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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Jason Isley

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Jason Isley

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 week’s interview is with Sabah-based underwater photographer Jason Isley.

Jason IsleyI’m originally from the UK but have now lived in Sabah for 20 years, happily married with a 2 week old daughter which I’m sure will be the reason to reduce my many trips away exploring the underwater world. I grew up in the UK with a keen interest in the natural world, always over the marshes or woods bird watching when I was young and whenever my parents took us on holiday abroad we would spend many hours snorkeling or exploring the rock pools – catching weird little creatures and keeping them in jam jars.

I’m an old photographer! One of the people that rabbits on about the film days and only having 36 exposures to play with on a single dive!

N/C: How did your underwater photography start?

JI: I learnt to dive in Australia and immediately had a job on one of the many dive boats. I tried a few pics with a disposable underwater camera but it wasn’t until I moved to Sipadan to help create Scubazoo that I tried photography more seriously. My job was filming guests every single day diving Sipadan and one day a guest offered his NikV to play with during my fun dives. I loaded the film and went for a dive and as soon as the film was processed I was immediately hooked. It was so challenging, unlike the filming which had become so repetitive. I loved that challenge of capturing a story in a single frame.

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

JI: Even though it didn’t belong to me I loved that NikV with the 15mm lens, the sharpness was amazing. I’m currently using Nikon D800 in Nauticam housings and I would have to say I have no plans for trading them in. The Nauticam housing has really taken over the housing market, and for good reason – and what I like about the company is that they listen to your feedback and are always trying to improve rather than just brush you off.

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

JI: Buy two books (Underwater Photography by Martin Edge & Underwater Masterclass by Alex Mustard) and go on a trip with a good recognised pro – that will increase the speed of your knowledge and technique. Then, when you have the basics under control, try and find your own style; and don’t just follow underwater photographers, look at topside photographers and artists to get inspiration. There is now far too much repetition in underwater photography – the same images are constantly being uploaded online again and again, so try to think outside the box.

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

JI: David Doubilet. I know many people quote his name, but his book Water, Light, Time is probably the best ever underwater photography book. I love the fact people are ‘creating’ new techniques in underwater photography and yet they all already exist in that book!

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

JI: It may sound corny but I can’t wait to show my new daughter the underwater world when she is old enough. Photographing her amongst the big schools of fish and next to the turtles at Sipadan will be an incredible experience. I just hope there are still plenty of great dive locations left by the time she is old enough to dive!

Jason has recently published a book called Small Blue World and you can read a review about it here.

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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Mares & SSI launch new promotion

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SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.


The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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