FAQ - Underwater cenote Trash the Dress

everything you need to know to organize and make a success of your water portrait session.
Feel free to ask me more questions.

Swimming Ability

You don’t have to be necessarily a good swimmer

We can take photos in a shallow area (pool, cenote, or on the sea shore). That way, after every immersion, all you have to do is stand up to take a breath. Even at a depth of only 1.5 m (5 ft), we can take amazing photos.

Of course, if you are a good swimmer, we can recommend deeper locations and create other types of image.

Be calm and relaxed

This is the KEY to achieving the best underwater portraits. Only when you’re in that state will your face and body reflect your inner self. Some people panic when they are underwater and this is immediately visible in their expressions. If that’s the case, then you need to practice putting your face in the water before our session so that you learn to relax, and we are able to produce photos that reveal your true personality.
The following photos were taken in areas no deeper than 1.5 m. The models have their heads just below the surface of the water.

15-20 seconds under the water in a relaxed state are enough for each immersion.

Naturally, the longer you are able to last, the more possibilities there are.

Anyone can hold their breath for 20 seconds. If you try to hold your breath right now, without giving it any more thought, you’ll most likely last longer than 20 seconds. Being underwater can seem unnatural and make some people anxious, causing them to quickly feel out of breath, with the result that they only last a few seconds. To be able to hold your breath for at least 20 seconds, it’s simply a matter of learning to be calm and relaxed under the water.

Where do underwater photo shoots can take place?

YES. We can travel to any location for your photo shoot, be that a pool or an open-air destination of your choice (lake, sea). That said, to obtain optimum results, the water quality must be excellent (see our recommendations below). For a natural setting, we need to visit beforehand to assess it and figure out how to light it and work there.

Concerning cenotes of Mexico, we are always on the search for new cenotes on the Riviera Maya for our photo shoots. We already have dozens that we can recommend according to your requirements, the season and your swimming skills.

We can conduct photo shoots in many different natural sites. In order to get quality shots, the location needs to meet the following requirements:

  1. WATER PURITY: This is the main prerequisite. We need crystal-clear water. Microscopic algae or currents carrying particles can compromise the quality of the photos. Appearances can be deceiving if you only check the water quality from above; the only way to properly check the purity of the water is by getting in and making sure that visibility is perfect from a minimum distance of five meters.

  2. WATER TEMPERATURE: This determines how long the models can stay in the water and how long the session will last. Underwater shots are quite complex and necessitate time and several retakes. Sessions can last a few hours, with a few breaks in between, of course.

  3. DEPTH: The depth of the water is important – above all, in order to know what kind of compositions we can create. We choose shallower or deeper places depending on the water skills of the models.

  4. CURRENTS: Water currents can complicate sessions and affect safety.

To find the perfect pool for an underwater portrait session, we need to take the following factors into consideration:

  1. WATER PURITY:  This is the most important factor. Some pools seem clean, but even just a few floating particles can comprise the quality of the photos. A pool shallower than two meters might seem clean from the outside, even if it isn’t.
    The only way to check the purity of the water is to get in and verify how clear the pool wall details look from a five-meter distance.

  2. DEPTH: The depth of the pool will determine what kind of scenes we can create. Attractive photographs are achievable from a minimum depth of 1.3 meters (4 ft.). If the pool is deeper, we can achieve a greater variety of shots.

  3. POOL SIZE: For a decent variety of shots, we require a pool that is at least 5 meters (15 ft.) long and 2 meters (6 ft.) wide.

  4. COLOR OF THE POOL WALLS: Ideally, the walls would be a single, uniform color. However, we can cover the walls with colored sheets to create different backdrops.

  5. CHLORINE: The water should contain as little chlorine as possible, as it irritates the eyes. Although we rehearse with swimming goggles, it is necessary to remove them for the actual shoot. Therefore, chlorine should not be added to the pool on the day of the photo session.

We have visited dozens of cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula searching for the most spectacular ones for underwater photo shoots. According to the season and your abilities in the water, we will propose the ideal cenote for your dream photo shoot.

