Happy Guests

I feel so lucky to have helped so many guests since February 2006 when I linked up with PADI to launch the first ever Digital Underwater Photography Course with Emperor Divers in the glorious Red Sea.

Since then my course guests have gone on to achieve spectacular photographs and achievements themselves.  Here is just a sample of their incredible work.

Erick Higuera in the top left photograph needs no words to introduce for anyone in the USA or in Mexico.  I happily showed him everything I knew about an Olympus 5060 back in 2003 when I regularly took part in the Shark Research Institute’s Whale Shark Trips in La Paz, Mexico when Mexico was my then home.  Since those days, he has gone on to become a worldwide recognised underwater filmmaker, scooping a Stan Waterman Award at Beneath the Sea in New Jersey last year and this year the Highly Acclaimed Vision of the Sea, Howard Hall Award for Outstanding Achievement by Michael Aw.  He is currently touring with his work with Joe Romeiro for the Ocean Film Festival.

Daniel Norwood got in touch with me back in 2007 as he needed help to understand how his Sea & Sea strobe worked with his Fuji compact before a trip to Indonesia.  In just a few hours, he left the course full of confidence and came back with such amazing photos that he didn’t just win Sport Diver’s Photo of the Month, but also scooped the British Society of Underwater Photographer’s best beginner shortly afterwards with this stunning portfolio shown below beating the then Chairman by 27 points.  He has been writing for DivePhotoGuide and has gained over 150,000 on his own page.  Truly incredible!


And the ladies have done incredibly well too with Lin Henson and Rebecca Cole both scooping Sport Diver Photo of the Month competitions, Rebecca in fact won it twice over the years it ran! Here’s Lin with her beautiful photo taken in Nuweiba, Egypt.

David Kittos became incredibly the third course guest out of more than 6 to win Sport Diver’s Photo of the Month with this amazing Lionfish picture on the right, after borrowing my trusty INON Fisheye Lens.  He then went onto to write for Underwater Photography Magazine and Digital SLR Magazine and has become an accomplished land photographer.


Martin McQuay, bottom left, also did incredibly well to have his photography work displayed at the British Society of Underwater Photographer’s Stand at the Birmingham NEC Dive Show.

More coming soon …. But in the meantime …..

Here are what a few of them have said about my passion for all things compact camera related around the UK from Claire Nicholson reviewing my book to Kirstie Harris at a course in Brixham to a PADI Event Day at Portland, Dorset and even up to my old home in Yorkshire 🙂 …. and yes, I am blushing.

More lovely feedback from over 10 years of helping guests

“A fabulous course taught with passion and enthusiasm.  Even being advised on how to get the camera working has improved my pictures beyond recognition.”  Steve Jones, Recovery Diver, Metropolitan Police who joined me for the launch of PADI’s Digital Underwater Photography Course with Emperor Divers – Feb 2006

 “Without Maria’s passion for photography and helping others like myself, I would not be producing such wonderful underwater photographs, something that I’ve been striving to achieve for some time.  She quickly helped me to overcome my fear of the technical side of photography and helped me to learn the advanced topics with ease and lots of fun.  The results of my photographs have hugely improved.  Thanks immensely.”  Helen Denholm-Simmonds – Course Participant in Nuweiba, Egypt

“I’ve always been a useless photographer.  My above-water photographs have always been terrible.  And I was really worried that I’d come back from this amazing holiday in Cocos with nothing to show for it.  But, thanks to everything I learnt on your course, and the confidence you gave me, I’ve got loads of beautiful photographs to show to my friends. Being chosen as a finalist newcomer in the BSAC competition is just the cherry on the cake.”  Jason Stormer

“Just a quick one to say thanks for yesterday.  The venue was superb, the lunch was great and the lesson was interesting from start to finish.  I now feel confident I’ll be able to come back from the Galapagos with photos that I can be proud of and that will do the trip justice.  It was exactly what I was looking for.”  David Hayden

“Firstly can I take this opportunity to thank you for a fantastic two days on my Underwater Camera Course and Basic Photoshop Skills.  I found your way of teaching very good and to the point without going over unnecessary ground.  Your manner was very easy to associate with which in my mind made the learning experience so much easier and enjoyable.  I enjoyed my time in your company, it is very difficult to meet people these days who can keep a conversation flowing and you done that with ease.”  John Brodie.

