve also profiled few people as interesting and as fun as Haynes.

So what, exactly, goes into a underwater wedding shoot?

First, there’s a lot to get used to, so Haynes sets up a practice session where the clients get comfortable being clothed underwater and adjusting to “holding their breath. Smiling. Opening their eyes underwater. These are things that you don’t think of naturally, but of course if you’re going to take a picture underwater you’re going to want to have your eyes open and you’re going to want to smile,” says Haynes. “You’re not going to drown just because you have your mouth open underwater. Who knew that?”

Haynes has mastered the art of how to set up shots in the wet stuff. “It’s a different thing to pose on land as opposed to on water, because water is fluid. It’s constantly moving.”

Generally, her subjects do not wear scuba gear because that obscures their faces. Haynes has found that 4-7 feet of depth is the sweet spot for underwater photography.

She also sets her clients at ease with a simple policy: “I don’t ask my clients to do anything that I wouldn’t do.”

On the big day she has “water assistants” helping keep everything running aquatically smoothly, and she also does second shoots when called upon.

At the end of the day though, this blog is about giving advice to folks planning their weddings, and Haynes has no shortage of sage pointers, starting with what couples should ask prospective vendors.

“'(Clients should ask) how long have you been doing this? How are you going to edit my pictures?’ I think a lot of people don’t realize there’s an editing style.”

It’s all a part of the crucial process of getting to know your vendors and making sure they are a perfect fit for you, according to Haynes.

“Interview your vendors. Always sit down, have a consultation. Don’t leave it to chance. Get to know your vendor, get to know their personality. Get their references and actually call and check them. Do your due diligence. Make sure you’re getting somebody that meshes well with you and just be in charge. I’m not saying be a Bridezilla, but definitely be in charge of who you hire to come and facilitate services at your wedding.”


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