Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Gabriel Barathieu

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In an ongoing series, Scubaverse.com’s Underwater Photography Editors Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown talk to underwater photographers from around the world that they admire.

This interview is with French photographer Gabriel Barathieu.

My name is Gabriel Barathieu and I am 33 years old. I started underwater photography seven years ago on the island of Reunion. Now I live on Mayotte Island, a beautiful French island near Madagascar.

I have always been a lover of the marine world. I started underwater photography because I wanted to share with the maximum number of people what I saw during my dives.

I have had photos published in various magazines such as Asian Diver, Tauchen, Diving etc. but also on famous sites like National Geographic, 500px, 1X. Also, I have had some award-winning photos in contests like Oasis Photo Contest 2015, 2016 and 2017, Trierenberg Super Circus 2015 and 2016, International Photography Award 2015 and 2016 and Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016. At the end of 2016, I become a new member of Pro Team Subal and at the beginning of 2017 I became the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017 with my octopus shot.

I have been a rebreather diver for three years. I am attracted by the great depths, by the desire to discover and to discover new things. This is mainly what I will be looking at in the future. After five years of using a Canon 5d Mark II, I changed a year ago to a Canon 5ds with Subal housing.

You can see more of my work on my website: www.underwater-landscape.com


N/C: How did your underwater photography start?

GB: When I started diving seven years ago, I was overwhelmed by everything I saw underwater. As soon as I had passed my first course, I bought a small underwater camera. This was the beginning of my passion. The will to share what I saw beneath the surface.

N/C: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?

GB: I’ve always been with Canon. My very first camera was a compact Canon SX 200 in an Ikelite housing but I quickly reached the limits of this equipment. So I immediately invested in high-end equipment of the time: a Canon 5D Mark II and a Subal housing. And I do not regret it! Recently I have changed my camera for a Canon 5ds, still in a Subal housing. Now I’m part of the Pro Team Subal, which is a great honor for me. The housings are of excellent quality with reliable and robust manufacturing. Moreover, their price suits me perfectly.

N/C: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?

GB: To take the time to learn; beautiful pictures don’t come on the first day. Underwater photography is a matter of patience, it is also necessary to consider the choice of material. Being expensive, it is necessary to determine your needs according to your budget. Then, you must know how to control your equipment on the surface. Learn the concepts of speed, aperture and sensitivity.

N/C: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?

GB: Oh, there are many! All the best known photographers of our day. Laurent Ballesta, Alex Mustard, Bryan Skerry, Tony Wu, Fred Buyle and more. I was always amazed at their photos and I thought that one day maybe, I would manage to take pictures like them.

N/C: What image are you most proud of and why?

GB: Um, it’s a very difficult question. I do not really have a favourite image but if I had to choose one, I would select a split-shot picture, probably one of my photos of turtles. These are very difficult to achieve. It is also the junction between two worlds, below and above the water.

N/C: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?

GB: I haven’t really travelled a lot for diving. I have spent time around Madagascar but my preferred destination for the moment, from what I have experienced, is Mayotte. This island has the second largest closed lagoon in the world. With an incredible biodiversity, it really is a small paradise for divers. Of course, I dream of going diving in Indonesia. Maybe at the end of this year…

N/C: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?

GB: I do not like this practice. I moved subjects like nudibranch when I first started taking photos but I don’t do that anymore. If they are misplaced, I don’t take the photo. On the other hand, one can have beautiful interactions with certain curious subjects, like the octopus or cetaceans. We must be patient and let creatures come to us. It is during times like these that I take my best photos.

N/C: What do you look for when you are making your images?

GB: I try to highlight the subject. That’s really the first thing I think about… But it combines many things: lighting, depth of field, composition etc. All the notions of photography are implemented for one purpose: to emphasise the subject.

N/C: What motivates you to take u/w photos?

GB: Find new things, make new photos and discover new sites. My motivation is not lacking, I love to dive and take pictures and that is enough motivation for me. Now, my dream is to be able to make my living in underwater photography but it is extremely difficult. I don’t lose hope and I know I have the passion to get there.

N/C: If you could photograph any one thing / place what or where would that be?

GB: One of my dreams is to go to the Poles to photograph the fauna that is there. I would love to realize this dream one day…

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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