About Maria

Hola, Hello and Bienvenido a mi website.  También puedo hablar español y lo hablo aquí todavía en los hospitales por donde trabajo como auxiliar …..

Welcome to my site where I’d love to share all of my knowledge and tips for success to help you take beautiful, eye-catching, colourful underwater photographs.  If you are after the technical side to underwater photography, I’m afraid that you may just want to fin over my page as fast as possible, but if you are interested into learning how to take fabulous photos as a beginner in a techno-babble free way, then you’ve definitely done a deco stop at the right place.

So who am I?  Well, just to cut what could be a very long story as short as possible, I had a dream to follow sharks around the world and learn about them and their habitats as much as possible from seeing them when I was stuck in hospital recovering from being run over for the second time with 15 fractures and rebuilt with metalwork back in 1994.

For more of that story (some people find it inspirational but I just prefer to crack on, carry on smiling/hopping and doing something positive) feel free to visit my Ocean Visions Photography page (which is currently being updated).  What I didn’t have at the time was a) diving experience – I had a huge fear of staying underwater.  I was an incredibly happy snorkelling but anything deeper scared the wetsuit off me and b) any photography knowledge at all.

Was I nervous by all the comments that I needed a rather much larger system to take good photos underwater and that I needed to be a diver – well …. maybe a little.  Did it take me long to get over my fear of being underwater … hmmmm …. only 3 years and lots of Discover Dives in Australia and Belize until I finally met an amazing Instructor, Angie from Utila Dive Centre who gently took me under her wing and finally I PASSED.

Fortunately and finally after a lot of buoyancy practices and more dives with great guides, I could finally have some great adventures with a small Sony Cybershot 3.1 megapixel camera purchased with a red filter and a wide angle lens.

Did I have an SLR system at all?  Oh yes and I loved it for it’s speed – wow, you could simply keep your finger on that shutter and it would simply keep going and going, compared to my Cybershot where I had to pan, fire and hope something sharp and identifiable would pop into the frame a looooong time after taking the picture!

And eventually it did, and after going through a mega-shorde of cameras, SLRs, Mirrorless, Compacts, drowning quite a few on the way along with strobes, different lenses, I’ve kinda picked up a few tips which I’d love to share with you, so that you don’t make the same, sometimes expensive mistakes that I did.

Since 2003 when I had the idea of approaching REEF in Florida USA to launch their very first field station of Latin America in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – and those that know me, know that I am shy about my achievements, I’m very proud to have helped Mexico launch their first ever Dive Show in Cozumel giving a talk there on the REEF project, and on returning to the UK launched shark conservation campaigns with the late most amazing Peter Benchley and our Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, for The Shark Trust, given many talks over the years at both the NEC and London Dive Shows after pioneering the first ever courses completely dedicated to just compact cameras back in February 2006 when I was very proud to approach PADI and launch the first ever underwater photography courses with their Digital PADI Underwater Photography Speciality, written for many magazines such as The Sunday Times, Amateur Photographer, DIVE magazine, Thai Airways Magazine as well as a regular column with Sport Diver UK on all things compact.  Oh yes, and I forgot to add that Martin Edge asked me to write for his book and I also authored and produced a book “Underwater Photography for Compact Camera Users” which I was very humbled and nearly fell off the boat when DIVER magazine called me whilst leading an overseas trip in Raja Ampat to tell me that it had scooped “Best Book of the Year Award.”   I won BSAC’s Travel Photographer of the Year in 2009, two Bronze Medals in the Annual Contest of Underwater Photography. com’s competition, scooped my Distinction with the Royal Photographic Society with a portfolio taken with both a Digital SLR and a compact (and no, they couldn’t tell the difference between the pictures) as well as being asked by the Veolia Wildlife Photography Judging Team to be in the Top 100 of their annual competition at the Natural History Museum in 2011.  More recently I was Highly Commended in the British Society of Underwater Photographer’s Annual Splash-In with a photograph taken in Kimmeridge and last year became runner-up at the British Photography Awards at the Savoy Hotel in London with this image.

Winning Image with Compact Camera

I also regularly gave talks for Steve Warren at INON UK in London and wrote for INON America as well as joining up with PADI, SSI, Scubapro, Hollis/Oceanic and Sport Diver Magazine to promote Digital Underwater Photography with my Ocean Bus at various events.  I was also super proud to regularly give talks at both London’s Excel and Birmingham NEC Dive Shows too since October 2005 for 10 years.

But my one dream which I wanted to fulfil was to help protect sharks and mantas in some way from being fished.  My late Dad loved sharks and adopted one even though he was in his eighties.  As soon as I heard that mantas were being targeted for their gills to be in Chinese medicine as well as hoards of sharks being caught and finned on a daily basis in Indonesia, I was on the next plane to fly over there to help with data and this was passed to The Manta Trust, Aquatic Alliance, Project Aware and The Shark Trust in preparation for the next CITES meeting in Bangkok.  It was the first time that a species had been put forward to be protected and was granted protection straight away from being fished in this way.  However, it was absolutely heartbreaking to see and the stress of it, combined with losing mum and dad was a bit too much and I needed a little break from everything for a little while.

However, I’ve really been missing helping everyone with their photography and am definitely full of gusto to help as many guests as I can.  I also love giving talks to raise money for ocean conservation charities.  To date I’ve raised £500 for Biteback through the sales of my book, as well as helping Sea Shepherd, The Shark Trust, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and The Scuba Trust, which helps disabled divers to experience our underwater world.

Underwater Photography for Compact Camera Users

My book “Underwater Photography for Compact Camera Users” made the 14th Best Selling Book on underwater photography in the WORLD.  How incredible is that.  If you are interested in a copy of my book, you can buy a copy of it through Amazon.  If you fancy some FREE tips, just email me a copy of your proof of purchase and I’ll zoom some right over to you.  I also made a DVD to help raise funds for “The School of Hope” on Mabul Island, Malaysia, so that homeless kids could have an education and also helped a children’s orphanage in Brazil back in 2003, taking them Christmas Gifts.


What is far more amazing, amazing, yes I did say that twice as I’m so amazed by it all, is that 23 of my guests have done incredibly well and gone on to become compact camera champions themselves, winning so many prestigious awards such as The British Society Underwater Photographer’s Best Beginner, 8 Sport Diver Photo of the Months, Daniel Norwood is now an Editor for Dive PhotoGuide and has over 15,000 followers and Erick Higuera, who has just scooped The Vision of the Sea Howard Hall Award for Outstanding Achievement toured with the Ocean Film Festival and his work was featured in the Blue Planet II.

Finally, my course guest from Dorset, Terry Griffiths from North Dorset BSAC has just been diving with Simon Rogerson, the Editor of SCUBA magazine this week at Swanage Pier.  Watch this space for more amazing stories coming soon ….

So if you feel that I fit the photo stop to help you take cracking photographs, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.  I’d really love to help you.

Wishing you lots of happy photo bubble adventures and look forward to seeing your photos

Maria xx