How to Create a Dynamic Pool Shot

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So, you’ve always thought it would be cool to shoot in a pool. But as exciting as the setting can be, sometimes the shots come out flat, bland and lifeless. Luckily, with the right setup and model it is very easy to create a striking dynamic pool shot.

We setup this shot in my pool. The model, the lovely Maria Pilar (who also happens to be a former Charger Girl calendar cover-model), stood in the middle. The main light was a Paul Buff Einstein through a 22 inch beauty dish with a diffuser sock, set in front and to the left of me. It was maybe two feet off the ground and set to full power. The secondary/fill/hair/rim light was the sun behind and to the right of the model.

Model: Maria Pilar

The shot was taken with my Cannon 5DmkII with a 135mm f2L. The camera was set to 1/200 sec f/10 at ISO 100.

To get the cool water splash effect, I asked Maria to raise her arms out to her side and slap down into the water.  I waited until after the initial splash and snapped right when the second, under splash kicked up because there was much more water then.

The key to these kinds of outdoor shots is balancing your light. You might not immediately realize that I am using a pretty bright, studio strobe light in front of the model. There is no “point and shoot” flash effect because the studio strobe is balanced with the natural light from the sun. Without the strobe, the model’s face would be way too dark, being in the shadow from the sun.

The natural light of the sun is great by the pool, but a little extra lighting makes the difference for your pool shot.


I am Reuben. I take pretty pictures of pretty people for Glamtography. Please do not ask me to shoot nude or implied--I always wear clothes when I shoot ;)

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