One of the most important aspects of underwater photography is the equipment. It can be bulky, heavy and costly but it’s important to research and find what is best to suit your needs. It’s also very important that it’s reliable and you look after it well to avoid leaks and yes I have had one!
My equipment has certainly evolved over the years from the earliest, waterproof compact cameras when it started as a hobby while Scuba diving, then when I got a little more serious about 10 years ago, I bought the waterproof housing for my Canon G10, then about 4 years ago I got a GoPro Hero4 black.
When I decided to make it a profession about 3 years ago, I did a lot of research. I was using a Canon 5D iii for my regular shoots and found the suitable waterproof housing for that with Ikelite. It was a big investment with the housing, lens, wide angle lens 16-35mm, dome port and strobes but I was willing to make it and found all the parts at ScubaCam in Singapore. There was a bit of a learning curve in setting it up, which I can now do very quickly but there is no room for error.
Usually I set up at home before a shoot but sometimes I need to do it on location and I had a close call recently when I did this and was a bit slack with the checks. One thing I always do is submerge the camera slowly initially and when there are bubbles coming out you know there is a leak. This time it happened and I pulled it out straight away. Water had seeped in because a small piece of rubber seal was out of place. A decent amount of water had got in but luckily hadn’t affected the camera! Big scare though and I will be more careful in future as it would be an expensive mistake.
So far I have been extremely happy with the equipment and it was worth the investment. The upsides are it’s easy to use once you get used to it, it’s reliable (if you use it correctly and look after it). The downsides are it’s heavy and bulky and sometimes kids (and adults) can be intimidated by it. When I go to a shoot I usually have my Lowenpro suitcase which carries the heavy weights I use to hold down a backdrop, the strobes, backdrops and all the extra parts like chargers and cables. I also have a Murph&Murph bag which is perfect for carrying the camera and housing and then compartments for my weight belt, mask, towel, suncream, water, phone and all the extra bits. Its a great bag which I use for days at the beach with the kids as well.
I also have a huge box of fancy dress items, props, fabrics and outfits which I will bring along depending on the shoot. Having a daughter and two sons means I have mermaid tails, princess and fairy dresses, superhero costumes, pirates, Christmas, Halloween costumes you name it! I do love a themed shoot and kids do too.
These kids had a great time dressing up and were fascinated by the equipment (as was their Dad) which really helped them feel comfortable and we got some super cool shots with them.