Behind the lens – SeaHale Photography

Meet Caitlin, the woman behind the Dive Friends Bonaire Photography center.

Caitlin has been working hard with several organizations and photography specialists to set up a photography department within Dive Friends! Not the kind where we rent out a camera and tell you which button to press but customized photography courses! Curious how Caitlin started diving and when she fell in love with photography? Please read it here and get inspiration from her story.

What was the reason for you to start diving?

Honestly? My University boyfriend! He was out in Thailand for summer holidays, so I went out for his last two weeks and for my 21st birthday. I left as an Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certified diver with two dive site cleanups under my belt. The week we got back, we planned our next dive vacation to Egypt for that Christmas! Saying that, I grew up as a competitive swimmer and lover of the ocean. The first job I said I wanted to do was Marine Biologist so that made me predisposed to liking it.

How did you get into photography?

I will be eternally grateful to my dad for this, he supported my interest and helped it grow into what it is today. Through him I realized you could take multiple things you are passionate about and create an even larger passion! He got me my first camera, then my first underwater camera and housing, and introduced me to ADOBE Lightroom. On a basic level, I like to capture moments and memories in photos better than journaling! It started at an early age in the woods and countryside of England. Lights/shadows, colours, and structures of nature inspired me. I wanted to share how I saw the world through my lens. When I became a diver, I was picturing the reef in the same way. I have a family full of non-divers who massively support me, I wanted to share my experiences with them! He also gets the credit for the creation of SeaHale. So, what I’d like to say is… Thank You Dad!

What is your top 1 tip for beginner photographers?

Make sure your buoyancy is good and then just shoot, Shoot, Shoot (practice, practice, practice)! Try it from different angles, landscape or portrait, and get creative. Have a quick look and review the photos, is it working? Practicing this will help you develop your skills, eye, and statistically greater chance of obtaining ‘the shot’.  It’s the beauty of digital because you can delete, delete, delete.

What is the secret behind a good photo?

Underwater? I’d say lights ?. Patience is key to obtaining good photos underwater (which means having a patient dive buddy)! Sometimes it’s best to slow right down and wait for the image opportunity to present itself, let the creatures become accustomed to your presence, and I’ll repeat shoot, shoot, shoot- that takes patience too! Start learning the behaviours of the reef: how they move, at what time, what is ‘normal/abnormal’, and that will help set you up for better shots too!

What makes Bonaire so special for photographers?

Essentially, it’s a classroom and playground. For the same reason as it is for scuba divers/snorkelers and water enthusiasts in general. You can pick up your gear and go whenever you like, you have the freedom to head out and dive/shoot your heart out. In general the conditions are most ideal! You’ve got wonderful subject selection, the Caribbean nursery Bonaire for macro marvels or pull out your wide-angle on Salt Pier or Northern Sites or even head to Klein Bonaire on the boat! It’s perfect to start or level up your photography and diving skills- you can truly learn how to dive with a camera, having that extra time to learn how the camera works and pair it with fine tuning your buoyancy (that will change completely every time you pick up a new piece of gear.)