From wedding to maternity portraits, these photographers showcase their creativity underwater
From surreal compositions of Alice in Waterland by the Bahamas girl Elena Kalis, to mesmerising shots of nature and sea creatures by the likes of David Doubilet of National Geographic fame and the Belgian conservationist Ellen Cuylaerts, who was declared World Champion of the 2014 underwater photography competition — underwater photography has always held a sense of mystery and adventure. Back home, photographers illustrate the diversity of the underwater world and do the unusual by shooting weddings, maternity portraits and fashion, apart from marine life.
Specialisation: Fashion and wildlife
On one of his dives, Sumer Verma was taking a picture of an eel. The creature saw its reflection in his lens, got aggressive and started attacking it. “In an attempt to bite the lens, it bit my finger instead,” recalls Verma, 40, who entered this field in 1997 in Lakshadweep with Lacadives (scuba diving operator in the country that offers diving courses in Lakshadweep and the Andaman Islands). He’s always shot using wide angle lenses with his Canon 5D Mark II camera. “Even after more than 5,000 dives, the marine world fascinates me,” shares the Mumbai-based photographer. In order to master underwater photography you need to control your body in the water and anticipate animal behaviour. “And for that one needs time and money to learn and pursue diving,” he says. Verma has shot in Maldives, Indonesia, Galapagos Islands and Andaman Islands. A few years ago, he had photographed Hammerhead sharks in Galapagos. “As a kid it was a dream to see these sharks,” he says, having freelanced with magazines such as National Geographic, Better Photography and The Indian Quaterly. Details: luminousdeep.com
From an analyst at the Corporate Executive Board to a professional photographer, Vivek Kunwar’s journey has been exciting. “Photographers are always in search of unseen vantage points and crazy compositions. When I first came across underwater images, I was thoroughly intrigued. I had established myself as a photographer by then and the idea of shooting underwater excited me,” says 29-year-old Kunwar, who uses a 5D Mark III. Specialising in underwater fashion photography, he shoots with models all the time. “It is virtually impossible to communicate underwater and it is difficult for models to read a photographer’s signs as they aren’t wearing any gear on their eyes so we brief them on how they need to pose and give our feedback after every attempt, ” says the Delhi-based photographer, whose work has been featured in Soura magazine and Vogue Italia.
He has loved water ever since he went on a family holiday to the Maldives when he was 10 and learnt to dive. “The resort was offering introductory dives where they teach you various exercises in shallow waters. I felt a sense of awe and euphoria the moment I learnt to dive. I immediately knew this is where I wanted to be,” says the Bengalurean, who started as a dive instructor in Bangaram, Lakshadweep. “I realised I should document the underwater world and started shooting in 2005,” shares Mistry, who started with a Nikon D70 and now uses Nikon D300, D800, 5D Mark II. With no professional training in photography, he learnt from books and online tutorials. “I was fortunate to stay in a cottage close to a lagoon in Bangaram. It was a good learning phase for me,” says the 35-year-old, who shot whales and dolphins in Sri Lanka last year. “I have been in this field for 20 years now, but it was after a long time that I came across these creatures,” he says. Details: umeedmistry.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anup J Kattukaran
Specialisation: Wedding, maternity and wildlife
The first thing he did after getting his Ikelite underwater housing (camera case) was jump into a swimming pool and take a picture of himself. “I flipped the camera and saw a badly framed image of me. But it was a dream to finally be able to shoot underwater,” says the Bengaluru-based photographer. He started his journey by shooting weddings in 2008 and then went on to do courses in scuba diving at Andaman Bubbles and underwater videography at Liquid Media in Thailand. Since then, he has taken maternity photographs as well. “My Canon Mark II and III cameras have always been a part of every work or leisure trip. I end up paying a lot on excess baggage, but it’s worth it,” laughs the 33-year-old. Though he shoots in the waters of Maldives and Thailand, his favourite will always be the Andaman Islands. He is conducting a Maldives underwater photography workshop from September 5 to 12 on a boat called Ari Queen. At Rs 73,000. Details: 9886754941
Need to know
Underwater housing, or the special camera case that offers protection, is available with Ikelite, Olympus and Gates online on backscatter and B&H (bhphotovideo.com)
With an add-on flash, waterproof casing and clip-on lenses, smartphones can be used underwater, too. And with a camera app called Aqua Camera Pro, you can use proximity sensors to shoot videos
Use the newly-launched GoPro underwater camera for cut aways and to shoot small documentaries
Amateurs who want to enter this field can do courses at Lacadives in Lakshadweep and Andamans, besides diving courses at Orca Dive Club. Details: orcadiveclub.in, lacadives.com
With more people showing interest in underwater photography and filmmaking, Anees Adenwala, an instructor at Mumbai’s Orca Dive Club and the founder-trainer at Underwater Film Services, says, “Many people learn scuba diving with a plan to eventually learn photography, to show their creativity.” With many diving schools sprouting up in India, the choices are plenty. “Apart from the Andaman and Lakshadweep, people can learn diving, underwater photography and cinematography in Mumbai, Netrani, Puducherry and Goa. Outside India, Thailand and Indonesia are the best, ” he says. Details: email@example.com
Mayuri J Ravi