7 Questions - Underwater Photography

17th August 2011   |   Jackie Hutchings

Budding photographer, Ryan Johnson, tells us about his passion for capturing underwater images and what it means to him.

What inspired you to take up photography?

It started when I enrolled on a course at college that involved all aspects of digital design, life drawing and photography.  I immediately found myself wanting to do more photography and eventually saved up some money and got my first digital SLR that went everywhere with me. I figured the more I used the camera, the better I would become.

My career, as a professional photographer specialising in social and portrait photography, led to my first steps into the underwater world and I have been hooked ever since.  The camera had no choice but to come along with me!

What photograph are you most proud of ?

I can’t say I am proud of one of my photos more than any others.  They all mean a lot to me as it’s not just a photo, it’s the experience I have. I hope that my photos inspire other people to go and visit some of the places I have been and to interact with the world we live in.  I feel too many people don’t have the awareness of what is around them.

What is the single most useful piece of advice you’ve ever been give

Always have your camera with you! Don’t become a kit collector and just go on trips to get your photos. Pictures are a lot more valuable than a piece of kit you go nowhere with.

If you could take just one underwater photograph ever again, what/where would it be?

I would hope it never came to that point, there are a few places that are on my list to visit as I really want to encounter the amazing animals that live there.

What is your dream diving destination?

The world! There are thousands of beautiful places all over the world that I would love to visit; they all have there own unique reasons that make them stand out. A few of the places that are high up my list are the Galapagos,  due to the untouched landscapes and variety of animals that inhabit both on land and underwater.

Another one that strikes me is Antarctica; it is such a hostile environment, it must truly be amazing.  Leopard seals and narwhal really appeal to me!

Where do you NOT want to go diving?

I don’t fancy cave diving – whether that’s claustrophobia or the lack of wildlife in a lot of caves, I don’t really know!

What would be your top 3 tips for someone thinking of taking up underwater photography?

The same advice that was given to me – don’t collect kit and just go on trips. Too many people sit around showing off with fancy kit but when it comes down to their portfolio, they are only ever using it in their garden!

Follow your dreams, anything is possible don’t wait around for other people at the end of it all you have to help yourself.

Always take your camera on a dive, even if you think it’s not worth it.  You never know what you might see and it will help you get creative. A creative photograph can be better than a technically good photograph.


Ryan Johnson is a 20 year old Underwater Photographer from Manchester in the UK. He is a qualified AIDA Freediver, Scuba diver and works as a professional social and portrait photographer. These days, he spends most of his free time underwater exploring the depths of the natural world in an effort to promote conservation of marine wildlife.  You can follow Ryan on Twitter and make sure you have a look at his website.

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