Parents

Taking a dive: Photographer overcomes fear to capture underwater portraits

Alix Martinez loathes being under water. The movie "Jaws" made her terrified of the ocean, and pool water was just too cold — or at least it was until she decided to take a splash with some children for a photo shoot.

Today
Many of Alix Martinez's images capture a whimsical mood.


Armed with her camera and a bathing suit, the Connecticut photographer started going under water two years ago to capture unique images of children — and, in the process, she changed her outlook on the deep blue. 

"I feel inspired every time I step foot in the water," Martinez told TODAY.com. "Children are excited; the ripples, reflections and flowing light just make me in awe."

Today
The children get free range to do what they want to do in the water during the photo shoots.

Since that first dip, Martinez has built quite a collection of images: Super heroes. Football players. Dancers. Golfers. Nothing is out of question when it comes to her underwater photo shoots. 

"I love when you can look at a photograph and you feel the child's emotion and energy," she said. "I also love photographing children with things that they love: their dolls, trucks, even pancakes. These are the photographs you remember and are touched by later on." 

Today
This is what it looks like when Alix Martinez shoots images in a pool.

The process has become easier and more interesting for Martinez with the passage of time. She works with the children's parents to find out what they enjoy, and sometimes the kids will offer unexpected ideas.

"When I show up at their homes, sometimes the children will come up with an idea, go inside and come out with something else," she said. "I had a boy go into his home after photographing him playing golf and come out with an entire 'Star Wars' outfit. The look of excitement on his face was priceless."

Today
At one of Martinez's shoots, a child jumped into the pool wearing a full "Star Wars" outfit.

As a mother of three, Martinez loves children and has a great time working with them. 

"Having children taught me patience — how to be a good brainstormer, a problem solver and most importantly to be silly," she said. "You have to be silly with children, talk to them, and play and have fun. Their laughter, innocence, silliness and just their cute little selves just fill me up.

"Photographs are the best gift you can give your children when they grow up. The emotion you feel from the photograph just gives and gives and never stops."

After months of swimming in pools and playing with kids, Martinez hopes she will have enough photographs by the end of this summer to get a book published. She said she wants to include a variety of themes in the book, such as sports, super heroes and fine art. 

"You never know what to expect from a child," she said. "You have to be ready."

  • Slideshow Photos

    Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    Two years ago, photographer Alix Martinez started taking dips in swimming pools with her camera for photo shoots with children. Here are the magical results.

  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Band-Aid -

    Two years ago, Connecticut photographer Alix Martinez started taking dips in swimming pools with her camera for photo shoots with children. Here are the magical results.

    "Their laughter, innocence, silliness and just their cute little selves just fill me up," Martinez said of the children she photographs.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Catholic twins -

    Armed with her camera and a bathing suit, the Connecticut photographer started going underwater two years ago to capture unique images of children — and, in the process, she changed her outlook on the deep blue.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Disco swimmer -

    "I feel inspired every time I step foot in the water," Martinez told TODAY.com. "Children are excited; the ripples, reflections and flowing light just make me in awe."

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Football -

    Since that first dip, Martinez has built quite a collection of images: Super heroes. Football players. Dancers. Golfers. Nothing is out of question when it comes to her underwater photo shoots.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Flying -

    "I love when you can look at a photograph and you feel the child's emotion and energy," she said. "I also love photographing children with things that they love: their dolls, trucks, even pancakes. These are the photographs you remember and are touched by later on."

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Hula -

    The process has become easier and more interesting for Martinez with the passage of time. She works with the children's parents to find out what they enjoy, and sometimes the kids will offer unexpected ideas.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Karate kid -

    "Photographs are the best gift you can give your children when they grow up. The emotion you feel from the photograph just gives and gives and never stops," she said.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Sideways cannonball -

    It wasn't until having her first child that Martinez started to photograph children.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Putt putt -

    "So many kids hear 'say cheese' or 'smile for the camera,' and sometimes children see the camera and want to run in the other direction from all the forced poses year after year," she said. "This is different. The children want me to take their photos."

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Sunrays -

    Many of her photos have a surreal and whimsical feel.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Superhero -

    This image is one of Martinez's favorite from the series. " I love his expression and how clear the water is. When I photographed it I knew it was a winner."

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Tea for two -

    "When I show up at their homes, sometimes the children will come up with an idea, go inside and come out with something else," she said.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    May the force be with you -

    "I had a boy go into his home after photographing him playing golf and come out with an entire 'Star Wars' outfit. The look of excitement on his face was priceless."

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Twins squared -

    Many of her clients hire Martinez just on her underwater work, which people come across in a variety of ways. "I have had a few gallery showings locally, word of mouth, social media, and Google," she said.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Touchdown -

    Martinez always disliked being underwater until she started to shoot while being submerged. "I am terrified of the ocean and pool water is always way too cold for me," she said.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Umbrella princess -

    "Now that I have a camera in my hand, I have no problem getting in the water," she said.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

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    Dancing schoolgirls -

    After months of swimming in pools and playing with kids, Martinez hopes she will have enough photographs by the end of this summer to get a book published.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Yellow ballet -

    She said she wants to include a variety of themes in the book, such as sports, superheroes and fine art.

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez
  • Glub! Glub! Kids play under water in whimsical, wonderful photos

    of

    Bookworm -

    "You never know what to expect from a child," she said. "You have to be ready."

    Alix Martinez / Alix Martinez


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