Underwater Adventures with Paola Roldan of Paola Photography

Every so often, I want to highlight the incredible people I get to meet and work with throughout my travel adventures. If you want to learn more about Paola, I highly recommend you check out her website!

Growing up near the clear, warm water of Miami, Florida, Paola Roldan has been in or around the water her whole life. As she grew older she combined her love for the water with her fascination for visual arts to create content below and above the surface.

A woman in a long-sleeved surf top, bikini bottoms, and flippers tilting her head back underwater.

Tell me a little bit about yourself...how did you get started doing underwater photography?

It never was an overnight thing; I would say my interest in underwater photography happened gradually. My whole life has involved being in the water in some way. My mom was an Olympic swimmer and my dad sailed and dove his whole life. As I got older, I became fascinated with surf photography, even though I was never a big surfer growing up. That led to an interest in other types of water photography. As time went on, I would get these super clear visions in my head of photos I wanted to create. After saving up and buying my first GoPro back in 2013, these visions turned into reality and pretty soon, I was creating content under and above the water. Seeing these photos go from my imagination to my camera screen is something I never would have imagined possible when I first started getting into this, but here I am now, and I just want to keep on learning and experiencing as much as I can.

Photographer Paola Roldan looking through the viewfinder of her yellow underwater camera.

What type of equipment do you shoot with other than the camera?

I shoot with an SPL water housing for my DSLR. That’s my go-to piece of equipment that I take everywhere I know there’ll be water!

What are some cool travel destinations you have been able to capture?

A couple cool travel destinations I have been able to capture are Oahu and Trinidad & Tobago — and most recently, the Exumas, Bahamas.

How have you been able to capture your love for travel through your pictures?

By practicing. A lot. And by trying out different techniques and styles of photography. When I am at a beautiful destination, I always try to challenge myself to capture small details that are easy to miss.

A woman in a black bikini and flippers swimming underwater.

Tell me about some of your awesome experiences…

One of my most recent assignments involved taking photos for a friend’s company. They are called Awareness Anchors and the whole lifestyle around the brand is very “Miami” in a sense that it revolves around the “salt life” lifestyle. They are also really cool because a portion of their proceeds goes to charity. I really liked shooting for them because it has always been one of my dreams to use my underwater photography skills to create content for brands.

The hardest part about capturing great underwater pics?

Knowing how to work with light, and directing my subjects since I can’t really talk to them underwater. Being a strong swimmer also helps a lot since sometimes I will be treading water for a really long time if it is deep, which is most of the time. (Ha-ha.)

Tips for regular vacationers on how to take great pics with maybe a waterproof camera, or not as many skills as yourself?

Clear water is always a huge help (think, the water you’d jump into if you were to go out on a snorkeling charter, rather than the water right on the beach where everyone is kicking up sand). Also pay attention to where you are and where your subject is, compared to where your source of light is (usually the sun). I have found that in the water, my photos come out clearer and brighter when I have the sun on my back because that means that whatever, or whoever, I am shooting is being lit up by the sun.

As an explorer what are three things you never leave home without?

I never leave home without my camera, my water bottle, and most importantly, SUNSCREEN!

Where will your next adventure take you?

Right now I am hoping to go to Palawan! The Philippines is known for having the clearest water in the world so I am stoked about possibly going there soon :)

All of the pictures in this post were taken by Paola! If you love her photography as much as I do, go check her out! She has some INCREDIBLE content on her site.

Two boats skimming along the surface of the ocean and leaving white foam in their wake.