Best Underwater Photography Tips for Beginners by Matt Smith


Matt Smith contacted me with an interest in sharing his writing piece on DiveWithMia, so I went ahead and checked out his work – I was impressed!  He had written a great summary of underwater photography that would suit scuba divers keen on starting to document their underwater adventures.  I liked the article and I also loved the infographic that came along with it!

Matt is a graduate in journalism with a passion for the underwater world just like the rest of us.  He decided to combine his passions and has created a super cool website: where he does extensive research and interviews with commercial and recreational scuba divers around the world, telling their stories.  Matt has a great respect for all divers and the work they do.   Here is his awesome article on underwater photography tips for beginners:

SCUBA diving gives you an ocean of surrounding beauty; it’s an allure that begs to be captured with a camera, but underwater photography is an artform that takes time and experience to master.  Beginners should learn the foundations of lighting, technique and equipment before attempting more advanced work with their cameras.  It all starts with a willingness to learn.  You’ll make mistakes, but the most common ones can be avoided with proper understanding.  Here’s a fun underwater photography infographic that boils down some of the marine snapshot basics.  Most of it is self-explanatory, but we’re going to look at several areas in more detail; working these approaches can make a “good” underwater picture even more beautiful.


Best Underwater Photography Tips for Beginners

Best Underwater Photography Tips for Beginners


Techniques & Important Points for SCUBA Photographers

Several options exist for underwater photography cameras, and each has its own set of pros and cons.  Beginners might be tempted to work with a mobile device because of its convenience and simplicity.  Though many mobile devices work great, their lens and flash capabilities are limited.  Moving up the chain, compact cameras have additional value and settings.  If you’re looking for something more professional, DSLR’s provide the most options and lens capabilities, but their price point may be high for some.

Strobes are a huge asset to underwater photographers, providing them with control over lighting direction and strength.  Though natural light is best, it quickly dwindles the deeper you dive down.  Look for strobes that are easily maneuverable and great for handling.

The closer, the better.  The best underwater pictures are often taken from 6 – 12 inches away from subjects.  Be aware of your subject’s behavior so as not to disturb it, but the more you can tighten your proximity, the more natural light and detail you’ll be able to capture.

The water gives you free range of movement – and perspective.  Capture your subject from many angles, and experiment with lighting and contrast.  Your ability to quickly ascend and descend gives you an advantage over topside photographers.

SCUBA divers must deal with backscatter when working their cameras.  Small particles can crowd out an otherwise amazing shot.  Use your flash appropriately, keeping an indirect light on your subjects to limit backscatter.

An Ocean of Opportunity for Your Camera

In time and with the right equipment, you can work wonders in underwater photography.  It’s a beautiful world, and you can help raise awareness for environment and ecosystems with the photography that you capture.  Spend some time with other media divers, learning the ins and outs of the industry.  Keep practicing, and you’ll take your skill deeper than you ever thought possible!