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Brent Durand

Three Unusual Macro Photography Tips

Underwater macro photography can present many challenges in capturing a great image. As new photographers, we learn basic tips like getting close to the subject and focusing on the eye. These are essential but also frequently discussed, so let’s look at some unusual tips to improve your underwater macro photos.

Tip #1: Smart Composition Mindset

Macro Peacock Mantis Shrimp

Macro shot of a peacock mantis shrimp underwater.

Brent Durand

This seemingly obvious photo tip hides a great deal of complexity. It goes far beyond adhering to concepts like the rule of thirds – it’s about cultivating and adopting a ‘Photo Mindset’.

This mindset is critical in pre-visualizing your potential photos as you swim over the reef. We should never snap a photo of a subject just because we saw it or simply because a guide pointed at it. Instead, we should see the subject, pause, and think, “How can I create a great image with this subject?”

Practice thinking about potential shots during your next dive, even adjusting camera settings and lighting before you take the first shot, and you’ll notice a marked improvement in your images.

Tip #2: Stabilize Yourself

All the composition rules, in all the books and the best gear in the world, won’t help if you’re not stable while shooting your macro photos. Choose subjects that are situated in a location where you can safely shoot and review several photos without disturbing or touching the reef.

Diver Using Muck Stick

Diver uses muck stick underwater.

Brent Durand

Many serious photographers use a muck stick to help provide this stability, and even to initiate a drift away from the subject (avoiding use of fins).

Tip #3: Review Your Images

Camera LCD Image

Camera LCD

Brent Durand

Reviewing your photos after each shot, each dive, and each dive-day will help you to quickly improve your underwater photography. Think about it. If you fire two shots in a row without reviewing your image and making adjustments to improve it, you’ll have two copies of the image with the same mistake.

We all can get complacent, but the best photographers are the ones who strive to make each photo better than the last.

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Brent Durand is a professional writer and underwater photo instructor. Find his in-depth video tutorial series at