HomeUnderwater PhotographyInterview with Nadia Aly - Underwater Photographer of the Week

Interview with Nadia Aly – Underwater Photographer of the Week

Scuba Diver interviews award-winning wildlife photographer Nadia Aly about her work this week, as she shares her dreams of seeing basking sharks and challenging dives off Cocos Island


How did you get started in underwater photography?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly
I got into underwater photography in 2012. I went to Backscatter in Monterey, and they helped me get the best set-up I could and are now my go to for anything underwater related. I really had no idea what I was doing, and just went with it. I did so to fulfill a burning desire to make great underwater content for my scuba diving blog.

What came first – diving or photography?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly

Photography came first. I got my first camera when I was about eight-years-old. I actually majored in photography at UVIC (University of Victoria) in Victoria, BC, for my undergrad. I have spent lots and lots of time in darkrooms, as I worked with film for quite a long time.

What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly
These days my kit has grown so big. I have just purchased a Z-CAM E2, in an effort to try and film more videos underwater. I also have a Nikon D500, which I adore, and a Canon 1DX Mark I as photo set-ups, and a Paralenz is always attached to any housing that I have. I am a loyal Nauticam customer, and I think I always will be.
Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?
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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly

My favourite location? That’s a tough one. There are so many great places around the world that offer different subjects and experiences. My top location for wide-angle would be South Africa, as there is such a diversity in marine life, sharks, whales and beautiful coral. For macro, I’m going to go with Lembeh, Indonesia – I just love spending time there. I do look forward to discovering backwater diving in Aniloa, Philippines over the next few years.

Most challenging dive?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly

I think the most challenging dive I have ever done was at Alcyone off of Cocos Island. The current was so strong, I could not bring my camera down – I could barely hold onto the descent line. I quickly learned that this type of diving is not for me. By the time I got to the bottom, I had used most of my air.

Who are your diving inspirations?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly
I really admire the work of Thomas Peschak and Alex Mustard. I think they are both amazing underwater photographers and people.

Which underwater locations or species are still on your photography wish list and why?

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Underwater photography with Nadia Aly

I would really love to see the basking shark, I find them incredibly interesting. Filming a Narwal would be a dream, but not sure how I could make that happen – they are shy and very remote.

What advice do you wish you’d had as a novice underwater photographer?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly

I would tell a novice photographer to keep at it. When I first started taking photos underwater, all my photos would turn out black. It was a long process. I was able to practice quite a bit, and work on the improving the quality of my photographs. I also believe in learning from others. I am constantly picking people’s brains, or I will go on a group photo trip to learn techniques and tips and tricks from other leaders in the industry. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect.

Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly
I had a time at Tiger Beach years ago, when I first started. The visibility was close to two metres, and it was just super sketchy. I actually aborted the dive, I didn’t think we should have been there until better conditions became available.

What is your most memorable dive and why?

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Underwater photography by Nadia Aly
I think my most memorable time in the water is out of Tonga with the whales. There is nothing more special than playing with the whales, and this is why I live there three months of the year. To me, it’s the best experience the ocean offers. Humpback whales are incredibly intelligent and playful when they want to be, and the experiences that you can get there will must make you cry. Being able to connect with an animal on this level is something that is indescribable.

Nadia Aly

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Nadia Aly is an award winning wildlife photographer, with a focus on underwater marine life. She left her corporate job in 2012 to travel and dive around the world. Her primary goal is to educate people globally about the diverse populations of sea creatures that exist in our oceans. Nadia captures their beauty and uniqueness with her camera and then publishes these photographs and videos. She does this in an effort to raise awareness and interest in supporting efforts to conserve our oceans and their inhabitants.

As she continues to master the art of underwater photography, she takes interested clients on numerous underwater expeditions every year, through her company Scuba Diver Life Expeditions. Her specialities are the Sardine Run out of South Africa and Humpback Swims out of Tonga, where she takes guests to swim up close and personal with the Whales.

Nadia is also the owner of ScubaDiverLife.com – and online new portal for scuba diving & ocean conservation enthusiasts. Follow Nadia on her Instagram page @nadia.aly.photo




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