how to take a good  photo

our top TIPS

Outdoor swimming provides so many fantastic opportunities for taking great photos. Here we share a few tips to help you make the most of those swimming snaps, whether on holiday or at your local swim spot.


Many of the best photos include just one, interesting subject. Spend some time thinking about what your subject is, and where you want the subject to sit within the photo. Photographers sometimes use a ‘rule of thirds’, meaning your photo should be broken up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. If you are using a mobile phone camera, you can actually turn on a ‘gridlines’ function to help you with this.

  • iPhone: Settings / Photos & Camera / 'Grid'
  • Samsung Galaxy: In the camera app, Settings / ‘Gridlines’
Swim Guide Sam Mould takes photos of an island-to-island crossing just off Mathraki, Greece

Swim Guide Sam Mould takes photos of an island-to-island crossing just off Mathraki, Greece


Negative space in photographic terms, refers to the space around the subject in the photo. Open water swimming provides some fantastic opportunities to make the most of negative space - think about using the ocean, a lake, beaches or the sky as a contrast to your photographic subject. Using negative space effectively can help the viewer to focus on the main subject - it helps the viewer’s eye to settle.
SwimQuest guide natalie playing with one of our guests in ‘the big blue’ just off Mathraki Island. Photo taken by Sam Mould.

SwimQuest guide Natalie playing with one of our guests in ‘the big blue’ just off Mathraki Island. Photo taken by Sam Mould.


Swimming is a great opportunity to take photos from a unique perspective, creating depth and intrigue. If you have an underwater camera, try taking the photo from underneath the swimmer, playing with the sky and the water surface as negative space and framing your subject. Alternatively, can you capture a swimmer from above, from the support boat maybe, or from a rock, or even at eye level if you are swimming alongside them?
Here we captured Ray Gibbs from the hotel balcony, giving an extra coaching session in the pool on our Formentera Technique Week

Here we captured Ray Gibbs from the hotel balcony, giving an extra coaching session in the pool on our Formentera Technique Week

Faces make memories

Try to capture people’s expressions and emotions if you can (and if its not too intrusive). Open water swimming can be life affirming, exhilerating, emotional and awe-inspiring. Often people’s expressions as they exit the water are fantastic! try to get some of these emotions in your pictures. Perhaps try standing by the water exit and taking portrait photos of people as they exit (as long as they don’t mind of course!)
Sam and Alice SwimQuest Arisaig

Here’s a picture taken just after a swim on our Christmas Weekend in Scotland - it really captures that post winter-swim high! Photo taken by SwimQuest Guest Annie Dunford


Don’t shoot from a distance; the zoom lense on many cameras can make your picture shaky and low res, and distances you from what’s going on. Instead, turn off the zoom and move yourself closer to the action, as long as it is safe to do so of course.

Don’t try to hide the camera!DON’T TRY TO HIDE THE CAMERA

Some people may be camera-shy, but they’ll be much worse if they think you’re trying to trick them into being captured. Be obvious about shooting and they’ll get bored with you and start acting natural.

Make the most of reflections

When it comes to swimming, reflections can often create natural symmetry which is extremely pleasing to the eye, often balancing your shot for you. It may help you to use gridlines on a camera photo to help you balance up your reflections nicely. Fantastic reflections can be found on top of aswell as under the water - it is well worth paying attention to refections and trying to incorporate them next time you have still water conditions.

This picture, taken by a guest in Formentera - makes excellent use of underwater reflections


Open water swimming provides incredible silhouette opportunities. By masking the subject in darkness, silhouette photos often have a mysterious, magical quality to them. It is important that the sun is low above the horizon, which is why sunsets, sunrises and winter days create wonderful silhouette photos. Don’t forget, you can also capture amazing silhouettes from underneath the water too.

This photo was taken on our final sunrise swim during one of our technique improvement weeks in Formentera - it really captures that sunrise sense of awe.


Most smartphones will automatically focus on the foreground of your photo. Try tapping your phone screen just before you take your photo to help your camera phone know where to focus. This can be particularly helpful for capturing moving scenes - someone diving or jumping for example.


We’ve all been guilty of it - sometimes we are so blown away by a location or event that we lose ourselves taking photos, essentially watching it through the lense of our smartphone. Take a moment to remind yourself to look around too - breathe it all in. On SwimQuest holidays your guides will take photos for you, and share them with you - so if you need to spend some time away from your phone, you can!
Breathe it all in!

Breathe it all in!

Don't forget to enter your photos into the swimquest outdoor swimmer photo competition! click the ‘competition’ tab on the left for full details.

Submit your best swimming photos to be in with a chance of winning a swimquest holiday!


The prize

Whether wild swimming, dipping in an urban lido, or exploring warm foreign seas… if you’ve captured a great swimming image, enter it into the Outdoor Swimmer Magazine monthly reader photo contest. Three of the best photos each month are published in the magazine, and the winning image each month will receive a SwimQuest goody bag. The 1st place winner each month will also be entered for the overall annual prize, a SwimQuest Holiday, up to the value of £1000. Photos from the winner’s trip will be published in the Outdoor Swimmer Explore section, on the SwimQuest website and on outdoorswimmer.com.


February: ‘Community’ enter by 13th January 2020 March: ‘Happiness’ April: ‘A sense of wonder’ May: ‘Perspective’ June: ‘The Ocean’ July: ‘Reflections’

How to enter

Submit a Photo

  • Send photos to editor@outdoorswimmer.com
  • Please provide a caption on where the photo was taken, who is swimming in the photo, what inspired you to take it. Please also supply your full name with the caption.
  • Please submit large, high-resolution images suitable for reproduction as a double page spread in print. Images that are not of sufficient quality to print in the magazine will not be considered eligible for the prize.
  • The photo must include at least one swimmer.
  • No more than five images.
  • No similar images from the same shoot – choose your best shot.
  • Include your Instagram handle if you have one.
  • Please only submit photos that you have taken.
  • By submitting your photos, you grant Outdoor Swimmer and SwimQuest non-exclusive rights to use your photos in our print magazine, in advertising, on our websites and on our Facebook pages and other social media channels.
  • Please also refer to our general terms and conditions and to the specific SwimQuest Photo Competition terms and conditions
Promoter: Outdoor Swimmer Magazine


august WINNING ENTRIES, THEME: “adventure"

september winning entries, theme: “Horizons"

october winning entries, theme: “CHALLENGE"

november winning entries, theme: "wild"

december winning entries, theme: “friendship"

january winning entries, theme "colD"

february WINNING ENTRIES, THEME: “community” ...

Watch this space!