The world underwater is unlike anything on land. It presents photographers with difficult challenges they have to overcome but it also creates completely unique opportunities. You can try and fake an underwater photograph in Adobe Photoshop but it will never look quite the same. To get it right you have to make the image under the water.
Even with all the challenges, underwater photography is surprisingly accessible. Actually taking a photo is the same process—you have to consider lighting, composition, exposure, and everything else you do on land—just in a more challenging environment. You also need to consider your safety, oxygen levels, buoyancy, and your fellow divers every time you start to frame a shot. More than one underwater photographer has died after losing track of their oxygen level while getting too caught up creating an image.
Underwater photography isn't just pictures of fish. Yes, nature photography is a huge part of it but some of the best works are underwater portraits and explorations of tone or texture. In this article I've gathered 25 awe-inspiring underwater photos. There's everything from portraits staged in a swimming pool to small fish in their natural habitats. The one thing that unites them all is that they were all taken underwater.
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Underwater photography is one of the hardest photographic disciplines to master. To make a great image underwater you need to be a talented photographer and an exceptional diver. There are relatively few people who are world class at both.
If you're looking for more inspiration you should check out the work of David Doubilet and Brian Skerry. They are Natural Geographic's go-to underwater photographers. Between them they have thousands of hours experience diving and thousands more photographing. They are the true masters of the craft of underwater photography. Maybe one day you will join their ranks.