Lifestyle Stock Shoot: Swimming

From speaking with other contributors, it’s clear that the more successful types of stock content are related to model-released lifestyle. That’s the message that Mirko (aka View Apart) Lifestyle Microstock Photographer drives home in his Microstock Academy course and his results speak for themselves.

In this post I’ll discuss one of my latest lifestyle shoots and give a check-list on best practices for shooting at a private location, in this case, a swimming pool at a gym.

Find a model or become your own model

So, lifestyle is pretty much about interesting people (model-released) doing interesting things in interesting places. I’m currently in Lisbon scouting for models, props and places to shoot such content…especially now that the weather is finally improving, giving way to awesome lighting conditions.

Tourists at Central Square - Praca 5 de Outubro - with beautiful pavement pattern and statue of Dom Pedro I
Cascais, Portugal – August 24, 2018: Tourists at Central Square – Praca 5 de Outubro – with beautiful pavement pattern and statue of Dom Pedro I

Swimming pool shoot

Meanwhile, while I carry out some research and make contacts, I had the idea to use my local gym’s swimming pool as a setting for an upcoming shoot. The model, well, me! If you recall, last time I used myself as a model was wandering aimlessly at Sintra’s majestic Palacio da Penha – blog post here. That clip hasn’t sold but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Sintra model

A sure way to keep costs down and/or at least amortize the cost of my monthly gym membership. At the very least I’ll be able to improve on my swimming form!

I suppose the lesson here is to use what is at your disposal and within your interest levels while at the same time trying to keep your costs down (we all know that royalties are falling). The following shoot was relatively easy and didn’t take too long. Most importantly, I got some exercise and now I’m blogging about it. If it sells, great, if not…it’s taught me a few things which I’ll discuss shortly.

How’s my crawl?

I really wasn’t that tired but tried to fake it!

Swimming pool timelapse

Settings: 300 frames at ISO 200, 1/2 seconds each with 2 second intervals. Zoomed in 50% and will be uploaded in HD. Now after this timelapse I was a bit tired!

Will be using some of the stills from the timelapse to upload, such as the following:

Hello everyone! If you notice closely, you can see an aquarium full of fish!

After a good workout, time to relax at the Jacuzzi!

In all my clips, I try to think of a beginning – middle – end, while keeping it all under 30 seconds. I’ll also be submitting this clip with sound as I believe it adds to the scene.

Then, finally some bubbles close up

I’ll be submitting this clip with sound as I believe it adds to the scene.

UPDATE: I’ve put a link to this post on the SS forum and asked for brutally honest feedback from other contributors. Very helpful – check out a link to the discussion here:

Doug Jensen’s critique:

“A little dark and depressing for my taste.  I’m not sure who would buy them or how they might be used.  The first one is really only 3 seconds of swimming and then 27 seconds of looking around awkwardly and then climbing out of the pool. Hard to imagine how any of that would be used in a video or television program.  The timelapse is an interesting idea, but its dark and of limited appeal.  That’s just my opinion.  Please let us know if either of them ever sell.”

Shooting at your local pool – checklist

Shooting in a restricted place, such as a gym’s swimming pool presented me with all sorts of problems, which included:

1. Problem: Obtaining permission

Solution: Asked their top management permission beforehand and was given the green light in a very Latin-style “If someone asks, don’t say I said anything but I say it’s OK” kind of way. Anglo-Saxons may struggle with this type of way of dealing with everyday life!

2. Avoiding capturing third parties, especially children + logos

Solution: I observed that during the week at lunchtime, the pool was particularly quiet. I was quite fortunate as in the 20-30 minute window I had there was nobody but and as soon as I finished a big group arrived.

There were also some swimming equipment with logos that I tried as best to keep out of the frames, which apparently wasn’t enough as this was rejected due to the logo on the board on the far-right:

visible logos

3. Water damage

Solution: Ah wish I had taken my phone to show my setup, but basically I put my Panasonic on top of an exercise step to mitigate disasters such as the camera falling into the pool!

4. Lens fogging up due to humidity

Solution: Nothing really I could do, just had to keep wiping constantly to avoid it fogging up.

Thanks Scorsby for offering this great piece of advice over on the SS contributor forum:

Lens fogging up (I read your pool session check off list)

Easily solved and this works for tropical hot houses too as they can be a nightmare.

Before going into the moist environment just get the hand dryer which emits warm air (assuming there is one) and gently hold camera in the flow about a foot and a half away from lens for about 30 seconds. If the toilet is a walk away from the location just wrap it up in a fleece after doing it till your in the moist location. Sounds daft … really works ☺

5. Model release

Solution: It is no problem to sign you own model release(s), as long as you find a witness.

Hope you’ve found this walk-through useful, please comment below! Until next time…

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography


  1. Good idea. I tried a similar thing in a pool in Switzerland. With a gopro, underwater. Security was not happy and I had to stop. Didn‘t ask for permission though. Judging by the no camera sign they would not have given me permission anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Informative as always Alex. Will be in Lisbon next month for 25hrs cant wait to get photos of this beautiful city. Wondering how you got into taking photos for poker did you just get in touch with the venue ?


    • Thanks! Ah 25 hours, hope you’ll come back with some special shots. The miradouros offer some stunning views.

      As I was introduced by a photographer who was capturing one of the poker tournaments I was participating and struck up a conversation. He then introduced me to the big boss and another conversation and followed up by numerous emails. Eventually (some two months later) he asked me to capture one of their bigger tournaments, of course with a press pass.

      It’s a fun gig overall!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully want to get some shots for fine art to print off for home.

        Nice I bet it is fun something different. I want to start trying to get in with places to get a press pass. Just to keep it fun and improve my skills.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Solution: It is no problem to sign you own model release(s), as long as you find a witness” Nas próprias autorizações de modelo não é necessário a assinatura de testemunha. Envio para várias agências somente com a minha assinatura e nunca tive problema.

    Liked by 1 person

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