Underwater Photography Clichés Part One: "It's the photographer not the camera"

There are lots of clichés that crop up in photography in general and underwater photography specifically. In this occasional series I’m going to look at some of the sayings and maybe a few of the techniques and styles as well.

Let’s get something straight from the start. Clichés exist for reasons, they aren’t a bad thing in themselves. A clichéd saying usually has at least some truth to it. A style of image has become over used because it looks good and people like it.

It’s the photographer not the camera

This is definitely a phrase that has some truth to it but it isn’t the whole story and so often I see it being mis-used to make a dubious point.

Sometimes it’s used modestly by people who feel that others are getting better results with the same equipment. But on other occasions it’s the opposite with the tone of “look at my picture I’m so good at photography, I got a better picture than you with the same setup”.

One of the first pictures I took underwater that I was really pleased with. The result of having a good camera for my budget (the legendary Fuji Finepix F30) combined with teaching and encouragement from Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield on the first Red Sea workshop he ever ran. Now we run workshops together!

One of the first pictures I took underwater that I was really pleased with. The result of having a good camera for my budget (the legendary Fuji Finepix F30) combined with teaching and encouragement from Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield on the first Red Sea workshop he ever ran. Now we run workshops together!

On Facebook it’s often brought up in comments when people ask about what equipment to buy and I’ve had it quoted to me several times when I’ve posted blogs about what I’d recommend. Almost every time the commentator for one reason or another has missed the point. While knowledge and skill is a deciding factor in getting a good image, having equipment that lets you use your skills to maximum effect is a huge advantage.

Some cameras and accessories will give you more scope with your creativity and you’ll have less need to “choose your battles”. A phrase I use often enough to be a cliché itself. For more on what to look for when buying a camera for underwater photography have a look at my previous blog here

There’s right and wrong in this phrase for sure. Some pictures will not be acheivable without the right equipment but you do need to know how to use it. Many divers with cameras will have taken good pictures on occasions but knowing how you got it and being able to do it again are the route being an underwater photographer.

There’s right and wrong in this phrase for sure. Some pictures will not be acheivable without the right equipment but you do need to know how to use it. Many divers with cameras will have taken good pictures on occasions but knowing how you got it and being able to do it again are the route being an underwater photographer.

Don’t be mislead that the “photographer” in this phrase is someone special with mysterious abilities endowed at birth. While some people maybe more inclined towards thinking about how they take pictures from the beginning, all aspects of photography can be learnt. Just because someone else currently gets what you feel are better pictures with the same setup doesn’t mean you can’t reach that level or surpass it.

In the end becoming “the photographer” is about accessing the knowledge available and taking the time and opportunity to learn and practice the skills. If you have the right equipment to potentially achieve a picture you want but aren’t doing, don’t get dejected and quit. Do some reading, come on a workshop or book a one to one session and practice. Anyone is capable of being a good underwater photographer.

Getting a picture is often not just about your ability and the equipment it’s also about going to where you need to be for the subject and in the case of this shot getting very lucky to be carried by a current directly underneath a very chilled out manta.

Getting a picture is often not just about your ability and the equipment it’s also about going to where you need to be for the subject and in the case of this shot getting very lucky to be carried by a current directly underneath a very chilled out manta.

If you have any questions about underwater photography feel free to email us at info@alphamarinephoto.com or comment on this blog. If you are interested in one of our training events the details are here