Guide to Underwater Photography with Your Mobile Phone - Photos With Phones (2023)

Guide to Underwater Photography with Your Mobile Phone

March 16, 2020

by Joe Monk

Underwater photography is a unique genre in photography in that no matter what type of camera you use, you’ll need to waterproof it.

When it comes to smartphone photography, this can be as simple as a waterproof case, housing, or bag. Contrary to what you may believe, there’s no need to spend excessive amounts of money on fancy equipment.

With the right protection for your mobile phone and a few adjustments to your technique, you can produce incredible and unique underwater images with your phone.

(Video) Take Awesome Underwater Pictures!

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Table of Contents

Getting Your Phone Ready for Underwater Photography

Obviously, to take photographs underwater, you’ll need a waterproof case or housing to protect your phone. Finding the right phone case will allow you to take pictures in peace without having to worry about your device being damaged by water.

There are many exceptional cases on the market, but it’s essential to make the distinction between water-resistant cases and waterproof cases. Making the wrong choice can have disastrous results, so it’s crucial you understand the difference.

Waterproof cases are truly impermeable and are meant to be submerged underwater. They typically protect your device down to a certain depth. Past that depth, the water pressure becomes too much for the seals, and you risk damage, so it’s imperative to know your case’s limits and respect them.

Water-resistant cases aren’t meant to be submerged. They’re simply meant to protect your mobile phone from splashes or spills, or even a quick rain shower. They are not designed to protect your phone underwater.

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Obviously, for underwater photography, you want to choose a case that is fully waterproof and can withstand submersion. More reputable brands may also offer waterproof cases with water damage warranties, so keep an eye out for those.

Test Your Waterproof Phone Case

Even if a phone case claims to be completely waterproof, it’s understandable to be a little suspicious. After all, you’re putting a pretty valuable device inside it and trusting that what the manufacturer says is true.

If you’re not quite ready to dive underwater with your smartphone in your new case, you can test it at home. To check the case’s waterproofing, place a piece of paper, tissue, or paper towel inside, and seal the case.

Next, dunk the case in a full sink or bathtub of water. Be sure to keep the case underwater for at least a minute to test the case thoroughly. After you’re satisfied with the length of time spent underwater, you can check your paper for any signs of wetness.

Taking Underwater Pictures With a Smartphone

Guide to Underwater Photography with Your Mobile Phone - Photos With Phones (1)

Lifeboat Foundation

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It’s important to understand that your smartphone’s touchscreen may not work underwater (maybe try a smartphone camera remote!). Due to the water pressure and the heavy-duty case, your touchscreen may be less responsive than usual or even completely useless.

Many smartphone photographers find it useful to set their mobile phones up for photography before sealing the case. Open your camera app and adjust the settings to what generally works best for you before putting your phone in its case.

If the touchscreen on your mobile phone isn’t working as well as usual, or at all, you might also want to adjust your settings so that the screen never falls asleep. If you have to take your phone out of your case to turn the screen back on, it can be a significant hassle to have your screen go to sleep halfway through your shoot.

Many underwater smartphone photographers also opt to put their phones on airplane mode for the duration of their shoot. This way, their screens won’t be taken over by notifications, which can interrupt or even close the camera app.

Testing your phone in a sink, bathtub, or pool before your photoshoot will give you the chance to see how well everything works before you need to know what you’re doing. If you’re planning a big underwater photoshoot on a certain day, take a trip to your local pool or find a similar way to test your underwater photography skills before the big day.

The more you know about how your phone will work when submerged, the better your underwater pictures are going to turn out.

Underwater Photography Tips

Guide to Underwater Photography with Your Mobile Phone - Photos With Phones (2)

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Tip to Take Better Underwater Photos #1 – Re-Learn Lighting

When taking photographs underwater with your smartphone, it’s essential to be conscious of lighting and how the water will distort it. Bright sunlight, clouds, and shadows will all have exciting effects on the light under the water’s surface. If you are aware of this, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage.

The clarity of the water you’re shooting in will have a considerable impact on the quality of your images. If you’re shooting in somewhat murky lake water, your pictures may not look as good as they would if you were shooting in a clean swimming pool.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the more exciting aspects of underwater photography! Blurry photos are inevitable, but using blur artfully can create unique and noteworthy images. Bubbles can also add an appealing touch to your photos.

Tip to Take Better Underwater Photos #2 – Be Dynamic With Shooting Distance

Try shooting your subject from different distances underwater. Depending on the type of phone you have, it may have troubleshooting clear images from a distance while underwater. As you practice more with your phone, you’ll have a better understanding of its capabilities underwater.

Most importantly, take plenty of pictures. With underwater photography, it can sometimes be difficult to line up the perfect shot. The time you waste trying to get everything right is better spent actually taking pictures. Sure, you’re going to have a lot of less than stellar images, but there are going to be a lot of great photos in there as well.

Tip to Take Better Underwater Photos #3 – Edit Creatively (but consider pre-sets)

After your underwater photoshoot is over, don’t forget to add your final touches to your images in your favorite photo editing app. There are tons of options available, whether you have an iPhone or an Android, but here are a few of the best.

No matter how much experience you have with smartphone photography, underwater photography will push you out of your comfort zone. However, with a little practice, you’ll be producing incredible images that no one would guess were taken by a mobile phone.

