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Photographer Spotlight: Michaela Skovranova

In a new series of articles, we’ll shine a spotlight on some of the world’s best underwater photographers, from the famous to the unknown, as well as offering tips for you to capture some stunning underwater photos of your own.

Michaela Skovranova is an Australian-based filmmaker, photographer, director and Olympus Visionary. You won’t find many bright colors in her desaturated underwater photos. But the images are full of emotion, drama and respect for the duality between beauty and the ocean’s raw power. Originally from Slovakia, Skovranova moved to Australia where her focus shifted to documentary and underwater capture.

Since then, she has amassed a variety of awards including a spot on Photo Boite’s 2016 list of 30 Under 30: Women Photographers. Her short films pick up the natural, ambient-lit storytelling where the images leave off. Her commissions include photography assignments for the New York Times, documentary filmmaking for the landmark documentary, “Keeping Australia Alive,” for ABC and creating visuals for Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation and Olympus Australia.

Alongside commissioned projects, Michaela continues to explore her vision through her personal work. She also conducts photography and video workshops in Australia and overseas.

How long have you been an underwater photographer?

I purchased my first underwater housing in 2014 before a trip to swim with the humpback whales in Tonga. I have been floating around in the ocean since then.

What got you interested in underwater photography?

I used to work as an educational officer at Sydney Aquarium. I remember walking through the tunnels and watching the seals play above me, and I always wondered what it would be like to share that space with them in the ocean and document their underwater dance. In 2014 I joined them at Narooma, in Australia.

What’s your favorite style of underwater photography?

Portrait-style capture. I love documenting movement, light, wildlife and people underwater.

Any favorite subjects?

My favorite subjects are mammals, both people and animals.

Any favorite destinations?

So far it has to be Tonga, but there are many, many places to explore. My exposure to the ocean has been fairly localized, so I am hoping to expand my underwater experiences a lot more in the coming year. I am currently prepping for a trip to Antarctica, which will be an entirely different kind of experience.

What’s your underwater setup?

Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Olympus housing My favorite lenses are 12 mm, 25 mm and 45 mm.

Do you have any tips you can share with new underwater photographers?

Prepare well before jumping in the water, and get your housing ready to go as soon as you step on the boat or enter the ocean. I often pre-focus and use a fixed focal-length lens, and stick to the particular settings I want to work with at the time. I leave the rest to the ocean and and enjoy whatever it may bring.

By guest author Michaela Skovranova

For more of Michaela Skovranova’s work, please visit her Instagram page.