Doing Scuba Digital: Marino Palla of Scubashooters

Doing Scuba Digital: Marino Palla of Scubashooters

Underwater photography is an art as much as it is a skill. And few websites have been more influential in the UW photographer community than In the context of ‘Nudi Festival’, its joint UW photography contest with Deepblu, we interviewed its illustrious founder, Marino Palla.

Deepblu: How did you get into scuba diving?

Marino: I was born in Rapallo, a small coastal city in northern Italy near Genoa. It was also the hometown of scuba gear manufacturer Mares, where my father worked. So you can say I have been involved with scuba diving since I was 4. I began UW photography with a compact camera in 2001 right after I completed my Open Water Diver course.

D: What are some of your other hobbies and interests?

M: I am curious and a veritable jack-of-all-trades. My interests range from UW photography to flying aircraft. Really, I’m a pilot! But I also love riding my motorbike, just as I love riding my mountain bike down on the slopes of the Dolomites (a mountain range in northeastern Italy, red.). Other cultures and religions excite me, and I like food and wine. (muses) I like wine so much that I decided to take a sommelier course and I’m proud to be a member of the Italian sommelier association.


Photo credit: Marino Palla

D: What led you to create

M: (laughs) You know, I never intended to create I’d say I just merged my passions for the ocean, photography and technology. I was regularly visiting other UW photography websites for inspiration until I realized there was no network quite like The idea kept me up for three nights in a row.

D: How does cater to the UW photography community?

M: It’s the first and only real UW photo database on the internet that you can browse by any criterion you click: by location, author, scientific name, shutter speed, exposure, and so on. We believe this is not just inspiring for UW photographers but very helpful too. Additionally, UW can also serve as any UW photographer’s personal portfolio.

D: How big is now?

M: really is a network that extends beyond our website and our e-magazine. Our website has received over 30,000 submissions from more than 1700 underwater photographers from around the globe, and thousands of people check in regularly just to see the pictures and learn. On the social front, our Facebook fanpage is followed by over 340,000 people and the group has some 23,000 members. Not bad for a four-year old baby!

D: What else do you do organize for your members?

M: UW photographers like to ‘play’ with their photos and they love to dig their hard drives for their best works when it’s contest time. We decided to launch a monthly contest which is now in its 23rd edition. When the time was ripe for to host a bigger event, we launched the Deep Visions Underwater Photography award in 2015. One of the contest features is that photographers remain anonymous to the jury to prevent favoritism.


Photo credit: Marino Palla

D: What advice would you offer to aspiring underwater photographers?

M: Aspiring UW photographers have an easier time nowadays. Both gear and learning resources have vastly improved. But at the basis, I think an aspiring UW photographer should master the art of photography on land first, get to know their camera well, understand how light works, practice composition and so on. They then should obtain a scuba diving license and familiarize themselves with scuba gear, buoyancy and currents before looking for underwater camera housings, strobes and arms.

D: Is it really that complicated?

M: No, it isn’t. But if you want to take UW photos you must sooner or later go underwater (laughs). Of course, one doesn’t need expensive cameras to begin with. A compact camera or even an iPhone will make the deal at least in the early days of the newborn UW photographer.

D: How have the internet and social media changed the UW photography industry?

M: Very, very deeply. Think accessibility to resources, information and images. Imagine, before the internet, many had never seen the wonderful colors under the sea and all the incredible life forms. If you didn’t stumble upon an UW photo book by chance or see a tv documentary, many wouldn’t know and in fact many didn’t. All of that has changed thanks to the internet.


Photo credit: Marino Palla

D: What does the future hold for the industry?

M: I have been talking about what we take out of the ocean: its beauty, colors and its amazing landscapes and treasures. I strongly believe that the UW community must give back something to the ocean, or we may soon lose the very thing we love.

D: How does plan to do its part in ocean conservancy?

M: We just started our Blueline project. It’s a section on our website where we will host stories by or in cooperation with underwater photographers. We hope that this will help raise awareness about the fragility of the ocean and eventually effect some real change.


This interview has been edited for style and clarity.