Home Underwater Photography Underwater Photographer of the Week: Raffaele Livornese

Underwater Photographer of the Week: Raffaele Livornese

Underwater photographer Raffaele Livornese started his photography journey with an Olympus OM10 film camera at ten years old. Since then, he’s photographed sharks at Cocos Island, mantas on night dives and pregnant pygmy seahorses. We get to know him and his pictures in this Q&A

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How did you get started in underwater photography?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

I started in 2011. After a trip to the south Red Sea, I decided that I had the need to take pictures of the underwater world.

What came first – diving or photography?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

Photography. I took my first shots with my brother’s Olympus OM10 film camera at ten years old. I always practised for fun with some compact film cameras, then my own Minolta film camera. I bought my first Nikon digital D90 camera in 2011 and decided to bring it underwater with me during my dives.

What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

I always travel with my 60mm and 105mm macro lens, and the Sigma 15mm wide-angle. Sometimes I use the Tokina 10-17mm with a mini-dome for some close focus wide-angle shots.

Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

Anilao for macro and Raja Ampat for macro and wide-angle. But I dive regularly in Italy, where I’m able to get a lot of beautiful pictures.

Most challenging dive?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

I think it was Cocos Island, Costa Rica. The trip involved flying from Europe to Central America via Miami, then travelling on the liveaboard boat for 36 hours to arrive there, and all the preparation weeks before. Diving at that place with a lot of sharks is challenging too!

Who are your diving inspirations?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

When it comes to underwater photography, I look up to some big photographers like David Doubilet or Imran Ahmad. Their work is impressive and innovative. There are others, but I always say that I’m still learning every day and with every shot. If we’re talking about simply diving, I look to Jacques Cousteau.

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

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

There are a lot. I think some are just dreams, like Fiji or Tonga, but I’m sure I’ll go to Baja, California for the sea lions, whale shark and sailor fish.

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

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

I would have liked to have had the advice to look for aesthetics in a photo before technical perfection. A photo can be corrected in terms of exposure and focus, but at the same time it may not be beautiful, so who would look at it?

Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

When I shot manta on a night dive while snorkelling – that image got many awards. After dinner one night, we saw this unique manta during a trip from the boat. So I jumped in the water with my camera and only a mask and fins, and got this shot.

What is your most memorable dive and why?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Raffaele Livornese

I think my first dive in Elphinstone Reef, Egypt, when I saw my first Longimanus shark (oceanic whitetip shark). It was also the definitive reason why I started shooting underwater!

Raffaele Livornese

raffaele livorneseI’ve always been passionate about photography and travel, which has led me to different places in the world – both near and far – including the major European capitals and North America.

I learnt about the underwater world during my first trip to the Egyptian Red Sea in 2007. In 2009, I decided to adopt a compact housing to start photographing underwater. I decided to buy a Hugyfot housing for my Nikon D90 in 2011, and provide it with the main objective to be used underwater. I now use a Nikon D850.

The continuous search for new subjects has led to travelling to destinations such as the Philippines, Cocos Island and Indonesia, returning to closer destinations like the Egyptian Red Sea and the Maldives.

Follow Raffaele on Facebook or his Nat Geo profile.

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Lorna Dockerill
Lorna Dockerill
Lorna fell in love with scuba diving back in 2011 during a trip to Thailand and Australia. Having always dreamt of seeing a sea turtle in the wild, her dream was realised on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef while training to become a certified diver. Since then she’s developed a passion for the natural world, writing about wildlife photography – both the on land and underwater kind – for the past eight years.

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