Blog guest: Jennifer Kapala
Updated: Apr 1
Jennifer Kapala is multiple award winning child and family photographer and the 2014 National Association Child Photographer of the Year (NAPCP) and a NAPCP Ambassador. Underwater family and child photography is both a love and a niche and out of wanting to build a community, she founded UnderwaterKids to offer education and resources to the growing field of underwater photographers.
matter of art or skill to make a shot of “growing up“ underwater, and how parents can do it themselves and make a photo of an adventure with their child underwater.
Always seeking to improve her craft, she maintains an active membership in NAPCP and is a Craftsman Member of the Masters Photographers International. Teaching and
sparking a light in others is a passion and she has taught photography courses at Babyf in Madrid, in Santa Barbara at the National Association of Professional Child Photographers Retreat, and various local camera clubs.
Is it a matter of art or skill and experience, to make a great shot of babies or kids underwater? How many shoots you have to do to make one good picture?
Underwater photography and learning to master it to take great pictures on purpose, not by accident, requires a lot of skill as a photographer to start with. You really have to know your lighting, your equipment, composition and you post processing to create great images underwater as its by far the most challenging medium I have every shot in. Once you have the technical down, the next thing to focus on is developing the artistic side to take it from another snapshot of a child underwater, to something emotive, something no one has seen before, something that makes you pause and think. To me, thats what good artists do. Stop and make us think. We may love or hate a work, but it wont be a boring vanilla reaction! When I first started I took a lot more photos, and thats ok, if that happens. We learn by making mistakes and trying and trying. Its the only way to get better. Now, I don’t take as many to get a good shot, but its still higher than on land, and that makes sense. There are so many variables that you often have to shoot more than a few pictures to get what you are looking for!
What was yours the most "challenging" underwater task? Who is more demanding for underwater shooting, babies, kids or professional swimmers?
We live near a lake, and every time I take my camera in that body of water, I learn something new. Lakes are notoriously murky, making getting a good shot extremely difficult. Our lake is like a mercurial child, changeable and unpredictable, and I never know what I am going to walk away with. In terms of photographing subjects, kids have short attention spans, so like being on land, you have to set up your shots and get them fast before they get cold and tired - its easy once you know how to work with clients, but it takes time and skills to develop to that level.
Do you have any advice, trick, for parents who wants to make underwater picture of their kids by themselves?
The key thing to remember about underwater photography is that you are always shooting through a medium. Your gear was designed to be used on land, with only air between your lens and your subject. Underwater, you have to shoot through a substance, no matter how clear it seems, there is always something between your gear and the subject. Light behaves differently underwater too, and not as you might expect it to. Combine that with the fact your subject is always moving, you are always moving and the water is always moving, and you have a technically challenging situation. So, for parents wanting to take underwater images, get in with your kids and have fun with them. Shoot close to the surface for the best skin tones and make a game of it - most of all have fun!
If you want to learn more about underwater photography, feel free to take a look at our website https://www.underwater-kids.com/about - we have a ton of articles and share tips on taking underwater photos of your kids, and we are hosting our second underwater workshop to teach you a ton!