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Underwater Photographer Spotlight: Gabriel Barathieu

By Scuba Diving Partner | Updated On August 25, 2023
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Underwater Photographer Spotlight: Gabriel Barathieu

Gabriel Barathieu has managed to turn his passion for photography into a career. Read on to learn why he loves to discover new places through diving and photography.

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Behind the Shot


Behind the Shot

Gabriel Barathieu

Two minutes before taking this picture, I was quietly on the boat drinking a cup of tea. When suddenly, two manta rays surfaced about 50 meters from the boat. I donned my fins, my mask and my snorkel, I took my caisson and I swam in their direction.

I saw this manta that swam by at a depth of about 10 meters. I did not have time to think, I dipped down to lie on the sand just in front of her. Without moving, it takes off from the sand like a plane on takeoff to pass over me.

I shoot in bursts and then return to finish my tea on the boat. I want more "pose tea" like this...

scuba diving through your lens photo contest

Barathieu won a SeaLife Sea Dragon Mini 600 dive light for placing third in the macro category of the 2017 Scuba Diving magazine Through Your Lens photo contest.

Gabriel Barathieu

Gabriel Barathieu was born in 1983 and spent his childhood alongside the Atlantic Ocean at a family home in landed. It wasn’t until 1999 on a trip to Reunion Island that he discovered the underwater world. Ten years later, he decided to make that home. Upon his return he quickly received his level 1 and level 2 scuba diving certifications.

He immediately felt the need to share the hidden treasures of the underwater world through his lens. First, he invested in a small Canon compact camera with an underwater housing. Several hundred dives and thousands of pictures later, Barathieu became a rebreather diver and then a certified freediver in 2013.

Underwater Photographer

Gabriel Barathieu

Courtesy Gabriel Barathieu

As much as Barathieu loved the deep diving, he suspended his deep diving activities after the death of a friend in the industry. But following this tragic accident, Barathieu was prompted to quit his job in the public sector and turn his passion into a career.

Now he focuses entirely on his photography and his work has been recognized by several prestigious outlets, including National Geographic and other specialty magazines.

In 2016 he became a member of the Subal Pro team and then in 2017, he not only received third place in the Scuba Diving magazine Through Your Lens Photo Contest but was named the 2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year.

Q: How long have you been a scuba diver/what’s your certification level?
A: I’ve been diving since 2010. I am a level 3 CMAS. But I'm also a rebreather diver for over 4 years ago. I also have my Trimix certification to be able to dive deep. That's where I want to go. Deep diving, to discover new things and unknown species. In fact, each deep dive is a step towards the unknown. Recently we discovered a cave whose entry is at 50m depth. We explored it to 80m depth. It's really what makes me vibrate. Discovery!

Tell us about your camera rig(s).
  • Camera: Canon 5ds
Housing: Subal Housing
Lens(es): Canon 100 mm f 2,8 II ; Canon 16-35 f 2,8 II ; Canon 15 mm fisheyes ; Canon 14 mm f 2,8 II
Lights/Strobes: Two strobes subtronic Nova and One Orion light


Orange-lined triggerfish

Gabriel Barathieu

Q: Do you prefer to shoot on scuba or freediving?
A: I can not say if I prefer one or the other. When I dive in a snorkel, it is to photograph the cetaceans like humpback whales, dolphins, but also fish like mantas or whale sharks. Each encounter is a unique and emotional experience.

When I dive into a rebreather, it is to explore the underwater depths accessible. Each immersion is rich in discovery. The sensations are not the same but they are just as strong. What is certain is that I love to be in the water in contact with marine life, whatever the means or the place.

Q: What is your favorite photo-sharing platform?
A: I share my photos on Facebook and Instagram. These are the platforms I use the most. Although I do not appreciate the fact that it has to pay to be visible. I also use 500 px and 1x to promote my work. These are two platforms for photography that bring a little more complement to Facebook and Instagram.

Q: What are three of your favorite social-media accounts to follow?
A: That's hard, I have plenty. I would say National Geographic first and Underwater Macro photographer.


Octopus at Mayotte Island, Indian Ocean

Gabriel Barathieu

Q: What hashtag best describes your underwater photography style?
A: #deepdive #tekdive #rebreather #subal #canon

Q: What or who inspires you?
A: What inspires me above all is the unknown, the discovery. Whether it is for a photographic technique or discovery or diving exploration. It really is what inspires me and pushes me to go further. I also try to disembark from other photographers by trying other points of view for example. But it is very difficult to distinguish.

Q: What do you love most about your work?
A: I like everything about taking underwater photos. Whether it is the preparation of diving or photo equipment. The diving in, the taking of photos and the emotion felt. I also love the digital processing of my photos. I attach great importance and pleasure to it. And of course, I like to share my work. Sharing is important to me. This is the essence of my motivation. I do not see the interest of taking pictures if you do not show them. Also, I'm creating a blog where I talk about photo techniques. Sharing is not just about showing the shots.

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge and/or your most rewarding moment?
A: I can not talk too much about it but I have two challenges. The first involves using a technique of shooting which has not yet been realized in submarine on this date. But I will not say more for the moment. The second is the exploration of a deep cave that we discovered a few months ago. We are in contact with several international scientists for further research. This cave is very deep (between 55 and 80m deep) and it is difficult to explore. The background times are reduced. For the equipped alone, we realized (and we did not finish) more than 5 dives with 1/2 hour in the cave for 60 minutes of landing per dive.

Ghost Pipefish

Delicate ghost pipefish

Gabriel Barathieu

Q: What was your favorite trip and why?
A: I really do not have a favorite trip because I really do not travel a lot for diving. I stayed only in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Reunion Island and Myotte Island.

I love Mayotte! It is an island with one of the largest closed lagoons in the world. It has an exceptional biodiversity. I am looking forward to the weekend to go discover it. So I would be tempted to say that my best trip is the one I have not yet done. The world is so vast that I have an immense desire to discover as much as I can.

Green Sea Turtle

Green sea turtle

Gabriel Barathieu

Q: Where do you most want to go?
A: To Indonesia. I think the next destination will be Raja Ampat. May be at the end of next year, but there are so many places I'd like to discover, I will not have enough of a life.

Q: Any advice for budding photographers?
A: I will tell them that it takes a lot of practice to learn. It is the key to success. But in order to progress, we must also question ourselves. Try to analyze what is wrong and improve what is going well. Photos, underwater or not is above all, a story of passion. Workshops can be really useful. Although I have never done so, I think they are saving time for learning the basics. But I also think that you must first be a good diver before starting the underwater photo. The right time for me is when you feel comfortable in the water and you know how to balance yourself.

To see more of Barathieu's photos, follow him on Facebook and Instagram.