Can I get a big WOOHOO for summer?! It’s my favorite time of year when the lazy days are spent eating popsicles and lounging by the pool. 

For the past three summers we have had amazing neighbors who give us pretty much full access to their pool. Along the way I have learned a thing or two about capturing our swimming adventures. These are my best tips and tricks for photographing all the fun of the pool while keeping your gear safe.

child diving into pool with feet in air water splashing by natalie greenroyd

Use the gear you have

It can be tempting to run out and buy a new underwater camera or a pricey housing for your DSLR. However, I would urge you to use what you have before you dive into a bunch of new specialty purchases.

You can get some amazing shots of the kids jumping and splashing without having to actually get in the water. See how you can capture to story from the edge of the pool first. There are endless ways to illustrate the fun of the pool with the camera you have now.

picture of manacured feet on diving board with kids swimming by underneath by natalie greenroyd

Look from above

I love to swim. But my kids can definitely out-swim me and I find myself on dry land as a supervisor a lot of the time. This is a great time to get those awesome overhead shots as you stay nice and dry by the edge of the pool.

Since your subjects are most likely moving all around the pool, you should do the same! Try standing on the diving board. Lean over the side. You could even stand on pool chair for an even higher perspective (but be careful!).

A bonus of shooting from above at the pool is that it is a great way to block out any unwanted distractions. Your viewer will never know that the pool was full of a bunch of rowdy tweens and pool toys or that the mismatched pool chairs were in major need of replacement.

child on pool chair anonymous portrait feet by natalie greenroyd

Stay on dry land

Just because we’re at the pool, there is still a lot that is happening on dry land! So many fun memories are made during days at the pool and many of them don’t even include water.

Look for stories to tell, interesting lines and shapes, and try pushing the water aside as a secondary character. Telling the story of days at the pool without actually focusing on the pool itself can be a fun unique challenge.

boy swimming underwater photo by natalie greenroyd

Get underwater

While you can capture all the fun of the pool on dry land, an underwater perspective is definitely a lot of fun. If you have the gear to give it a try, dive right in!

I am admittedly a novice when it comes to shooting below the surface. But you don’t need to spend months studying the techniques, researching the gear, or watching post-processing videos. I have found that just experimenting has led to some magical results.

You also don’t need to break the bank if you want to give underwater photography a try. There are some really great, inexpensive options when it comes to underwater gear.

must haves

OUR POOL PHOTOGRAPHY ESSENTIALS

waterproof phone case

Waterproof phone case

Chances are that your phone is with you at the pool and it likely has a pretty amazing camera. Put a waterproof case on it and see what kind of magic you can capture!

underwater camera bag

Underwater camera bag

More affordable than a custom housing, a camera bag is a great option if you want to take your big camera into the pool!

pool raft flamingo

Fun pool toys

Have some fun in the water! We think that having the kids play on a whimsical raft makes for great photo opportunities. Or, you can float around and snap away as the kids play around you ;).

As we don’t even own a pool, I couldn’t see spending $1,000+ on underwater housing. I chose a small underwater camera that gives me some control over exposure without being fully manual. It shoots in RAW and has a burst mode option. These high-end camera features that are important to me as they help me have more success when shooting and editing.

Even more important, my underwater camera is tough. It can withstand being tossed around in the pool bag, accidental drops, and any other mishaps that might happen poolside.

Another affordable option is buying a waterproof case for your smart phone. I’ve seen some really amazing underwater images taken with nothing more than an iPhone!

No matter what camera you are using, you are going to want to shoot a lot when you are shooting underwater. Most of my underwater photos are misses. This is a challenging environment in which to work and in order to get the shots that I love, I have to overshoot a bit. This isn’t the time to slow down!.

I also urge you to embrace images that are not technically perfect. Just like it will take a lot of shots to get one you love, the perfect moments might have a few flaws. Grain and a bit of blur are just part of the charm of underwater photography.

detail shot of feet on edge of diving board with water dripping off of toes by natalie greenroyd

Use the diving board

Does it get more quintessential than the diving board?! You’re missing out if you’re not capturing all the different movements and emotions that go with jumping off of the diving board.

The great thing about this is that you can capture this in or out of the water, with underwater gear or your regular camera. Get every angle you can: far away, close up, focusing on feet in the air, capturing the details of the water splashing.

Watch for little moments and movements that help show what the jumper is feeling. Excitement, fear, trepidation? Don’t forget to start shooting before the jump, as well. Sometimes the few steps up onto the diving board are the most memorable.

But not every jump is off the diving board and don’t forget to capture those as well. They’re just as much fun and can sometimes help simplify your photos by focusing just on the water and the jumper themselves.

boys looking through gate with flowers by natalie greenroyd

Capture the journey

How do you get to the pool? Do you pile up in the car, floaties and goggles on? Do you ride your bikes? Whatever the method, make sure to not let those stories be forgotten.

We walk across the street to our neighbor’s house and some of those images are my favorite and the most sentimental to me. I can see the progress of my boys graduating from training wheels to big boy bikes. I love to play with the scale of how little they are when they’re crossing the street.

Look for the little details of your trip to the pool that will change over time. Documenting those will tell the story of your family’s pool adventures more clearly.

boy splashing in water with goggles on by natalie greenroyd

Get brave

If you don’t have housing or underwater gear, and if you’re brave enough, try standing in the shallow end of the pool with your camera. You can really capture some great photos this way!

Whenever I do this, I ALWAYS let everyone know that I’m going to be in the pool with my camera and that they are, under not circumstances, allowed to jump or splash near me. I usually don’t stay in very long if my camera is unprotected.

child with arms outstretched jumping into pool by natalie greenroyd

So let’s kick off this season of pool fun by capturing it in photos! And be sure to have fun behind the camera, too.

Don’t worry too much about getting the “perfect shot.” While your kiddos are young, make sure you jump in and enjoy the moment with them.

If you don’t feel like you have captured anything noteworthy on one of your pool trips, don’t fret! Set the camera down, relax on a raft and try, try again the next day. It’s just another good excuse to head back to the pool tomorrow!