The Transformative Power of Underwater Maternity Shoots


Editor’s Note: Erena Shimoda, our guest contributor for today, specializes in underwater photography and takes her services to a whole new level, working with clients who are cancer survivors and have overcome other significant obstacles in their lives. Her photography sessions serve as part therapy, part celebration, and Erena shared some of her favorite stories with us below. Check out more about who Erena is and what she does in these short YouTube videos. Proceeds from sessions with Erena go to support a photo shoot for a cancer survivor.

I’m blessed to have been able to meet many incredible survivors with my Underwater Transformative Photography Campaign. I love seeing their underwater transformations and hearing how much I’ve made a difference in their healing process. But what you may not know is that my most requested portrait shoot is actually maternity!

I love underwater maternity shoots! There is something special about seeing the joy, love, and excitement on the mother-to-be’s face. A new baby is the most exciting moment in a family’s history, and to be a part of the celebration and documentation is an honor. I’m lucky to see firsthand a very special connection being made under the water — a feeling of floating that reflects what the bundle of joy is experiencing within the womb.

I want to share some of the powerful stories from my maternity clients with you.


Drina almost drowned when she was 8 years old and she hasn’t been in the water deeper than her knee level ever since. She contacted me to do an underwater maternity photo shoot because she wanted to overcome her fear by doing this beautiful photo project. In the beginning, she was terrified. Within 20 minutes, she conquered her biggest fear and she couldn’t stop crying after the photo shoot. Facing her fear helped to release the trauma she experienced as a child. Her first time underwater selfie shot with me looks stunning! And she didn’t want to get out of the water!
underwater photography


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Mandy was pregnant with a miracle baby. Her husband, Scott is a two-time testicular cancer survivor. They were told they had less than 1% chance to conceive. But thanks to hope, good energy, doctors, and the modern practice of IVF, Mandy got pregnant on their third (last chance) try! Their underwater portrait session was their life celebration and the teamwork underwater was phenomenal. Their beautiful baby girl is now almost three! Their story was also featured on NBC San Diego.
If you, or someone you know, is expecting a new bundle of joy, please consider booking an underwater maternity shoot! Not only is it a very unique experience, but proceeds of the portrait session go towards sponsoring the underwater shoot of a cancer survivor! It’s an experience that will last a lifetime and also make a difference in another family’s life.


underwater maternity photo shoot Erena Shimoda

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Erena Shimoda received her Divemaster certificate in Venezuela in 2005, and began shooting underwater photographs in Thailand, Bonaire, Bahama, Corsica, Cozumel, Cancun, and Hawaii. She specializes in underwater portrait photography and uses her background in New Media and Fine Art to create unique compositions in different media.

She pioneered underwater healing therapy after surviving a car accident in which she lost her father and was severely injured. As a part of her healing process, she volunteered at the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program. The program is for cancer patients to reassure there is beauty during and after cancer.

The transformative effect of her portraits prompted Erena to use her experience in underwater photography to promote recovery. Cancer survivors experience the healing effects of being submerged in water and feel beautiful about themselves when they see the resulting portraits.

By combining total immersion with portrait photography, she discovered a powerful therapy that can help others who are traumatized by physical disabilities, domestic violence, and PTSD. She knows that the power of water healing combined with the creative process heals body and mind.

She’s been a guest lecturer at Apple stores, City College of San Francisco Photography Department, and her underwater healing project has received widespread media attention, including coverage by NBC Bay Area, CBS News, USA Today, and the Huffington Post. Her work was also on display at a medical conference.



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