Table of Contents
How did you get started in underwater photography?
Being the only one in the family to continue diving after trying it, I could never explain the underwater world in a way it deserved. Starting with a GoPro to show friends and family, it progressed from there to what I use today.
What came first – diving or photography?
Diving – I’d never even owned a land camera other than a phone before I got into diving.
What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?
I’ve recently upgraded to a Sony A7R III and adore it. My current set-up is this mirrorless in a Nauticam housing, two Sea and Sea strobes and a Weefine focus light. My wide-angle set-up is the Sony 28mm prime lens, combined with a Weefine fisheye wet lens. For macro, I’m using the Sony 90mm macro, combined with a Nauticam SMC-1 for the really small stuff!
Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?
Always an impossible question, but for macro, it’s North Sulawesi, and for wide-angle it has to be the Galapagos.
Most challenging dive (and why)?
My most challenging was probably in the Galapagos. Physically challenging, while being stupid, avoidable, and potentially dangerous. I hit the water for negative entry and felt very buoyant. Of course, I’d forgotten my weight belt while in a 7mm suit! In fear of missing out on the dive, I decided to make my way down anyway and hope for the best. Needless to say, I had a sore lower back after having to kick down for the duration, and a safety stop at 5m with nothing but big sharks around and looking like fish on a line trying to escape being pulled to the surface.
Who are your diving inspirations?
I think growing up with David Attenborough being the figure of wildlife he is today. He has inspired so many people. I am envious he had the opportunity to dive so many places years ago when marine life was more abundant.
What advice do you wish you’d had as a novice underwater photographer?
Probably to never rush when getting your housing ready for the water. I believe this is how I flooded my first camera. I still blame the manta feeding by the boat for that!
Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?
I would have to choose the night dive I did once on the Thistlegorm wreck in the Red Sea. I was a less experienced diver back then, but the current was ripping. It felt like we were clinging on for dear life at moments, or at least so we didn’t end up at the surface a mile from the wreck, and the boat. I have a memory of feeling like I was in space while clutching onto my camera, hanging on horizontally to the mooring line and just focusing on not letting go.
What is your most memorable dive and why?
I’ve had a few that stand out but I think a dive at Darwin Arch in the Galapagos has to be the most memorable. After an already amazing dive filled with hammerheads, turtles, Galapagos sharks, and whale sharks, I ended the dive in the blue alone (not recommended) during my safety stop.
With nothing in sight for the most part, I turned 180 degrees and a huge whale shark was only a few metres away heading straight toward me. We had a moment, just the two of us in the blue. I managed to get a couple of shots of him as I had to move out of the way. The one to one interaction will never be forgotten.
Morgan Riggs is a Padi Open Water Scuba Instructor from the UK with a passion for underwater photography. He started diving in 2014 his open water certification, progressing to instructor over the years – along with his camera. He has dived everywhere from Galapagos to the Thistlegorm wreck in the Red Sea.