Underwater swimming + Photography = One of the coolest things ever? We tend to think so. Still images of life under the surface are incredibly exciting, giving us a look into another (almost) mystical world. And that’s why we’ve put together a small guide for beginners. So, get your scuba gear and your camera ready, we’re going diving!

What is an underwater photographer?

Diver and moray eel

This part is pretty self-explanatory; it involves a diver (not necessarily a full-blown professional scuba diver, mind you) taking a camera underneath the water with them in order to photograph marine life, scenery or other people swimming beneath the water.

Amateurs can also easily take a waterproof camera with them to the sea or a pool, and it won’t necessarily even mean you need to be fully submerged to take photographs. In more advanced scenarios, photographs can be taken from within a submersible vehicle or from automated cameras lowered into the water.

What sort of salary can I expect?

Actually earning a consistent salary as an underwater photographer can be a rocky road. Most people who are making money in the field tend to agree that video is the way to go alongside their real love of photography. Filming life underwater is where the real money can be found, and even then nothing is guaranteed.

Most work will be freelance as demand for underwater shots is mostly out of the blue. To sum up, this will be a labour of love for you, rather than something that will line your pockets, and you are best off combining this job with something that pays the bills more reliably.

How do I become an underwater photographer?

Of course, you need to be a half decent photographer who is comfortable using a camera and knowing its functions inside out, but more importantly, you will need to undergo scuba diving training. It would be best to start off without a camera, just so you are at ease with being underwater. Once you are an expert at diving you’ll be able to focus solely on capturing the perfect shot. There are top tips available for when you’re just starting out, so remember to always listen to the views of the experts!

Also important to remember, you can’t just take any old camera underwater without protecting it, you’ll need to acquire waterproof casing or a camera specifically designed for underwater use. This is all without mentioning the fact that you need to have a certain amount of confidence and love of marine animals, are you ok with the idea of sharks? If not, better think of an alternative career path quick!

What qualifications do I need?

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) would be a good place to start, as they are one of the more renowned educational establishments for diving. Courses can be as short as an intensive 3-4 day session, or you can extend the days for a slower approach.

On top of this, you’ll want at least a year of professional experience with photography, so if you don’t have that already, a bachelor’s course in the subject would be your best bet! One of the keys to attracting potential employers is a magnificent portfolio, which can showcase all your hard work.

Who is the most famous underwater photographer?

If it’s inspiration you’re in need of, then Stephen Frink is your man. A world-renowned marine photojournalist, he has a collection of images to enthral and fascinate anyone interested in underwater life and scenery. His blog, while no longer active, provides some great stories and images for you to enjoy!

There you have it folks, a basic introduction to the world of underwater photography. Good luck in your journeys and remember, hard work pays off!