Learn More About The Shoots Here

1. Underwater shoots are perfect for those who wish to experience something truly magical! As long as you are comfortable in the water, myself and my assistant will assist you through the whole process. Safety and comfort are of utmost importance, and therefore I would not recommend this to anyone who is not comfortable in water or has a fear of water.

2. All shoots include waterproof makeup applied by a trusted and professional makeup artist before the shoot time. Even for a simple portrait shoot, makeup adds a little more glam to your already special experience, and also helps bring out your beautiful natural features in the water for me to capture in camera.

3. Buoyancy is an important factor during a shoot and we always establish this before shooting. If you have a natural ability to float, I have weight belts to assist with creating natural buoyancy in the water, making it easier to pose during your shoot.

4. Everyone I work with is new to the underwater experience, so please don’t stress if you’re not doing everything perfectly from the start! I will guide you and we will work on getting those perfect shots, which means some repetition. But don’t worry, by the end of your shoot, it will all feel a lot easier than it did in the beginning.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance should I book?

I need a minimum notice of at least 3 weeks in advance, and but more than that is plenty time. This is to ensure the pool is available and the water balanced, as well as secure your makeup artist for your time. Mermaid shoots with a custom tail will need a minimum of 4 weeks in order to ensure the tail is ready.

What can I expect on the day?

Before your shoot, I will send you a list of what to bring. Please let me know of any sensitivities in advance so I can make your shoot as comfortable as possible. When you arrive, my professional makeup artist will begin – it should take between 30 and 40 minutes, or closer to an hour if the look is more detailed. We will then plan your outfits, and shooting will begin. After the shoot, you get to go home and relax and I’ll start the editing process and send you 3 sneak peeks within a week of your shoot.

Where does the shoot happen?

I have access to two pools that are perfect for our underwater shoots. I have an outdoor solar heated pool in Fairland, Johannesburg (only Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov & Dec), and an indoor solar heated pool in Lanseria (only Jan – mid-May & mid-Sep – Dec). I do this to ensure the water is perfect for your shoot, and I have experience shooting in that particular pool.

Can I do a shoot if I’m not a good swimmer / can’t hold my breath for long / not a model?

Everyone is welcome to do underwater shoots, but I highly recommend having some swimming experience and must be comfortable with having your head under the water. Mermaid shoots are suitable only for strong adult swimmers as safety is top priority for every shoot. I also accommodate for how long you hold your breath as I don’t use oxygen tanks. I will also guide you with posing, so you will look your best in the water!

Can I do an underwater shoot if I am pregnant?

Absolutely – maternity shoots are my favourite, and result in some wonderful portraits of this special time in your pregnancy. I recommend only doing a shoot if you are comfortable in the water. Non-swimmers are still able to do these shoots, and I take them slowly and at your own page. I highly recommend doing a shoot no later than 5 weeks before your due date.  If you are uncertain, please send me your questions or contact your doctor, as every pregnancy is different and I want to ensure your safety is of the highest priority before doing your underwater shoot.

What do I wear? Can I bring my own outfit?

I recommend bringing a comfortable swimming costume with you as a base for your wardrobe. I have a selection of coloured fabrics that we can use to create some creative flowing images. You are more than welcome to bring your own outfit or hire a dress from one of our recommended designers. Long flowing dresses look the best, but if you have a vision in mind, we will go with that!

How long until I get my photos?

Editing takes 5 working weeks. I need to backup photos, select the very best, edit each one carefully, and order your custom USB drive. Each image is individually edited, and therefore takes more time – I don’t click a few buttons with editing, I spend a lot of time making sure each image is beautiful. I will send 3 sneak peeks within 1 week of your shoot, and the rest will be supplied on your USB drive.

What do I get on my USB drive?

All my USB drives are custom engraved wooden drives with your name on them. On your USB will be the edited photos in two folders: for print and for web. Images for print are high quality so they can be printed and they don’t include a watermark. Images for web are smaller so you can upload them quickly to social media or email and they have a watermark of our logo. I ask that you don’t re-edit my images or remove my watermark, and please do credit me social media as well. Please note I don’t give out unedited RAW files purely because it is part of my process, standard industry practice, and included in the contract.

Can you shoot in Cape Town / Durban / anywhere other than Johannesburg?

Oh yes! Shooting around the country is definitely possible. I do prefer to book multiple shoots during my stay to cover costs, so tell your friends to book a shoot while I’m there. Alternatively, I can travel for just your shoot, but bare in mind the costs might be higher. Contact me and we can discuss costs!

Meet your photographer!


Hi, my name is Dana (pronounce Dar-nah) and I love creating magic underwater!

I started my photography journey some years ago when I saw that photography could actually create beautiful images, not just stop a moment in time. A good friend of mine roped me (and I roped my boyfriend JP) into weddings, and it stuck! JP and I clicked as a team during weddings, so while it was flippin’ hard work, we enjoyed it! 

After 7 years of weddings, I discovered the delight of underwater photography at a photographic expo. I was enamored, transfixed, enlightened and amazed. I had to try this – I loved photography, had been a water baby my whole life, and knew this was worth attempting it, even if I failed. I Googled, drooled over pictures, and dreamed big. I got my butt into gear and found a housing for my ancient camera, and after the first underwater shoot, I was hooked. That was March 2016, and the rest is history!

If I’m not glued to my camera, I’m either a mermaid in the pool, designing mermaidy things, listening to music, following the latest design trends, enjoying nature, soaking up some sunshine and baking.

underwater photographer johannesburg dana cato