Tanya G. Burnett, 44, is an underwater photographer based in West Palm Beach, Florida, who has been shooting professionally since 1995. A frequent contributor to Sport Diver, she is the magazine’s field editor and leads private photo instructional trips all over the world. Here are a few tips from her numerous trips to Indonesia; learn more about Burnett's work at islandexposure.us.
Sport Diver: What’s the most important dive skill for aspiring underwater photographers?
Burnett: Buoyancy is numero uno. You have to be a very good diver – there’s this enormous camera in front of you; positioning it is complicated, so shooting can be complicated. You can practice with your camera on land, but the act of being underwater and buoyant with the camera is key.
SD: What’s the hardest part of shooting underwater?
Burnett: You have to work hardest on lighting; it’s like studio work, there’s a similar technicality. Water is more complicated than air because it’s ever-changing.
SD: Is that harder or easier in Indonesia?
Burnett: Because reefs can be a lot shallower there, there’s a lot more available light, and that tends to help achieve better color.
SD: What’s the most frustrating thing new underwater photographers have to cope with?
Burnett: The most difficult thing we face is the time limitation. You just found this perfect subject at the end of a dive… but at least you attempt it. You can’t always just go back and try it again as you can on land.
SD: What are some specific skills new underwater photographers can practice?
Burnett: It depends on your aim as an individual photographer; if Lembeh is your destination, get in the pool and practice before you go. I’ve shot many a plastic critter in a pool!