We’re always looking for new cenotes, so feel free to propose one we haven’t discovered yet. As not all cenotes are suitable for a Trash the Dress shoot, we would have to visit it in advance and check it out; some are very touristy with too many bathers and we would have to share the space with them. Other cenotes that are too exposed to the sun fill up with microscopic algae at certain times of the year. Others can become murky for a while following heavy rainfall or when a muddy bed is disturbed.

Every cenote is unique and we need to get familiar with them in order to obtain good shots. If you choose a cenote that we’re aren’t familiar with, we’ll visit it to see if it’s suitable and determine the best moment to take advantage of the sunlight.

Organizing your photo shoot

We can advise you on the most appropriate clothes to bring according to your session type, based on our wide experience. Here are some things to start considering for a successful shoot:

Clothes type

For maximum agility in the water, bring clothes that adjust to your body’s movements. Full, loose-fitting clothes, such as long, wide skirts, and even slips or half-slips are recommended for creating effects and movement underwater.

Bring various items of clothing that suit the location and your swimming ability. When we take photos of movement in deep waters, the right garments will accentuate the contours of your body. If we take still photos, a loose, flowing outfit will nonetheless produce spectacular effects.

Think about design and color when selecting the different clothing items you bring to the photo shoot.


Light and vibrant colors work very well underwater (orange, red, white, pink). It’s best to stick to one color and avoid patterned fabrics or garments with more than two colors, as they can cause unclear images under the water. We also recommend avoiding nude colors so that the body is easily distinguishable from the clothes.


It’s best not to bring underwear for the shoot as it will probably be visible under wet clothes. However, if you wish to wear it, we recommend nude colors and very fine fabrics (without obvious seams).

We have huge, brightly colored sheets (5 m long – 15 ft long) that we can wrap around you, to give the appearance of a mermaid with a long tail fluttering in the water (see the photos below).

We can recommend hair stylists and make-up artists with whom we have worked before, and who use waterproof make-up.

You can also bring your own stylists. Some clients even choose to style their own hair and make-up.

Yes! Of course!

Think about objects that represent something about your past or your life, generally. Let your imagination go wild; there are no limits. Size doesn’t matter – little or large, we can include it in the scene.

We can create fun or romantic settings, or set up an interesting scene that contrasts with the aquatic environment. Share your ideas with us and we’ll help you find the right props and accessories.

If it’s too heavy to carry it, tell me and I will find it here!

To achieve the best underwater shots, several takes are necessary. The models and the photographers need to adapt to each other and it takes time and patience to reach a point of synchronicity.

A session can last from one to six/seven hours (with breaks). Each session is different and the duration will depend on the effects we want to achieve.

In any case, aquatic photo shoots do require significant physical and mental effort. Therefore, it’s essential to arrive well rested, and feeling fit and ready to cooperate with the team. For this reason, we don’t schedule couples shoots the day after the wedding. It’s always best to wait one more day to ensure that you are in good shape.


If the location allows for it and provides attractive enough backgrounds, we also take open-air photos

What’s a photo session with our team like?

Depending on the complexity of the shoot, we’ll take between five and ten different photos per hour.

Underwater photos require organization; for every photo, we first need to set the scene and the lighting. There’ll be a few takes, and usually about three or four immersions during which we’ll snap many photos to be sure to capture the best moments. Dozens of photographs are necessary to obtain an image in which the light, the composition and your expression are all perfect.

We are living in the digital era

You will receive your photos as (very) high resolution digital files. (We use Nikon D800 36 megapixel cameras.) These files allow you to make as many enlargements as you wish, up to poster size.

Photos albums

If you wish, we can create a personalized album in which your photographs will be printed directly on the pages.

Our team can only conduct five or six photo sessions per month, as each one implies a lot of preparation and post-production photo editing.

We accept reservations up to 18 months in advance. Contact us to secure yours.

Various packages are available for each session type: couples, maternity, models, pool shoots or nature shoots. Tell us about the project you have in mind and we will send you proposals adapted to your needs.
Our job is to create actual photography studios underwater. Anything is possible and there are no limits on numbers. Tell us about your idea and we’ll suggest a suitable place and the ideal conditions to make it a reality.

Watch Full FAQ about underwater portrait sessions