What Do I Do Now?
If you’ve already done the basic photo class, where do you go and what do you do now, other than go out and dive, dive, dive. After the first introductory photo course, there are other basic and more advanced or specialized classes available. These cover the range from locally taught advanced classes to vacation photo trips to exotic locations and live-aboards around the globe. Talk to the divers in your local dive club and local dive shop. That’s frequently a great place to meet other photographers and find out what’s going on locally. Many scuba clubs have a photographers group within the club. Your dive shop owner knows which of his/her customers are photographers and may even be planning a trip based around photography. Ask! Check out the next scuba expo or show near you, there may well be a professional photographer teaching an underwater photo seminar there.
Even if they are teaching a short “basic” class or seminar, I’ve found that I frequently pick up little pearls of knowledge that help tie all the pieces together. Check to see if there is an underwater photography organization in your area. For example, South Florida/Miami area has the South Florida Underwater Photography Society http://www.sfups.org/ and the Los Angeles, California area has the Los Angeles Underwater Photography Society http://www.laups.org/. Organizations such as these really help you learn more about the art of underwater photography, as well as find like minded people to talk to about underwater photography. Look through the scuba publications; many pros, groups, and businesses advertise the photo classes and trips that are currently being offered. There are even classes on the web. Marty Snyderman offers a class on the web; the class is at http://www.theunderwaterphotographer.com/. The folks at Underwater Photo Tech http://www.uwphoto.com/ have an offer to give you the first Marty Snyderman class for free! The folks at Underwater Photo Tech also have photo dive trips/vacations. If you’re interested in making prints of your photos, and would like to learn more, Epson has a course on line that covers a variety of photo and printing subjects and info at http://www.epsononlineexperience.com/ .
Frequently, the more exotic trips for photographers are set up for the more advanced skill levels and equipment configurations. One notable exception to the “far away is only for the more advanced” thinking, is the Jim Church School of Underwater Photography taught by Mike Mesgleski and Mike Haber aboard the Aggressor Fleet live-aboards worldwide http://www.jimchurchphoto.com/ and http://www.aggressor.com/. They teach from beginners to the advanced, and everything in between. Beginners need not be intimidated. These entertaining and personable guys truly enjoy showing their students how to bring home great underwater photos. By the way, they also teach video if you or someone you know is interested in that aspect of the underwater photo world.
Another exception to the “far away/more advanced” thinking is Cathy Church. If you’d like to get away, but prefer a land based photo class for whatever reason, then, the Cathy Church Underwater Photo School at Sunset House on Grand Cayman might be more to your liking http://www.cathychurch.com/ and http://www.sunsethouse.com/. Cathy teaches from beginners to advanced and can take you from wherever you are on the learning curve and really help boost your knowledge and skills.
In addition to the photography classes, groups, dives, and vacations, don’t forget the specialty classes about the different aspects of improving your diving skills and widening your experience. The diving specialty classes can help improve your ability to get the photo that you want, (such as Peak Buoyancy), as well as widen your potential list of photo subjects, (wreck, deep, fish ID, night, or advanced OW course, to name a few). The choice is up to you. Now that you’ve got the basics, work on improving your knowledge and skills. You’ll love the results and the feeling of accomplishment.