Erena Shimoda is an underwater portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, is certified as a scuba Divemaster, and uses her background in new media and fine art to create unique compositions in different media. Shimoda pioneered her underwater healing therapy practice after surviving a life-changing, traumatic car accident in which she lost her father and severely injured her body. As a part of her attempt to overcome her painful memories and heal, she decided to help people and volunteered at the American Cancer Society and the Look Good Feel Better program, where cancer survivors learn how to apply makeup and put wigs on. Seeing cancer survivors marvel at lovely photographs of themselves again made such an impact on Shimoda that she decided to combine her interest in underwater photography with recovery—namely, to help cancer survivors experience the healing effects of being submerged in water and feel beautiful about themselves when they see the resulting portraits.
As numerous testimonials illustrate, Shimoda’s powerful and transformative Underwater Portrait Sessions help cancer survivors rediscover their beauty, regain their confidence and self-esteem, and provide an experience of transcendence.
About Underwater Healer - About Face Campaign
A San Francisco-based underwater photographer, Erena Shimoda launched an innovative and philanthropic fundraiser to give cancer survivors healing underwater photography sessions. She partnered with IHadCancer and launched this campaign through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo in July 2013 and raised more than $10,000 in 30 days. Forty percent of the proceeds was donated to IHadCancer, and the remaining 60 percent covered the costs associated with providing portrait sessions to selected cancer survivors. She worked with seven survivors from the campaign—shooting five of them in the San Francisco Bay Area and two in Seattle, Washington. She flew to New York City to meet three more survivors. Including two other cancer survivors before the campaign started, Shimoda succeeded in giving the underwater healer session to 12 survivors within five months in 2013.