In this ongoing series, we’ll chat with prominent and up-and-coming underwater photographers. Today we highlight Mario Chow.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I became an open-water diver in 2006. Afterward, I clearly remember making a mental note to myself: “sometime in my life, I will take a month or two just for diving.”
Five years later, the opportunity arrived while volunteering in the Mexican Caribbean. That’s where the ocean cast its spell upon me. Very soon after, I started taking underwater photographs to share the beauty and fragility of the sea with others and work on something I’m passionate about. To that end, I continue to help local conservation environmental non-profits by providing media and marketing consultancy.
How long have you been an underwater photographer?
Six years now. I borrowed an underwater camera from the dive shop where I was doing the divemaster course in 2011 and absolutely loved it. Afterward, I almost immediately bought my first underwater camera.
What got you interested in underwater photography?
I grew up far away from the ocean, and most of the people I knew five years ago have little idea about it. Experiencing the ocean for myself and falling in love with diving made me want to share its beauty with people that are oblivious about or apathetic to it and change their minds.
What’s your favorite style of underwater photography?
I strive to capture that feeling of awe and belonging one feels during a close encounter with marine life, which can be in marine-life portraits or humans interacting with nature. I use mostly wide-angle.
Any favorite subjects?
Any subject that acknowledges my presence and is curious enough to stay for a while. I’ve had great encounters with turtles, manta rays, sea lions and even dolphins. However, I must say sharks are at the top of my list.
What’s your underwater setup?
I use a Nikon D810 with an Aquatica housing and two Sea&Sea YS-D1 strobes.
Do you have any tips you can share with new underwater photographers?
Before attempting underwater photography, become a competent diver with good buoyancy and awareness of your depth and no-deco time. I’ve seen people almost die because of their overconfidence in their skills.
Start with a camera setup adequate for your experience level. Then, move upward as your photography level demands it.
A more expensive camera won’t make a bad shot any prettier. It will, however, give you more control. To capitalize such control, you need to fully understand what each dial and button does and how they impact your image.