Lee Newman has been selected as the Photographer of the Month for September. I first introduced to Underwater Photography at the tender age of 16 from an avid diver and photographer from Toronto. Lee always reminded me of him. Lee would come into the dive centre for air fills, and while he waited I would ask him question after question, and he would patiently try to answer me in a manner I could follow.
I had the honour of going on a couple of photo dives with Lee and Lisa, where I would be able to see Lee in action. His photographs are amazing, and we are lucky enough to be able to interview Lee for this month’s story.
Lee Newman – Photographer of the Month for September
Ken – When did you first start taking pictures, when did you become an underwater photographer?
Lee – My first memory of using a camera (a borrowed Nikonos 4A) was in 1985 while I was living and working in Grand Cayman. I started shooting in earnest – topside in 1987. For starting underwater photography, I had to wait until 2008 for an inevitable collision of resources and opportunity!
Ken – What was your first camera? What camera(s) do you use now and why?
Lee – My first camera was a gift – a Pentax MG. I now have a Canon 30D and a Canon 7D. I moved to Canon mostly because of ergonomics – how they fit and felt in my hands. I mostly use the 7D now, in part because of the increased resolution, but also for the decreased noise at higher ISO settings. While the 30D served me well when I started with underwater photography, I changed to the 7D because of the ability to keep shooting settings on the rear LCD – a handy feature in dim underwater environments!
Ken – What is your favourite style (macro, wide-angle) of underwater photography?
Lee – I like them both, macro for the fine detail and wide-angle because of the story-telling, but I’d have to give the nod to wide-angle because of the technical and artistic requirements for a good photo. I particularly enjoy the challenge of balancing natural and artificial light, as well as framing a foreground subject, and a secondary subject in the background.
Ken – Lee I have seen so many of your fantastic images, which one is your favourite piece of work and why?
Lee – That’s a difficult question to answer – the main reason being that I typically shoot for me. Meaning every time I make an image, I’m making it because of how or why it appeals to me. So it is difficult to single out any particular image or set of images. I will say, though, the few favourites are the images where what I wanted to capture is what ended up in pixels!
Ken – Have your had your work published? If so, what advice can your give our readers on how they may get their work published?
Lee – Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to have had a significant amount of my images published in various ways – from traditional magazines and books to electronically on websites and blogs. My advice for someone looking to get their images published is to learn how to write! Many of the folks that are looking for images are looking for stories of some kind – be it an account of a trip, a dive or a specific species. Think of the writing as a delivery mechanism for the images. Also, become familiar with the types of articles your target publication uses and tailor the writing to match – not in style, but in content. The final step is the hardest, making a connection with an editor! Sometimes an email enquiry out-of-the-blue meets with little enthusiasm, but unless you have an “in”, it is the only way to start. If they like your work, they could start asking you to write!
Ken – What is your best piece of advice to young up and coming photographers, above water or underwater?
Lee – Don’t lean on your gear – sure, having reliable gear, and the tools you need are important, but just as important, and perhaps more so, is to learn how to see light! Also, one of the most important pieces of kit you can carry around topside is a tripod. A tripod forces you to slow down and shoot with much more consideration – consideration for the framing, for the timing, and for the story you’re trying to tell. Underwater, my best piece of advice is two-fold – perfect your buoyancy skills and respect the fact that some shots are just not possible given the specific situation. The first obvious – trashing the environment in order to make an image is simply irresponsible. If you can’t move in, hover, take your shots and move on without stirring up the bottom or knocking something over – leave the camera topside. The second also takes some discipline, as some critters may simply not be accessible. Rather than try to wedge your camera, or yourself, into where you’re likely to cause damage, simply enjoy it in your mind’s eye and leave it on the list for next time. Oh, and shoot … a lot! Oh, and be your own worst critic!
Lee, thank you so much for doing the interview! Fantastic advice for sure! I know I often get caught up the newest piece of gear, or that must have lens, but in reality, in many cases, it’s not needed. Simply use what you have, and learn to see the light! Be sure to stop by the Featured Photographer Gallery to enjoy some of Lee’s images. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Thank you to Lee Newman for the use of his images for this story as well in the Featured Photographer of the Month Gallery dedicated to his work.
Tags: BC, British Columbia, Canon, Canon 7D, Cave Diving, Cave Pictures, Drysuit, Featured Photographer, Lee Newman, Macro, Ocean, Pacific Northwest, Photographer of the Month, Scuba, Underwater Photographer, Water, Whitecliff Park, Wide-angle