Underwater Portrait Photography Workshop

February 25, 2024

Long Beach, California

14-16 June 2024
13-15 September 2024

Are you an underwater portrait photographer looking to hone your skills, or maybe a land photographer looking to move into underwater?

The underwater studio photography workshop will help you to learn and up-skill in this amazingly creative niche genre.

What is Underwater Portrait Studio Photography?

Underwater studio photography is the process of treating a swimming pool like a photography studio and creating work like you would in a dry studio, but utilising all the amazing traits that water can provide. It’s an approach that creates a mindset which looks at all aspects of the pool as potential backdrops for the photoshoot.

The Schedule

To make the most of your time I’ve broken the workshop down in to 3 Days/Sections: Underwater Photography Techniques, Studio Lighting, and Retouch/Post-production .

Days 1 & 2 are 10am – 6pm, with an hour lunch break, Day 3 is 10am-2pm.

Class numbers are limited to 5 people, so that everyone gets a decent amount of attention and time with the models during the workshop.

On our first day we will be covering fundamental topics, starting from scratch for anyone that might be new to underwater portrait photography or someone who wants to refresher/learn a different technique.

This will be a hands on day with lots of theory, including shooting with our models – one of which will be new to this so you can learn how to direct inexperienced subjects.

  • Types of gear/uses
  • Gear maintenance
  • Terminology
  • Camera settings
  • Lens choices
  • Basic underwater physics
  • Shoot safety/common dangers
  • Breath-hold techniques
  • Staying steady underwater
  • Fabric/wardrobe choices
  • Shooting with backgrounds
  • Working with Natural light – Overview
  • Working with Artificial light – Overview
  • Open water vs closed water shooting
  • Working with models (2 models & 2 outfits each)
  • Dealing with unpredictability (Chaos Theory)
  • Pool care and best practices
  • Post shoot tasks

Next we will be taking everything we learned on Day 1 and turning it up a notch with lighting and more creative techniques. This is where I show you the lighting secrets I’ve cultivated and honed over the last 8 years shooting underwater – and give you the techniques to create your own lighting style!

We will have two very experienced underwater models on the day with a variety of outfits, and a variety of lighting styles to learn.

  • Posing and performance coaching (2 models & 2 outfits each)
  • Strobes vs natural light
  • Strobes vs video lights
  • Lighting gear choices
  • Underwater light physics
  • Triggering strobes
  • “Dry” Strobes
  • “Wet” Strobes
  • On Camera strobes
  • Lighting only from above
  • Lighting only from underwater
  • Mixing light sources
  • Using Coloured Gels
  • Shaping light
  • Special effects

After all this image taking, we now move on to the final creative step – post production. This day will be dedicated to polishing and crafting the images we took over the weekend, or images you’ve taken previously, in both Lightroom and Photoshop.

We will be working on your images, so you can see how this affects your style and workflow.

  • Reviewing images
  • Importing
  • Cleaning up
  • Removing pool tiles
  • Dealing with backscatter
  • Skin tones
  • Cut off limbs
  • Poor water quality
  • Fixing reflections
  • Realistic compositing
  • Colour grading
  • Exporting
  • Dealing with hair
  • Adding light sources
  • Lightroom & Photoshop

What's Included


  • Lunch, snacks, and drinks each day
  • Most equipment (see “what to to bring”)
  • 2 models, outfits, makeup (days 1 & 2)


  • Transportation or airfare
  • Accommodation


  • Camera, cards, batteries, and underwater housing with sync port (Optional, as we can provide a shared camera/housing if needed)
  • Swimwear/Towels
  • Mask
  • Weightbelt (Optional)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Summer footwear

The Location

The workshop will be held at my custom build underwater studio, in Long Beach California. The studio is outdoor with loads of space so we will be able to spread out, and plenty of shade to keep out of the sun.

The studio is 20 mins from Long Beach Airport (LGB), 45mins from Los Angeles Airport (LAX), and a variety of accommodation options in the area. It’s also only 20 mins from the Catalina Island Ferry if you wanted to hit the island.


I do recommend all students have attended my Introduction to Underwater Photography class, as this workshop does assume a level of experience with underwater photography.

A $400 non-refundable deposit will be required to secure your spot at the workshop.

All attendees must be in good health and able to swim in at least 9ft of water.

Frequent Questions

Is the location indoor or outdoor?
The pool is outdoor with plenty of shade, and our classroom will be either indoor or outdoor depending on the workshop day and the weather.

Do I need to bring any lighting equipment?
Only if you want to learn using your own equipment. We will be setting up lighting for everyone in the class, but if you have lights on your housing you’d like to use please let us know.

Do I need to know how to swim?
Yes! As an underwater photographer you’re the one who needs to guide the subjects, so if you can’t swim it’s very hard to be able to show them what to do. In saying that, if you’d like to join the workshop an stay out of the water you’re more than welcome.

Will I own the images taken at the workshop?
Yes, we will have the models sign a release for the images you take at the workshop and you will have the right to use the images for your portfolio and self promotion. No commercial usage is allowed.

Can I use the images in my portfolio?
Of course, we hope you will come away with some images you’re proud of, but we would also say that this course is more geared towards teaching you the skills to create your own images – rather than setting up scenes for you to just click a shutter – where’s the fun in that?

What is the closest airport?
Long Beach Airport (LBC) is only 20 mins from the studio and Los Angeles International (LAX) is around 45 mins.

Do I need to bring my camera?
If you already have an underwater housing for your camera and you would like to learn using that then please feel free to bring it, otherwise we will have shared cameras that can be used. For the strobe and advanced lighting courses we do require a housing that has an ikelite/nikonos sync port, or an Outex housing with a sync cable.

When does the deposit need to be paid?
The deposit needs to be paid as soon as you wish to secure your spot at the workshop – we cannot guarantee your space until it is paid.

Can I bring scuba gear?
No, as space is limited at the studio we don’t want to have people with bulky gear. We will be freediving for the workshop, but please bring a weight belt and weights if you need them.



About Brett Stanley

Brett Stanley is an internationally recognised, award winning underwater portrait photographer and cinematographer based in Long Beach, California. His unique approach to photographing people underwater for over 10+ years has solidified him as one of the leaders in this niche genre and his image style is instantly recognisable.

After Brett’s Underwater Pole Dance series went viral in 2015 he has been innovating the techniques of underwater portrait photography, and by building underwater sets he’s been pushing what is capable below the surface.

As a teacher, Brett has years of experience and problem solving to share with his students. His obsession with everything underwater drives him to share as much as he can with those he’s mentoring and he loves seeing other’s success in this realm.

Brett is also the host of The Underwater Podcast & editor of Waterproof Magazine.


Full 3 Day Package – US$2799

How to book

Please fill out the form with your details, which days you are interested in, and current underwater photography level so we can cater the workshop to your needs.