We had the good fortune of connecting with Erena Shimoda and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erena, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m originally from Tokyo, Japan. My family and I moved to the U.S. when I was 14 years old. My father was the only one who could speak English and my mother, sister and I had almost zero experience in speaking or writing English. It was really tough to fit in during the teenage era and the new culture. Years later, I became a scuba diver and underwater photographer. I’ve been an underwater portrait photographer for more than 10 years now. The experience of growing up not understanding the language but instead, watching people’s body languages and facial expressions helped me understand people’s honest feelings without any words. This background helps me understand my underwater portrait clients when they submerge underwater. I let them know they are not alone and I’m there to help.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m from Japan, a scuba dive master and an underwater portrait photographer. I’m also a survivor of a car accident and severely injured my body and brain. My injuries caused depression and Doctors put me on antidepressants that didn’t work. After all the searching and tryouts, I found out scuba diving and swimming helped me get out of the dark zone. Underwater portrait photography sessions have the same benefits. They are my alternative therapy and I would love to spread the awareness of underwater transformation. I have clients for maternity, beauty and family and also cancer and trauma survivors. Most of my clients are new to underwater modeling so it’s challenging and rewarding at the same time. When they are underwater, I can read their mind from their facial expressions and body movements. From experiencing a language barrier, I’ve developed myself to observe people’s behavior. So I know what I need to do to make them feel comfortable. When I see them surrendered and let go of whatever they had in their mind, I feel that I saw their beautiful  underwater transformations and that is my goal.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in San Francisco so I’ll take her to a cafe in the morning, walk around the neighborhood, drive across the bridge to see the nature, hiking, picnic in the park, wine tasting and dinner. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Sho Murase http://shomurase.com/

Website: www.underwaterhealer.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/underwater_erenashimoda
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/underwaterhealer
Other: www.erenashimoda.com

Image Credits
Tina – Breast Cancer, Aria – Accident, Domestic Violence Kelly – Breast Cancer, Elizabeta – Domestic Violence, Ericka – Breast Cancer, Zi – Rape, Domestic Violence, Reiko – Breast Cancer, Mia – Spinal Cord Injury, Elena – Spinal Cord Injury, Chiara – Breast Cancer

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.