Underwater photography – Do No Harm
Scuba Diving|September/October 2020
Tips for being an ethical underwater photographer
By Harriets Park

Underwater photography is a powerful conservation tool, reminding people on the surface that there is incredible life worthy of protection below. Before any diver brings a camera underwater, however, they should learn a few critical skills to ensure their actions have a minimal impact on marine life. Keeping these guidelines in mind will not only keep you from doing harm but allow you to become a more adept photographer.

STAY NEUTRAL

Daniel Geary, a marine biologist and frogfish expert who is also a dive instructor, says the best thing any underwater photographer can do is master their buoyancy. “I have seen many divers empty their BCDs, including professionals, so they can lie on the ground and stabilize, but this isn’t how we should be photographing underwater,” Geary says.

He recommends learning to back-fin, as this will give you the freedom to maneuver into any position you please. Being correctly weighted and able to hover in multiple positions will allow you to get the shot without damaging the surrounding environment.

Australia-based professional photographer Matty Smith suggests investing in an external electronic camera monitor and magnified 45-degree viewfinders to keep your body away from the seabed rather than having to lie flat to peer through the viewfinder. “It leads to a more comfortable shooting position and easier framing while avoiding seafloor collisions.”

FLASH FAUX PAS?

In the U.K., using flash photography around seahorses is banned, and many dive shops globally have implemented their own rules restricting use of strobes, claiming the bright flashes of light can daze, distress or otherwise harm the fragile critters.

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