“A very worthwhile course that appealed to digital photographers of all levels.  Maria’s knowledge and experience inspired us all and being able to see and edit our photos on her laptop was a great bonus.  Thanks Maria, you deserve to go far!”  Sue Searle, Owner, Great Escape Guesthouse, Swanage – Participant on the launch of PADI’s Digital Underwater Photography Course with Emperor Divers

 “On my way to Raja Ampat on Monday so thought I’d get some instruction on how to use my Canon G10.  I had a 2 hr one-to-one with Maria yesterday afternoon.  Fantastic is all I can say!  Been trying to do white balance for 2 years now without success and in the first minute Maria had sorted it all out for me.  She covered the use of ISO, EV, AV and Manual Mode, not just how to operate the camera but what the settings do to the shot you are taking and in what circumstances to use the different settings.  Really great!”  Jason Haiselden, Owner, Buddies Guest House, Swanage

 “Hi Maria, just wanted to say thank you very much for all of your help and advice starting me off with underwater photography.  I’m looking forward to using my Canon S100 and housing in South Africa.  I enjoyed the day at the lovely Glebe Guesthouse in Frome which had a great view!  We were lucky it was a nice day!  I learnt loads that day and I’m looking forward to receiving your tips.  Thanks again!”  Sandra Hilder

“Just wanted to say thanks for all your help yesterday.  It was a very enjoyable day and I can see already that my photos have made a big improvement.  I can’t wait to try my new skills on a ‘proper’ dive.”  Martin Bruce, Deputy Editor, Sport Diver

“Had a fantastic day with Maria on the photography course, was made to feel very welcome, learnt loads and looking forward to putting it all into practice on our first dive holiday.”  Tracey and Simon Hill

“Hi Maria, just came back from our holiday and all we kept saying was “Thank God for Maria” whilst we were taking photographs in the cave as we could finally remember what to do.  We are so grateful.”  Lucy and Beverley Chamberlain

“Hi Maria, just came back from my holiday and can’t believe that people I don’t even know are voting my photos as their favourites on Flickr.  I am so amazed.  Thank you so much.”  Paul Griffin

 “Hi Maria, I had a real enjoyable time on Saturday.  The course was very relaxed and friendly.  It covered everything I wanted and has left me feeling confident to move away from auto mode and set up the camera as I want and need.  Thanks again.”  Simon McGhee

“Maria, I just wanted to say thanks for such a great “Get Creative” course yesterday.  Your pool is ideal for practice and the fish and plant life models really helped me put into practice the techniques I had learnt in the morning.  The best bit was having the pool to myself and you on hand to go through my queries before and after each shot, the personal touch really made it for me.  Thanks again Maria and I hope to show you some photos I’m proud of very soon!”  Zara New

 “I really enjoyed your course yesterday and thought your teaching style and general professionalism was par excellence!  Thank you for all the time and help.  You really offer an amazing service and I would thoroughly recommend you to anyone else wanting to learn.”  Rachel Clayton

 “Maria, you are a star!  Your attention to detail is unbelievable, you’ve simplified the PADI Digital Underwater Photography Book 100 times over with the added personal touch!  Many thanks!!”  Tara McCloskey

 “Fantastic, over and above the call of duty.”  Jimmy Thurston

 “Really great course, personal attention more than needed.  Brilliant!  Clare Mullen

Photography Talk & Event Feedback

“Maria came to New Scotland Yard where she used to work and gave a talk to the Metropolitan Police Photographic Society.  She was by far one of our most popular speakers with a relaxed, friendly style of presentation.  Maria’s enthusiasm for her photography was infectious and she told the Society how she got involved with underwater photography and brought along lots of examples of her work.  What the audience liked the most was the way that Maria explained how she got stunning results from basic equipment.  Our members came away full of inspiration feeling that underwater photography was within the grasp of the ordinary digital photographer.”  Steve Osborn, Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard

“Hi Maria, thank you so much for the very interesting talk, presented in such a lovely friendly way.  It was very much appreciated by us all.  We were all left spellbound by the Mimic Octopus video and pictures.  I am sure your advice will help us all get some good pictures from our Red Sea Trip that we can share with you all.”  Paul Feakes, Croytech, BSAC’s 187

“Hi Maria, it was so lovely to meet you, and I would like to think you are now part of our diving family.  As to the talk, we found it to be a very informative and entertaining presentation, we have had extremely positive feedback from people all day and also mass disappointment from people who couldn’t make it!  We are very grateful to you to take the time to visit us at Pro-Dive Scuba in Hull and would strongly recommend you to any other club that is interested in learning more on Digital Underwater Photography, you were so approachable and helpful to everyone.”  Kim Rowan, Pro-Dive Scuba, Hull

“It was a lovely talk, you are so inspirational.”  Lynne Evans, East Midlands Underwater Photography Group