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6 tips for a crazy romantic water shoot

Feb 21, 2018

Like any creative industry involving style, photography has trends, and if there’s any kind of shoot we’re seeing really start to make a splash (see what we did there?) in the romance arena it’s a water shoot, and for good reason!

Water shoots have become a bit of an obsession for us and certainly a staple in our offerings for adventure shoots. We’re not generally fans of trends or anything too gimmicky, BUT there’s something so sexy and atmospheric about throwing a fully dressed totally in love couple who can’t keep their hands off each other into a body of water during magic hour. Besides its obvious visual beauty, water is fascinating. It’s mysterious. Its cleansing and nourishing yet can be violent and unpredictable. We don’t belong in the water yet we ourselves are mostly water. When clothes start clinging, hair starts dripping, and skin starts glistening it’s impossible not to capture some pretty spectacular stuff!

The first water shoot we did was totally by accident. We were on Bean Point on Anna Maria Island with our very pregnant client on an oppressively hot July day. It was summertime in Florida so a thunderstorm was inevitable. A few raindrops hit her hair and it was immediately disheveled in the most perfect of ways and instead of pulling her out of the shot and running for cover we opened the umbrella and yelled for her to jump in….. and she actually did. Did we mention our then five-month-old was strapped on Alli’s back?

We’ve done dozens of these shoots since then, and every month we get more and more questions about them from photographers and clients alike so we wanted to save you some trial and error time and share with you our six MUST do’s for a totally EPIC water shoot!

1.DON’T be afraid to be intimate

This is not the right shoot for everyone. Clients know your relationship and photographers get to know your clients! We totally agree these pictures are bomb, but if you’re not comfortable getting seriously intimate in front of your photographer and potentially a few strangers on the beach or shore we can almost guarantee you are not going to like your photos, also you then have to drive home wet. Don’t believe us? take a scroll through your Pinterest. Photos of a couple in the water laughing are pretty but the one thing every water shoot that stops you in your tracks has in common is some serious intimacy. They portray a moment that makes the viewer feel borderline intrusive, and that is what makes them so powerful. Photographers when styling your shoots look for couples with that raw chemistry who are so in love pda is second nature to them, and clients be ready to bring that romance! If you have your heart set on a water shoot but aren’t sure how comfortable you are in front of the lens you can read our tips for getting comfy with getting cozy here.

2. Don’t be afraid of the weather

If Florida has taught us anything it’s how to use weather to our advantage! Don’t reschedule a cloudy overcast day or shy away from a storm rolling in! The beauty and the movement of these shoots is in the drama and the mystery! We’re not getting up at the crack of dawn or wading into the ocean at dusk in the half dark to capture staple sunny day laughs. Don’t get us wrong get a few laughs but if the good Lord sends you some drama, by all means, USE IT! Storytelling 101 on world building: when you’re using extraordinary circumstances or a world that doesn’t play by natural rules you have room to convince your audience of the magic in the moment, that this is no ordinary love but an extraordinary love. Get excited about less than perfect weather conditions, play with a lack of light or a dark ocean or a rainy day! Use the mystery and the danger to elevate your composition! Think about your favorite epic love story, and then consider the odds the couple faced. Their love was threatened and so it seemed all that much more intense, that much more passionate, epic loves are never safe. We promise if you use the weather to create a challenge or a mystery in your frame and it will elevate the impact of your photos!

3. Coordinate your outfits to your landscape (in the most ridiculous manner possible)

We don’t mean coordinate the way you think we mean coordinate. We don’t want to send you swimming in your swimsuit, too obvious. We want to send you swimming in a ballgown. Or some other fabulously misplaced outfit. Before you poo-poo it hear us out because we have some pretty solid reasons for doing this! It makes the shoot more intimate, it creates drama, and it brings a nonsensical feel that makes magic. If you’ve been paying attention you know these are our three pillars for water shoots! There is something about being soaking wet but still in your clothes that is inexplicably more intimate than being soaking wet in your swimsuit. We don’t know how to explain this one… it’s just true. Wet clothes bring about this movie romance ala the notebook and all were missing is a herd of wild swans. (It STILL isn’t over for us!). This also gives you a chance to really dictate what kind of drama you to create. Wet velvet is sultry, Wet chaffon is clingy and sexy, wet lace is playful, wet linen is…. see through, dont do it. The textures you chose in your styling will bring a completely different world to life in your shoot. Clients consider the kind of vibe you want your shoot to exude, what kind of love you have. Are you Alli and Noah? Jack and Rose? Tristan and Isolde? Daisy and Gatsby? Photographers this is your time to really step in and lead your clients in a creative direction that can truly showcase your talent and set your work apart!

4.DON’T go heavy on the makeup

for every moment like this

there’s one of these

We’re getting soaking wet here people! Even if we don’t plan to go under, well sometimes nature has different idea’s! And by all means, this is half the fun, but you won’t think so if you wore four coats of mascara that’s now dripping down your face and you look like a Viking heading into battle. Consider grabbing a tube of waterproof just for this shoot. If you get your makeup done professionally, make sure your brand of airbrush doesn’t lighten when wet! If you don’t regularly use a highlight consider using one for this shoot, the light and the water will make you look angelic! There are a lot of specifics to consider here and we’ll be writing an in-depth blog covering our favorite beauty products for adventure shoots like this but the biggest take away should be making sure your face is durable! Photographers always remember to politely guide your ladies to this and if you have a go-to makeup artists work on some classic looks you can suggest for a range of skin tones you can offer your clients when styling out a water shoot!

5. The reality of getting clothes wet

If you missed the comment on linen when wet consider learning this lesson from our mistakes! This is a gorgeous photo taken out of posed necessity, you see Max wore these beautifully masculine yet beachy and airy linen pants with a weave just big enough to pick up the texture on camera and fabric just thin enough to see straight through once he was wet. We got all of the shots we wanted on shore before we got in the water but this really limited us for the second half of our shoot. The only way max could be in the frame without boxers photobombing was to place him behind Dajana. Lucky for us these two looks good no matter where you place them! Clients if you’re styling yourself consider testing out your outfits by trying them on and hopping in your shower or wading in your pool. We’re serious, even when things are lined or a fabric seems just thick enough its better to know before showing up at your shoot. Photographers get to know your fabrics. Play with a couple different kinds and see which ones work best for your style and keep those in mind for pitching your clients if they want to shop alone or for pulling samples for them yourself. We find our go to’s are a lined chiffon, a lined heavy lace and anything with sequins.

6. Safety and the elements

This is a hefty one for you photographers! A little water, rain, or weather can be a great thing but too much can, of course, be dangerous! Always make sure no severe storms are coming in. Every body of water has its concerns but if you’re on the ocean you especially need to thoroughly scout your locations to know your tides, your currents, and the general nature of the water your leading clients into. Be weary of the wildlife you could encounter and be informed on what to do and how to coach your clients in the scenario you come face to face with wildlife. We always keep a first aid kit with us containing all the basics as well as some specifics we’d need for any run in’s with our locations potential wildlife! We also try not to go further than thigh deep, we have our clients crouch into the water to give the effect of being fully submerged.  If you’re southeastern photographers we have a blog on the specifics for being prepped for adventure shoots and what to do in the event of bites stings and wildlife encounters. Find the Florida version here, and the Tennessee version here!


Now get out there and make some magic


The Mannix Co.



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