Tag Archives: workshop

Once in a while…

montage Indonesia

Just once in a while, the possibility to do something special drops into our lives. Sometimes you have to be cautious and sometimes bold. My latest opportunity seemed to require a measure of both when I was asked whether I would consider teaching underwater photography to a high-profile but complete novice underwater photography client, who had heard that I had a reputation for good instruction regardless of camera system. But the prospect of setting up a major camera system, housing and teaching package for a client, despite an “all expenses included” tag is not for the faint-of-heart. Your reputation is on the line in a major way and, whilst you might cope with the occasional less-than-glowing review if you have hundreds of other positive accolades, it might take only one mistake with a high-profile client to completely ruin your reputation.  And the economics of 1-to-1 teaching are not as simple as you might think.

Nevertheless, a chance to travel to Indonesia and work on the very best live-aboard in the region was tempting enough for me to commit. I did so with a vengeance, seeking unequivocal success from the outset by over-delivering on every aspect of the commitment. I had hoped for more opportunities than those that actually transpired, to dive outside the instructional periods in order to build my own image stock.  But when a client is footing the complete bill, you work to a different drum beat. He was also learning to free dive and wanted me to capture that. And he had an appetite for knowledge of composition that allowed me to test the framework of that soon-to-be-published book, Winning Images with Any Underwater Camera.

So I took part in one of the most interesting diving adventures of my career, travelling in a style that so far I had only dreamed about. My 4 fellow travelers were the very finest company and the crew of 17, a ratio of over 3 crew members to each guest, provided absolutely exceptional service. I chose to wake at 0600 and retire at 2330 in order to squeeze the most out of almost 2 weeks in such a wonderful place on an amazing ship.  It was in many ways hard work and in others fabulously relaxing.

Normal discretion for client confidentiality prohibits me documenting too much (images included), but I have attached a few pictures of the trip and a link below to a short video & still image montage, which between them give a little taste of what what this venture was about.

I’m told by others, critically by my client, that this went well. I shall be very interested to see whether it leads to similar work…

And finally, serendipity: passing through Singapore on the way back home yesterday, my client passed a magazine stand and opened a copy of Sport Diver US, where he found an article by Paul Colley about mastering light in underwater photography.  It was one of 10 articles for a column that I’m writing this year for that magazine (and the first time that I had seen any of the articles in hard copy).  My credibility (and my pride) soared.  Thank you Alex M for the associated earlier introduction to the picture editor!  I’m just loving writing my first column.

all best, Paul

Link to video montage

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Shark photography: Cuba November 2014

Dear friends,

If you are interested in the superb shark, goliath grouper and saltwater crocodile photography opportunities available in Cuba later this year, check out the attached itinerary for the photography-biased trips to Jardines de la Reina and Cayo Largo.  There will be a similar trip in January 2015, for which more details will follow later this year.

all best, Paul

Cuba photo workshop Nov 2014

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Photography workshop Jan-Feb 2014: Iconic Cuba


Cuban waters brim with life: sharks, crocs, turtles & colourful sponges

Cuban waters brim with life: sharks, crocs, turtles & colourful sponges

It is quite a while since I’ve been completely enthralled by new photographic opportunities.  And so after my recent fabulous experience in Cuba, I readily agreed to host a photography workshop there during one of The Scuba Place’s excursions, from 23 January to 6 February 2014.  I regularly shoot with both SLR and compact cameras (the embedded images are a mixture of both), so I can provide just about any kind of support that people need, from full-on instruction for beginners with compact cameras through to occasional tips for experienced SLR users (I am an accredited INON UK underwater camera instructor).

The diving in Cuba is diverse, but this trip will focus on some real excitement that beckons in the Jardines de la Reina, a marine reserve off the south east coast.  But it is also right to dwell a while in the capital and not rush headlong into the diving.  Havana is awash with iconic images and a photography-rich environment.  1950-vintage classic American cars by the street load.  And an amazing colonial architecture that harbours cottage industry rum and tobacco houses amidst the rhythmic pulse of salsa music floating from vibrant bars.  Soak it up!

Havana's pulse of life: classic cars & salsa bars, amazing people & and colonial architecture.  Hemmingway loved it...

Havana’s pulse of life: classic cars & salsa bars; amazing people; and colonial architecture. Hemmingway loved it…

A fast transfer boat from Jucaro will get us aboard the floating hotel/barge live-aboard la Tortuga in the Gardens of the Queen.  The efficient and affable crew will then get you to the dive sites daily using fast skiffs.  Day-end post-diving rum cocktails will put you in a pleasant frame of mind for highly-sociable and (for the photographers) educational evenings.

For those who love shark diving, or for people just yearning to see these magnificent creatures up close for the first time, the over-used adjective is the right one.  It’s awesome.  Diving with reef and silky sharks in big numbers is genuinely awe-inspiring.  Although such activity inevitably has a frisson of excitement, which sustains a healthy respect for these apex predators, for the greatest part you will just see these sharks swimming in their graceful, carefully-ordered sinuous ballet, giving divers a respectful distance, whilst still providing photo opportunities a-plenty.

above water treats: fast skiffs to see hermit crabs, jutias & iguanas in the mangroves, with gorgeous sunsets every day.

above water treats: fast skiffs to see hermit crabs, jutias & iguanas in the mangroves, with gorgeous sunsets every day.

With frequent sightings of goliath groupers and some delightful trips to the fringing mangroves and islands to see juvenile saltwater crocodiles, hermit crabs, iguanas and a cute little rodent called the Jutia, for me the experience is as good as diving gets.  For more information or to make a reservation call or email the Scuba Place sales director John Spencer-Ades (020 7644 8252, john@thescubaplace.co.uk).

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