I absolutely love how majestic photos from underwater photoshoots look. For some reason I thought this type of photoshoot was only for real-life models. So when I discovered the opportunity for an average Joanna like myself to book an underwater photoshoot in a cenote, an underground reservoir of water, I was over the hills with excitement. Of course I was a bit nervous as I’m not a big fan of swimming in a natural body of water, but it was an experience I could not pass up.
Preparing for the Shoot
Booking the Underwater Photoshoot
I found my photographer, Fran Reina, through a Tulum Facebook group where someone posted their photos from their underwater shoot and mentioned how amazing of an experience it was. Without hesitation, I sent Fran a DM on Instagram to get more information. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that for the same cost of most land-based photoshoots (less than $200), I could have this amazing experience. In addition, she eased my nerves regarding the photoshoot by explaining that no swimming experience is necessary and her and her assistant would walk me through each step of the process. There were no lies told there. Both Fran and her assistant Ro were beyond amazing!
What to Wear to an Underwater Photoshoot
When you research underwater photoshoots, you normally see women dressed in one of two items: 1) a dress or 2) a swimsuit. Of course, I wanted to do both. Fran recommended that whatever I choose be solid in color. Personally, I wanted to go with something bright and complementary to the blue and green tones in the water. Therefore, I stayed in the pink/red family. When selecting a dress, I would recommend something light and flowy, preferably chiffon or tulle in nature. This will allow the dress to float in the water, giving a very dramatic effect. You can find the dress that I wore, here. My swimsuit is a four-year-old bedazzled hot pink swimsuit from D.blue.dazzled. Fran has a suitcase full of various colored scarfs like the blue one in the above picture.
The Day of the Shoot
Upon walking into Cenote Cristalino, I was immediately excited. It was so beautiful and serene. The water was so clear that you could see straight down to the bottom! The beauty of the cenote alone confirmed that I made the right decision in booking an underwater photoshoot.
The Prep Talk
Before heading into the water, Fran and Ro spent about 20 minutes walking me through almost every detail of our time together. THIS WAS SO REFRESHING! Having a clear idea of what I was getting myself into really helped relieve most of my fears. In addition, they gave tips on how to pose so she could capture some amazing photos. Below were some of my key takeaways:
- There will always be something to hold onto. This gave me all the confidence in the world. The ability to feel earth in my hand relieved so many fears.
- Breathe. Exhale as you are going down. This will allow you to go deeper into the water. THIS IS KEY if you want photos with your head below the water surface.
- Your face. Be very conscious of your facial expression, especially if you are feeling nervous as it will show. The last thing you want are photos where you look frightened.
- Your eyes. Similar to your face, be conscious of what you’re doing with your eyes. Try not to look directly into the camera (which for me wasn’t hard because I rarely could see it) or keep your eyes closed (which for some reason I was not able to do).
- Your feet. Point those toes. Pointing your toes will give you the dramatic look you’re looking for.
The Actual Shoot
During the prep talk, Fran mentioned that Ro, her assistant, would be my water taxi. I had no clue what she meant by that. Well, what she meant was that I would hold on to a floating device and Ro would literally escort (pull) me to the various shoot locations within the cenote. I did not have to swim at all! This fact, in combination with the ability to hold on to a tree or rock, gave me all the confidence in the world.
In fact, I trusted Fran and Ro so much that it gave me the confidence to take some photos in the middle of the cenote, without anything to hold onto. While moving from one area of the cenote to another, we came across a turtle. Both Fran and Ro hyped me up so much that I let go of the floating device so I could get some amazing photos with Mr. Turtle. What an amazing experience!!
2 Things You Should Expect
Two things that should be expected during your underwater photoshoot: 1) fish nibbles and 2) getting cold. To be honest, it was a bit hard for me to concentrate during my initial photos because all I could feel were the fish nibbling on my hand that was holding onto the stairs. Luckily this sensation disappeared quickly and as a bonus I left the photoshoot with baby soft hands and feet.
Similarly, for some reason the thought of getting cold after almost two hours in the water didn’t cross my mind. Well, close to the end of the shoot, I inevitably started to get cold. Fran and Ro must have noticed as they asked about it. Fran mentioned that it’s important to let her know when you start experiencing chills as the onset of chills varies by person. Chills are a sign that the photoshoot should be coming to an end soon. Luckily for me, we were able to find a location directly under the sun; thus, warming me up and allowing us a little more time to capture a few more photos.
My Final Thoughts
Hands down, this underwater photoshoot was the best photoshoot experience that I have had. Not only was the cenote beautiful and such a great place to be in, but both Fran and Ro gave amazing tips on how to pose- continuing to remind me to breathe, point my toes, try this facial expression and/or pose. It was kinda like taking photos with a friend. You know the friend; the one that will go above and beyond to capture your best angles.
If Tulum or the surrounding area is on your travel wishlist, be sure to check out Fran.
Learn more about my solo mom-cation in Tulum, here.