Have you ever considered using social media as a method of learning underwater photography or finessing the way you shoot? If you haven’t considered it before, it may be interesting for you to learn that many people are online and doing it right now.
If tools like Facebook, Instagram and photography communities aren’t on your radar, it could be time to get online and start reaping the benefits that come with having a connection to a diverse and international community. It’s free to access, always available and you will gain visibility of all different styles, tastes and experience levels from oceans across the world!
The underwater photography community online is huge and constantly growing. If your first reaction to reading all about social media is to roll your eyes or to dismiss the online realm as the playground of millennials, hear me out!
There are two real benefits that come with using social media platforms to improve your photography. The first? It expands your mind to what’s possible. The portfolios of a vast array of photographers are now at the tip of your fingers, which is incredibly inspiring. Exploring the work of others can motivate you to ‘set the bar higher’ and immediately exposes you to new techniques and ways of thinking.
The second benefit is the feedback you can receive from members of your online community. I actively participate in Facebook communities such as ‘Wetpixel underwater photography’ (they have an excellent forum on their website) and ‘Marine Pixels – Underwater Photography’. Both of these communities are fantastic and allow members to request feedback on their images while viewing content from other contributors. The feedback is often positive and constructive which has allowed me to view my images from a new perspective and grow.
If you’re after something more specific, there are communities on Facebook catering to different subjects and different photography techniques. This can include anything from groups of people whose passion is blackwater diving, through to people shooting specifically using fluorescent filters… and everything in between. There really is something for everyone.
Being a macro enthusiast myself, I enjoy participating in ‘Underwater Macro Photographers’ and ‘International group of underwater macro enthusiasts’. I spend hours perusing images on underwater photography communities and connecting with other enthusiasts. Although I don’t always comment on each post individually or directly speak with the contributor, I enjoy working out what I like about each shot and what I would have done differently if it were my photograph. I’ve found that reviewing and critiquing images from other photographers has trained me to approach my own technique analytically. This has noticeably changed how I shoot underwater and edit my images.
In my experience, there is a generosity of knowledge on these communities which makes them incredibly collaborative and interactive. If you have a question, you can ask a knowledgeable group for help and advice on an issue you’ve having, what gear you need or to talk through and plan an upcoming project. This takes the guess work out of your photography and allows you to grow and learn from one-another. Information sharing and utilizing the collective experience is a quality of these groups and communities that keeps me coming back time and time again.
If the idea of participating in a formal community is intimidating, Instagram can be a great first step. If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it is a social media app that is designed for the publication and sharing of images specifically. There is an established underwater photography community contributing to Instagram and it’s easy to get involved!
In my opinion, Instagram has the largest volume and variety of underwater photography content available on any social media app. I believe this is because anyone, anywhere can contribute and the search tool, based on hashtags, is incredibly powerful. Because of this Instagram is a great resource for discovering new techniques and approaches to underwater photography. Like Facebook, you can use Instagram to connect with other photographers, follow trending techniques and receive feedback on your images. In fact, identifying and following specific tends is made easier on Instagram, as the search tool is more powerful than that of Facebook or similar social media apps.
Outside of your typical social media platforms are dedicated underwater photography websites and forums you should check out. Scubashooters is a great example of an online community where amateur and professional photographers come together to share images through the photographer portal. Additionally, the website has a forum where members can discuss underwater photography, diving destinations and scuba diving as a hobby. These websites open up your eyes to new places to shoot, new subjects to find, new ways of shooting and new people to collaborate with. As it’s a dedicated website, you will find that content is always relevant to the industry and is moderated to ensure that the community remains positive and constructive. Again, through viewing portfolios and popular images, it’s easy to identify current trends, new techniques and to better understand what makes a great image. The spirit of this website is really to collaborate, inspire and support.
While I’ve only discussed a handful of my favourite social media apps and forums with you, I hope I’ve shown the benefit that social media can bring. This goes above and beyond simply sharing the incredible things you’ve seen underwater with your friends and family. Social media allows you to be inspired by talented photographers globally while actively seeking feedback on your own work. Collaboration and knowledge sharing on these communities not only helps you to grow as a photographer but supports the growth of others.
My final advice to you is to research widely, see what’s available online, try a variety of social media applications or websites and get involved. Find a community or communities that you feel comfortable with and go at your own pace. I hope you find inspiration and see first-hand how the how the exposure you gain, feedback you receive and relationships you form can change your perspective on the way you plan, shoot and edit your images.
Check out more of Miranda-Clare’s photos on Instagram @divingphotos or visit her website www.mirandaclare.com.