What lies beneath
Derbyshire Life|August 2020
What lies beneath
In his second feature, local photographer David Keep explores under the waves
David Keep

Underwater photography combines the two things I am really passionate about - diving and photography. Given the chance, I would do it every day.

I have been a scuba diver for over twenty years and as I got more into photography it was a natural progression to shoot and share the incredible sights I’ve seen over the past two decades.

This is what I especially love about underwater photography: as with all things, if you see the extraordinary enough times, it becomes ordinary and you stop seeing it through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. But with a camera in my hand, I can do that all over again.

I took the plunge three years ago. I realized I would be learning about a specialized and technically challenging form of photography. I also knew I would have to spend a fair amount of money acquiring the best possible kit to enable me to achieve quality shots. It wasn’t too difficult to adapt my diving style to photography, but I soon discovered underwater currents are your main enemy.

It’s difficult to free up the mental capacity to select the correct camera settings and composition when you are holding on for dear life to stop yourself being swept away. But, as a composition is everything in photography, you must find a way to remain stable so you can frame your picture. This usually involves jamming yourself into some crevice or holding the camera close into your body so you can stabilise it. Fortunately, it gets easier with practice.

I try to tell stories with my images, so I look for situations and angles that help convey the character of my subject and hopefully allow you to make a connection with the creature.

Here’s the stories behind four of my favourite underwater images.


I went to the Indonesian island of Bunaken specifically to photograph green turtles because they are abundant there. Whenever I come across turtles on dives I am always struck by their calm demeanor – they really do not do anything in a hurry.

A large turtle has an eye which is roughly the same size as ours and as you approach you can clearly see that you are being observed. I think we associate best with creatures on which we can imbue human characteristics and, to me, a turtle seems like a wise old sage, quietly observing you before passing judgment on your worth.


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August 2020