Ocean photography or Underwater photography is simply taking pictures underwater and it is recognized both as an art form and a tool for scientific research.
In the Caribbean, we have many well-known ocean photographers such as Mickey Charteris (based in Honduras, author of Caribbean Reef Life), Julie Corsetti (based in the Cayman Islands), Breanna Neilly (based in the Bahamas), Anita Marcus and David Gallardo (owners of brilliant studios photography in Turks and Caicos). We also have many young aspiring photographers.
When it comes to marine science, ocean photography is the backbone of it all. By taking photos of the species and objects in the water, scientists are able to identify them, observe them over time, gain and provide us with the necessary information, that we can use to not only protect ourselves (if necessary) but marine life as well. Photographs can also be utilized to document the condition of the ocean and its organisms over time so we can observe the effects of climate change and our actions on the ecosystem.
“Underwater photography shows people who’ve never
experienced the marine environment, the wonders of that amazing world and helps educate them on the value of conserving it.” – Christine Shepard, shark photographer.
Although it is an exciting and rewarding field, it is not one an individual should ‘dive’ into without proper knowledge. While there is no exact path to becoming an ocean photographer, there are some measures professionals suggest, such as: becoming an experienced diver in order to understand the basics of water safety, get accustomed to the ocean and learn the various diving techniques, so that you will be able to navigate through the oceans with confidence.
Another measure they suggest is getting familiar with marine life through education and practical experience – if you aren’t familiar with the species in the ocean you may end up harming them or yourself. Also, if you are interested in observing the behaviour of a particular type of fish but you have no knowledge about their migration patterns, the waters they are found in or even the season they mate in, then this can result in difficulties and hamper your research.
Furthermore, you should practice the necessary photography skills and techniques for shooting underwater. For example, water has a natural blue filter which affects photos and becomes even more apparent the further you are from sunlight. To avoid this, professionals usually carry their own light source. Additionally, there are several particles of debris and sediment between the lens and the object of interest; these particles are especially noticeable when photos are taken with a flash, hence why one should try to get as close as possible to the object to get the clearest image you can, but remember to be careful! You don’t want to scare away your subjects or hurt them in any way. Finally, you should be passionate about what you are doing. Underwater photography may look easy but it is very challenging, especially as a career. Once you love what you do and have the correct motivation behind it, you will ace ahead.
Written by: Summayah Asgarali and taken from the Ecovybz Project Caribbean Ocean Perspectives Interactive E-Magazine