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Shooting Couples Underwater with Nick Pugay

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

I’ve always enjoyed photographing water, whether it’s just random water droplets on a window or people swimming underwater. In fact, I go to the beach more to see what I can capture beneath the surface than anything else, which is why I was instantly drawn to Nick Pugay’s work. He takes your wedding and engagement photos underwater.

Granted, Hawaii is one of the best spots for underwater photography with so many beautiful locations just waiting to be shot. In an interview conducted by Zach Sutton, he shares:

“I worked for Surfing Magazine for a few years and did a lot of my surf photography in the water. On one particular day, the waves were small but it was super sunny and the water was crystal clear. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should try photographing the surfers underwater as they would dive under and through the wave?” Mind you, this was back in the days of film photography so I really had to take my notes, remember what time of day it was, the exposure settings on my camera and also how I would develop the film in the lab. After getting that roll of film back from the lab, I had this one shot that I really liked (1 out of 36 frames). I was hooked and went on a mission to perfect this craft. I photographed my first wedding in 2005 and my couple was aware of my underwater photography and requested to do an underwater “trash the dress” session after the wedding day because of its unique look. We did the session and the photos turned out better than I expected. From that day on, I started including this session with my wedding packages.”

One thing I love about underwater photography is the posing; you can do so many poses and still appear graceful and fluid.

Diving into the water fully-clothed is no joke; the material weighs you down considerably, and I’m sure it’s a lot harder to work around a full-length wedding gown than it is with a tank top and shorts. You won’t see any signs of of struggle or discomfort in the faces of the bride or groom in these pictures, which is pretty impressive considering the circumstances. I’ve tried taking snapshots of myself underwater, but they leave a lot to be desired.

What makes shooting underwater even more complicated is the communication issue. You can’t direct the couple in between frames, so it’s up to them to put on a good show and for the photographer to catch it in time. There’s also the oxygen factor of course.

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

photo of couples underwater by nick pugay

Nick says he was using the Canon 5D MKIII with an SPL water housing.

Check out the rest of Nick’s work here.

Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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