Underwater Modelling Tips

Before the Shoot

  • Plan your outfit! Here’s some inspiration.
  • Bring eye drops as water may irritate your eyes after a while
  • Practice  your breathing exercises (see below)
  • Arrive at the shoot with no makeup, moisturiser, or leave in shampoos
  • Wear loose clothing as tight clothes will leave marks on your skin
  • If possible practice wearing your outfit in the water, you need to be comfortable and safe
  • Use safety pins to keep collars and sleeves from flapping around in the water, or shirts from coming untucked.

Holding Your Breath

The length that people can hold their breath underwater varies greatly, and there’s no single factor that sets that duration. However, there are a few things that you can do to become better at holding your breath underwater in the short term.

Staying calm and relaxed whilst in the water is the key to a long breath hold, having a calm mind means that your body isn’t burning as much energy and using up all your oxygen. Don’t move any faster than you need to in the water, its natural resistance is going to make you move slower anyway so tune in to that feeling and let the world slow down around you.

Before you go under the water try to follow these tips:

  • Close your eyes and calm your mind
  • Visualise the moves and poses you are about to perform
  • Take in one deep breath and let it out, pushing with your diaphragm to squeeze as much air out of your lungs as possible, like a sponge.
  • Breathe in deeply again, hold for a second, and breathe out slowly.
  • Finally take in one last deep breath, hold and let it all the way out – making sure to breathe out as much as possible (Air in your lungs will make you float).
  • With your mouth slightly open, seal your throat with your tongue and drop under the water.
  • Whilst underwater try not to think about where you are, focus on what you are doing and you will forget about needing to breathe.

Modelling Underwater

Modelling underwater is not an easy endeavour, and takes a lot of energy and confidence to do it well – but that’s not to say you shouldn’t try if it’s your first time!

Here’s some tips to help you be a better underwater model:

  • Remain as calm as possible. Unless you’re wanting more energetic poses it’s best to keep everything slow and relaxed. Not only will you look better but you’ll use less oxygen.
  • Keep your face relaxed, and try to hold your breath with your mouth slightly open. Try holding your breath with water in your mouth by pushing your tongue to the back of your mouth. This will relax your face and make sure you don’t puff your cheeks out like a puffer fish.
  • Eyes open is optional, it’s neither good or bad to have them closed so long as they are relaxed and not strained.
  • Don’t look at the camera unless instructed otherwise. The pictures look so much more magical when the model is looking off camera.
  • Ask the photographer where the main light will be coming from as that’s a great direction to look in as it will light your face.
  • Have a mental checklist to go through whilst under the water – toes pointed, hands elegant, face relaxed, etc – this will take your mind off the fact that you’re under the water and help your breathhold.
  • Bubbles are good, so feel free to let some out as you pose, but only if your head is back as they might obscure your face.
  • Bring some hair pins to keep your fringe off your face.
  • Using nose plugs will make everything so much easier, and the best ones are our custom invisible plugs.

Pole Dancers/Aerialists

  • Have a list of moves before you come, so you’re not wasting time trying to think of them. Many poses don’t work so well in the weightlessness of the pool, especially anything that uses your body weight to complete the pose, so think about moves that use your strength and leverage to pose instead.
  • Photos look best when all your limbs are below the surface, so make sure you are deep enough on the pole for that. Don’t go too deep either, the sweet spot is to just have the highest part of you below the surface.
  • Before you go under, place one hand on the pole just below the surface so that when you slide down you have a guide as to how deep you are.
  • If the move needs some gravity, you can flip it upside down and use the buoyancy to lift you UP in to the pose rather than DOWN.


Fabric underwater looks amazing, but you do need to get the right stuff for it perform properly.

Here’s some tips on fabric:

  • Lighter fabrics (organza, chiffon, etc) will take longer to sink, giving you more time to pose with them
  • Bright colours look amazing under the water, as do black or white. Earthy colours not so much, but feel free to try anything you like.
  • Natural fabrics tend to go darker once wet, so test them if there’s a certain colour you’d like.
  • The longer the better, but we suggest at least 5 yards/metres as a start. The width is up to you, but at least a metre/yard wide is good.
  • Try to get hemmed fabric if you can as loose threads can make it look messy. Using a lighter to slightly burn/melt the edges can help.
  • Tassels or fringe can look great too.

Underwater Outfits & Wardrobe

What you wear under water is totally up to you, but there’s a few considerations to take in to account:

  • Big flowy clothes are great as it accentuates the movement of the water.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable swimming or treading water with your outfit on.
  • Use safety pins to keep collars and sleeves from flapping around in the water, or shirts from coming untucked.
  • Shoes do look great if they go with the outfit.
  • Wigs are great underwater, especially bright colours, but make sure they are pinned on tightly.

After The Photoshoot

You’ll want to shower off to remove any chlorine, and maybe condition your hair as the pool water can dry it out. If your eyes hurt or are blurry after the shoot, make sure you keep flushing them with the eye drops and keep them closed for a while – also check out these great recovery tips.

If you’d like to learn more about how to model underwater, book an underwater photoshoot or workshop with Brett Stanley.