Underwater Photography Masterclass:

Portraiture in the Maldives

Nov 12-17, 2018

6 day, 5 night underwater portrait masterclass
funding local ocean conservation efforts

Imagine building a portfolio of one-of-a-kind underwater portraits in the serene, private setting of a Maldivian Atoll. A place where you're photographing skilled underwater models against the backdrop of pristine coral reefs and large marine mammals while also funding local ocean conservation efforts.... Now you don't have to just dream it; you can experience it.

Professional underwater photographer Chiara Salomoni leads a once-in-a-lifetime 6 day, 5 night all-inclusive masterclass at the Palm Beach Island Resort in the Maldives on Lhaviyani Atoll, Nov 12th-17th, 2018.

This customized workshop enables scuba-divers and photographers alike to gain technical mastery in every aspect of underwater portraiture, working in a variety of settings from pool to open-water shallows and even deep ocean scenes with marine mammals.

Expert underwater models Christine Ren and Syrena, Singapore's premier mermaid performer, will pose as the subjects and provide training on how to work safely with both non-models and models in the water.

But the best part is 10% of the trip's proceeds are reinvested locally into marine conservation projects. Travel somewhere beautiful, learn amazing new skills, and save the ocean - what's not to love?

This is an all-inclusive trip: Accommodations, local transportation, meals, gear rentals, boat dives are all included. Airfare is separate and students must bring their own camera. DicaPac underwater housing bags will be provided for each student or we can recommend a place to rent an underwater housing for your camera before the trip.

Experience: Scuba experience is encouraged, but not mandatory. This trip accommodates divers and non-divers alike, with epic backgrounds either at depth or closer to the water's surface.


Learn to create images like this:



In this underwater photography master workshop, you'll learn:

  • Underwater lighting and shooting skills in both pool and open-water settings
  • How to safely work with models and non-models underwater
  • The best settings and techniques for your particular camera
  • Composition and design for underwater portraits
  • How to uncover your photographic style through one-on-one portfolio reviews with Chiara
  • Safety, breath training and posing techniques for your subjects
  • Everything related to post-production editing for underwater images


This intensive 6-day workshop curriculum includes:

  • DIVES: 3 days of boat dives (2 a day) in different locations around Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives, including sites where manta rays and whale sharks are known to frequent.
  • ENCHANTING LOCATIONS: Whether working with Chiara's professional lighting setup in our private 10 foot resort pool, shooting in sunlight crystal clear beach shallows or capturing shots against pristine deep-water underwater scenery, the sheer variety of images you will be able to capture on this retreat is unparalleled.
  • PHOTO SESSIONS: Each day is balanced between classroom presentations and pool basic overviews then hands-on underwater shooting practicals in open water settings. In total, you will come away with over 10 completely different photo sessions.
  • PORTFOLIO REVIEWS: Unlimited open evenings of one-on-one portfolio reviews with Chiara to improve your compositions and technique.
  • SMALL GROUPS: Personalized attention and feedback with a small group of only 6-8 divers total on the retreat.
  • MULTIPLE SUBJECTS: This workshop is unique in that participants will rotate between shooting with underwater mermaid performer, Syrena, and underwater dancer, Christine Ren each day. Both expert models, they each have a different style and look for capturing. Additionally, one day is dedicated to shooting non-models; inexperienced local couples will join us to stage a mock underwater engagement shoot.
  • BUSINESS: Wondering how, or if, you can actually make a living as an underwater photographer? Chiara, with her company Mermaids for Change, and Christine as The Underwater Woman share the key aspects of business and marketing to make this a viable career.
  • POST-PRODUCTION: An entire day of the trip is dedicated to post-production workflows and how to edit, color-grade and retouch underwater portraits.
  • Want the full itinerary? Email me@theunderwaterwoman.com for complete details.



We invite certified scuba-divers with or without photography experience and professional photographers with or without scuba experience to join us for this unique gathering to learn new underwater portraiture skills and help fund local ocean conservation efforts.

Divers and photographers who are looking for a unique experience with a philanthropic component will also find our offering as a culmination of these desires.

Amateur and professional photographers looking to expand their client offerings to include underwater maternity, couple and/or wedding shots will find this course to cover precisely the skills they need.

