Beth Watson is an explorer, diver, and prolific photographer. Her knack for capturing the world around her and sharing it is hard to miss in the dive community. In the work she does, she knows no bounds. There isn’t a subject to large for an angle or too small for attention, and it’s with this attitude that she is able to bring to life scenes that many will only ever dream of. In this interview, she tells us the whens, wheres, and hows of being Beth Watson.
You’ve just taken an excursion to Komodo, how’d it go?
Our Komodo trip was fantastic. The rugged topside topography of the Komodo archipelago, is spectacular. We enjoyed 10 days of clear skies and sunshine. The diving inside of Komodo Marine Park was fantastic. Our trip itinerary kept us diving in Northern Komodo for the majority of the trip. For me, the highlight of the trip was an epic encounter with 20 manta rays at “Manta Alley.”
How did you get into the art of photography?
I became interested in photography after receiving my first digital camera in 2001. The process of capturing an image, editing, and ultimately printing a picture through my computer was very intriguing and inspiring. Photography became my hobby for the next 8 years. After my first trip to Puerto Galera, the Philippines, in 2009, was when my hobby escalated into my passion. Then I started sharing images on social media, built a website, and began entering print and photography competitions.
From where do you pull your inspiration?
I am captivated by the beauty and splendor of our underwater world. Inspiring me to capture a subject or reef scene in unique, creative, thought-provoking ways. Putting a different “spin” on the normal is inspiring. Admiring the work of other photographers is a learning tool, helps me grow as a photographer, and encourages experimentation, enabling me to create my own style.
In the beginning, what was your trial-and-error process?
That’s a great question. In the beginning, there was a tremendous amount of trial and error. I am self-taught, as many photographers are, and knew nothing about photography. My learning process involved reading and experimenting. Not only was it a process to understand camera settings, but it was also vital to learn editing skills as well. Learning to use Photoshop was another tedious process. I am continually striving to improve and learn from mistakes, and I refuse to become complacent.
Your drone photos are gorgeous, have you looked into underwater drones?
Thank you for the compliment. I very much enjoy flying my drone and supplementing my portfolio with drone images and videos. It’s ironic that you asked this question. Today, I received a message on LinkedIn announcing the release of a new professional underwater drone. It looks very intriguing, with lots of potential. For the underwater videographer, this could be the wave of the future. Honestly, I travel with so much equipment now, there is no feasible way to incorporate an underwater drone into my travels.
What kind of gear do you prefer?
My underwater equipment: 2 Canon 5D MK IV bodies, Canon EF 8-15mmL fisheye zoom, Canon EF 16-35mmL zoom, Canon 100mmL macro lens, Nauticam housing, Nauticam 45 degree viewfinder, 3 dome ports, 3 – extension rings, Nauticam SMC II diopter, Zen mini dome port, 3 – Ikelite DS 160 Strobes, Ikelite sync cords, 3 Ikelite dome diffusers, Weefine Ring light 3000, Mini Gear MS-03 with rotation head, Mini Gear MA-67 Magnetic Adapter, Retra snoot, assortment of homemade filters and light shaping devices, DeepBlu COSMIQ + dive computer.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
It’s imperative to have good diving skills and buoyancy control before taking a camera underwater. Keep it simple. Don’t try to do too many things. Focus on one thing at a time and become proficient before moving on. Trial and error is intrinsic to learning and taking your photography skills to the next level. Experiment, think outside the box and don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Look at other photographers’ work whom you admire. What do you like about their work? Incorporate those aspects, develop and create your own unique photography style.
If you could hit up any dive spot on Earth right now, where would you go?
That is a difficult question and impossible for me to answer. I have been very fortunate to have dived many incredible destinations in the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. There are many other destinations I would love to visit someday. The ones that come to mind include the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Sipadan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Cocos Islands, Palau, Maldives, Fiji, Australia, Sea of Cortez, Seychelles, and Bahamas.
Thanks for your time. Anything else you’d like to say to Deepblu MAG readers?
Thank you for the opportunity to share and for the interview. It’s vital for divers and photographers to respect, protect and preserve our ocean environment. Please capture subjects naturally, without moving or manipulation. Lead by example. Photography is a journey, enjoy every step along the way. Be a visionary, if you see it, you can shoot it.
– Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor. All photos by Beth Watson.
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