When I was starting out in my professional photography career I assisted an extremely talented fashion photographer. I partly owe my understanding of lighting setups and ability to get the best out of models to her. Over the years I built on the skills she taught me and continued to find my own niche in underwater photography.
About a year ago I saw an ad for a major soft drink brand. It had been photographed underwater and the results (in my opinion) were less than great. It was obvious that the photographer lacked the niche underwater skills that the project required. In looking further, I found that it was the same photographer I worked with and looked up to in my early days.
I could see why she had been chosen to shoot the campaign. She’d photographed a number of their campaigns previously, campaigns that were successful and looked fantastic, so it was natural for the company to book her for their underwater shoot as well. However, specialising in professional photography does not mean you specialise in every type of photography. Unfortunately, many photographers believe that just because they have not photographed a particular style before, it should not exempt them from the job, no matter how technical.
That the fact is, you will always get a better result when you book a photographer that specialises in the niche area you’re planning for – in this case, underwater. The laws of photography lighting and equipment are so much more complex when everything is submerged in the aquatic environment.
When you put a camera in underwater housing, a myriad of variables arise requiring technical skill and very specific experience. You lose access to some of the controls you’d have access to outside of the housing, the view through the viewfinder is often reduced, the dials and buttons are operated via levers and knobs on the outside of the housing and water on the lens ports can ruin your shots, as can air bubbles. Light refracts, reflects and distorts through the water. Everything you see when viewed through a mask or goggles appears to be 25% larger and nearer and add to this that you are generally holding your breath. It’s complicated.
If it is your budget and reputation on the line, I can only advise you to choose a photographer who is an expert at shooting in the water. There are a number of us out there including myself with over 20 years experience in this area. Just make sure you choose someone for your in-water and underwater campaigns that has the skills required to get the job done – and done properly.
Enjoy your day,