Scuba-divers who are interested in learning the art of photographing subjects other than marine life underwater will find this masterclass as one of the only available with a focus on human portraiture.

Workshop prerequisites: Open-water dive certification is a plus, but not mandatory. This trip accommodates divers and non-divers alike, with epic backgrounds either at depth or closer to the water's surface. Students must have a camera. We will provide DicaPac underwater housing to each student or make a suggestion on a place to rent an underwater housing for their camera before the trip.


You’ll be staying for five beautiful nights in the quiet, authentic Maldivian ambiance of Palm Beach Resort, complete with infinity swimming pools, A/C, wifi, laundry, and a serene natural setting. Each island in the Maldives is so small, most only have one resort per island - essentially for the duration of this workshop, you'll feel like you're on your own private island. Walking distance to crystal clear water and sandy beaches, the resort will serve as a homebase for our group with modern-style bathrooms and open-air restaurants. View more photos and information at http://www.palmbeachmaldives.com.

The Lhaviyani Atoll has wall, channel, reef and wreck dive sites.
You can expect to see diverse marine life, colorful coral,
abundant fishes, turtle, guitar sharks, and mantas.



Single occupancy: $3,950
Double occupancy: $3,700

This workshop is filling fast and is first come, first serve. Only a few single rooms are available,
so contact us today to put your 50% deposit down.

Prices above do not include your airfare but do include 5 nights of accommodations,
and all your gear rentals, dives, local transportation, and 3 meals a day.


Send an email to me@theunderwaterwoman.com with the following information, or use the form at the end of this page:

  • Name
  • A brief introduction including your camera gear & scuba experience
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Which workshop you’re interested in
  • How you heard about the workshop

To reserve a spot for the retreat, a 50% deposit is required. The second installment is due Sept 15th, 2018. Credit and debit card payments accepted securely through Paypal or Venmo.





Chiara Salomoni is a renowned photographer specialized in underwater wildlife and fashion. Her underwater portraiture is known for its signature ethereal style; viewable here. Chiara grew up in Italy, experiencing the beauty of the sea since a really young age. In 2010, she graduated from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and then moved to California to study photography at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. Chiara is also the founder of Mermaids for Change, an organization built around education, ocean conservation and photography.



Named 1 of 5 women in media changing the world by Matador Network, Christine Ren, also known as The Underwater Woman, is a filmmaker and underwater performer dedicated to advancing social and environmental causes. She holds her Master’s degree in Marine Affairs & Policy from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). Her narrative underwater imagery campaigns have been featured to-date by Nat Geo, KQED, FStoppers, Petapixel, Phoblographer, and more, embodying the idea that ocean conservation is a human issue.



Syrena, Singapore's First Mermaid has made waves as Singapore's premier professional performing mermaid, and as the founder of the Singapore Mermaid School; the first of it's kind in the world for its immersive syllabus blending physical learning and mermaid mythology. She is also an ADEX Ambassador, and a Finfolk Productions Ambassador. Syrena champions the importance of magick and whimsy - believing that instilling a sense of fresh wonderment in our audiences through imaginative art and marketing is one of the best platforms for broadcasting our vision and message.



The threats facing coral reefs today are many - global warming-induced ocean acidification, bleaching due to increased ocean temperatures, local tourism and run-off stressors to name only a few. The pace of global reef damage due to climate change, in particular, is harrowing.

For the Maldives, coral reef health is critically important. As an island nation, the Maldives are sustained economically primarily through tourism and fisheries. This is why 10% of profits from this masterclass will be donated to the Global Coral Reef Alliance.

This 501(3)c non-profit invented and developed the Biorock method of electrical coral reef and marine ecosystem restoration and are actively engaged in implementing new Biorock constructions for reef restoration in the Maldives.

The Biorock process works by constructing electrode frames 12 metres across which are electrified typically trough solar energy. The calcium carbonate coating that is created mimics the natural coral reef substrate, with coral actually flourishing 3 to 4 times faster on electrified reef, since they are able to use more energy for reproduction, rather than protection, while also making the coral more resilient to environmental disasters.

These underwater constructions molded with Biorock materials have earned the nickname "coral arks" and for good reason.