When I began my career in underwater photography, Elvis was on tour and the camera of choice was a Nikonos II. Since then I have been asked a ton of questions about shooting underwater images, but at DEMA this past January, Vince T. from Dallas asked me a simple, straightforward question: Could you recommend a way to help improve my underwater photography?
My eyes lit up because I was absolutely certain that I could give Vince, and every other underwater photographer, a very helpful three-word answer: Take a class. No question about it, there is a learning curve in underwater photography. The goal is to shorten the curve and avoid easily preventable mistakes. Helping you accomplish that end while making your underwater photography fun and satisfying is the ultimate objective of any course.
If you want to take clear, sharp and well-composed images like this, then a photo course is the best place to start. I am certainly not aware of every course being taught, but I can tell you about a few. Booked through Aggressor Fleet, Jim Church teaches trip seminars in a variety of destinations such as Belize, the Cayman Islands, Fiji and Galapagos. I took a class from Jim years ago, learned a lot and still keep his books handy. Clay Wiseman, Chris Newbert and Cathy Church offer highly regarded courses on Aggressor vessels and other live-aboards as well. Cathy also teaches classes on a regular basis in Grand Cayman.
These courses offer a great opportunity because they often combine one-on-one instruction with multiple dives where photography is the sole focus. The work can be intense and absorbing, but shooting day after day in an instructive environment will pay big dividends in your progression as an underwater photographer.
If you use one of Sea & Sea's cameras, consider a class taught through any of its 22 Select Pro dealers. All of them teach underwater photography on a regular basis. You can find the Select Pro dealer nearest you by visiting www.seaandsea.com. (Go to Locate Dealers and click on SLPRO.)
Frank Fennel teaches courses based around Nikonos camera equipment in the Cayman Islands and Bonaire. In addition to all of these classes, a lot of seminars in underwater photography are offered at consumer dive shows.
Want to learn more about underwater photography? Take an online course at Marty Snyderman's School of Underwater Photography at www.skin-diver.com. This comprehensive course consists of nine interactive classes taken at your convenience. And I'm happy to say, a comprehensive course called Depth Perception, developed by yours truly, is now available 24 hours a day via the Internet (see below). It consists of nine classes beginning with the Secrets to Compelling Composition and progressing logically through Successful Wide Angle Photography and a course review. More than 1,200 photographs, charts and diagrams are included. Each class is interactive and focuses on proven techniques that can be used with a wide variety of camera systems. The course is designed to help photographers of all experience levels and the Internet enables you to take classes as your schedule allows and progress at your own pace. You can preview the course and register online.
But, whether you take a live-aboard, land-based or Internet class, rest assured it's one of the best ways to improve your underwater photography.