How did you get started in underwater photography?
Underwater photography started whilst I was initially learning to dive. I managed to buy a cheap housing for the long out of date compact camera I had. I didn’t manage any good shots with it, but it did ignite a spark.
What came first – diving or photography?
Both started together, but topside photography had already grasped my interest before learning to dive.
What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?
Oh blimey – I don’t have one! I currently shoot a Canon 5D Mk IV and have a Nauticam housing. I shoot mainly wide-angle using a Canon 8-15mm fisheye and Canon 14mm rectilinear lenses. I do have a macro lens and port, but that only ever comes out in bad visibility. I will usually have a pair of INON Z-240 strobes and at least one Nautilus 9000F video light attached to the housing too. I have recently become interested in underwater photogrammetry, for which I attach my camera to a Dive-Xtras CUDA 400 scooter.
Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?
The most beautiful place I have dived is Truk Lagoon. I managed to afford a once in a life time trip there and had to go for a second time also. Ironically though, some of my best shots have originated in UK quarries!
Most challenging dive?
I think all dives are challenging in one way or another, as you are putting yourself in an environment that you are not designed to be in. I have had two bends – both times having completed all decompression obligations. The water must be respected and never taken for granted.
Who are your diving inspirations?
Wes C Skiles and Richard Pyle.
Which underwater locations or species are still on your photography wish list?
So many to choose from! Top of the list of places are Bikini Atoll, Narvik and HMS Victoria. I would love to dive with and photograph humpback whales and orca. I don’t think any justification is required for any of those. The one other place is Diepolder cave. An image by Wes Skiles from that cave, which I first saw over ten years ago, still amazes me and makes me want to go there.
What advice do you wish you’d had as a novice underwater photographer?
The most important person to please is yourself. Print your photographs. You will appreciate them more in print than on a computer screen. Embrace the challenge. Finally, to quote Chase Jarvis, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?
In the engine room of the Nippo Maru in Truk Lagoon. As I squeezed inside through the blast hole, I dislodged a dump valve on my rebreather which caused my loop to flood.
What is your most memorable dive and why?
My most recent one! Every dive is memorable when you have a camera, but they do fade into each other. I make sure that I create a photo book for every trip I go on to keep the memories alive.
I have been diving for around 10 years and originally learned with BSAC and reached Sports Diver level. I then went down the tek & CCR route and now have CCR Advanced Trimix certification. I am also a HSE qualified commercial diver.
In recent years, my photographic intent has transitioned to 3D photogrammetry which gives the ability to create fully orbital 3D models in which I am trying to push the limits. During a recent trip to Malta I set myself a challenge of seeing what could be done in a single dive, I came away with eight complete wreck models!