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How can I take pictures underwater with my phone? ›

As soon as your phone goes underwater, its touch screen will be useless. Open the camera app before your dive and take photos by clicking the + and – volume buttons on the side of the device. To take photos in bursts, simply hold the button down.

How do you take pictures underwater with Samsung? ›

Follow these steps to set the camera mode to Aqua:
  1. From the Home screen touch. Apps.
  2. Touch Camera (you may need to swipe left or right first to locate it).
  3. Touch MODE.
  4. Swipe left or right through the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen to locate and touch the. ...
  5. Press the volume key to take a photo while in Aqua mode.

How do you look good underwater with pictures? ›

#3 - For best composition - get low, shoot at an upwards angle, don't center the subject, try to fill your frame with the subject. Don't shoot "down" at the subject. #4 - Make sure the subject's eyes are in focus. #5 - Get your diving skills down before you start using a camera underwater.

Do cell phones work underwater? ›

Can you hear me now?" If you're trying to use your cell phone on a submerged submarine, the answer is no. Cell phone signals use very high frequency radio waves (around 800 or 1900 megahertz in the United States).

Can a Ziploc bag make your phone waterproof? ›

Did you know that you can put an iPhone inside a plastic bag and still use the touchscreen? Yes, that's right, stick your iPhone in an airtight ziplock bag, and you'll have an instant and amazingly cheap waterproof case for your iPhone.

What phones can go under water? ›

Top 8 Best Waterproof /Water-Resistant Phones 2020
  • iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Water Resistance: Yes; IP68. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy S20. Water Resistance: Yes; IP68. ...
  • iPhone SE2 (2020) Water Resistance: Yes; IP67. ...
  • OnePlus 8 Pro. Water Resistance: Yes; IP68. ...
  • Huawei P30 Pro. ...
  • OnePlus 7T Pro. ...
  • OPPO Reno 2. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

What phones can you use under water? ›

What are the best phones for underwater photography?
  • OnePlus 8 Pro. If you are looking for the best waterproof mobile phone and a wallet-friendly option, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the right one for you. ...
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max. ...
  • iPhone 11. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Series. ...
  • Refurbished phones.
Feb 2, 2022

Should I take my phone underwater? ›

So, if your phone has a rating of IP67, it means it cannot ingest any dirt or dust and can go up to 1m underwater for 30 minutes. However, if your smartphone is rated IP68, not only do you get complete dust protection, you can submerge it deeper than 1m underwater for a period your phone's manufacturer has specified.

How do I snorkel with my phone? ›

Here are a couple of tips to get better pictures snorkeling with your iPhone.
  1. Backup your phone before snorkeling!
  2. Turn Auto-Lock to "Never"
  3. Use airplane mode to prevent calls and texts.
  4. You may need to open the app before putting it in the case.
  5. Fully charge your iPhone before snorkeling.

How do you pose for underwater pictures? ›

Modelling Underwater

Remain as calm as possible. Unless you're wanting more energetic poses it's best to keep everything slow and relaxed. Not only will you look better but you'll use less oxygen. Keep your face relaxed, and try to hold your breath with your mouth slightly open.

How do you pose under water? ›

UNDERWATER MODELING TIPS (How to pose like a ... - YouTube

How long can a phone work underwater? ›

What this means is that in terms of water-resistance, the phone is capable of remaining submerged underwater up to 1.5m deep and for a duration of 30 minutes.

How long can your phone be underwater? ›

The former standard means that your phone can be submerged in up to one meter of freshwater for about 30 minutes without any seeping into the device, while IP68 means that the device can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

Can WIFI work underwater? ›

It's true of any camera, phone, or device using wifi. The problem is that wifi waves don't work at all well underwater. It might be possible one day to set up wifi networks underwater, but for now, it's not a practical option. The problem is that the signal drops off very quickly in even a small amount of water.

How can I use my phone under water? ›

How to use your smart phone underwater - YouTube

How can I get my phone in the sea? ›

Keep it cool. Your phone runs the risk of overheating on a hot day, especially if it's sitting out in direct sunlight. To keep it safe, store it under a bit of shade -- your beach umbrella, perhaps. Popular Science suggests keeping it under a t-shirt or a corner of your beach towel (but not in the sand!).

Can iPhone 10 take pictures underwater? ›

Or can you take underwater photos with your iPhone? The good news is that modern iPhones can absolutely take underwater photos, provided you add some extra protection before taking the plunge.

What phones can go underwater? ›

Top 8 Best Waterproof /Water-Resistant Phones 2020
  • iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Water Resistance: Yes; IP68. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy S20. Water Resistance: Yes; IP68. ...
  • iPhone SE2 (2020) Water Resistance: Yes; IP67. ...
  • OnePlus 8 Pro. Water Resistance: Yes; IP68. ...
  • Huawei P30 Pro. ...
  • OnePlus 7T Pro. ...
  • OPPO Reno 2. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

Does putting phone in rice work? ›

Multiple websites suggest sticking electronics that have been submerged in liquid in a bag of uncooked rice, to draw the water out. But that actually doesn't work and can introduce dust and starch into the phone as well, said Beinecke.


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