If you are thinking about delving into the world of underwater photography, it is easy to become overwhelmed with questions. In our experience, in Omega Divers in Chania, the most people jump right into technical questions. While important, technical questions are not the best place to start. This article will walk you through the first steps and questions that should be addressed as you consider becoming an underwater photographer. What Camera Should You Buy? When we talk to people who are thinking of getting into underwater photography, the first question is almost always: What kind of camera should I buy? Our answer is always the same: Don’t worry about that just yet. The camera doesn’t make the picture, the photographer does.
Before considering the type of underwater camera and housing to purchase, an aspiring underwater photographer should consider two main things, his preparedness and his approach to photography. Are You Prepared For Underwater Photography? Underwater photography is one of the most challenging types of photography in existence. The photographer must work within the given conditions of each dive. There is only so much a photographer can control underwater and he has a limited amount of time for each session. Additionally, working in an environment full of subjects that don’t know, or even care, that a photographer is present can make capturing the perfect shot more difficult. Preparedness is often more important to success than the type of camera. An underwater photographer who is not a proficient diver will not be successful. There are several techniques that a diver must master before placing a camera in his hands. A term I use often is non-destructive photography. Non-destructive photography means respecting the coral reef and all aquatic life. It is rule number one. As divers we need to minimize our impact on the marine environment. • Buoyancy An underwater photographer must be a master of buoyancy, both to avoid accidental contact with the reef and floor, and to obtain clear shots. There is one invaluable tool that I carry with me on every dive to help achieve this: a pointer. A pointer allows us to stabilize ourselves on the substrate without damaging any living coral. It is also very useful to prop up the camera to and steady the shot. • Kicking Techniques Practice your fin kicks. Learning to frog kick helps a diver to maintain a horizontal position and avoids kicking up sediment (which can destroy a shot) or damaging coral. This technique also allows for more fine tuned movements in the water so as not to frighten marine life away. Learning to back fin can also be of benefit, as it allows a diver to fine tune his position in the water. An underwater photographer’s diving should be second nature, and the way to achieve this is with practice. Then, and only then, is a diver prepared to arm himself with a camera and start taking photos. Don’t Stress Too Much About the Type of Camera Once a diver feels he is prepared for underwater photography, it is time to consider the type of photography equipment he will use. There are a wide variety of underwater camera models on the market, but for divers just getting into underwater photography, the truth is that the type of camera will not make a huge difference. With the proper training and enough practice, most underwater photographers can take stunning photos with even a basic camera set-up. It may be better to practice with a simple camera and basic simple techniques before spending a great deal of money on a high-end photography kit. Know Thy Camera and Housing No matter what type of camera an underwater photographer chooses, it is essential that he knows his camera and his housing inside and out. Practice taking pictures at home as much as possible with the camera inside the housing. Take the time to learn all that the camera can do, and get to know where each button on the housing is instinctively in order to be able to adjust settings efficiently and with little thought. With practice, the camera should become an extension of the photographer’s