In this ongoing series, we’ll chat with prominent and up-and-coming underwater photographers. Today we highlight Matt Testoni.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I started diving eight years ago. But it took me a few years to purchase an underwater camera and the obsession began. Although I learned to dive and take photos in Sydney, Australia, it wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne that my photography really started to leap ahead. I tend to shoot all types of underwater images. However, my real passion lies in big, wide-angle shots that are filled with color and beautiful sea creatures.
How long have you been an underwater photographer?
I received my first camera, a tiny waterproof compact, as a gift four years ago. I have become and underwater photo addict ever since.
What got you interested in underwater photography?
I was going to do a bit of work on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia on a dive boat and thought I best get a camera so I could capture some memories. Luckily, I received a small one as a gift before the trip. From my first dive on the Great Barrier Reef, I knew it was going to become an obsession. I had an overwhelming urge to capture a snap of every single type of fish I could find.
What’s your favorite style of underwater photography?
Wide-angle photography really stands out as my preferred style. The ability to create huge scene shots that contain hundreds of fish of different species in what often seems to be an underwater ballet just grabs me.
Any favorite subjects?
Sea dragons and crabs really engage me and I can’t swim past one without snapping a dozen or so photos. This does mean that I can be a painful dive buddy. Crabs are always unique animals to shoot as they have such varied behavior, from hermit crabs that slowly cross open, sandy spaces like a nomad in the desert, to decorator crabs that camouflage themselves with intricate detail. Weedy seadragons are one of the most beautiful animals you can hope to encounter underwater. Each one has a unique body pattern that can be used to identify individuals, which means that I must capture each one in the lens of my camera.
Any favorite destinations?
A recent trip to the Maldives blew me away. The opportunities to photograph whale sharks one moment and manta rays the next made it an unparalleled dive destination. The final dive we did near the capital was also a truly unique dive experience. Hundreds of huge stingrays and eels inhabit a single dive site. This makes it the most animal-action-packed encounter I have ever had.
What’s your underwater setup?
Currently I use an Olympus OMDEM1 in an Olympus housing, with a variety of lenses and ports and various strobes and lights. I really love mirrorless cameras when doing underwater photography. Their compact size allows you to get angles that bigger rigs just don’t allow.
What tips can you share with new underwater photographers?
My biggest pointer would be that you need to know when to take the shot and when to let the moment pass. I often see newer photographers taking photos in bad conditions or at bad angles. Let the shot pass and enjoy the moment. This will make the dive all the more enjoyable and your photos all the better.
By guest author Matt Testoni